This Chicken and Wild Rice Salad is full of texture, sweet and savory flavors, and it’s perfect for lunch or dinner! Made with wild rice, diced chicken breasts, carrots, celery, apples, dried cranberries, and crunchy cashews.
This recipe and photos have been updated since the original post on 5/23/2014
Wild rice salads are some of my favorites. I love the nutty, chewy texture of the rice and always feel full and satisfied after eating them.
A couple of my favorite wild rice salads are this southwest sweet potato, wild rice, and black bean salad and this citrus and wild rice salad.
Both of those are more of side dishes, while this chicken and wild rice salad I’m sharing today works as a main dish salad or side dish.
Is Wild Rice Actually Rice?
Technically wild rice is not actually rice. It’s a grain that comes from four different species of grass. It has a chewy texture and a nutty, earthy flavor. Just like traditional rice, wild rice is a gluten free whole grain.
Ingredients For Chicken And Wild Rice Salad
Wild Rice Blend – Wild rice blend is generally made up of wild rice, brown rice, red rice, and black rice.
Chicken Breast – Cook the chicken breast ahead of time to save time while making this salad. You can also use rotisserie chicken with the skin removed or cooked boneless skinless chicken thighs if you prefer.
Celery – A great crunchy element for this salad. If the tougher strings on the outside of celery bother you, peel them off with a knife or vegetable peeler.
Carrots – The carrot adds a little sweetness. I recommend shredding the carrot for a more consistent texture in the salad.
Green Onion – I prefer to use green onion in this salad because it has a milder onion flavor in comparison to yellow or red onion.
Apple – Use a sweet, firm, crisp apple for this salad. Gala, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Golden Delicious are good choices.
Dried Cranberries – They add a sweet, tart, chewy flavor and texture to the salad. Dried cherries would also be good.
Cashews – Cashews add a buttery crunch and a little bit of protein. If you want to substitute them with a different nut, I recommend sliced almonds or pecans. Be sure to toast the nuts for the best flavor.
White Balsamic Vinegar – It has a milder flavor compared to regular balsamic vinegar and it won’t turn the salad brown.
Dijon Mustard – Adds tang to the vinaigrette and acts as an emulsifier.
Maple Syrup – Used to sweeten the vinaigrette. Honey can be used as an alternative.
Olive Oil – Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor in vinaigrettes and dressings.
How To Make Chicken And Wild Rice Salad
Cook the wild rice according to package instructions. I like to cook the rice a day in advance to save time. Wild rice blend takes approximately 40 minutes to cook and you’ll want to cool it to room temperature as well.
The chicken breast can also be cooked a day in advance to save time. You could also use rotisserie chicken with the skin removed as another option for saving time.
Once the rice has been cooked and cooled add it to a large serving bowl along with the shredded carrots, diced celery, green onions, dried cranberries, and diced chicken.
If you plan to serve the salad that day add in the cashews. If you’re making this a day in advance, wait to add the cashews just before serving so that they stay crunchy.
In a jar with a lid or a glass measuring cup, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, dijon, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Shake or whisk the vinaigrette until it’s well combined and then pour it over the salad.
Stir everything in the rice salad together until it’s combined. Taste it for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve the salad immediately or cover and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Omit the chicken in the salad if you want to make it a vegan recipe. The salad is delicious with or without the chicken. You can also add a can of chickpeas.
Yes. Brown rice is a great substitution. You can also use a different type of whole grain such as farro or freekeh.
Yes. The salad can be made a day ahead of time. Wait to add the vinaigrette and cashews until just before serving.
This salad holds up well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To keep the cashews from getting soft, add them into each serving rather than the entire salad.
More Wild Rice Recipes
Did you make this Chicken and Wild Rice Salad? I’d love if you’d leave a recipe rating and review below.
Crunchy, sweet, tangy, nutty, chewy, this chicken and wild rice salad has it all! Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.
Chicken and Wild Rice Salad
For the Salad
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 368Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 188mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 5gSugar: 22gProtein: 22g
Crunchy, sweet, tangy, nutty, chewy, this chicken and wild rice salad has it all!
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.
In Good Flavor says
I like your addition of grapes and dried cherries to the original recipe. They add such wonderful flavors. What a great summer dish!
This is definitely fresh and healthy!! I love wild rice in salads, always a great crunch ;)
Thanks Zainab! There must be crunch in my salads!
Matt Robinson says
This is my idea of the perfect summer salad, every bite looks incredible!
Thanks Matt, I’m sure I’ll be making this one a lot this summer!
Anna (Hidden Ponies) says
I love when recipes are surprise hits! This is gorgeous, and sounds delicious!
Thanks Anna! This one is definitely a keeper!