Easy Wild Rice Dressing Recipe (Vegetarian)

This wild rice dressing is an easy side dish for Thanksgiving or a fall dinner party. It’s vegetarian and includes quick cooking long grain and wild rice, ciabatta bread, dried fruit, and nuts. It’s the perfect side for meat, poultry, or fish.

long grain wild rice side dish in white baking dish

The time has come to think about Thanksgiving menus and side dish recipes! This simple recipe starts with boxed long grain and wild rice mix. Then you dress it up with ciabatta, cooked veggies, dried fruit, and nuts.

This is a delicious and easy alternative to classic dressing or stuffing and is perfect for your Thanksgiving meal. Or add it to your Friendsgiving party or fall dinner party.

Why You’ll Love It

  • This recipe is simple and easy to make, and the perfect side dish for any fall party.
  • Adding toasted ciabatta bread turns wild rice into a fancy dressing.
  • It goes well with most any menu including chicken or turkey, pork, beef and fish.
  • You can prep it ahead and bake it when ready, making it easy on the host.
rice dressing in white baking dish

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Long Grain & Wild Rice Mix. I like to use Uncle Ben’s quick cooking rice blend. It’s got an herb seasoning pack right inside the box.
  • Ciabatta bread. Grab a loaf from the bakery section and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • Onion. A traditional flavor enhancer, you can substitute with shallots or even leeks.
  • Celery. This is a key flavor-adding ingredient in dressing recipes.
  • Dried fruit. Use your favorite mix or a single type such as dry cranberries (craisins), cherries, golden raisins, or chopped dates, apricots, pineapple or figs,
  • Nuts. I love pecans in this but walnuts work well too. They add a fantastic crunchy texture to each bite! If you have a nut allergy you can omit them.
  • Broth. Keep this vegetarian by using vegetable broth, or add extra flavor with chicken broth.
  • Fresh parsley
  • Butter
wild rice dressing on white plate

Expert Tips

Prepare dressing the night or morning before the dinner party and refrigerate until ready to bake and serve.

Cut your ciabatta bread into 1/2-inch cubes and toast them up to 3 days ahead.

Start by adding 1/2 cup of broth to see how moist the mixture becomes. You can add more if it seems too dry.

Add 1/2 cup of yellow corn for extra color, flavor and texture.

How to Make It

  1. Prepare rice according to package directions.
  2. Cut ciabatta bread into small cubes and toast them in a single layer on a baking sheet. 
  3. Cook celery and onion in butter until tender, then combine with rice mix and ciabatta in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in the dried fruit, parsley, salt and pepper and pour the broth evenly over the rice dressing and stir to coat. Stir in toasted pecans.
  5. Transfer the dressing mixture to a 9×11 inch baking dish and bake.


Prepare the recipe up to one day ahead. Combine the rice dressing mixture EXCEPT for the vegetable stock and store in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, mix in the broth and heat through.

To freeze, bake it and cool completely. Cover tightly with a layer of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then heat in the oven before serving.

EXPERT’S NOTE: Do not add a cold baking dish into a hot oven or it can break.

rice dressing mini pumpkins on white platter

PARTY TIP: Fill cooked mini pumpkins with the baked rice mixture to serve as individual portions.

Thanksgiving Serving Suggestion

Of course you can serve this from a baking dish but you can add holiday flair with individual servings served in mini pumpkins.

  1. Cut the tops off of mini pumpkins and scrape out the seeds. Rub olive oil on the inside and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
  2. Replace the lid, and cook at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until flesh is soft.
rice dressing in mini pumpkins

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white serving dish with rice dressing.

Wild Rice Dressing recipe

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Easy side dish recipe for holidays and dinner parties. Start with Uncle Ben's long grain & wild rice and incorporate ciabatta, sautéed vegetables, dried fruit, and nuts.


  • 1 box Long Grain & Wild Rice mix
  • 4 cups cubed ciabatta bread
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup dry fruit (I used raisins and coarsely chopped apricots here)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)


  1. Prepare the long grain and wild rice mix according to package directions; set aside.
  2. Cut ciabatta bread into small cubes and toast them in a single layer on a baking sheet at 325ºF for 20 minutes or until dry. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion and celery. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Combine rice mix, ciabatta, and onion & celery together in a large bowl.
  5. Add the dried fruit, parsley, salt and pepper to the bowl and mix well.
  6. Pour the broth evenly over the rice dressing and stir to coat.
  7. Stir in toasted pecans.
  8. Preheat oven to 350ºF 
  9. Transfer the dressing mixture to a 9×11 inch baking dish and spread out evenly. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until everything is heated through.

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