wild rice with caramelized shallots, cranberries and pecans

It’s Thanksgiving week!!!!

I love Thanksgiving week. The food, the smells, the laughter…Thanksgiving week is a food blogger’s dream. So let’s talk side dishes. What are you doing? May I humbly suggest this rice plus these brussels sprouts? I know this might sound sacrilegious to some, but………. I’m not the biggest mashed potato fan.

I know, right?

That’s probably just because I hate making them so much. I really do. In terms of starch, I like sweet potatoes loaded with enough maple syrup, brown sugar and marshmallows to give you an emergency dental appointment. I also really like rice. Pretty rice, that is.

And folks, this is some pretty rice. I don’t know about you, but I could use some more wild rice in my life. It’s just so pretty! And chewy!

Wild rice > brown rice >> white rice

Guess what? I like my rice like I like my sweet potatoes AND brussels sprouts—-with ample brown sugar. Are you shocked or not really?

I knew it.

Brown sugar is what makes this rice dish really POP! It adds that bit of unexpected sweetness that pairs perfectly with the crunchy pecans and dried cranberries. I made so much of this rice that I ate it for lunch for three days straight, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Wild Rice with Caramelized Shallots, Cranberries and Pecans

inspired by Martha

serves 8

Print this recipe!


2 cups wild rice

4 cups water

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped

2 shallots, thinly sliced

3/4 cup dried cranberries + 3 cups boiling water

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp brown sugar


Combine the rice, water and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about an hour or until all the water has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 and place pecans on a tin foil-covered sheet tray. Toast for five minutes, until fragrant and toasty (but watch so you don’t burn them!). Combine dried cranberries and boiling water and let plump for 10 minutes. Drain water.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat and add thinly sliced shallots. Saute for 10 minutes over medium low heat and then add brown sugar and continue sauteing for another three minutes, stirring constantly.

After rice has cooked, fluff with a fork and remove from heat. Add shallots, cranberries and toasted pecans. Season with salt to taste and serve.


1.5 hours


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  • Emmy (Wine and Butter)
    November 21, 2011 at 2:33 am

    That does look SO pretty! I dont like mashed potatoes either and I live in a country where people basically dont like sweet potatoes (I know… I know….) so this could be PERECT!!!!

  • Lyn @ FueledBySalad
    November 21, 2011 at 2:34 am

    I’ve never had wild rice before, but this recipe looks delicious. Maybe I’ll try it with red rice. 🙂

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    November 21, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Jenna this looks perfect. I would take wild rice 100% of the time over potatoes. No matter what. I don’t like stuffing, either. Crazy but true. Not a fan, at all. But wild rice, like this and with brown sugar…oh yes, sign me up!

    Love the first image…great closeup!

  • Kate
    November 21, 2011 at 3:51 am

    I agree wild rice is my favorite & this dish looks delicious I’d pick rice over potatoes any day

  • Michelle | Gold-hearted Girl
    November 21, 2011 at 4:15 am

    Yum, this is my favorite kind of Fall dish!

  • Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count
    November 21, 2011 at 4:40 am

    The wild rice dish looks wonderful. I love mashed potatoes but I hate making them which is why I usually don’t!

  • Savannah @ Sweet and Savvy
    November 21, 2011 at 4:58 am

    This looks PERFECT and wonderful!

  • Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray
    November 21, 2011 at 5:01 am

    What a perfect side dish! Looks great!

  • Brittany
    November 21, 2011 at 5:02 am

    This looks amazing Jenna!

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed)
    November 21, 2011 at 5:06 am

    And I just officially found a dairy free side dish that I will be bringing to Thanksgiving at my in laws. Thank you!! This looks delicious and beautiful! Have a lovely and blessed Thanksgiving, Jenna.

  • Amanda
    November 21, 2011 at 5:07 am

    I love the flavor combinations in your recipe! I’m a big mashed potato fan, but this sounds like the perfect festive dish, and could probably be eaten as a main meal or side. I don’t know why, but I hardly ever buy wild rice. Time to change that!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    November 21, 2011 at 5:09 am

    wild rice is my favorite…the texture is just so perfect! this sounds so amazing and like a PERFECT side dish!

  • Moomie
    November 21, 2011 at 5:12 am

    WOW, I cannot believe you posted this recipe. This has been a family favorite of mine since about 10 years. We make one minor change, instead of pecans we do walnuts. My Dad found this recipe in the NY Times dining section. We make this along side mashed potatoes as he doesn’t want to give up that side dish!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    November 21, 2011 at 5:18 am

    This rice sounds so delicious and hearty! As a kid, my dad never made us anything but plain white rice, occasionally with some peas or meat mixed in. It was G-ross. But I adore wild rice (and any type that’s not just plain white) and if there’s brown sugar involved, well, then I’m sold. 😉

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday
    November 21, 2011 at 5:25 am

    This sounds fantastic! I am bookmarking it.

  • Molly @RDExposed
    November 21, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Lemon is my go-to recipe popper.
    Hope your flight went better yesterday than the way mine has started (or lack of starting)!

