Healthy Wild Rice Chicken Salad is a nutritious and delicious cold, wild rice salad recipe which includes tender, juicy roasted chicken, nutty wild rice, dried cranberries, tart granny smith apples, red bell pepper, celery, and roasted pecans, topped with a light, flavorful balsamic vinaigrette.
There are many different recipes for Chicken and Wild Rice Salad on food blogs on the Internet, and I think most cookbooks include recipes for this popular salad as well. However, I don’t think you will be able to find a more delicious combination of ingredients anywhere else, and I do hope you will give it a try.
Most traditional chicken salad recipes are jammed packed with calories, but this chicken salad is made without mayonnaise which makes it a great side dish and perfect for summer picnics, ladies luncheons, or outdoor barbecues.
Kathleen, a friend of mine from Thomasville, Georgia brought me this delicious homemade chicken salad several years ago. It was the best chicken salad or wild rice salad I had ever tasted, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I searched and searched for a chicken or wild rice salad recipe with the same ingredients but never could find one, so I finally called Kathleen, and she was happy to share it. To this day, I still have the recipe written on the back of an old envelope, and it makes me think of her whenever I see it.
This nutritious wild rice salad is loaded with vitamins and is as healthy as it is delicious! Kathleen tells the story that she likes it so much, that one time when she went on a diet, she ate it for lunch and dinner every day for a week and ended up losing 5 pounds…
It is really important to use 100% wild rice, and not a wild rice blend. Wild rice is not rice or grain, but a native North American long-grain marsh grass, hailing from the Great Lakes. It has a wonderful toasty, nutty flavor and is a little crunchy. My sister, Nancy tried this recipe one time with brown rice, and she said that it did not turn out well.
For some reason, I always have a hard time finding wild rice at the grocery store among all of the other types of rice and rice blends. It’s usually in a small box or jar on the top shelf. Also, I always substitute dried cranberries or craisins for the dried currants, because I keep them in my pantry. Finally, to save time, I sometimes use a cooked rotisserie chicken instead of roasting chicken breasts.
If you like this southern-style recipe for Healthy Wild Rice Chicken Salad, check out these southern-style salad recipes: Easy Southern Corn Salad, Classic Southern Seven-Layer Salad, and Easy Southern Broccoli Salad.
How to make Healthy Wild Rice Chicken Salad at home
This recipe for Chicken and Wild Rice Salad does include a fairly long list of ingredients, and there is a good amount of chopping involved, but once that’s done, it goes together really quickly. The ingredients include wild rice, chicken, apples, red onion, red pepper, dried currants or golden raisins, celery, roasted pecans, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and kosher salt and pepper.
Gather your ingredients and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until your chicken is cooked through. Set aside to cool.
When the chicken is cool, remove meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into cubes.
To cook the wild rice, bring water to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, add 1/4 tsp of salt and wild rice. Lower the heat, and cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the water and is cooked. Pour into a colander to drain. Let cool.
In a large bowl, add apples, red onion, red bell pepper, dried currants, golden raisins or dried cranberries, celery, and roasted pecan pieces. Add the rice and cooked chicken. Mix well.
In a mason jar, mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar and kosher salt and pepper to taste. Shake well and pour it over the salad. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.
Chicken and Wild Rice Salad can be served warm or cold. I usually serve it on lettuce leaves along with my Easy Southern Cheddar Cheese Biscuits.
I would like to thank my friend Lolita Brawner for taking pictures of this salad for my blog. Lolita is an experienced photographer, and she helped me style the food and gave me some tips for better food photos. Thanks again, Lolita!
This recipe originally published Feb 20, 2016, updated and republished April 18, 2018.
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Healthy Wild Rice Chicken Salad
- 2/3 cup uncooked wild rice *see notes
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cups water
- 2 chicken breasts **
- 2 Granny Smith apples unpeeled, cut into cubes
- 1/3 red onion minced
- 1/2 red bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 cup dried currants or golden raisins may substitute dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup celery chopped
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces toasted***
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.
- When the chicken is cool, remove meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into cubes.
- To cook the wild rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat in a medium-size saucepan. When the water is boiling, add 1/4 tsp of salt and 2/3 cups of wild rice. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed the water and is done. Pour the rice into a colander and drain. Let cool.
- In a large bowl, add apples, red onion, red bell pepper golden raisins (may substitute dried cranberries), celery, and pecan pieces. Add the rice and cooked chicken. Mix well.
- In a mason jar, mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar and kosher salt and pepper to taste. Shake well and pour it over the salad. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.