How to Cook Rice on the Stove (and Other Methods)
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Learn how to cook rice using several different methods—and the correct rice-to-water ratios for various rice varieties.
Rice may seem like a basic dish, but cooking it requires immense precision. To make perfectly fluffy rice, you need to use the correct cook time and rice-to-water ratio for the type and amount of rice you’re making.
But once you learn how to cook rice and get comfortable making several different varieties, you’ll be equipped to make dozens of rice recipes from cuisines around the globe. Here’s a guide to the different methods for making various types of rice.
How to Cook Rice on the Stove
This basic white rice recipe makes about 3 cups of cooked rice, which will serve four people. However, you can adjust the rice-to-water ratio if you’d like to make more or less. You may also have to adjust the ratios if you’re cooking a different type of rice—refer to our rice-to-water ratio chart below.
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1 cup white rice
Step 1: Boil the ingredients
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Bring the water—as well as the butter and salt, if you’re using them—to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in the rice.
Test Kitchen tip: For more flavor, try using broth or coconut milk instead of water. You can also throw in seasonings like a bay leaf or your favorite spice blend.
Step 2: Add rice and simmer
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Once the rice and liquid reach a boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the rice is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand, covered, for a few minutes—this allows any excess water to get absorbed and prevents the rice from burning. Fluff with a fork or rice paddle before serving.
Test Kitchen tip: Resist the urge to lift the lid of the saucepan to check on your rice while it’s cooking—it interrupts the cooking process.
Other Rice Cooking Methods
How to Cook Rice in a Rice Cooker
Making rice in a rice cooker is a near-effortless way to consistently get perfectly cooked rice—and it frees up space on your stovetop for other dishes. (Here are some of the best rice cookers.)
To use a rice cooker, simply pour rinsed rice and water into the machine, cover it and press a button. The rice-to-water ratio for rice cookers is 1:1 in most cases, but follow the manufacturer’s directions for specifics about how much rice and water to use.
Test Kitchen tip: When using a rice cooker, rinse your rice many times before cooking—otherwise it will bubble and foam like crazy!
How to Cook Rice in the Microwave
We generally recommend sticking to the stovetop or rice cooker methods. In our culinary team’s experience, cooking rice in the microwave gets messy! (However, this Shrimp with Coconut Rice recipe uses a microwave method.)
If you do want to cook rice in your microwave, there are various microwave rice cookers available on the market, like this Progressive International Microwave Rice Cooker, which steams up to 6 cups of cooked rice. The cook time ranges from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the type and amount of rice you’re making, as well as your microwave’s wattage.
How to Cook Rice Like Pasta
In many cases, you shouldn’t boil rice in an unmeasured amount of water and then drain it, as you do with pasta. It’s typically essential to use the correct rice-to-water ratio when you’re making rice on the stove.
However, the boil-and-drain method works for brown rice. Boil brown rice for 25 to 30 minutes in salted water before straining it. Return it to the hot pot, cover it with a lid, and let it steam for 10 minutes before serving.
Additionally, some convenience food products like Success Boil-in-Bag rice are designed to be boiled and drained like pasta.
How to Make Rice Pilaf
Pilaf is a seasoned rice dish that typically involves cooking rice in stock or water with seasonings, and adding meat or vegetables. To make rice pilaf, you start by sauteeing the rice in oil before adding the liquid and other seasonings (similar to the way you do when making risotto).
How to Cook Different Types of Rice
While you can use the same basic methods to cook different types of rice, the preparation and rice-to-water ratios will be different. Here’s a guide for how to cook different types of rice.
How to Cook Long-Grain Rice
Long-grain rice is about four times as long as it is wide. It cooks up fluffy and the individual grains stay separated, especially if you rinse the rice before cooking.
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You can use long-grain white rice in almost any recipe, no matter the cuisine. It’s similar to brown rice but has the bran and germ removed. It cooks up super fluffy with separate, individual grains.
How to prepare: For best results, rinse the rice. However, you don’t need to wash it vigorously—you’re just removing the dusty outer starch layer.
The ratio: 2 cups water + 1 cup rice
Basmati rice is a fragrant rice that’s grown in the foothills of India and Pakistan. After it’s harvested, it’s aged for a year to decrease moisture, giving it an incredible aroma and a full-bodied flavor.
How to prepare: Wash basmati rice multiple times, swirling it with your hands until the water gets cloudy. Continue draining and washing until the water runs clear. For extra-soft rice, soak the rinsed rice in clean water for 30 minutes before cooking.
The ratio: 1-1/2 cups water + 1 cup rice
Our favorite recipe: Chicken Tikka Masala
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Just like the flower it’s named after, this sweet-smelling rice from Thailand has a buttery flavor. Unlike other long-grain rice, jasmine grains will stick together even if you wash it. It’s also notorious for sticking to the bottom of the pot, so let the pot sit for 5 to 10 minutes before stirring for the fluffiest, softest grains.
How to prepare: No rinsing required—just cook using the stovetop method and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.
The ratio: 2 cups water + 1 cup rice
This “rice” isn’t actually rice at all—it’s a grass seed that has protein, a toasted, nutty flavor and an incredible texture. Wild rice takes longer to cook than other types of rice because it’s slow to absorb water. It may not absorb all of the cooking liquid before it becomes tender.
