This post is sponsored by The USA Rice Federation. Thanks for supporting the foods and brands I love and use!
This easy, wild rice stuffing casserole is packed with fruit, nuts, and your favorite gluten-free or regular bread. It’s so easy to make, and it deserves a spot on your holiday or weeknight dinner table.
What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner? If you said stuffing — we should be friends! It’s hands-down my absolute favorite side dish too. Ever.
But here’s the saddest thing. I’ll bet most of us only eat stuffing one day a year. OK maybe two or three days if you’re like me and make extra stuffing so you can eat the leftovers until you go into a carb-coma.
That has to change. So I created this easy, tasty, and healthy wild rice stuffing casserole for my stuffing-loving friends. And the best part? There doesn’t have to be a turkey in sight to make this tasty wild rice stuffing side dish. ‘Cause, it bakes in a casserole dish!
Why I Love This Wild Rice Stuffing Casserole
This wild rice stuffing is such a great side dish for so many reasons.
- It’s gluten-free, so everyone can enjoy it, even if they’re on a gluten-free or wheat-free diet.
- It’s got a perfect blend of savory, sweet, crunchy, and chewy in every bite.
- You can make it a day ahead and heat it if you’re serving it for a party. PS it’s a great buffet side dish.
- It’s by far the healthiest stuffing you can eat!
- You DON’T need a turkey! This stuffing is delicious with beef tenderloin, roasted salmon, a whole roasted chicken, or pork tenderloin.
Let’s face it. Stuffing isn’t really known for being a healthy food. But this one is different. Instead of being heavy on the bread, it features lots of California-grown wild rice. Did you know wild rice isn’t actually rice? It’s a semi-aquatic grass that grows in California, (as well as) Oregon, Idaho, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Is Wild Rice Healthy?
YES! California-grown wild rice is healthy. It’s high in protein and fiber, and it has more than 15 vitamins and minerals including B-vitamins, and iron. A 1/2 cup cooked serving provides:
- About 80 calories
- 7 grams of protein
- 17 grams of carbs
- 3 grams of fiber
- just a trace of naturally occurring fat
The rice in this recipe really lightens up the stuffing and lends a delicious flavor and chewy texture. With chopped apples, dried cranberries, and crunchy pistachios, every bit of this wild rice stuffing is a flavor explosion in your mouth.
Of course, you can serve this for Thanksgiving, but it’s so easy, why not make it for a Christmas or a holiday buffet? Or for a weeknight dinner? If you have leftover chicken or turkey, shred it up and stir it into the stuffing before you bake it. Dinner is done (with leftovers!).
My favorite part about this wild rice stuffing casserole is that, unlike plain bread stuffing which tends to dry out, this one stays moist and delicious if you make it the day before and reheat it. Isn’t that the best thing ever when you’re looking for holiday or buffet dinner recipes?
If you need a healthier starch side-dish, try this one today!
Wild Rice Stuffing Casserole
- 1 cup California-grown wild rice rinsed
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium leek
- 1 medium sweet apple
- 1 medium stalk celery
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
- 2 cups gluten-free bread cubes (about 1" x 1"), toasted or regular whole grain bread if preferred
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- salt to taste
- Combine the rice, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and let the rice simmer for about 40 minutes or just until tender. Remove it from the heat. NOTE: you can prepare the rice a day ahead of time if desired.
- While the rice is cooking, slice the leek into thin rings. Chop the apple into 1/2-inch cubes, and dice the celery.
- Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, and add the leek, apple, and celery. Saute for 8-10 minutes or until the leek turns golden.
- When the rice is nearly cooked, preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked apples and vegetables with the poultry seasoning, bread cubes, pistachios, cranberries, and cooked rice. Toss everything well to combine.
- Add the chicken stock to moisten everything. You may need less than 3/4 cup or slightly more.
- Add extra salt to taste.
- Pour the stuffing into an 8×8 casserole dish. Cover lightly with foil, and bake the stuffing for about 20 minutes . Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes to allow the bread to get toasty.
Do you ever make stuffing outside of Thanksgiving day? Try this one for the holidays!
And… If you love wild rice, try this roasted vegetable and wild rice soup recipe too!