Cook/ Easy Weeknight

Winter Brown Rice Salad with Feta and Cranberries

January 29, 2020

Last Updated on January 29, 2020 by Slow The Cook Down

If you are looking for an easy and healthy meal for a crowd, my winter brown rice salad, packed full of flavours and textures is sure to hit the spot! This vegetarian and gluten-free dish is perfect for make ahead lunches, potlucks or a side dish to accompany a big family feast.

This post has been sponsored by USA Rice Canada. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Poppy seed dressing being pored over a small bowl of brown rice salad

One of the best things about food blogging, is that there’s usually a tasty treat in the house I’ve made up! This Brown Rice Salad is something I’ve been dipping in to all week and sending off with Mr. Slow The Cook Down for some tasty desk lunches.

I wanted to make a winter rice salad, full of flavours of the season – sweet cranberries, earthy walnuts and sunflower seeds and salty feta mixed with nutty cooked whole grain brown rice. All topped off with a creamy and tangy poppy seed dressing. Winter salad perfection!

How to cook Brown Rice Salad

Making this brown rice salad couldn’t be easier, and I implore you to make a big batch! Simply cook the rice – I used a wholegrain blend from California that had an amazing nutty flavour and firm texture – let it cool, then, add in the other ingredients. It really doesn’t get any easier!

Op down shot of a small bowl of brown rice salad with a fork

Brown Rice Salad is perfect for your festive entertaining

Who doesn’t like side dishes?! They’re the best bit!! As well as making a hearty lunch, this dish will be the perfect side to go along with festive buffets. You can easily make the salad and dressing a day ahead making for a stress-free option when you are hosting a crowd. Full of festive ingredients, a huge bowl of brown rice salad will sit perfectly on any Christmas table. This is also a vegetarian and gluten-free dish, so it’s great to reach for when you have guests with different needs.

Brown Rice Salad for easy meal prep

Rice dishes have to be the king when it comes to meal prep, this dish will keep fresh in the fridge for 3-5 days. The awesome news is that you can also freeze brown rice for up to 6 months – you can then just reheat it and add the other ingredients to make up the salad! Just pop it into single serve freezer bags or an air tight container, then, to reheat, add a few teaspoons of water and pop on the stovetop for 5 minutes. Weeknight meals don’t get any easier!

This recipe will easily make 8 lunches, but it would also be a great recipe to serve as a side dish or to take along to a potluck or bbq. The Brown Rice Salad can be made the day before, make the poppy seed dressing separately and pour over the salad just before serving.

Poppy seed dressing being poured over brown rice salad

Is Brown Rice Salad Healthy?

In short….YES! It’s exactly why I made a huge batch of it to have for easy lunches and add as a side for easy weeknight meals – healthy and tasty without even thinking about it! The brown rice is a slow burning carb so it provides long lasting energy; it’s perfect as a post workout meal if you are that way inclined 😉

Brown rice is also a rich source of B-vitamins, zinc, fibre and magnesium so it’s a great way to get the goodness in!

two small bowls of brown rice salad next to a large serving bowl

For more delicious and nutritious rice recipes, be sure to check out There’s a tonne of amazing recipes to found as well as some great how to videos, to get the best out of your rice.

For more rice dishes:

Brown rice salad in a large serving bowl

Winter Brown Rice Salad with Feta and Cranberries

Winter Brown Rice Salad is the perfect make ahead dish for easy lunches and festive entertaining. Vegetarian and gluten-free.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 614kcal


For the rice salad:

  • 2.5 cups wholegrain brown rice blend (16oz) (454g)
  • 2 oz arugula (55g)
  • 4.5 oz walnut halves (125g)
  • 7 oz dried cranberries (200g)
  • 5.3 oz crumbled feta (150g)
  • 3.5 oz pumpkin seeds (100g)

For the poppy seed dressing:

  • ½ cup white wine vinegar (120ml)
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar (100g)
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • ½ tsp table salt
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 5 tbsp mayonnaise
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (120ml)


For the rice salad

  • Cook the rice according to the instructions. Once cooked (do not over cook), drain and put to one side to cool to room temperature.
  • Once cool, add to a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well.

For the poppy seed dressing

  • Whisk together the white wine and sugar.
  • Add in the poppy seeds, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and whisk together.
  • Slowly add the olive oil while whisking, until the dressing has come together.
  • When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the brown rice salad and toss.


Yield for the poppy seed dressing is around 1 ½ cups. You can store any left over in an airtight bottle for 3-5 days in the fridge.
Calories are based on one of 8 servings without dressing.


Calories: 614kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 425mg | Potassium: 399mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 245IU | Vitamin C: 1.5mg | Calcium: 179mg | Iron: 3.3mg
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