How to Cook Rice Like a Pro

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Learn how to cook perfectly tender and fluffy rice on the stovetop! Once you master the simple preparation techniques, the outcome will elevate your entire meal. Now, let’s cover the basics of making this popular pantry ingredient.

A bowl of fluffy white rice

Perfect rice every time!

Rice is widely popular in various cuisines and cultures, and in some cases, it’s a must-have side dish every day. I know I can eat it all the time. I’m going to show you the basic techniques for preparing and cooking rice on the stovetop. Following these simple tips I learned in culinary school will ensure fluffy forkfuls every time. The principle information works well for all types of rice too.

As you prepare and cook, it’s important to remember the key essentials like rinsing the rice and fighting the temptation to peek and stir too often. Once you implement and understand why, it’s a game-changer that will prevent the dreaded mushy, starchy mess. Ready to learn? A hot bowl of perfect rice is just moments away!

Using the classic stovetop method

Also, called the absorption method. The recipe (listed below) involves bringing the rice and a measured amount of water to a boil, then covering and reducing to a simmer until all the liquid absorbs. It requires less activity and gently cooks the grains.

Rice grains in a strainer being washed with sink water

Why you should rinse the rice

To create fluffy individual grains of rice, rinse before cooking to remove excess surface starch. If left on, starch makes the rice stick to each other and creates a glue-like liquid as it cooks. Rinse the rice under cool water until the water is no longer cloudy, but runs clear. Rubbing the rice together with your hand speeds up the process.

What about using flavored liquids?

You can use stocks, broths, and even coconut milk to cook rice instead of water. Vegetable or chicken flavored products work well to add a savory taste. You can omit or reduce the added salt if there’s already sodium in the liquid. Coconut flavored rice is popular for Thai dishes and desserts.

Start cooking in cold water

By starting the cooking process in cold water allows the grains to gradually absorb the water and ensures that they cook evenly. If added to a boiling pot of water the intense heat will cook the outside too quickly before the inside has a chance to soften. However, brown rice is less susceptible to this risk due to the hard fibrous bran.

seasoning rice and steaming it in a pot of water

Only stir the pot in the beginning before being covered

Stirring the rice a few times as the water starts to increase in temperature ensures that nothing gets stuck to the bottom. But never stir the rice once you place the lid on, otherwise, the grains will become pudding-like (think risotto). Uncovering the pot creates inconsistent cooking temperatures.

Once covered, reduce to a simmer

Immediately cover the pot once the water boils, then reduce the heat to low. This traps steam inside and lowers the heat intensity so the rice can gradually absorb the liquid. This cooking process takes about 15 to 20 minutes for white rice, adjust time according to the type.

Towards the end, briefly lift the lid slightly to see if the grains absorbed all the water. But make sure to quickly cover the pot to prevent too much steam from escaping.

Before fluffing, let it sit for a bit

Turn off the heat and let the rice sit and steam for about 10 minutes. This gives it the chance to absorb any last drops of liquid. After the sitting period, use a fork to gently fluff the rice. The reason for doing this is to allow any trapped steam to escape which helps to immediately stop the cooking process.

Fluffing cooked rice with a fork

Storing for later

Rice can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or it can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Tips for freezing rice

  • Spread the rice onto a sheet pan, about a 1-inch thick layer, and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Portion the rice into 1 to 2 cups and place them into quart-sized resealable plastic bags.
  • Lightly press to flatten each bag, about 1-inch thick, then seal and place in the freezer.
  • To reheat, place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cook on high power in 30-second increments. Stir and cook further as needed.

Stovetop cook times for different types of rice

TYPE (1 cup) COOKING LIQUID DIRECTIONS APPROX. SIMMER APPROX. YIELD
WHITE RICE
Sweet rice
(short grain)
n/a Soak for 12-24 hours, drain, spread in cheesecloth, cover, steam over boiling water. 30-45 mins 2 cups
Sushi rice
(short grain)
1 ½ cup Rinse, soak in cold water for 30 mins. Boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins. 20 mins 3 cups
Arborio
(medium grain)
1 ½ cup Do not rinse for risotto. Boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins. 20 mins 3 cups
Calrose
(medium grain)
1 ¾ cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 5-10 mins. 15 mins 3 cups
Parboiled White
(long grain)
2 ¼ cups Do not rinse enriched rice. Boil, cover, simmer, sit 5 mins. 20 mins 4 cups
L. White rice
(long grain)
1 ½ to 2 cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins. 15 mins 3 to 3 ¾ cups
XL. White rice
(extra-long grain)
2 cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins. 20 mins 3 cups
Jasmine white
(long grain)
1 ¾ to 2 cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 5-10 mins. 10-15 mins 3 cups
Basmati white
(long grain)
1 ¾ to 2 cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 5-10 mins. 20 mins 3 cups
BROWN RICE
S. Brown rice
(short grain)
1 ½ cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins. 45 mins 3 cups
M. Brown rice
(medium grain)
1 ½ cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins. 35-40 mins 3 cups
L. Brown rice
(long grain)
2 to 2 ½ cups Rinse, boil, add rice, cover, simmer, sit 5-10 mins. 35-45 mins 3 ½ cups
Jasmine brown
(long grain)
1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 5 mins. 20 mins 3 cups
Basmati brown
(long grain)
1 ½ cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins. 40 mins 3 cups
OTHER TYPES OF RICE
Wild rice
(long grain)
2 ¼ to 2 ⅓ cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins. 45-50 mins 3 cups
Red rice 
(long grain)
1 ⅔ to 2 cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 5-10 mins. 30-50 mins 3 cups
Black rice
(long grain)
1 ¾ cups Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins. 30-35 mins 3 cups

