Wild Rice Hotdish

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Can you get any more Minnesota than wild rice hotdish? Pretty sure you can’t. This easy comfort food casserole is a hat tip to the North Star State, and can be made “wilder” with venison and wild mushrooms.

A casserole dish of wild rice hotdish.

This is a casserole — hotdish in Minnesota parlance — that isn’t bound with eggs, so it’ll be a touch sloppy, er, freeform, when you dish it out on plates. If this bothers you, you can add a couple of beaten eggs to it.

The wild rice is your starch here, but even so it’s a lot lighter than, say, the pasta in my sauerkraut casserole or my venison tater tot hotdish.

Mushrooms and wild rice are a classic combination, and I used wild ones I gathered in Northern Minnesota here, but really any mushroom will do. I prefer using fresh or thawed ones I’d previously cooked over rehydrated dried mushrooms, but either works.

Meat in Wild Rice Hotdish

This is not a vegetarian wild rice hotdish: I use both sausage and bacon in it. But you can skip both if you want to make is vegetarian. My advice here would be to double the amount of mushrooms.

What meat is up to you. I do really like frying bacon, then using the fat to cook the rest of the vegetables, then chopping the bacon — after eating a piece, duh — for the topping. So unless you have a moral objection to bacon, use it.

I prefer a basic venison sausage for wild rice hotdish because venison + wild rice + wild mushrooms really speaks to Minnesota, where this dish originates. But any good, mild link will do. Don’t use anything too spicy or bold, because the sausage plays backup here.

You could also use straight up ground venison, or any other ground meat. Another route would be to use leftover slow-cooked venison, like leftover venison neck roast. Leftover beef pot roast, chopped, is another good option. Same with chopped BBQ brisket.

A plate of wild rice hotdish ready to eat.

Wild Rice CHoices

Unlike most of my wild rice recipes, wild rice hotdish doesn’t need to have the real-deal, truly wild wild rice. It is of course better with the real stuff, but it’s not strictly needed.

Regular, farmed, inky black wild rice is fine. So is broken grain. You cook the wild rice before it goes into the casserole, so the main difference is that the farmed wild rice takes a lot longer to cook.

Serving and Storing

I like to serve a wild rice hotdish with a simple green salad. This isn’t a gut bomb like many other casseroles, but it is still a little light on greenery.

The finished casserole keeps a week in the fridge, and freezes well. To reheat, either pop the whole dish in the oven at 300°F for 30 minutes, or, because it’s not a tight, set casserole, you can spoon some into a pan and heat it up on the stovetop.

If you do this, fold in some scrambled eggs for a killer breakfast!

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

A casserole dish of wild rice hotdish.
4.88 from 8 votes

Wild Rice Hotdish

This is a hearty, homey casserole that brings together wild rice, mushrooms, bacon, cheese, and some venison or beef. It keeps a week in the fridge and makes great leftovers.
Course: lunch, Main Course, Rice
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 8 ounces bacon
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped (any kind)
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 pound sausage, cut into chunks
  • 4 cups cooked wild rice
  • 3 ounces water chestnuts, chopped (fresh or canned)
  • 1 10- ounce can of cream of celery soup
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried savory or thyme
  • 4 ounces grated gruyere, Swiss or Emmentaler cheese

Instructions 

  • Fry the bacon in a pan until crispy. Eat a piece. Chop the rest. Pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the fat (save it for another dish). Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Saute the sausage, mushrooms, onion and celery in the bacon fat until the vegetables are soft and everything is just beginning to brown. While it's all cooking, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the water chestnuts and wild rice and mix well.
  • Turn off the heat and mix in cream of celery soup, herbs and half the cheese.
  • Butter a casserole dish; a 9×13 should work fine here. Pack the contents of the pan into the casserole, and top it with the chopped bacon and the rest of the cheese. Bake for 1 hour, or until the cheese is nicely melted and starting to brown — check it at 45 minutes.

Notes

  • Four cups cooked wild rice is generally 1 heaping cup of dry wild rice. 
  • Any fresh mushroom you like will work here: buttons, chanterelles, morels, you name it. 
  • You can use any mild sausage. Brats are a good choice, as is sweet Italian sausage or Polish sausages. Nothing too strongly flavored. 
  • If you want to use a different meat, ground venison, beef or turkey works well, as does leftover brisket or pot roast, chopped roughly. 

Nutrition

Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 814mg | Potassium: 637mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 272IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 170mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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14 Comments

  1. Hey Hank
    This sounds great and I want to make it. But one thing seems to be missing. In the intro right above the recipe, as well as in the notes, it mentions venison or beef. But in the ingredients it does not mention those. Are those instead of the sausage?

    1. Mark: Yes, you can skip sausage of any kind and replace with an equal weight of ground beef/pork/venison/turkey. Sorry about that, will clarify!

      1. One more question. For the cream of celery soup, is that condensed soup like Campbells? If so do you add the water or milk as in the directions on the can or do you just use it straight in its condensed form?

      2. Mark: It’s Campbell’s but not condensed. Or if it is, it didn’t say it on the can. I just poured it in. Wasn’t crazy thick, more like housepaint consistency.

  2. I don’t like to use canned soups, and I also don’t like celery flavor, what can I use that is homemade to substitute for the canned soup?

    1. Mariah: Make a simple veloute. Start with a flour-and-butter roux and cook that until the roux turns light brown, stirring constantly. Slowly pour in a light stock, like chicken or vegetable, until the mixture has the consistency of a thin gravy. Pour in a few tablespoons of heavy cream, then taste for salt. Works great!

  3. Bookmarked. Now I know what to do with this forest full of ringless honey mushrooms. From Oklahoma, thank you.

  4. Made this last night. Mushrooms were missing from instructions, but I added them with the celery, onion, and meat. I used goose sausage (German sausage flavor) sliced into 1/2″ rings. My husband suggested smaller pieces next time to enjoy a piece of meat in every bite. Loved the addition of water chestnuts. This is a classic Midwestern “hotdish.” For my WI-born spouse, it’s true comfort food and a potential hunting camp meal. But I’m from the West, and my eyes and palate wanted to some greenery (parsley?), broth or wine for moisture and flavor. Delicious, though, as is.

  5. As a lifelong Minnesotan I’ve eaten my fair share of hotdishes and this one of the best. I don’t really care for mushrooms but used sliced white ones from store and our venison polish sausage. I can’t wait to try leftovers with eggs

  6. This was really good. I didn’t have some of the ingredients so I substituted…but it was still awesome and so happy I was able to make this casserole. I added carrots and extra shrooms AND used cream of mushroom BUT the beauty of this is that you can swap stuff in and out and it is still great! ?

  7. Hank,

    Growing up in Minnesota I remember similar dishes that were popular among duck hunters in Rochester, Minnesota.

    On the list for the weekend!

    Have a good week!

    Tad