  • Sally @ Spontaneous Hausfrau
    November 21, 2011 at 5:32 am

    Oh, I love love love this! I do love mashed potatoes with a passion but there is something so irresistible to me about rice with all sorts of fun stuff in it. I could see myself making this year round.

  • Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
    November 21, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Love rice and cranberries together! Great recipe 🙂

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    November 21, 2011 at 5:47 am

    This sounds perfect for fall. I love the brown sugar addition, I’ve never done that to rice. Mashed potatoes aren’t my thing either. Roasted sweet potatoes with plenty of butter are way more up my alley 😉

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb
    November 21, 2011 at 5:50 am

    this looks delicious! i LOVE wild rice, especially when it’s kicked up with these awesome add ins.

  • Heather Michelle @ A Sweet Simple Life
    November 21, 2011 at 5:51 am

    What a pretty side! This would definately brighten any Thanksgiving spread. And, I love your nail polish…

  • Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove
    November 21, 2011 at 5:52 am

    I love mashed potatoes (or any kind of potatoes) but I still think this recipe looks awesome! I’ll have to run out and grab some wild rice to try!

  • Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter)
    November 21, 2011 at 5:54 am

    This dish does look really pretty! I think pecans make every meal a little more holiday-ish, personally.

  • Megan @ MegGoesNomNom
    November 21, 2011 at 6:12 am

    Wild rice is totally under-appreciated! It is one of my very favorite things! That chewy texture is to-die-for.

  • Cait's Plate
    November 21, 2011 at 6:29 am

    I’m not the biggest mashed potato fan either…people always think I’m weird for it. I’m glad I’m not alone.

    This looks incredible and it really is so beautiful. I love what Cranberries can do to the appearance of dishes!

  • Leslie Means @ Her View From Home
    November 21, 2011 at 6:34 am

    This looks so good! Happy Thanksgiving week to you as well! I LOVE this time of year!!

  • Hilliary @ Happily Ever Healthy
    November 21, 2011 at 6:39 am

    YUM, this looks delicious! I think I love the sides on thanksgiving more then the turkey! I can hardly wait for Thursday!

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    November 21, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Happy Thanksgiving Week Jenna!
    I love this side dish recipe and how accessible all the ingredients are. And, like you said, it’s just so pretty…and sweet…I like sweet things!
    Canadian Thanksgiving has come come and gone, but the cranberries make this recipe kinda festive. I think I will try this baby out for Christmas this year!
    Eeeek. Can’t wait.

  • Meredith
    November 21, 2011 at 6:51 am

    This would be great with cheese I think. I like rice a lot, I think a lot of people don’t appreciate it enough, but it goes well in any meal.

  • Maria
    November 21, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Love the cranberries in there!

  • Erica @ In and Around Town
    November 21, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Love the addition of the cranberries – adds such a pretty color and flavor!

  • Gavin S.
    November 21, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Okay, first of all…this looks amazing and will be quite likely to land on my Thanksgiving table. Secondly…HOLY COW! I just found out that you went to Elon for a semester or two! I was having lunch with a friend from college the other day (we both graduated from Elon in 2007) and were swapping blogs. I recommended yours and she said she was already following because you went to Elon (I guess your roommate freshman year is a friend of hers?). Crazy! Anyway, just had to say hey and what a small world it is!

  • HRCK
    November 21, 2011 at 7:58 am

    This looks good, but I have to admit that I’m most taken by that pop of pink on your thumb! What color nail polish is that?

  • Katrina
    November 21, 2011 at 8:28 am

    This sounds so yummy! Love this healthy dish.

  • Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles
    November 21, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Happy Thanksgiving Week! That looks live a very lovely side. I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who doesn’t like mashed potatoes before…they’re so gluttonous and divine. Sweet potatoes rock as well, clearly.

  • Liz @ Southern Charm
    November 21, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I like how this is different.

  • Bev Weidner
    November 21, 2011 at 8:53 am


  • Recipes by ingredients
    November 21, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Yummy!!! I love introducing healthy bites to my family this looks like a great hit, I can see it already! Thanks:)

  • Caitlin @ Vegetarian in the City
    November 21, 2011 at 9:25 am

    this is such a pretty side! this year is my first american thanksgiving (i’m canadian!) so I have been perusing blogs to figure out what i should contribute. this might just be the dish!

  • Moni'sMeals
    November 21, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Love the idea here and such a refreshing recipe to have incase you do not want to go the tradiotnal route always on Turkey Day. 🙂

  • Katie
    November 21, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Dang, this is like a wild rice dessert. I’m all in. Do you think the family would notice if I replaced mashed potatoes with this on Thursday?