Other ways to cook rice

  • Pasta method – Boils the rice in a large quantity of water just like noodles then excess water is drained with a colander once the grains are tender. Works well for brown rice because the hard outer bran is more durable for all of the movement in the water.
  • Pilaf method – Toasts the rice before cooking to add a nutty flavor, then simmers and steams.
  • Steaming method – The rice is soaked for several hours or overnight, then placed in colander or cheesecloth, covered and steamed. This is good for sweet or sushi rice.
  • Microwave method – Cooking a small amount of rice (no more than 1 cup) with water in a bowl set in the microwave at different times and powder levels until rice is tender.
  • Baked method – For more delicate and even cooking, especially brown rice. Boiling water is poured over the rice, covered and baked in a 375ºF (191ºC) oven for about an hour.
  • Instant Pot – Cooking the rice in the pressure cooker for a brief period of time, then allowing it to sit and steam until tender. Good for white or brown rice.
  • Rice cooker – Cooking rice in an electric rice cooker using the absorption method, measuring a specific amount of rice and water.

Serving white rice out of a pot with a spoon

What causes the rice to be sticky?

Rice contains two starch molecules, amylose and amylopectin. As rice cooks, it swells due to the heat and releases amylose into the liquid which causes the grains to stick together. Shorter grain rice releases more amylose and tends to be sticker whereas long grain rice tends to be more separated.

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How to Cook Rice on the Stovetop

Learn how to cook perfectly tender and fluffy rice on the stovetop! Once you master the preparation techniques, the outcome will elevate your entire meal.
Pin Print Review
4.5 from 4 votes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Servings 6 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long grain white rice, or other type of rice
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, optional

Instructions 

  • Add rice to a fine meshed strainer. Rinse and wash under running cool water until the water runs clear, scrubbing the rice in between your fingers several times, about 1 minute. Shake and lightly press with hands to drain.
  • In a medium pot add rice, salt, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring a few times.
  • Cover and reduce to low heat and simmer. The water should be bubbling in the pot with some steam exiting the sides of the lid. There should be no water or bubbles coming out. If so, reduce the heat further.
  • Cook until the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 to 20 minutes, or according to manufacturer's directions.
  • Turn off the heat and keep the rice covered for 10 minutes.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot.

Notes

  • Serving size: 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • Check the manufacturers package for instructions on the amount of water to add and cook time. Specific types of rice may differ from the recipe above.
  • Do not use this method for making risotto, as you want to stir and add more water overtime to give a creamy dish.

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Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Rice on the Stovetop
Amount Per Serving
Calories 113 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 102mg4%
Potassium 35mg1%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 2g4%
Calcium 11mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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13 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Ronald Seto (SooHoo) says

    I have been cooking rice for 60+ years (I’m not in the restaurant business) and it always comes out pretty much perfect. I do it the same way as you describe. My left over rice may sometimes be stuck to the bottom of the pot, so I add water or chicken broth and make a rice gruel that I can have at breakfast. I do not waste any food in my household. My father taught me that.

  2. Maurice Eddy says

    Yes it seems so simple too. We had a cafe and cooked our rice in larger quantities , cooled it and put it in one serving bowls to freeze. Then to serve microwave heated it in the bowls covered to keep steam in. At home when standing it as you say I normally put a small amount of coconut oil in it. Not in it while cooking so it coats the rice and not cooked in. Freezes or holds well in the fridge when needed.

  3. Mairead says

    Thanks for including so much detail in this post. I appreciate how much effort went in to writing this post with so much information about different kinds of rice. Thanks so much.

  4. Dave says

    Jessica. THANK YOU for putting this handy guide together. I may cut it out and paste it on the inside of the cupboard door.

  5. Pam S. says

    Thanks for this detailed post! I’ll be printing out the guide for each type of rice – very handy to have. Thanks for your great tips, Jessica.

  6. Andrew De Guzman says

    Hey Jessica!

    This is such a helpful article! I’ve been meaning to make something of similar nature as a guide for myself. I’ll definitely reference this when I test things out for my little side project.

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