Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf is a tasty and unique ONE-PAN meal! We roast together seasoned wild rice, smoked chicken & apple sausage, maple butternut squash, and perfectly caramelized brussels sprouts and then drizzled in an irresistible maple-orange vinaigrette. (That’s right — even the wild rice cooks on the sheet pan along with everything else!)

Overhead view of Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf in the pan

Overhead view of Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf in the pan

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf

One of my family’s all-time favorites is this Wild Rice Pilaf recipe.  And although it’s ridiculously good, it is more of a side dish than a main course and can be a bit time intensive to prepare since the wild rice takes so long to cook.

And so, in an attempt to get more of that pilaf in our lives, but in a simpler (and quicker) way, we developed this Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf. It’s packed with butternut squash, roasted brussels sprouts, and perfectly caramelized red onions.  And instead of being a salad or side dish, we’ve bulked it up with more wild rice and added in chicken sausage–so now it’s a full-on main course. 

This Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf is truly the ultimate all-in-one meal and it’s filling, hearty, nutritious, and loaded with textures and flavors. And after enjoying a delicious meal, everyone’s going to be even more excited to find out there is only one sheet pan to clean up

Ingredient shot: the products used in this recipe

Ingredient shot: the products used in this recipe

You Can Cook Wild Rice On A Sheet Pan?!

Yes! With a store-bought shortcut, we can have delicious cooked rice in a matter of minutes! 

In order for Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf to work, we need Ready Rice/Microwaveable Packaged Rice. Ready rice is a type of rice that is already cooked and just needs to be heated to warm through. Instead of cooking it in the microwave, we add it to the sheet pan with the veggies and sausage and roast it — easy, quick, and convenient!

You’ll find this type of packaged rice among other packets of rice and grains in the grocery store. There are lots of different flavors of microwaveable packaged rice, so be sure to pick “Long Grain & Wild with Herbs & Seasonings.”

This Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf recipe is created with the assumption that you’ll be using already-seasoned wild rice. While you can use a different flavor or even throw on some leftover cooked wild rice, you will then need to adjust seasonings a bit to compensate for using unseasoned rice. 

The only prep required for this type of rice is kneading the rice in the packet before opening it. This helps break apart any clumps of rice so it comes out in individual grains.

Photos illustrating the size of the vegetable cubes

Photos illustrating the size of the vegetable cubes

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf Ingredients

  • Sausage. Any smoked sausage works here, and we like smoked chicken apple sausage best (Aidells Smoked Chicken & Apple is our fave; not sponsored); it keeps things nice and healthy, plus tastes great — the flavors pair well with all the other ingredients in this recipe. Turkey sausage is another favorite in this recipe and works nicely. Just remember to use smoked sausage, which is already cooked.
  • Butternut squash. You can tell a squash is ripe by the color and texture of the outer rind. If there are any green spots, the squash isn’t ready to cook. The skin should be hard (not glossy) and an even color throughout. Here are step-by-step photos for how to cut squash or see “quick tip” below for a squash shortcut!
  • Red onion. The red onion caramelizes beautifully and adds such a nice flavor and texture to the pilaf. You can also use a yellow onion in a pinch.
  • Brussels sprouts. Look for bright green heads that are firm and feel heavy for their size. Avoid sprouts with yellowing leaves or black spots–that means they’re old!

QUICK TIP

Veggie Recipe Shortcuts: Pick up peeled and chopped butternut squash and halved Brussels sprouts from the produce section of your store — both are huge time savers if you’re looking for a shortcut when making this Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf!

Process shots: roasting the veggies

Process shots: roasting the veggies

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf Ingredients, Continued

  • Seasonings. We use salt and pepper (of course), and then a touch of dried parsley and thyme. You don’t need a whole ton of seasonings since the sausage and rice are both seasoned and we’re adding a dressing on top!
  • Olive oil and pure maple syrup. Roast the veggies in olive oil and pure maple syrup–this gives loads of flavor and beautiful caramelization.
  • Chopped pecans. We love the crunch and savoriness pecans add, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try pepitas, almonds, or walnuts instead!
  • Sweetened dried cranberries. The cranberries (or dried tart cherries) add a pop of color and sweetness to this recipe.

QUICK TIP

What is a pilaf? Pilaf is a grain dish cooked in stock or broth, adding spices, and other ingredients such as vegetables or meat. One feature of a pilaf is that the grains are separate, rather than in a thick sauce.

Process shots: roasting veggies and adding the sausage and rice

Process shots: roasting veggies and adding the sausage and rice

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf Dressing

This sweet-tart dressing is the perfect finishing touch! We use clementine orange juice to infuse the dressing with a lovely citrus flavor. The dressing is very subtle but ties everything together so nicely. A few notes on the dressing:

  • This citrus juicer makes juicing the clementines a breeze!
  • Make sure to use Dijon mustard, not yellow. There’s a big flavor difference. We love Grey Poupon® Dijon best (not sponsored).
  • Use pure maple syrup (not artificially flavored pancake syrup) when you roast the squash and also for the dressing. Pancake syrup will be too sweet and is not the flavor we’re going for. 

