Cranberry stuffing with wild rice, cherries, and pecans is a hearty vegan Thanksgiving side dish packed with rich fall flavors. It's a healthy alternative to heavier traditional Thanksgiving stuffing/dressing recipes.
Thanksgiving is all about gathering with friends and family, enjoying a feast, and giving thanks for what we have.
While some families have a longstanding tradition of using stuffing for their turkey, our family has always made what's technically considered a dressing: stuffing that's cooked outside of the turkey and not inside.
But over the years, the two terms of stuffing and dressing have become interchangeable. And nowadays, when people hear the term "dressing," they often think of salad dressing. Therefore, we're calling this recipe a stuffing -- even though technically it's not stuffed inside the turkey.
🌟 Why this recipe works
- This cranberry stuffing is packed with so many favorite flavors of fall packed into each bite.
- The recipe makes enough to serve a crowd of approximately 18-20, if each person takes one heaping serving spoon.
- You get healthy vegetables, grains, and fruits with each bite.
- The flavors and spices pair deliciously with other traditional Thanksgiving dinner dishes, like roast turkey and mashed potatoes.
🍒 Ingredient notes
Wild rice - use your favorite wild rice mix!
Dried cranberries and cherries - They add so much richness and depth to this wild rice dressing recipe.
Pecans - for added texture and flavor depth.
Bread - I use a hearty seeded wheat bread, which gives the dressing a richer, earthier taste.
Vegetable broth - to infuse the rice with more flavor.
✅ Step-by-step instruction
The wild rice cooks in a medium pan while you sauté together the celery, onions, and garlic.
Then you add the pecans, dried fruit, and slowly add the milk in to help soften the mixture while it bakes.
Finally, you add the cooked rice, sautéed fruit & nut mixture, and cubed bread all together in a large bowl. Spread the mixture out evenly into a large 9 x 13" baking dish, and bake according to directions below.
👩🏻🍳 Recipe FAQs
When it comes to Thanksgiving side dishes, stuffing is cooked inside the turkey; dressing is cooked outside of the turkey.
You could use regular wheat bread or white bread, but make sure you use day-old bread.
You can also toast the bread in the oven for 5-7 minutes before mixing it in.
Or, you could use traditional croutons. Just know that your bread choice will affect the texture and taste of the dressing, so go with a bread you enjoy and you can't go wrong!
I use both dried cranberries and cherries but you could choose to use either if you prefer one over the other.
🍽 Serving ideas
This satisfying side dish is great for the holidays or for almost any dinner.
Looking for some ways to make a smaller gathering special? I have some easy ideas for enjoying a Small Thanksgiving Dinner at Home.
Leftover ideas for cranberry stuffing
If you're not cooking for a huge crowd, you will definitely have leftovers. This dressing is an awesome base for many leftover dishes!
Here are some ideas:
- Wild Rice Dressing Scramble - Add a warmed up spoonful on top of scrambled eggs in the morning.
- Wild Rice Dressing Quiche/Frittatas - Beat some eggs and pour over the dressing in a round baking dish or divide into muffin tins for frittatas. Bake until the eggs are fluffy and cooked.
- Wild Rice Dressing with Sausage - Cook Italian sausage, add to the dressing for a yummy leftover lunch.
- Wild Rice Dressing Burgers - Beat an egg or two (depending on how much you have leftover) and add to the wild rice dressing in a bowl. Form burger patties, and refrigerate for about 15 minutes, just to set in the shape. Cook over a skillet, about 2-3 minutes each side. Top each burger with a tower of mixed greens, or eat between hamburger buns and your choice of toppings.
🍳 Kitchen tools and equipment
More side dish recipes
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Cranberry Stuffing with Wild Rice
- 1 9" x 13" baking dish
- 1 cup wild rice mix
- 2¼ cups vegetable broth, homemade, or one 14.5 ounce can
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- ½ tablespoon chopped thyme leaves (or 1½ teaspoons dried thyme)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- salt & pepper
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup almondmilk
- 9 slices wheat bread, cubed (8 cups total)
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 9" x 13" baking dish with butter. Set aside.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
- In a medium pot, bring vegetable stock to a boil. Add wild rice mix, stir, lower heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes until rice is fluffy and liquid is absorbed.
- While rice is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add garlic, onions, and celery to the skillet and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until the onions are softened.
- Add pecans to the skillet, stir, and toast ingredients for about 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
- Add dried cranberries and cherries, then slowly pour in the almondmilk. Stir everything together for 1-2 minutes, just to heat up the almondmilk and slightly soften the dried fruit.
- Combine bread cubes, skillet mixture, and cooked wild rice in a large bowl. Gently toss so all ingredients mingle nicely. Slowly pour into the baking dish into an even layer.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350°F degrees for 30 minutes.
- Uncover, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Nutrition information is a general estimate. Actual nutrition details may vary depending on the exact foods & brands you use to make this recipe. It does not take into account any substitutions, toppings, or optional ingredients.
Do you prefer stuffing or dressing? Will you be cooking for a crowd this Thanksgiving or bringing a dish to another celebration?