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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
|n/a||Soak for 12-24 hours, drain, spread in cheesecloth, cover, steam over boiling water.||30-45 mins||2 cups|
|1 ½ cup||Rinse, soak in cold water for 30 mins. Boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins.||20 mins||3 cups|
|1 ½ cup||Do not rinse for risotto. Boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins.||20 mins||3 cups|
|1 ¾ cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 5-10 mins.||15 mins||3 cups|
|2 ¼ cups||Do not rinse enriched rice. Boil, cover, simmer, sit 5 mins.||20 mins||4 cups|
|L. White rice
|1 ½ to 2 cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins.||15 mins||3 to 3 ¾ cups|
|XL. White rice
|2 cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins.||20 mins||3 cups|
|1 ¾ to 2 cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 5-10 mins.||10-15 mins||3 cups|
|1 ¾ to 2 cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 5-10 mins.||20 mins||3 cups|
|S. Brown rice
|1 ½ cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins.||45 mins||3 cups|
|M. Brown rice
|1 ½ cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins.||35-40 mins||3 cups|
|L. Brown rice
|2 to 2 ½ cups||Rinse, boil, add rice, cover, simmer, sit 5-10 mins.||35-45 mins||3 ½ cups|
|1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 5 mins.||20 mins||3 cups|
|1 ½ cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins.||40 mins||3 cups|
|OTHER TYPES OF RICE|
|2 ¼ to 2 ⅓ cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 10 mins.||45-50 mins||3 cups|
|1 ⅔ to 2 cups||Rinse, boil, cover, simmer, sit 5-10 mins.||30-50 mins||3 cups|
|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.
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.
How to Cook Rice on the Stovetop
- 1 cup (200 g) long grain white rice, or other type of rice
- 2 cups (480 ml) water
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, optional
- 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.
- 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.