Cranberry Rice Pilaf with Apples and Pecans

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Cranberry Rice Pilaf with Apples and Pecans is the perfect easy slow cooker side dish to serve up for your holiday gatherings and tasty enough to keep for the rest of the year. Wild rice slow cooked in apple cider and chicken stock then topped with tart cranberries, sweet apples and crunchy pecans to serve up the ultimate in slow cooker holiday side dishes.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf

Cranberry Rice Pilaf with Apples and Pecans

Let’s talk a minute about some heavy duty Thanksgiving and Christmas eating opportunities and why this Cranberry Rice Pilaf with Apples and Pecans needs to be in your slow cooker this year.

Every year I promise to keep my holiday plate portions socially appropriate and my Christmas cookie binge eating to a low roar.

Usually, I completely fail at both and next thing you know I am power slamming raw Christmas cookie dough straight into my face when I am supposed to be making Christmas cookies..  and I don’t even feel bad about it… not even a little bit! 

So instead of losing all touch with the reality of holiday food, let’s add in at least one recipe that is super easy, way tasty and won’t bring about head hanging shame if you go back for seconds. 

Yup, let’s talk about this Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf.

Oh no … those are carbs!!  Stop.  Start you low carb keto lifestyle again tomorrow, today it’s all about the Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries, Pecans and Apples.

Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf in a white bowl

WHY THIS CRANBERRY RICE SIDE DISH IS THE BEST!

This slow cooker wild rice side dish is delicious and the perfect combination of sweet, tart and crunchy and since you are just dumping it all in a slow cooker and walking away, this is honestly the perfect easy holiday side dish.

  • Wild rice simmered in apple cider … um, hello? Insanely deliciousness, right HERE!
  • This is the perfect combination of tart, crunchy, savory and sweet all in one dish
  • You literally dump all of your ingredients in your slow cooker and walk away .. just walk away!!
  • Easy holiday side dishes are a must have if you are going to survive ..er.. ENJOY the holidays with your family and friends 🙂
  • Everyone gets excited over easy holiday slow cooker side dishes that aren’t sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes or stuffing.

To make this Cranberry Rice, you will need:

  • Garlic  – nothing compares to fresh garlic
  • Parsley  – adds brightness to the dish
  • Sweet onion  – perfect balance of sweet and savory
  • Wild rice blend  – a complex and tasty rice blend that delivers a toasty, nutty flavor
  • Butter – FLAVOR
  • Chicken stock or chicken broth – needed for flavor and moisture
  • Apple cider or apple juice – adds a great apple flavor to simmer the wild rice in 
  • Orange – adds acidity and great fresh orange flavor
  • Salt, pepper and thyme – FLAVOR
  • Pecans  – brings the perfect fall crunch to every bite
  • Dried cranberries – adds tartness and texture
  • Apple  – adds sweetness and crispness to the dish
  • Maple syrup – warm and robust sweet fall flavor

Wild Rice Pilaf on a spoon

HOW DO YOU MAKE SLOW COOKER CRANBERRY APPLE PECAN WILD RICE PILAF?

  • Hang on, this one is a fast one. 
  • To make your Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf, add your garlic, onion and parsley to a small food processor and pulse until everything has been diced.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf food processor

  • Add this to your slow cooker.  Then add in the butter, wild rice blend, chicken stock, apple cider, juice and zest of one orange and your seasonings.
  • Give a quick stir and set your slow cooker to cook on Low for 4 – 5 hours.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf slow cooker

  • When your rice is cooked, add pecans to a small pan and roast over medium high heat for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning.
  • When your pecans have toasted and they are fragrant, add them along with your cranberries, chopped apples and the maple syrup to the rice in the slow cooker and stir well.
  • Let cook for another 5 – 10 minutes and then serve.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf in a white bowl

Let’s just all take a moment to thank the inventors of the slow cooker as we know it.

Entertaining and holiday get togethers just got a whole lot less stressful by adding this easy holiday side dish to your dinner line up.

This Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf is the easiest and tastiest dish you will be serving up this year and trust me, this wild rice pilaf is not just the holidays.

This is such a family favorite side dish that it get served up year round in my house.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf on a spoon

WHAT IS WILD RICE?

Here’s a kicker, wild rice is not actually rice.  It’s a hearty grain related to rice but it’s not rice as we know it.

Wild rice has a toasty, nutty flavor and is most often found in packages of wild rice blends.

I used Lundberg Wild Blend Rice for this recipe and it was easily found prepackaged in the rice / pasta aisle of my grocery store.

