Wild Rice vs. Brown Rice vs. Quinoa—Which Is Best?

Searching for the healthiest whole grain? Join us as we compare wild rice, brown rice and quinoa to discover which grain is best for your diet.

There’s no doubt that whole grains are the way to go if you want to make a healthy tweak to your diet. But which boasts the most benefits? Wild rice, brown rice and quinoa are no doubt good for you—and each has a different set of health benefits—but which is healthiest? Let’s compare.

By the way, these healthy food swaps could change your life.

Which is better, brown rice or wild rice?

If you’re looking to cut calories and up your protein intake, wild rice is the better option. A serving of wild rice contains fewer calories and boasts double the protein content of brown rice. Wild rice also has all nine essential amino acids, which we need for things like building muscle and regulating metabolism, mood and the immune system.

Both types of rice are great sources of fiber, antioxidants and nutrients like manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. Brown rice does have more B vitamins compared to wild rice (making it a great choice if you’re on a meat-free diet), so alternating between the two won’t have any drawbacks. If you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic, both wild rice and brown rice can reduce blood sugar.

Find our best brown rice recipes.

Editor’s Tip: Here’s an interesting fact: Despite the name, wild rice is actually a type of grass which belongs to the Zizania family. Brown rice, like white rice, are members of the Oryza family. Flavor-wise, wild rice has a stronger, earthier taste (it’s particularly great with mushrooms) than mild, nutty brown rice.

Is wild rice or quinoa healthier?

Like wild rice, quinoa has all nine essential amino acids. This pseudo-cereal is packed with protein, fiber and loads of minerals like iron and zinc. There’s a reason why it’s been widely hailed as a superfood. Quinoa and wild rice are comparable in term of their nutritional benefits. Their vitamin and mineral contents are slightly different but one isn’t necessarily healthier than the other. Eat both and get the best of both worlds. Get our full guide to quinoa here.

One thing to note—quinoa is slightly higher in calories than either wild or brown rice. It’s best enjoyed in smaller portions as a side dish, in a salad or as a substitute for oats or rice. Here are our top quinoa recipes if you need a lil’ inspiration.

Which is better, rice or quinoa?

When pitted against rice, quinoa wins the title of healthiest whole grain thanks to its protein, fiber and essential amino acid content. But as we’ve discussed above, both quinoa and brown rice are excellent sources of many of the vitamins and minerals we need in a healthy diet.

Psst! This is how to make the lightest, fluffiest quinoa ever.

The Takeaway:

So what’s the bottom line? Wild rice, brown rice and quinoa all make excellent additions to your diet. All three are gluten-free, which is handy if you’re sensitive to gluten or simply trying to cut down on your gluten intake. And they all are better for you than white rice, thanks to each grain’s high fiber, protein and nutrient contents.

The best part? They all taste great and their versatility means you can whip up a quinoa salad one night, tuck into a hearty rice bowl the next and round the week off with a wild rice bake—all while reaping health benefits.

Before you go, here’s a super simple guide to cooking perfect brown rice.

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Camille Berry
Part of the third generation in a family of restaurateurs, Camille was born with a passion for cooking and food. She embarked on a career in hospitality where she excelled as a sommelier and wine director. This hospitality experience has given her a wealth of first-hand knowledge about how to pair all manner of drinks with food—plus some serious kitchen skills. These days, she's hung up her wine key in favor of a pen and covers all aspects of food and drink.