Brown Rice Salad with Cranberries and Sweet Potato

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by Sil Pancho

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09.20.2022


This Brown Rice Salad with Cranberry and Sweet Potato is a healthy side dish that is simple enough for a family meal and special enough for your holiday table. Impossible you say! Oh, it’s possible…. read on! 

closeup of oval white bowl filled with brown rice salad with chunks of roasted sweet potatoes in it

Why Make This Brown Rice Salad Recipe

When Katie asked me what recipe I wanted to make for the blog this fall, I decided to create a seasonal spin on my favorite rice salad. That’s how I came up with this yummy Brown Rice Salad with Cranberries and Sweet Potatoes!

It’s great because it’s totally doable for a weeknight meal and pairs well with any protein, but it’s special enough to hold court at your Holiday table later this fall. The nuttiness of the brown rice with the creaminess of the roasted sweet potato are accented by a delicious orange honey dressing.

I also threw in some toasted pecans for depth and crunch, a few dried cranberries for a sweet burst of flavor and parsley for freshness and color.

This side dish looks and smells like holiday in a bowl! And it can be eaten warm, at room temperature or cold straight out of the fridge (which is what I did for lunch yesterday;) So don’t miss out on trying this yummy and versatile dish. You’ll be so happy that you did!!

the salad with a cutting board with orange, pecans, cranberries and parsley

Ingredient Notes

Long Grain Brown Rice

Long grain brown rice is perfect for rice salad because it holds its shape without being too starchy. Short grain brown rice is better suited for risotto. Some varieties of long-grain brown rice to try are Basmati or Jasmine.

Sweet Potatoes

This seasonal veggie is one of my families favorites. Look for smooth-skinned sweet potatoes without signs of rot or wrinkling.

Dried Cranberries

We love adding dried cranberries to grain dishes around here. Try our Wild Rice Salad, Quinoa Stuffing or Pumpkin Pilaf to name a few. Look for fruit juice sweetened natural dried cranberries if you are watching your sugars or additives.

Orange

I used both orange zest and orange juice to add flavor of orange to the dressing. Orange and cranberry are a match made in heaven (try our orange cranberry muffins if you need further convincing!) Just remember to zest the orange before you cut it in half to juice it. It is much easier to zest it when it is whole!

Pecans

Being a Texas native, I am a big fan of pecans and love the way they taste in holiday-themed recipes. They add great nuttiness, especially when toasted!

side view of the salad in an oval bowl

Step-By-Step Instructions For This Brown Rice Salad

Step 1: Preheat Oven and Prep Potatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and cut the potato into cubes.

Step 2: Cook Brown Rice

Cook brown basmati rice according to instructions on the packaging.

Step 3: Roast Sweet Potatoes

Meanwhile, toss sweet potato with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until coated. Spread out in a single layer onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once or twice, until tender and darkened in spots, 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 4: Make Dressing

Meanwhile, whisk orange zest and juice, vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, the shallot and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined.

Step 5: Toss Salad and Dressing

Re-whisk the dressing to combine then add warm rice, pecans, cranberries and parsley to the orange juice mixture and gently stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

FAQs and Expert Tips

Can this brown rice salad be made ahead?

Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. For the best flavor stir well and bring to room temperature before serving. 
To make in advance, omit parsley and pecans and store in a re-sealable container for up to one day. To serve, bring to room temperature and stir in pecans and parsley just before serving. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

Variations To Try

  • Instead of pecans, try another type of nut such as pistachios, sliced almonds or chopped walnuts.
  • Add chopped apples instead of the roasted sweet potatoes to make this even more simple.
  • Buy pre-cooked brown rice and use that instead. This will save about 40 minutes. Just make sure to warm it up before adding to the dressing so that it absorbs as much flavor as possible.
  • Substitute pomegranate arils instead of dried cranberries for a fresh seasonal treat.

More Healthy Side Dish Salads To Try This Season

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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Description

This Brown Rice Salad with Cranberries and Sweet Potato is totally doable for a family dinner, but it’s special enough to hold court at your Holiday table!


  • 1 cup long grain brown rice, such as brown basmati
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 large orange, 1 teaspoon zest and 1/3 cup juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped and preferably toasted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cook brown basmati rice according to instructions on packaging.
  3. Meanwhile, toss sweet potato with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until coated. Spread out in a single layer onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once or twice, until tender and darkened in spots, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk orange zest and juice, vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, the shallot and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined.
  5. Re-whisk the dressing to combine then add warm rice, pecans, cranberries and parsley to the orange juice mixture and gently stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Make Ahead

Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. For the best flavor stir well and bring to room temperature before serving. 

To make in advance, omit parsley and pecans and store in a re-sealable container for up to one day. To serve, bring to room temperature and stir in pecans and parsley just before serving. 

 

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stove top/Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 3/4 cups
  • Calories: 249
  • Sugar: 11 g
  • Sodium: 437 mg
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 34 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Keywords: Brown rice salad with cranberries,vegan brown rice salad,brown rice and sweet potato salad





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