Recipe: Wild Rice Salad with Chicken

Lunch Recipes, Poultry Recipes, Salad Recipes

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

Change up your salad routine with this healthy wild rice salad with chicken, pecans, and cranberries. Tossed in a tangy dressing made with dijon mustard, rice vinegar, and lemon that adds brightness – you’re going to love this delicious salad!

If the cold weather makes salads less appealing, try swapping out your lettuce based salads for heartier ones like this wild rice salad with chicken. Wild rice makes a nice alternative to white or brown rice if you are looking to switch up the usual grains in your diet.

We love the chewy texture and the nutty and earthy flavor that pairs well with the other flavors in this salad. 

For those that love meal prepping, this wild rice salad is perfect since it doesn’t get soggy in the fridge like other salads. Plus, with the addition of the chicken, this recipe is hearty enough to be a main dish salad.

On the other hand – you can also easily make this vegan by omitting the chicken and using maple syrup instead of honey in the dressing.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Wild Rice: the cook time for wild rice can be long but you can shorten it by pre-soaking the rice or cooking it in an instant pot. We have also had success using pre-cooked wild rice from the grocery store (sold in pouches). You can also use a wild rice blend or brown rice for this recipe. 
  • Chicken: bake or pan saute some chicken breasts on the stovetop while you wait for the wild rice to cook. Chop it up into small pieces or shred it. I love using a chicken shredder to speed up the process.
  • Snow Peas: we love the crunch and color of snow peas in this wild rice chicken salad. Other veggies you may want to add include: red bell pepper, red onion, or sugar snap peas. 
  • Pecans: pecans add a bit of crunch to this salad as well as heart healthy fat. If you don’t have pecans, you could substitute with walnuts, almonds, or pistachios.
  • Cranberries: sweet-tart dried cranberries complement the earthy flavor of the wild rice and add brightness to this salad. If you don’t have cranberries, you could substitute with raisins or a different fruit like green grapes or chopped apples. 
  • Dressing: this simple vinaigrette for this salad has lots of tanginess and it’s so simple to make. We love the combination of olive oil, rice vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey, garlic, salt, black pepper. One tip for the dressing – use fresh squeezed lemon juice rather than bottled juice.

How to Make Wild Rice Salad

side by side images of prepared rice and other ingredients to mix in wild rice salad with chicken
  1. Make the Rice: cook the rice on the stovetop or instant pot until tender but slightly chewy. 
  2. Make the Chicken: bake or saute the chicken breasts until fully cooked. Allow to cool slightly before cutting or shredding into bite size pieces.
  3. Make the Dressing: in a small bowl, whisk the salad dressing ingredients to combine or add to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine.
  4. Toss Together: add all the chicken wild rice salad ingredients to a large serving bowl and toss well to combine. Serve warm, cold, or room temperature.

Tools for this Wild Rice Salad with Chicken Recipe

Wild Rice Cooking Tips

Here are some of our tips for how to cook wild rice in case it’s an ingredient you haven’t cooked with much before. If you want to infuse your nutty wild rice with more flavor, you can also cook it in broth instead of water.

Tip – soaking your wild rice in cold water overnight softens the outer layer of the rice and reduces the cooking time by as much as half.

Stovetop Instructions for Cooking Wild Rice

  • Add 1 cup wild rice and 3 cups of water to a saucepan over medium-high heat and cover with a lid.
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer.
  • Simmer the rice for 40-45 minutes (20-30 minutes for rice soaked overnight) or until some of the rice kernels burst open.
  • Add rice to a fine mesh strainer to remove any excess water and add rice back to the pot.
  • Cover with a kitchen towel for a few minutes to steam then fluff with a fork.

Instant Pot Instructions for Cooking Wild Rice

  • Rinse the wild rice well in a colander under cold water.
  • Place 1 cup wild rice and 1 ⅓ cups water into the instant pot.
  • Secure the lid and make sure the pressure regulator is in the sealing position.
  • Select manual mode and cook at high pressure for 20 minutes, then do a 10-minute natural release.
  • Fluff with a fork and serve.

How to Make Ahead and Storage

  • Make-Ahead: Make the whole wild rice salad with chicken as much as 1-2 days in advance. You can also make the rice and chicken ahead of time and store in an airtight container for 2-3 days before assembling the rest of the salad. 
  • Storage: store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
prepared serving of wild rice salad with chicken in white bowl

Does Wild Rice Need to be Soaked Before Cooking?

No, you don’t have to soak the wild rice before cooking. However, soaking your rice overnight can reduce the cooking time for this wild rice salad with chicken recipe since it softens the outer layer of the rice.

Is Wild Rice the Healthiest Rice?

All whole grains like wild rice, brown rice, and quinoa provide a variety of essential nutrients like fiber, protein, and B vitamins. Honestly, wild rice and brown rice are pretty comparable nutrition-wise.

Wild rice has slightly fewer calories (166 calories vs 216 calories per cup) and it also comes out on top with 7 grams of protein per cup (brown rice has 5 grams).

Other Healthy Salad Recipes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 6 serving(s)


  • For the Salad
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chopped snow peas
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • For the Dressing
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper pepper


  1. Prepare wild rice according to package directions.
  2. Cook chicken breasts on the stovetop or in the oven until cooked through, then cube.
  3. Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Toss wild rice, cut up chicken, green onions, snow peas, avocado, pecans, cranberries, and the dressing together in a large bowl.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 420

Protein: 18 gram(s)

Fat: 25 gram(s)

Carbohydrates: 35 gram(s)

Fiber: 6 gram(s)

Sugar: 10 gram(s)

From the kitchen of:

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on Reply

Where is the "North Shore" mentioned in this salad? Chicago?

    on Reply

    In the Minnesota North Shore, wild rice is a favorite ingredient!

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