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how to cook rice

Did you know that nearly half of the world’s population eats rice on a daily basis? That, and the fact that in the US today we consume nearly twice as much rice as we did 25 years ago, make rice the grain of the moment. Learning how to cook rice is easy, because there are just two ingredients necessary for the simplest of rice recipes: rice and liquid. Once you’ve mastered the basic steps of how to cook rice you’re ready to move on to using it in any number of recipes. Chinese recipes are typically served with plain white rice, but using brown rice will give you the benefit of fiber.

After you learn how to cook rice, try getting more creative: Use broth in place of water for added flavor. Chicken broth is the perfect choice when serving rice as a side with chicken recipes, and stirring a few teaspoons of lemon juice into cooked rice is delicious when serving fish recipes or seafood recipes.

Rice varieties

  • Rice has been cultivated for thousands of years across the world, and there are thousands of varieties. Technically a type of grass, rice is classified according to the size of the grain (short, medium or long).
  • Brown rice is a whole grain, which means it includes the entire grain -– bran, germ and endosperm. It has more fiber than white rice, and requires a slightly longer cooking time. Enjoy brown rice for its nutty flavor and somewhat chewy texture.
  • White rice has had the bran and germ removed, and is often polished and enriched with vitamins. Its soft texture makes it widely adaptable to many cuisines, flavors and cooking methods.
  • Soaking the rice is recommended for some types of rice, but is generally unnecessary for most white rice. It will reduce the total cooking time and produce a softer texture. Soaking also washes away some of the starch and will create a finished product that does not stick together. Basmati is one type of rice that must be soaked before using.
  • Rinsing rice is necessary only for wild rice and basmati rice. Rice grown outside the United States and Canada should also be rinsed to remove dirt and debris. Most rice grown in the U.S. and Canada has been enriched with vitamins and minerals which could be washed away when rinsed.
  • Basmati is a fragrant long-grain rice preferred in Indian cuisine.
  • Instant rice has been precooked and then dried. It is available in both white and brown and is generally ready in just 5 minutes.
  • Wild rice has a chewy-crisp texture and nutty flavor. Its dark color makes a lovely contrast to white rice, so it is often included in packaged rice mixes. Always rinse wild rice before using.

How to cook rice

  • The basic preparation of rice includes 2 parts water and 1 part rice, but this will depend on the type of rice and the desired texture. Follow the guidelines below for perfectly cooked rice.
  • Basic stovetop preparation: Bring rice and water (see chart) to boil in saucepan; cover. Cook on medium-low heat, without stirring, until all liquid is absorbed, using the times in the chart below.

Rice cooking chart

TYPE OF RICE RATIO of WATER to RICE COOK TIME NOTES
Long-grain white 2 : 1 15 min.  
Long-grain brown 2.5 : 1 45 to 50 min.  
Converted (or parboiled) white or brown 2.5 : 1 20 to 25 min.  
Basmati 1.75 : 1 15 min. Rinse, then soak for 30 min. before cooking.
Wild 3 : 1 35 to 60 min. Rinse before cooking.
  • Avoid stirring rice while cooking. This will prevent it from becoming sticky.
  • For more flavor, prepare using chicken or vegetable broth.

How to store rice

  • Cooked rice is highly perishable. It’s best to remove rice from the pan to cool before refrigerating leftovers for up to 2 days.

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