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Go Wild for Wild Rice guide
Future 50 Foods

What Is Wild Rice? Nutritional Benefits and Cooking Tips

You may have seen it mixed in with regular rice at the store or in salads at fancy restaurants, but not many people actually know what wild rice is. As one of our Knorr Future 50 Foods, we’re big fans of wild rice for many reasons and we don’t think it gets enough love! In this article, we explore the difference between wild rice and regular rice, its health benefits and four different ways of cooking it.



What is Wild Rice? The Basics


You might be shocked to know that wild rice isn’t really rice at all, but a whole grain. Wild rice is a type of long-grain, aquatic grass which grows in water. There are four different types of wild rice; three of which are native to the Great Lakes of North America, while the fourth species hails from East Asia. As it grows under water, growing wild rice doesn’t require arable land and causes no known damage to air, water, land, or soil when grown without pesticides, so its carbon footprint is minimal.

While wild rice isn’t technically rice, it’s used in the same way because of the similarities in appearance and the cooking process. The most obvious difference between wild rice and traditional white rice is the colour. Wild rice has a dark brown-black hue which is darker than regular brown rice. Another noticeable difference is the texture; cooked wild rice has a chewier, slightly more crunchy texture than white rice varieties, but it does soften with longer cooking times. Known for its toasty, nutty taste, it has a stronger flavour than white and brown rice. 



Key Health Benefits of Wild Rice


Beyond just appearance, texture and taste, wild rice also has a wealth of health benefits: 

  • Higher in protein and fibre- Wild rice contains more protein and fibre than white rice.
  • Good source of minerals - You might not expect it from rice, but wild rice contains minerals like zinc, magnesium which help maintain a healthy immune system.


As per USDA one cup of cooked wild rice contains - 101kcals, 4g of protein, 21g of carbohydrates and 0.3 g of fat. Like other types of rice, wild rice also happens to be naturally gluten-free, which is great news for those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities!



How to Cook Wild Rice


Looking for mealtime inspiration? Wild rice is a versatile ingredient that can be added to an array of dishes – we’d be here all day if we listed them all! Use it as a low-calorie way to bulk up salads, as a side dish to pair with meat or fish, or to bring a heartiness to soups and casseroles. Check out our recipe for Garden Vegetable Soup with Popped Wild Rice.

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Never cooked wild rice before? Well, you’re in safe hands. There are a few different ways of making it and picking which one will depend on how much time you have and your preferred texture. Here are 4 different methods for preparing perfect wild rice every time:



How to Cook Wild Rice on the Stovetop


Boiling it on the stove is the simplest way of cooking wild rice, so it’s a great place to start. You will need 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of wild rice. 

Step 1: Rinse and drain wild rice. 

Step 2: Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then add salt and the rice.

Step 3: Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for around 40-45 minutes. Remember, the longer you cook it for, the softer it will be.

Step 4: Once tender, drain the excess water. Use a fork to fluff it up and serve.



How to Cook Wild Rice in a Rice Cooker


If you’re wondering how to cook wild rice in a rice cooker, it’s easy. For this method you’ll need 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of wild rice. 

Step 1: Rinse and drain wild rice.

Step 2: Grease the inner pot of the rice cooker with butter or cooking oil. 

Step 3: Add rice, water and salt to the pot and cook for 40-55 minutes, or to taste. Top tip: Check to see if your rice cooker has a brown rice setting as like wild rice, brown rice also takes longer to cook.

Step 4: Once done, allow to sit for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.



How to Make Baked Wild Rice


If you don’t have a rice cooker or your stove top is full, you can even bake your wild rice. This method requires 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of wild rice. 

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F

Step 2: Rinse and drain wild rice. 

Step 3: Add wild rice, water and salt to a baking dish and stir well.

Step 4: Bake for 30 minutes until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Step 5: Allow to cool for a few minutes, then fluff with a fork. 



How to Cook Wild Rice in a Microwave


You might not have known this, but you can cook rice in the microwave, even wild rice. For this method you’ll need 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of wild rice. 

Step 1: Rinse and drain wild rice. 

Step 2: Add wild rice, water and salt to a glass bowl or microwave safe container.

Step 3: Cover and heat on high heat for 5 minutes.

Step 4: Heat for a further 30 minutes on 50% power.

Step 5: Allow to cool, fluff up with a fork and serve.


Now that you know what wild rice is and how to prepare it, discover the other foods in the Knorr Future 50 Foods.





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About the Future 50 Foods

From lentils to lotus roots, discover 50 exciting and delicious foods that are good for you and good for the planet.

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