  • britt
    November 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

    hi jenna! i have an emergency thanksgiving cooking question unrelated to this particular post (okay, “emergency” is a little overdramatic)! i volunteered to bring a baked mac and cheese dish on thanksgiving so of course am making your pumpkin dish on the pbs blog. here’s my question….we are going over there around 10:30 to watch football and then eating the thanksgiving meal around 2. how do i go about cooking the mac and cheese? should i do it before hand and just warm it in the oven when we are getting close to eating? or should i just get it all ready, refrigerate it once we get there, and then heat it half an hour or so before we eat?

    i’m clearly a cooking newbie! and i know jenna’s a busy girl, so if anyone else has any feedback on this, i’d certainly welcome it!

    • jenna
      November 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      I would get it all ready, put it in the fridge then bake once you’re there!

      • britt
        November 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm

        that’s what i’ll do! thanks so much!

  • Jen
    November 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I think the caramelized shallots and cranberries would serve as added sweeteners. The extra sugar isn’t necessary? but will have to give it a whirl and see.

    • jenna
      November 21, 2011 at 11:01 am

      You use the brown sugar to caramelize the shallots.

      • Jen
        November 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm

        Oh! I just use a little oil – but then I guess that technically isn’t caramelizing 😉

  • Meghan @ StruggleMuffins
    November 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Ooo me gusta mucho! I’m not the world’s biggest mashed tater fan either, I’d much rather have the interesting mix of flavors and textures that rice, pecans and cranberries provide.

  • nicole {sweet peony}
    November 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

    i love the colors… so pretty! this would be awesome with some chicken for my lunch during the week 🙂

  • Ari @ Ari's Menu
    November 21, 2011 at 11:15 am

    This looks amazing!!! I never rice because for some reason it is the one thing I always mess up, but this totally makes me want to try anyway! Bookmarked! 🙂

  • Laura @ She Eats Well
    November 21, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I agree. I am not the biggest white mashed potato fan either. I much prefer some sweet potatoes topped with brown sugar, butter and pecans. With that being said, this rice dish has some of my favorite ingredients in it. Can’t wait to try it out!

  • Living The Sweet Life
    November 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Without even looking at this post … just based on the title of ingredients alone – – I knew this would be a killer recipe 🙂 and boy was I right!!

  • Sharon
    November 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    oh this looks so amazing…I am a huge fan of wild rice and this looks like the perfect thanksgiving side dish. My parents will of course want mashed potatoes as usual, but i might go ahead and bring this too…maybe just halve the recipe. Thanks!

  • Cassie
    November 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Amazing side dish, I’m trying it ASAP. I thought I was the only one on the planet that wasn’t a fan of mashed potatoes. I’ll eat them, but would much prefer others sides!

  • Kris
    November 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Thanksgiving week is seriously like Christmas day for us food bloggers! Great looking rice!

  • Jaime
    November 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    OH YUM. Seriously, this dish is screaming my name. I don’t think I can make it for Thanksgiving, because my family is a mashed potato family (not me, but I make do with sweet potatoes 😉 ) but this rice looks TDF and I want it for lunch. Or with chicken for dinner next week. YUM.

  • Jessica @ Jess Go Bananas
    November 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I am not the biggest mashed fan either!! But put a sweet potato around me and it will be gone in seconds! 🙂

  • Christine (The Raw Project)
    November 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Thos looks fabulous! I might need to add to our Thanksgiving menu, thanks!

  • Christine @ Oatmeal in my Bowl
    November 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    No need to say more than the title. I’m all over it! Love wild rice…and cranberries…..and shallots….. oh ya, pecans, too. 😉

  • katie @KatieDid
    November 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    mmmm mhmm just made wild rice a few days ago for the first time. I had it with some simple herbed butter and that was it, very nutty and delicious!

  • Sara Grambusch
    November 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Cranberries IN my rice? Yes please!

  • DessertForTwo
    November 21, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I’m such a wild rice fan. It’s so gorgeous in Cali, huh?
    I just got my books in the mail today! It’s an absolute miracle they came before my flight! So excited for my books-thanks again for your great recs 🙂

  • Lindsay (NOURISH)
    November 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Mmmm! I don’t have wild rice at home right now, I may try it with quinoa. Hope it turns out as this looks! Perfect for thanksgiving.

  • Emily
    November 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    What a gorgeous dish! I’ve been loving wild-rice lately. I stuck to brown rice for the longest time but I’m finally branching out. And with the addition of cranberries?! Perfection!

  • Linda Schaack
    November 26, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Jenna – I made this for Thanksgiving and LOVED it! It was beautiful and delicious!

    Tonight – I am making your Turkey Chili recipe and enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir 😉

    Thanks for such great recipes.

  • Dominique
    November 30, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Must be a canadian thing, but I would use maple syrup instead of the brown sugar!

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  • Emily
    December 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I made this for a side-dish for a party I’m going to tomorrow evening, and it came out amazing!!! It really has such a great taste and is a perfect side dish for this time of year. As someone who really isn’t much of a cook, I made this dish and it was *simple*, and the result’s delicious!

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  • Zan
    November 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    I made this for the first time yesterday to take to a belated family Thanksgiving dinner. Turned out great! My biggest critic — my 16-month-old nephew — ate it as well (minus some of the chunks of pecans), so it was a total win in my book. 🙂

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