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How To Cook Rice (Perfectly)

Learning how to cook rice is an essential skill in the kitchen. And the good news is that it’s quite easy to master. All you need is a pot, water, rice, and a bit of patience. No fancy rice cookers or equipment are needed to make perfectly fluffy and tender rice.

Cooked rice in a bowl with spoon.

A humble pot of rice can easily turn any meal into a scrumptious feast. It’s the perfect blank slate – so use it as a side dish or the base of a healthy dinner. And yes, you can even meal prep it (we’ll get to that part).

Rice has over 15 vitamins and minerals including B-vitamins that help with metabolism, as as well as iron and zinc to help keep our bodies running as they should. The brand I personally use and love, Lundberg Farms, has been growing healthy, great-tasting rice since 1937 while respecting and sustaining the earth for future generations. I also love that they’re a leader in organic farming.

Today, I’ll walk you through two easy methods of cooking rice that work every time. The traditional method and the pasta method. I’ll also share some fun facts and tidbits about rice, because the more you know the better! Now grab a pot with a lid, your bag of rice, and let’s get cooking.

Short vs Medium vs Long Grain Rice

There are more than 40,000 varieties of rice in the world. That’s a lot. So to make things easier they’re classified by grain length – short, medium and long. The length of the grain is also an indicator of the final texture of the cooked rice. Here’s a few examples:

  • Short Grain: Chinese black rice, American short-grain and sushi rice. This rice will be stickier and clump together when cooked. Perfect for sushi and using chopsticks.
  • Medium Grain: Arborio, valencia and bomba. This rice will be fluffy, moist and tender with a little bit of stickiness. Perfect for risotto and paella.
  • Long Grain: Basmati and jasmine. This rice is lower in starch and won’t clump together, it will be light and dry. Perfect for pilaf and biryani.

Now that you know that the length of the grain translates to a specific texture, you can choose the right rice for the right recipe.

Short grain, medium grain and long grain rice on a plate.

Brown vs White Rice

Rice can be found in numerous colors, including red, black, and purple (yes, purple). But let’s chat about the two most common colors – brown and white rice.

  • Brown Rice: Brown rice has its outer hull removed, but keeps its bran and germ layers intact. These layers give it the brown color and make the texture a bit chewier, with a nuttier taste. It’s considered a whole grain and has more fiber and nutrients, with a lower glycemic index.
  • White Rice: White rice undergoes the entire milling process. This removes the husk, bran, and germ layers, leaving you with the endosperm, which is bright white in color. It’s considered a processed grain and doesn’t have quite the nutritional profile as brown rice, but some may find it easier to digest. It also cooks faster.

Brown rice and white rice on a plate.

Aromatic Rices: Basmati vs Jasmine Rice

You now know that basmati and jasmine are two varieties of long grain rice. But certain rice varieties give off pleasing fragrances while being cooked so they’re considered aromatic rices. Here’s what makes them unique.

  • Basmati Rice: Very long and slender and notable for its intense flavor and aroma. It’s dry, nutty, earthy, and has hints of popcorn-like aroma. It originates from India and Pakistan.
  • Jasmine Rice: Slightly shorter and rounder than Basmati. It’s a bit softer and plumper with a more light, sweet and floral fragrance. It originates from Thailand.

Both of these varieties can be found in brown and white versions.

What About Wild Rice?

Wild rice is not a true rice, it’s a grain produced from an aquatic grass that grows primarily in the Great Lakes region in North America. It’s quite long and has a firm, chewy and nutty texture. I love wild rice and use it all the time in salads, like my wild rice and arugula salad. And you can often find it in rice blends with other rice varieties, for a tasty and colorful option.

Fluffy, perfectly cooked rice in a bowl.

How To Cook Rice

To get started, just memorize this sequence: Rinse, cook, rest and fluff.  Below are two variations of this sequence, and they’ll generally work with short, medium, or long grain white rice. Note that this will not work with brown rice. See my tip for brown rice below.

Traditional Method

  1. Rinse the rice. Make sure to always rinse your rice before you begin cooking. This will wash away dusty starches that could result in your rice sticking together in clumps. All you need to do is rinse your rice in a fine mesh sieve until the water runs clear.
  2. Combine in a pot. In a pot add 1 cup of rice plus 1 1/2 cups of water, then bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, cover with a lid.
  3. Let it simmer. Once you add the lid, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Check to see when all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
  4. Steam and fluff. Turn off the heat and let the rice simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes. Then uncover, fluff it up and serve.

The Pasta Method

  1. Rinse the rice. Add the rice to a fine mesh strainer. Then rinse it under running water until the water runs clear.
  2. Boil water. Fill a pot halfway with water and bring it to a boil. You don’t have to measure the water but you want about 4-5 times as much water as rice. Just eyeball it.
  3. Let it cook. Stir in the rice and drop the heat to medium-low. Let it cook uncovered for about 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. Use a spoon to check your desired doneness of the rice.
  4. Drain and fluff. Once you feel the rice is cooked all the way through, drain the pot and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to steam. Then fluff it up right before serving.

Different rice varieties in bags.

Brown Rice Cooking Tips

Because of the outer bran, brown rice typically requires more water and a longer cook time. Always check the backside of your packaging because each variety may be different. But generally, for one cup of brown rice you’ll need 1 3/4 cups of water (if using the traditional method) and cook for 40 minutes.

Because brown rice can often be undercooked or overcooked and gummy, it’s an ideal candidate for cooking as per the pasta method. Just use a spoon to take a few grains out, let them cool a bit and taste to see if the rice is done. If it’s not, just keep cooking until it is.

Should You Add Butter, Oil or Salt to the Water?