Process shots: adding pecans and cranberries to the rice pilaf; creating the dressing

Process shots: adding pecans and cranberries to the rice pilaf; creating the dressing

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf Tips

  • When cutting veggies (especially butternut squash) use a very sharp knife. Dull knives don’t cut well and you can end up with a disaster! Additionally, the more even the pieces are, the more evenly everything will roast. It may seem like a lot of veggies, but you’ll be amazed how much they cook down!
  • Wait for the oven to fully preheat. It might be tempting to start roasting everything a little early, but the cooking time will be off and roasting will be inconsistent. Position the tray in the center of the oven for even roasting.
  • Season as you go. You might be surprised how much salt and pepper we use in this recipe, but veggies require a lot for the flavors to “come alive.” Instead of adding salt and pepper all at the end, we season each individual component of the dish to end up with the best possible flavor. If you’ve ever thought vegetables taste dull, it could be because of how they’re seasoned.
  • Add garnishes. The finishing touch of adding fresh herbs and/or some cheese ties everything together. We love a combination of flat-leaf Italian parsley and green onions, but even just one herb will make an amazing difference! We also love some goat cheese sprinkled on top of everything — so good! If you aren’t a fan of goat cheese, feta is also a nice flavor and this pilaf is great without any cheese at all!

QUICK TIP

When you season throughout the cooking process, flavor infuses each bite– which helps the dish to become as delicious as possible. It’s not enough to simply sprinkle salt and pepper on at the end!

Up close overhead image of the Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf

Up close overhead image of the Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf

My top tip for this recipe

Use a LARGE sheet pan. I know, it sounds so basic, but the more space the vegetables and sausage have to cook (and the less crowded they are), the better they roast.

When vegetables overlap or crowd onto a sheet pan, they end up steaming instead of roasting, which greatly affects the end taste and texture; it also takes longer for everything to cook when there is less space.

I recommend this 15×21-inch sheet pan or using two pans to cook this Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf.

More Easy One-Pan Meals

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf is a tasty and unique ONE-PAN meal! Roast seasoned wild rice, smoked chicken & apple sausage, maple butternut squash, and perfectly caramelized Brussels sprouts and then drizzled in an irresistible maple-orange vinaigrette. (That’s right — even the wild rice cooks on the sheet pan along with everything else!)

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf

Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf is a tasty and unique ONE-PAN meal! Roast seasoned wild rice, smoked chicken & apple sausage, maple butternut squash, and perfectly caramelized Brussels sprouts and then drizzled in an irresistible maple-orange vinaigrette. (That’s right — even the wild rice cooks on the sheet pan along with everything else!)

Ingredients

Sheet Pan

  • 3 cups (427g) butternut squash cubed
  • 1-1/2 cups (185g) red onion chopped (~1/2 large onion)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Olive oil, fine sea salt, and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 package (12 oz.; 340g smoked chicken sausage, coined (Note 1)
  • 8.8 ounces Pre-cooked Wild Rice Pilaf I used Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice Long Grain & Wild Rice, 8.8 ounces
  • 2 cups (185g) halved Brussels sprouts
  • 1/3 cup (45g) coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • Optional: goat or feta cheese and fresh herbs (we like green onions and flat-leaf Italian parsley best!)

Dressing

  • 1-1/2 tablespoon juice of clementine (or orange)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (55g) olive oil

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Set out a very large (I use a 15×21-inch pan) or 2 smaller sheet pans. Peel the squash and cut into small 1/2 inch cubes, cut the red onion into 1-inch chunks, trim and then cut Brussels sprouts in half. Thinly slice chicken sausage into coins. The recipe timing depends on veggies cut to these sizes.

  • ROAST SQUASH AND ONIONS: On the large sheet pan, add the squash, red onions, 2 tablespoons (25g) olive oil, 1 tablespoon (19g) maple syrup, and salt and pepper to taste. (I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (See Note 2) and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). With your hands, toss to generously coat everything and then spread in an even layer, leaving plenty of space for the veggies to roast. (If they’re overlapping they will steam instead of roast and take a lot longer to cook.) Add the tray to the preheated oven and roast for 10 minutes.

  • ROAST BRUSSELS: Remove sheet pan from oven and add the Brussels sprouts, 1 more tablespoon olive oil, and another pinch of salt and pepper (I add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper). Toss everything together, spread in an even layer, and return to the oven for 10 more minutes.

  • ROAST CHICKEN SAUSAGE: Remove from the oven after 10 minutes, add sliced chicken sausage, and toss everything together. Again, spread in one even layer and return to the oven.

  • ROAST RICE, CRANBERRIES, AND PECANS: Meanwhile, without opening the rice packets, knead and break up the rice with your hands to separate it into individual grains. No need to microwave or prepare the rice in any other way! Remove the pan from the oven and add the following right on top of everything: the rice, cranberries, pecans, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, and salt and pepper (I add 1/4 teaspoon of each here). Toss everything together with a spatula, spread in an even layer, and return to the oven for 2 minutes.

  • DRESSING: While the veggies are roasting, prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.) Put on the lid and shake vigorously to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use, being sure to shake before adding.

  • ENJOY: Remove the tray from the oven and toss once more. Drizzle on the dressing to taste preference (you may not want it all), and toss everything once more. Garnish with fresh herbs and cheese if desired and enjoy immediately!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Any smoked sausage will work in this recipe. We personally love Aidells chicken and apple sausage, but smoked turkey sausage also works nicely in this recipe. Smoked sausage is already cooked, whereas fresh sausage is not.
Note 2: Instead of adding salt and pepper all at the end, we season each individual component of the dish to end up with the best possible flavor. Note that I’m using fine sea salt not table salt. If using table salt, you’ll want to greatly reduce the amounts. 

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 829kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 53g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 29g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 1064mg | Potassium: 1469mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 20522IU | Vitamin C: 142mg | Calcium: 183mg | Iron: 5mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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