How to prepare: No rinsing necessary. Using the stovetop method, cook for 45 to 60 minutes and then drain any remaining liquid. (For more details, check out our guide to how to cook wild rice.)
The ratio: 3 cups water + 1 cup rice
Our favorite recipe: Cranberry Wild Rice Pilaf
How to Cook Medium-Grain Rice
Medium-grain rice is twice as long as it is wide, and the rice granules tend to stick together a bit. This results in chewy but tender, moist rice.
You can find brown rice in short-, medium- and long-grain varieties, but we prefer the latter two because they’re easier to cook. Brown rice has an outer bran layer, which makes it more nutritious than white rice but gives it a shorter shelf life.
How to prepare: Rinsing generally isn’t necessary. Cook for 35 to 45 minutes using the stovetop method. (For more details, check out our guide to how to cook brown rice.)
The ratio: 2 cups water + 1 cup rice
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Arborio rice is a short- or medium-grain rice prized for its ability to absorb liquid slowly. The constant stirring and gradual addition of liquid creates a creamy consistency and a chewy bite. It’s most commonly prepared for risotto, but you can also use it in paella.
How to prepare: Don’t rinse arborio if you’re making risotto or another creamy dish. For the best risotto, toast the grains in the oil before adding the liquid one ladle at a time. Our Test Kitchen recommends tasting as you cook to determine doneness based on the rice’s texture.
The ratio: Approximately 3 cups liquid + 1 cup rice
How to Cook Short-Grain Rice
Short-grain rice is plump, with grains that stick together and clump when you cook them.
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Sushi rice is a highly starchy rice that’s super sticky—just the thing you’ll need when making sushi! You can also eat it as table rice. For true sushi rice, mix in some rice vinegar, sugar and salt after it’s cooked. (Sticky rice is a somewhat similar rice variety.)
How to prepare: Wash sushi rice 3 to 5 times before cooking to remove excess starch. Cook using the stovetop method for 15 to 20 minutes. (Check out our guide to how to make sushi rice to learn how to make it using a rice cooker and a hangiri, a wooden vessel used to cool and mix the rice.)
The ratio: 2 cups water + 2 cups rice
Rice-to-Water Ratio Chart
The general rice-to-water ratio is as easy to remember as 1, 2, 3: 1 cup rice + 2 cups water = 3 cups cooked rice. However, the actual ratio varies depending on the cooking method and the type of rice you’re using. The ratio is generally 1:1 if you’re using a rice cooker, but follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Type of Rice
|Basmati rice||1 ½||1||15-20||3|
|Arborio rice||3||1||To taste||3|
What to Make with Rice
A key ingredient in many cuisines, rice is extremely versatile. Here are some ideas for how to incorporate rice into your cooking.
- A simple side dish: These healthy rice recipes are the perfect accompaniment to a weeknight meal.
- Fried rice: Cooking up a batch of fried rice is a great way to make a meal out of whatever leftover vegetables and proteins are hanging out in your fridge. For fried rice with a crisp texture, use cold, leftover rice. There are many different fried rice recipes, including Kimchi Fried Rice.
- Rice bowls: From poke bowls to burrito bowls, rice is the foundation of these easy one-dish meals.
- Rice pudding: You might think of rice as a savory side, but you can use it to make desserts, too! Try this Rose Water Rice Pudding.
For a low-carb alternative to rice, make cauliflower rice using finely grated cauliflower.
Tips for Making Rice
Should you rinse rice before cooking?
Our Test Kitchen says the question of whether to rinse comes down to personal preference, the type of dish you’re making and the cooking method you’re using. Most rice is typically clean and free of debris, so rinsing often isn’t necessary.
In general, rinsing leads to rice that has separate grains and doesn’t clump, while rice that isn’t rinsed is more starchy and can be mushy. Therefore, always rinse rice if you’re using a rice cooker. Don’t rinse rice if you’re making creamy rice dishes like risotto or rice pudding.
How much rice do you cook per person?
As a rule of thumb, plan on 1/4 cup of uncooked rice per person, which will make about 3/4 cup of cooked rice per person. However, it never hurts to have extra rice—you can turn it into fried rice or even freeze it for later—so don’t hesitate to make more than that. (Here’s how to freeze leftover rice.)
What is the best way to cook rice?
The best way to cook rice is on the stove or in a rice cooker, depending on your personal preference. Many members of our Test Kitchen love using a rice cooker because it’s easy and frees up room on your stove for other dishes. Several of our experts swear by this inexpensive Aroma rice cooker. However, other members of our Test Kitchen prefer to keep things simple and stick with the stovetop method.
Do you cook rice on high or low heat?
When you’re cooking rice on the stove, bring the liquid to a boil first before reducing the heat and simmering. If the heat is too high, you could scorch the bottom layer of rice. (Here are other rice mistakes to avoid.)
How long does it take to cook rice?
The amount of time it takes to cook rice depends on the type of rice you’re making and the method you’re using. In general, white rice cooks faster than brown and wild rice. Our rice-to-water ratio chart can help you determine how long it will take to cook your rice.