It’s completely optional and certainly not needed to make perfectly fluffy, tender rice. But it’s does give it a nice flavor, if you’re not adding additional flavors or spices. Try it out for yourself. Just add one tablespoon of butter, ghee or oil to the water next time and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for one cup of rice.

Want to know another way to add flavor? Swap out the water for chicken or vegetable broth. Or replace some of the cooking water with coconut milk to make coconut rice.

How to Cook Rice – Step-by-Step Video

Want to see exactly how I cook rice? Watch the video below as I walk you through both methods and share two tasty rice recipes!

How To Store And Freeze Rice

The best thing about making a big pot of rice is that you can portion it for meal prep or store in the freezer for later. The key to storing rice is to cool it quickly and then place it in the fridge immediately. You can cool it faster by spreading it on a plate or baking sheet. You just don’t want it sitting at room temperature for more than two hours, as that can breed bacteria.

Cooked rice can store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Note that it may get a bit dry after awhile, so splash a little water before reheating.

For freezing, store the rice in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, you can thaw it in the fridge overnight or pop it right into the microwave. Make sure to stir halfway if you’re microwaving.

Rice that is stored and meal prepped in containers.

Turning Rice Into Easy Dinner Ideas

The options are really limitless, but here’s a few of my favorites:

And for a classic rice based beverage, you can’t beat horchata!

Cooked rice from the stove in a bowl.
5 from 10 votes

How To Cook Rice (Perfectly)

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Learning how to cook rice is an essential skill in the kitchen. But it's easy to master with a few tips! Here's how to make perfectly fluffy on the stove. Watch the video above!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • Optional: 1 tbsp butter or oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Instructions

The Traditional Method

  • Rinse 1 cup long-grain white rice in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear
  • In a pot add the rice and water, then bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, cover the pot, turn the heat to low and let it simmer covered, for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  • Remove the pot from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Then fluff it up with a fork before serving.

The Pasta Method

  • Rinse 1 cup long-grain white rice in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear
  • Fill a large pot 1/2 full with water, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Pour in the rice and drop the heat to medium-low. Let it cook uncovered for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. Use a spoon to scoop out a few grains to test doneness. Keep cooking until the rice is cooked to your liking.
  • Drain the pot and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then, fluff it up with a fork and serve.

Lisa's Tips

  • Cooking times will vary based on the type of rice you use, the quantity of rice, the type of pot, and the size of your burner.
  • The pasta method is the best method for brown rice to ensure it's perfectly cooked and not gummy. Remember that brown rice or wild rice can take significantly longer to cook (20-45 minutes depending on variety). Just make sure to test the doneness at intervals, by scooping out a few grains with a spoon.
  • If your rice pot overflows with bubbles and water you likely have the burner too hot or you're on too big of a burner. Reduce the heat to low or move the pot to a smaller burner.
  • In the photos I'm using long grain white rice, which is a fluffy rice. If you'd like a slightly firmer, dryer rice opt for jasmine or basmati rice.
  • A fine mesh sieve is an essential item in the kitchen, and I love mine.

Nutrition

Calories: 169kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 7mg, Potassium: 53mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Calcium: 16mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Asian, Indian
Keyword: How to cook rice, How To Make Rice, Rice recipe
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag @downshiftology and hashtag it #downshiftology.

I’m happy to partner with Lundberg Family Farms on today’s post. They’re a brand I’ve loved and used for years.

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19 comments on “How To Cook Rice (Perfectly)”

  1. I used the pasta method tonight and for the first time in months I had perfect rice!! I made sure to spread it out on a sheet pan after it steamed so that it cooled faster and didn’t continue to cook.

    I liked this method because I didn’t have to do a ratio of water to rice and I didn’t have to babysit the rice as much.

    Thanks, Lisa!

    P.S. Congrats on 1 million YouTube subscribers!!

    • Hi Liz- The pasta method is definitely one I do every time :) I’m glad this helped create the perfect pot of rice. And thanks for much for you support!

  2. Awesome easy to follow videos with great and tasty recipes.

  3. HI Lisa
    I love your way of teaching and communication. I have enjoyed all your recipes and thanks for all the tips.

  4. Hi Lisa,

    thank you for that great rice recipe. You are a true blessing for me and my friends. Can you please tell me where you have the wood bowl for rice from? Lots of love from Germany.

  5. Hi Lisa
    Thank you for all the amazing recipes. Please can you mention a caution on rice as you did for oats regarding glyphosate, I believe many rice crops are contaminated it is so upsetting as I love rice so much. I live in Mozambique and I’m going to try source locally grown rice. xxx

  6. I have been making a LOT of rice lately, so this is a perfect reference guide for me! Bookmarked, thanks for this!! :)

  7. This is such a helpful guide! Cooking rice perfectly is something everyone should know but it can take a while to get right!

  8. What an insightful post! Thanks for sharing this..very informative

  9. I love rice! I eat it very often since my celiac diagnosis and due to a milk protein allergy I also drink rice milk (I like it’s taste the most). Unfortunately our consumer protection council warns, that rice contains quite a bit of arsenic, so I swap it for buckwheat or polenta sometimes. But I can’t help coming back to rice, be it as risotto (arborio rice), milk rice (not sure what the kind is called) or just brown rice.

    • Hi Conny- Yes, it does contain a bit of arsenic, but can be eaten in moderation :) I love rice as well, and eat it with many of my recipes!

  10. Awesome gude! So helpful!

  11. Great video. I just bought my son a rice cooker. Was wondering if you have any suggestions for using the rice cooker I can share with him besides this post.

    • Thanks so much Ursula! I’m happy you loved the video. And unfortunately, I don’t use a rice cooker so don’t have any good recommendations. I just always make my rice on the stove.