Wild Rice Pasta Salad

A deliciously different, easy, and bright pasta salad stuffed with hearty wild rice, fresh colorful bell peppers, zippy onion, and a creamy and bright oil & vinegar dressing. This salad keeps brilliantly and is perfect for picnics, barbecues, and packing for an easy lunch!

Potlucks and wild rice are part of the Minnesota culture as much as lakes and mosquitos are. If you’ve grown up in MN you are bound to have had wild rice soup, wild rice hot dish (yes! we call it hot dish here in MN and it applies to anything in a casserole pan :)), and, of course, wild rice salad. All of which you packed up and hauled to a potluck.

Another amazingly different salad is my Cauliflower Potato Salad. Tastes JUST LIKE traditional pasta salad but swaps potatoes for cauliflower without sacrificing a bit of the yummy, traditional flavor. You just have to try it.

As a child, my family didn’t eat a lot of wild rice dishes in our home. Wild rice is quite expensive, nor did my mom (not a great cook) feel terribly comfy using it. I have yet to ask her if she hadn’t discovered the stuff in the can or, perhaps, it hadn’t yet been packaged that way? Whatever the reason, my exposure to wild rice was limited to the times we ate at restaurants, or other brave homes that had all 12 of us for dinner (!), and my grandmother’s home.

I have a memory of eating dinner at another family’s home that served a wild rice salad that I adored. I’m sure I was more than rude shoving my face with it. Sorry, folks! I’ve recreated that favorite salad and brought it to my own family. Which, as I expected, can’t get enough of it!

Key Ingredients:

The recipe adds in macaroni and a brilliant amount of colorful peppers. It still stays true to the traditional wild rice salads…with an improvement of delicious pasta and the ease of canned wild rice. It is creamy, bright, earthy, and satisfying. You’ll want to bring this to your next potluck!

  • Wild Rice. If you have it available in you store, the canned previously cooked wild rice keeps this salad crazy easy to make. If you don’t have it, wild rice is simple to cook up. Make some for this recipe and make a bit more to add to your next batch of soup.
  • Shell Pasta. I prefer to use shell pasta but any type of small pasta that has some places for the dressing to duck and hide in will be perfect.
  • Bell Peppers. Red and yellow peppers are the stars of this recipe with their sweet flavor and bright colors.
  • Golden Raisins. You’ll be delighted and what adding golden raisins brings to rice dishes. I use them often to brighten up salads, Indian curry, and rice.
  • Onion. Red onion is what I prefer to use in salads because they are sweet and bright when eaten raw. Freshly chopped green onion is another that tastes amazing.
  • Vinegar. The brightness of vinegar in the dressing keeps the salad from getting oily and bland. Be generous with it!

Tip: Rinse your cooked pasta well with cold water, leave it in the colander, and pour ice into it. It will cool down rapidly and allow you to make your salad right away without waiting as long for the pasta to cool.

To Make:

  • Place the chilled rice and pasta and stir in the red onion, currants, corn, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, 2 tablespoons of basil, and salt.
  • Whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic powder, pepper, and additional fresh basil. Slowly whisk in the canola and olive oils and whip up until well blended.
  • Stir the dressing into the pasta.
  • Chill for at least 2 hours prior to serving (best if it chills overnight).

I had no idea, then, that that wild rice salad was a bit different than most because of the use of pasta in it. Truly, wild rice salad is usually made to be served on croissants or buns. But adding pasta to the salad stretches it, is more budget-friendly, and allows it to be fantastic to make ahead and serve to a crowd. All things my younger self didn’t grasp but my adult self greatly appreciates!

Make Ahead/Store:

  • Make your rice and pasta a couple of days in advance and simply add the rest of the ingredients, chill for a couple of hours prior to serving.
  • Chop your peppers and onions and either freeze them or put them in the fridge until you are ready to add them to the salad.
  • Whip up your dressing and store it in a container in the fridge for several days before using.
  • Store this salad, in a properly sealed container, for several days in the fridge.
  • We store this salad in individual containers in mason jars, in the fridge, for a grab and go lunch.

I don’t know how close this recipe is to the one I had as a child but it is utterly delicious! Because my kids adore this recipe I make a double batch and keep it in the fridge to serve for lunch and dinner. It stores beautifully and makes a great packed lunch.

Wild Rice Pasta Salad

| 8 servings
Prep Time | 30 minutes
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A delicious version of the classic Chicken Wild Rice salad with the addition of Creamette pasta


  • 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • 1 cup shell pasta cooked according to package instructions, drained, cooled, (which equals 2 cups of cooked pasta).
  • 3 tablespoon red onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup various colored bell peppers chopped
  • 3 tablespoon golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For dressing

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard or 1 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped optional
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil
Check out our Kitchen Reference Guide for help with unfamiliar terms.


  • Place the chilled rice and pasta into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the red onion, currants, corn, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, 2 tablespoons of basil, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic powder, pepper, and additional fresh basil. Slowly whisk in the oil and whip it up until well blended.
  • Stir the dressing into the pasta.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste (you'll be adding at least 1 tablespoon of salt–be prepared)
  • Chill for at least 2 hours prior to serving (best if it chills overnight).


Calories: 235kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 3gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 294mgPotassium: 128mgFiber: 1gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 359IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 1mg

Other delicious salads to try:

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5 thoughts on “Wild Rice Pasta Salad”

  1. 1 cup of uncooked wild rice makes about 3-4 cups cooked. So, 1/2 cup should be great. Good luck!!!

  2. Stephanie Foley

    I can not find a 15 oz can cooked wild rice. A 4 Oz. boxed Minnesota Wild Rice raw rice is only available at my local market. How much raw wild rice do I need to use to equal that 15 oz canned ?

  3. Orzo is a fantastic idea! I have not made a pasta salad with tater tots but it seems like a challenge I’m up for :).

  4. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Well, being from Minnesota I knew you’d have wild rice. Have you made a pasta salad with tater tots :-) ? You know that is a thought!! I’m sure if anyone could come up with one it would be you. Tater Tot Potato Salad!! Good grief I’m on to something. Do you think I could find tater tots in Indiana? We are in the boonies. I really do like your variation of the pasta salad. I’ve been thinking of doing something with orzo — something mimicking rice. I’m pinning this recipe. Love wild rice!!

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