The wild rice blend is just that, a blending of different types of rice including long grain brown rice, wild rice, sweet brown rice and a few others.

wild rice

WHAT IS PILAF?

Traditionally speaking, pilaf is a Middle Eastern dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned broth.

Then meat or vegetable is added to it. For this wild rice pilaf recipe, I left out a meat source but this Cranberry Rice Pilaf would be perfect to add roasted chicken to if you wanted to flip it from a slow cooker side dish to a main course meal.

PRO TIPS FOR MAKING SLOW COOKER WILD RICE PILAF

  • You are going to be tempted to keep checking on your rice to see if it’s cooking.  Stop! Let the slow cooker do it’s job 🙂 Stir it once around the 3 hour mark but other than that, let it be.
  • Watch your pecans closely when you are toasting them.  They burn fast so make sure you are stirring them often and as soon as you can smell them cooking, they are done.
  • Not a fan of cranberries?  Try substituting golden raisins or even dried apricots or dried cherries in this dish… they would be lovely.
  • If you are a fan of sage and / or rosemary, feel free to add a teaspoon of either or both to this dish.
  • If you prefer your apples with a bit more tart, substitute the Honey crisp apple with Granny Smith apples
  • Want to transform this slow cooker side dish to a full on meal? Add in some cooked chicken or turkey.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf is wild rice slow cooked in apple cider and chicken stock then topped with tart cranberries, sweet apples and crunchy pecans to serve up the perfect slow cooker holiday side dish.

MORE SIDE DISH RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf is wild rice slow cooked in apple cider and chicken stock then topped with tart cranberries, sweet apples and crunchy pecans to serve up the perfect slow cooker holiday side dish.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I would love for you to leave a rating and a comment below! Let me know, how’d you do?! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Slow Cooker Cranberry Rice Pilaf with Apples and Pecans

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf
Cranberry Rice Pilaf with Apples and Pecans is the perfect easy slow cooker side dish to serve up for your holiday gatherings and tasty enough to keep for the rest of the year. Wild rice slow cooked in apple cider and chicken stock then topped with tart cranberries, sweet apples and crunchy pecans to serve up the ultimate in slow cooker holiday side dishes.
Heather - A Wicked Whisk
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 5 minutes
Serving Size 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic diced
  • 1/3 cup parsley diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion diced
  • 3 cups wild rice blend or a 16 ounce package
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 16 ounces chicken stock
  • 16 ounces apple cider or apple juice
  • 1 orange zest and juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1 /2 cup pecans chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 honeycrisp or gala apple chopped
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

Instructions

  • To make your Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf, add your garlic, onion and parsley to a small food processor and pulse until everything has been diced.  Add this to your slow cooker.  Then add in the butter, wild rice blend, chicken stock, apple cider, juice and zest of one orange and your seasonings. Give a quick stir and set your slow cooker to cook on Low for 4 - 5 hours.  
  • When your rice is cooked, add pecans to a small pan and roast over medium high heat for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning. When your pecans have toasted and they are fragrant, add them along with your cranberries, chopped apples and the maple syrup to the rice in the slow cooker and stir well. Let cook for another 5 - 10 minutes and then serve.

Notes

PRO TIPS FOR MAKING SLOW COOKER CRANBERRY APPLE PECAN WILD RICE PILAF

  • You are going to be tempted to keep checking on your rice to see if it's cooking.  Stop! Let the slow cooker do it's job 🙂 Stir it once around the 3 hour mark but other than that, let it be.
  • Watch your pecans closely when you are toasting them.  They burn fast so make sure you are stirring them often and as soon as you can smell them cooking, they are done.
  • Not a fan of cranberries?  Try substituting golden raisins or even dried apricots or dried cherries in this dish... they would be lovely.
  • If you are a fan of sage and / or rosemary, feel free to add a teaspoon of either or both to this dish.
  • If you prefer your apples with a bit more tart, substitute the Honey crisp apple with Granny Smith apples
  • Want to transform this slow cooker side dish to a full on meal? Add in some cooked chicken or turkey.

Nutrition

Serving: 12g | Calories: 273.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 36.9g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2.8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 7.8mg | Sodium: 285mg | Potassium: 219.3mg | Fiber: 3.8g | Sugar: 22.3g | Vitamin A: 290IU | Vitamin C: 13.9mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1.4mg

Update Notes: This post was originally published in November of 2018 but was republished with an updated recipe, new photos, step by step instructions and tips in October of 2023.

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