Types of Rice

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The rice aisle at your local market can be an overwhelming place. Unlike standing in line Chipotle, white rice or brown is just the beginning of your options.

Different types of rice

Rice is used widely in Asian and Indian cuisines, but it can be found in all kinds of dishes from around the world. Paella and curry rely on it heavily. You can’t make sushi without rice. Rice can really bring a burrito together, and jambalaya wouldn’t be the same without it.

These popular edible seeds from the plant Oryza sativa comes in several shapes, sizes, textures, and unique flavors. If you were to list the famous dishes that require rice as an ingredient, that would just be the beginning. It’s easily one of the most consumed food worldwide, so it’s no wonder there are so many different types.

Arborio rice

Arborio rice

This your go-to rice for making any risotto dish. It retains more starch than some other types of rice, which releases when you cook it lends itself to creating creamy, yummy risotto. But once cooked, it will still have a slightly firm texture.

Basmati rice

Basmati rice

This is a type of long-grain, Indian rice. You’ve probably had it in curry. It’s nutty and aromatic, sometimes compared to Jasmine rice for that reason. If you want to make your own pilaf, this is the rice you should turn to.

Black rice

Black rice

It’s sometimes called the forbidden rice, though it’s not so forbidden these days, widely available at stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and even Walmart. It tastes earthy and nutty. It contains antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which is what turns it a dark color (the same antioxidant that’s in blueberries and blackberries).

Jasmine rice

Jasmine rice

Jasmine rice is nutty and aromatic, a little more so than basmati rice, but it originated in Thailand. It’s a shorter grain than basmati rice, but they can be used interchangeably. I use it all the time in my Chinese fried rice, but if you’re looking for a simple side dish, try my coconut rice recipe.

Brown rice

Brown rice

Brown rice is the new white rice. It can be easily substituted into any dish in the place of white rice and it contains more nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, while also offering more fiber per serving than white rice.

Red cargo rice

Red cargo rice

Red cargo rice is chewy once cooked and leeches out a red color. It has a nutty flavor, but some complain that its texture is too gummy.

Parboiled rice

Parboiled rice

Parboiled rice is processed differently than regular white and brown rice. The hull is left on as it’s soaked and steamed. It’s then dried, hulls are removed, and the resulting rice is packaged. Because the hull is left on for longer in the process, the grains absorb more nutrients like vitamin B and potassium. Once cooked, it’s dry and has a firm texture.

Sticky rice

Sticky rice

Sticky rice contains less amylose than other types of rice which causes the grains to stick together cooked. It’s a sweet rice used in many Asian dishes, including desserts. You can boil it or steam it, but you can also cook as you would risotto.

Sushi rice

This is a short-grain glutinous white rice (like sticky rice or Calrose rice) that’s combined with rice vinegar and then cooled to roll in sushi. Sometimes, you can find it packaged and labeled as “sushi rice.”

Valencia rice

Named after the region it’s commonly grown — Valencia, Spain — Valencia rice is best known for making paella. Its grains are short and round. You might also hear it referred to as bomba rice. It has a superpower in the sense that it absorbs more water, and therefore it absorbs more flavor than many other types of rice.

Long grain white rice

Long grain white rice

The classic white rice — long grain white rice is long and thin just as the name implies, which also makes it fluffy once cooked. The shorter the rice, the more likely grains are to stick together. The longer, the fluffier.

Wild rice

Wild rice

Interestingly enough, wild isn’t actually rice. It just looks, cooks, and acts like rice so it gets to borrow the name. Wild rice is actually made of seeds that come from a type of marsh grass. It has more antioxidants than actual rice and may help improve heart health and lower the risk of diabetes [source]. Like long-grain white rice, it has a fluffy texture but tastes more rustic and earthy. The photo pictured above is a mixture of wild and brown rice.



This is a shorter to medium grain rice that gets sticky once it’s cooked. It absorbs a lot of flavors and, like other types of sticky rice, it can stand its ground in soups and stews.

What’s the right ratio of water-to-rice?

Well, it depends! The ratio is typically 1-part rice to 1.5 or 2-parts water depending on the variety. I find that long-grain requires a higher amount of water (1½ to 2 parts), medium-grain needs slightly less (1½ to 1¾ parts), and short-grain requires the least but is often soaked for several hours in cold water and then steamed, not simmered in water.

The best place to check is the manufacturer’s suggestions on the back of the bag. There’s typically a recommended rice-to-liquid amount to follow. Oftentimes there is an option to add about ¼ cup more or less to yield a drier or more moist product.

How much does dry rice yield once cooked?

Dry rice can typically swell around three times its size. One cup of dried rice can yield 3 cups of cooked rice for most types. A general recommended serving size is 1 ounce dried rice, about ½ cup cooked [source]. I’ve noticed that most labels on rice products say ¼ cup of dried rice is a serving, therefore manufacturers are estimating about ¾ cup of cooked rice per person.

How long does it take to cook rice?

Timing is dependent on the shape, quantity, and type. White rice cooks quicker than brown rice because there’s no outer fibrous bran layer due to milling. This can range from 15 to 25 minutes for white rice, and 30 minutes or more for wild and black rice.

Most sticky rice requires soaking in cool water and then steaming for 30 to 45 minutes. Cooking brown rice takes almost double the time to soften the bran and to allow for water absorption into the center of the endosperm.

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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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42 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Juan Aguilar says

    Thanks for the article on the different types of rice. I really enjoy making rice pudding for my grandkids. What is the best rice for this dessert? Thanks!

  2. William says

    Thanks allot am now an expert in rice preparing. Can’t believe my boss appreciated it after 5 years of rice eating. Am here in Uganda in Africa

  3. Jasmine F says

    Thank you for sharing your rice knowledge and I’ll have to tell you I was simply blown away by the wild rice actually not being rice absorbed but yet a seed as races I thought that was so interesting I absolutely love wild rice ha ha you can’t say wild seeds it sounds ridiculous

  4. Helen says

    This is so organized and useful. I often blend two or more rices (and wild rice) for texture and health reasons. My family used to think it was strange (they called it “mom’s blend”) but eventually enjoyed the surprise rice dish, such as in sushi or topped with sauces like donburi or teriyaki, and always served with loads of veggies on the side. Thank you so much for your informational article.

  5. LAVERA NAGLE says

    I have used Valencia for making paella. So matter how low the temperature on an electric stove the bottom gets too brown, actually burned, and I’m trying to get a crust which is traditional. Should I try another kind of rice? Do you have any suggestions

  6. Margaret Bauld says

    This article on the types of rice was a real eye opener for me. I am from the Bahamas and we eat a lot f rice. The info was a real education. Thank you.

  7. Ruth (Canada) says

    I’ve heard about a favourite Indian variety of rice called Swarna – what does it taste like and where can I purchase it in Canada?

  8. Dheep' says

    Have always blended Long Grain White & Parboiled. It makes for a great blend of Rice.
    Everyone seems to like it & it works great for Fried Rice, as it did today. As Long as you make it very early, or the day before. After it is all broken up, you put in in the Frig to cool for all day or overnight.
    Just minutes away from testing another batch of Fried Rice. So far so good

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