A Lesson on How to Cook Rice


Although rice is a staple food in many homes, cooking it to perfection can prove challenging for novice cooks. Rice can be cooked perfectly on the stove and even in the microwave, but the proportions and timing is key. A slightly wrong proportion of rice to water leaves you with rice that's either mushy and sticky, or hard and undercooked. Not paying attention to time could result in burned rice and a pot to scrub. Avoid these rice-making pitfalls by accurately measuring your proportions and using a kitchen timer to ensure you don't end up with overcooked or undercooked rice.

Things You'll Need

  • Salt
  • Butter or olive oil (optional)

On the Stovetop

  • Place the rice into a bowl of water. Swish the rice around in the water to loosen any unwanted particles. Drain it into a mesh sieve. Repeat the washing process a few more times. Drain and rinse the rice a final time.

  • Combine rice and water in a large saucepan on the stove. Add a few dashes of salt and an optional pat of butter or a drizzle olive oil. For white long-grain rice, add 1 3/4 cups water for every 1 cup of rice. Alternatively, if you are making brown rice, use 2 1/4 cups water per cup of rice.

  • Bring the rice and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Do not stir the rice. Allow it to cook, covered, until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes for 1 cup of regular long-grain rice; about 35 minutes for brown rice. Use a kitchen timer to ensure you don't overcook the rice.

  • Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 to 30 minutes to allow the steam to distribute fully through the rice. Let brown rice steam for at least 10 minutes. Fluff the rice fully with a fork before serving.

In the Microwave

  • Combine water, rice (which can be rinsed), salt and butter or oil in a deep, microwave-safe baking dish. Cover tightly with a lid. Use the same ratio of rice and water as you would on the stovetop.

  • Place the baking dish into the microwave and set it for 5 minutes on "HIGH." Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the power to "MEDIUM." Microwave for another 15 minutes for white rice and about 20 minutes for brown rice, or until all the water is fully absorbed.

  • Leave the rice in the microwave with the lid closed for at least 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the steam to distribute through the rice. Remove it from the microwave. Fluff the rice before serving, using a fork.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rinsing is an optional step recommended for imported rice to remove talc and other unwanted material on the rice. It's also ideal if you prefer rice that is less sticky, as it removes some of the starch.
  • Butter or olive oil adds flavor and helps prevent stickiness.
  • You can replace the water with chicken stock if you prefer for more flavor.
  • Allowing the rice to steam after it is removed from the heat ensures rice that is uniform in texture and fluffiness, rather than rice that is light and fluffy on the top and mushier at the bottom of the pot.
  • Rice grown in the United States does not need to be washed and is most often enhanced with healthy nutrients that get washed away if you do rinse them.
  • If you are cooking medium or short-grain white rice, use about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of water per cup of rice.
  • Rice will triple in volume as it absorbs water. Ensure your saucepan is large enough to hold all of the rice you are cooking.
  • If you have a rice cooker, follow the manufacturer's instructions as cookers are slightly different. It's generally recommended to use about 2 cups of water for 1 cup of white rice in a rice cooker.
  • Stirring the rice while it is cooking can make it sticky.
  • Always open the lid of the saucepan away from your body to avoid piping hot steam from burning you.
  • Use oven mitts to take the hot, cooked rice out of the microwave as the baking dish will be extremely hot.

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