How to Cook Rice at High Altitude

Refrigerate rice within two hours of cooking it, whether at altitude or not.
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One-third of Americans live at altitudes above 3,000 feet, where cooking can be a bit more challenging. The higher you go, the drier and thinner the air becomes, so moisture evaporates more readily and water boils at a lower temperature. To prepare rice successfully, you may need to increase both the volume of water and the cooking time.

Step 1

Follow the standard ratio of 2 cups of water for each 1 cup of dry long-grain white rice when cooking at altitudes between 3,000 and 5,000 feet. Increase the water by 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup for altitudes above 5,000 feet, adjusting the amount upward as you go up in altitude.

Step 2

Cook long-grain white rice for 15 to 20 minutes at altitudes up to 5,000 feet; increase the time incrementally as the altitude increases. Expect rice cooked above 5,000 feet to take 25 minutes or more.

Step 3

Adjust as needed, adding more water if it evaporates too quickly and letting the rice cook longer if the kernels seem underdone.


Cook rice in a pot with a glass lid so you can monitor its progress without lifting the lid.

Some varieties of rice, such as brown or arborio, require more liquid and a longer cooking time than standard long-grain white rice, even at sea level.


Don't turn up the heat in an effort to speed up the cooking. Rice must be simmered at a low temperature for the kernels to absorb the water.

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