This slow-cooker wild rice pilaf is packed with veggies like Brussels sprouts and mushrooms and is full of flavor. It is an easy and healthy dish that’s perfect for the holidays, or any time of year.
What is Wild Rice?
Wild rice actually comes from an aquatic grass. You won’t find it growing in a field somewhere, like other “grains”. It grows naturally in water ways all over the United States. And it’s not actually a “rice” but the seeds that come from the grasses it’s harvested from. So, it’s technically not even a grain, even though it’s referred to as a grain…. I’m just as confused as you!
Wild rice has more of a nutty taste compared to other rice and has a slightly different texture. It’s a little more firm with a slight crunch, unlike brown rice, which is a little softer. The grains (actually seeds) are also much longer than brown, or other types of rice.
BENEFITS OF WILD RICE: There are so many advantages when it comes to including wild rice in your diet. Wild rice is high in many nutrients and protein (great source of plant-based protein). It’s packed with magnesium, zinc, iron, fiber. And, it’s super high in antioxidants.
BUT THERE IS ONE DOWNSIDE; wild rice is pretty spendy compared to other grains. It’s quite labor-intensive to produce, so it costs more. Due to this, you’ll often find wild rice blends, which are less expensive than only wild rice.
FUN FACT: being from Minnesota, I’ve eaten my fair share of wild rice dishes over the years. Wild rice is grown around the great lakes, so it’s a very common “grain” consumed here in my home state. And it’s our official state grain (hmmm... maybe the state of MN doesn’t realize it’s actually a seed?)!
How to Make Slow Cooker Wild Rice Pilaf
There are a few different ways for cooking wild rice. You can cook it on the stove, but I like the slow-cooker method for this recipe. That way you don’t need to cook all the veggies separately. This makes for easy prepping, easy cooking, and easy clean-up! And my preferred way for cooking wild rice pilaf.
PREPPING: Limited prepping is needed for this slow-cooker wild rice pilaf. Simply add the wild rice to the slow-cooker. Slice your Brussels sprouts and mushrooms and chop up the onion, celery, and garlic. Add all the veggies, plus some thyme, salt, and pepper to the crock pot. Pour in your broth and turn the slow-cooker on.
COOK TIME: I typically cook this pilaf on high. If your slow-cooker is set to high, it will take about 3.5-4 hours to cook. If you have your slow-cooker set to low, it will take between 7 and 8 hours. Total time for cooking wild rice will vary depending on your crock pot, but I recommend starting to check at about 3 hours if cooking on high, or 6 hours if cooking on low (just to ensure you don't overcook it).
KNOWING WHEN IT'S DONE: Wild rice will burst open when it’s done, so you’ll have a good idea by looking at it. Once you see that the rice has burst open, give it a taste. If it’s still a little too crunchy for you, you can continue to cook the rice; checking every 15 minutes or so. Also, a good indicator that the dish is done is that the majority, if not all, of the broth will absorbed. If there is a little extra broth, that’s okay. You can easily strain the rice after its' done cooking so you don’t have leftover broth in your pilaf.
Keeping This Clean
There are a few ingredients to look out for to ensure you are keeping this wild rice pilaf as clean as can be.
BROTH: You can use vegetable or chicken broth (I use vegetable broth). Either way, read the ingredient list and check the sugar content. First and foremost, make sure there aren't any added sugars. In addition, make sure the ingredients contain ONLY items you would use if you were to make the broth yourself (veggies and/or chicken and only seasonings). My preference is to buy organic as well.
CELERY: Celery is on the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) dirty dozen list, so I recommend buying organic celery. The other veggies in this pilaf are a-okay to buy conventional.
Other than the broth and the celery, there isn’t anything specific you should be looking for in the other ingredients.
WILD RICE: I use all wild rice in this pilaf, but you could definitely use a wild rice blend instead. It would be just as good!
MUSHROOMS: I know some people cringe at the idea of mushrooms. But, they are a power-house when it comes to nutrition, so I recommend keeping them in. BUT, if that’s just not your thing, you can skip these all together.
VEGGIES: In addition to the Brussels, celery, and onion, I think some sliced carrots would go great in this pilaf too!
ALMONDS: I love the addition of almonds right before serving. Chopped walnuts or pecans would be good too. And for an extra yummy touch, you could roast the nuts too prior to sprinkling on the top.
How Much Does This Make?
This recipe makes a ton! You will have 11-12 cups total pilaf, so will serve around 12 people as a side dish. If you don't need that much, simply cut the recipe in half.
How Long Does This Last?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and it will stay good for up to 5 days.
Check Out These Other Side Dishes
Butternut Squash and Apple Salad
Brussels Sprouts with Goat Cheese and Honey
Roasted Asparagus with Easy Lemon Tahini
Wild Rice Salad
If you make this wild rice pilaf, please let me know what you think! Leave a comment and a star rating below and/or share a photo on Instagram and mention @CleanPlateMama.
Slow Cooker Wild Rice Pilaf
- 2 cups wild rice
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts, sliced in half lengthwise
- 2 cups button or cremini mushrooms, cut into ¼" slices
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped (or ½ tsp. garlic powder)
- 1 ½ tsp. dried thyme
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt (more to taste)
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- ½ cup sliced almonds (or nut of your choice)
- Place all ingredients in a 6-8 quart slow cooker. Mix all ingredients together.
- Cook on high for 3 ½-4 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours.
- Wild rice will burst open when it’s done, so you’ll have a good idea of when it's fully cooked by looking at it. Once you see that the rice has burst open, give it a taste. If it’s still a little too crunchy for you, you can continue to cook the rice; checking every 15 minutes or so. Also, a good indicator that the dish is done is that the majority, if not all, of the broth will absorbed. If there is a little extra broth, that’s okay. You can easily strain the rice after its' done cooking so you don’t have leftover broth in your pilaf.
- Sprinkle the final rice pilaf with sliced almonds (optional).
- Cooking times can vary greatly based off of size and brand of slow cooker. Start checking your rice pilaf early to ensure you don't overcook it.
- This makes about 12 cups total pilaf. You can easily cut the recipe in half if needed.
- I use all wild rice, but a wild rice blend would work perfectly too.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to five days.
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