How to Cook Wild Rice

4 Methods for Cooking Wild Rice

Raw Kernels of Wild Rice
Wild Rice. Photo © skhoward/Getty Images

Wild rice is easy to cook. It's good to know before you start, however, that cooking times can vary greatly depending on how the wild rice was dried and how long it's been stored. No matter which method you choose, always rinse wild rice thoroughly in cold water before cooking it and know that 1 cup uncooked wild rice yields 3 to 4 cups cooked wild rice. Then boil, steam, bake, or microwave it to perfection with these easy steps:

How to Boil Wild Rice

Boiling is a classic, some may say go-to way to get wild rice ready to eat. One of the reasons it's so popular, besides how easy it is, is that boiled wild rice tends to have tender, but intact kernels (perfect for dished like this Wild Rice Cranberry Salad). Boiling also gives the cook a bit more control over the texture than steaming, so it also is how the rice gets cooked to a comforting mush in this Wild Rice Congee.

Bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1 cup wild rice. Bring everything back to a boil before reducing the heat to maintain a low boil. Cook until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Drain the rice in a sieve or fine-mesh colander.

How to Steam Wild Rice

Steamed wild rice has many popped kernels and a very tender texture.

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup wild rice, 3 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook until the rice is tender and the kernels pop open. Depending on how the rice was cured and how old it is, it will take 45 to 60 minutes. Uncover the rice and fluff it with a fork. Simmer 5 additional minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain off any excess liquid, if necessary.

How to Bake Wild Rice

This is a great method that often gets used when making wild rice-based casseroles or this Wild Rice and Sausage-Stuffed Squash but works just as nicely (with a lovely hands-off element) when just cooking up basic wild rice.

Combine 1 cup wild rice with 2 cups boiling water or broth and salt to taste in a 2-quart casserole with a tight fitting lid. Cover and bake at 350°F for 1 hour. Check the wild rice. Add more water or broth, if needed, and fluff the rice with a fork. Continue baking until the rice is tender and still moist, about 30 minutes.

How to Microwave Wild Rice

This method leaves a bit to be desired: it's not all that fast and it can be tricky to get the right texture. That said, sometimes a microwave is what's at hand, and a person can certainly cook wild rice in one.

Combine 1 cup wild rice and 3 cups water or broth and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt in a covered 2-quart glass or another microwaveable container. Microwave on full power for 5 minutes. Microwave on 50 percent power for 30 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes and taste - the wild rice should be tender. If it's not, microwave in 2-minute increments until it is. Drain, if necessary.

Bonus Method: Pop It!

It's also possible to pop wild rice the way you pop popcorn. The result is crunchy kernels perfect to use as a garnish on salads (it's particularly good on kale salads) or sprinkled onto creamy wild rice soup