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

Easy Wild Rice Side Dish

The time has come to think about Thanksgiving menus and side dish recipes! You should definitely make this flavorful dish and serve it in mini pumpkins for the perfect Thanksgiving meal.

This ciabatta and rice dressing with fruit and nuts is a delicious and easy alternative to classic dressing or stuffing. And you can use vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian, or chicken broth.

Add this to your Friendsgiving party or Thanksgiving table with food for a fantastic meal.

rice dressing in white baking dish

What Makes This So Good

  • This recipe is simple because it starts with boxed long grain and wild rice mix. I like to use Uncle Ben’s brand.
  • Adding toasted ciabatta cubes turns this wild rice side dish into a dressing dish.
  • Then you dress it up for a dinner party with some cooked veggies, broth, dried fruit, and nuts.
  • The final dish goes well with most any menu including chicken or turkey, pork, beef and fish.
  • You can make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth.

How to Make Wild Rice Dressing

  1. Use quick cooking long grain and wild rice mix and prepare it according to package directions.
  2. Cut ciabatta bread into small cubes and toast them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven at 325ºF for 20 minutes or until dry.
  3. Heat 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. Transfer the dressing mixture to a 9×11 inch baking dish and spread out evenly. Bake at 350ºF for 20-30 minutes or until everything is hot.
wild rice dressing on white plate

Substitutions

  • Make vegetarian wild rice dressing by using a vegetable broth. Or use chicken broth for a more traditional style.
  • Swap the onion for shallots or leeks.
  • Swap the pecans for walnuts, or omit entirely if you have nut allergies.
  • Use your favorite dried fruit like cranberries, cherries, golden raisins, or chopped dates, apricots, pineapple, or figs.
  • For extra texture, add some yellow corn to the mix – about 1/2 cup drained.

Best 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.

rice dressing mini pumpkins on white platter

Thanksgiving Side Dish

Fill cooked mini pumpkins with the baked wild rice mixture to serve as individual portions.

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

Can I Make It Ahead?

Yes, you can prepare this 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 in the oven until hot.

To freeze, bake it and cool completely. Cover tightly with a few layers of plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then warm 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 in mini pumpkins

More Side Dish Recipes

If you love long grain & wild rice try these recipes for wild rice with bacon & vegetables or wild rice with fruit & nuts. And check out these other side dishes too.

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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.

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  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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