How to Cook Rice Like a Pro

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Learn how to cook rice on the stove perfectly every time. Once you master the simple preparation techniques, the outcome will elevate your entire meal.

A white bowl filled with 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 for a quick chicken stir fry or a fancy meal. I will show you the basic techniques for cooking white 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 critical 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 to prevent the dreaded mushy, starchy mess. If you find this guide helpful, try my other rice recipes like Mexican rice, fried rice, and black beans and rice.

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 it to a simmer until all the liquid absorbs. It requires less activity and gently cooks the grains.

Rice grains in a strainer being washed in the sink.

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 together and creates a glue-like liquid as it cooks. Rinse the rice under cool water until the water is no longer cloudy but 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 for cooking 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 famous for Thai dishes and desserts.

Start cooking in cold water

Starting the cooking process with a medium saucepan and cold water allows the grains to 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.

Only stir the pot in the beginning before being covered

Stirring the rice a few times as the water increases in temperature ensures that nothing gets stuck to the bottom. But never mix 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

Bring the water to a boil, then immediately cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. This action 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 the time according to the type.

Towards the end, briefly lift the lid slightly to see if the grains absorbed all the water. But ensure 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 to give it the chance to absorb any last drops of liquid. After the sitting period, gently fluff the rice with a fork. The reason for doing this is to allow any trapped steam to escape, which helps to stop the cooking process immediately.

Fluffing cooked rice in a pot 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 like noodles, then excess water is drained with a colander once the grains are tender. It 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 a colander or cheesecloth, covered, and steamed. 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 power levels until the rice is tender.
  • Baked method – For more delicate and even cooking, especially with 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, then allowing it to sit and steam until tender. Suitable 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 metal 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 stickier, 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.
4.93 from 13 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
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 

  • Wash Rice – 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.
  • Boil Rice – In a medium pot add rice, salt, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring a few times.
  • Simmer Rice – 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.
  • Steam Rice – Turn off the heat and keep the rice covered for 10 minutes.
  • To Serve – Fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot.

Notes

  • Serving size: ½ cup cooked rice
  • Recipe Yield:  About 3 cups of long grain rice, varies based on type
  • Using other Types of Rice: Check the manufacturer’s package for instructions on the amount of water to add and cook time. Specific types of rice may differ from the recipe above.
  • Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 month, and defrost before using. 
  • Reheating: Place in a bowl and sprinkle some water on top. Cover and microwave on high in 15 to 30-second intervals until hot. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 6 servings
Calories 113kcal (6%)Carbohydrates 25g (8%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 1g (2%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Sodium 102mg (4%)Potassium 35mg (1%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 1g (1%)Calcium 11mg (1%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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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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19 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.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I would double the rice, and cook for the same time frame, or until all of the water is absorbed. Let it sit for 5 minutes covered with the heat off, then taste. Cook for a few minutes longer if needed until the grains are tender.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      No, I keep the volume of water the same. Just make sure to rinse, then drain, and shake the grains to remove as much excess water as possible before adding the water for cooking.

  7. Norma says

    Tried white rice. Nailed it!!! Thank you so much. Can’t wait to keep learning and teaching myself more with great guidance. Hubby loved it!!

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