Everything you need to know on how to cook perfect, tender rice on the stove-top, slow cooker, and microwave.
Rice is a great quick, and easy side dish for most dinner recipes. Unfortunately, many people struggle to get the results they’re looking for when making Rice that’s tender and fluffy, not sticky, and gooey.
I’m here to share some tips and methods on making rice that doesn’t involve an instant box mix or the rice cooker.
How to Cook Rice
One of the biggest questions I often get is, “how do you make rice?” While it’s one of the most basic ingredients, it’s fairly easy to mess up. People usually aren’t sure how much water to use or whether to cook it covered, so that’s what we will cover in this post, starting with how to cook rice on the stove-top.
*The directions below are for long-grain, white rice.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup rice and toast for 1 minute.
- Add water
Pour 2 cups of liquid into the saucepan and add your choice of seasonings.
- Bring to a Boil
Over medium heat, bring the rice to a boil.
- Cover and Simmer
Reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer for 18-20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
- No peeking!
Check the rice to see that the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to rest, covered, for 10 minutes. If any liquid remains, use a thick kitchen cloth to cover the lid of the saucepan for 2-3 minutes or until the excess moisture is evaporated.
Using a fork, fluff the rice and serve!
Watch how it’s done in this quick video.
White Rice to Water Ratio
The water to rice ratio determines whether you make soft and tender rice or a mushy, sticky clump. Follow the rice to liquid ratios below for perfectly cooked rice:
- Long-grain: 1 cup rice to 2 cups water
- Medium-grain: 1 cup rice to 2 cups water
- Short-grain: 1 cup rice to 2 cups water (depending on the variety, see below)
Most short-grain rice varieties can cook with 2 cups of liquid per cup of rice, but for sushi rice, the recommended ratio is 1 cup rice to 1 ½ cup water.
What is the ratio of water to basmati rice?
Basmati is a long-grain rice that’s very aromatic and flavorful. While the 1:2 ratio works for most rice, basmati cooks best with a 1:1.75 ratio, so 1 cup rice to 1 ¾ cups liquid.
These ratios are especially helpful in producing fluffy rice. It’s just enough water for the rice to absorb, with enough leftover steam that keeps it fluffy and soft, another reason why it’s important to keep the lid on while cooking, but more on that later.
How to Simmer Rice
Rice is cooked on a simmer, usually medium to low heat, to give the starches time to absorb the water fully, so everything stays tender.
Once you see the liquid bubbling, cover the saucepan, and reduce the heat to low. Give it 15 to 18 minutes, without stirring or lifting the lid.
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Do you cook rice covered or uncovered?
Keep a lid on it! While cooking, lift the lid as seldom as possible, only at the end of the cooking time to make sure the liquid has been absorbed. Many think it is good to stir the rice frequently while cooking, but this disrupts the cooking process.
Rice Cooking Tips
Whichever is your choice method, here are a few more tips to keep the rice nice and tender.
- Know Your Rice Types– There are many different rice varieties. Make sure you are cooking with the right kind of rice, so you’ll know the proper rice to water ratio. I typically use long-grain white rice.
- Don’t skip the resting period- This is completely necessary for the rice to absorb any liquid and keep its fluffy texture. Afterward, fluff the rice with a large fork and let any resident moisture evaporate out.
- Don’t forget to rinse- Rinsing rice before cooking rids the grains of scratches and prevents clumping.
- Think beyond water- You don’t have to cook the rice in plain water. Depending on what you are making it for, you may want to consider cooking your rice in chicken broth or vegetable broth; it adds more flavor.
- If you eat low-carb but still want to enjoy your favorite rice dishes, cauliflower rice makes an excellent substitute that you can steam and sauté.
How to Cook Rice in the Microwave
This might come as a surprise, but you can cook perfectly tender rice in the microwave. It’s extremely helpful when you’re in a pinch or don’t have access to a stove, so feel free to pass this bit of wisdom on to your college-aged kids.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Rice- any kind
- Water or chicken broth
- Large, microwave-safe bowl
Rinse the rice with cold water.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine 1 cup rice with 2 cups of water and your seasonings of choice.
Microwave on high for 5 minutes, then 15 minutes at 50% power, and finish it off with 5 minutes to rest.
Can You Cook Rice in a Crock-Pot?
What do we have here? Another pleasant surprise! Slow cooker rice is the ultimate method when you need dinner to make itself. Here’s how to make rice in a slow cooker:
Rinse 1 cup rice with cold water.
Add the white rice, 2 cups liquid, and your choice of seasonings to the dish of a slow cooker.
- Low and Slow
Cover and cook on low for 2 to 2 ½ hours or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice tender.
- It’s Ready
Uncover, fluff with a fork, and serve.
How to Cook Rice in the Instant Pot
This post wouldn’t be complete without a guide to making perfect rice in the Instant Pot. It’s ideal for when you need fluffy rice stat- and it’s super easy to make.
*Important note- the rice to water ratio is a little different, about 1 cup rice to 1 cup water for an Instant Pot, due to the high-pressure cooking.
Rinse 1 cup rice with cold water.
Add the rice, 1 cup liquid, and seasonings to the dish of the Instant Pot.
- Add the Pressure
Close the lid, seal, and pressure cook on high for 3 minutes, then natural release for 10 minutes.
- Fluff and Serve
Turn on the venting knob to release the remaining pressure. Open the lid and fluff the rice and serve!
How to Store Cooked Rice
Once cooked, rice will last for up to 5 days refrigerated in an airtight container, making it a perfect meal prep ingredient for power bowls, stir-fries, and burrito bowls.
To reheat, combine 2 tablespoons of water to every cup of rice in a microwave-safe container. Cover with a paper towel and microwave for 1 minute or until the rice has absorbed the water and is tender.
How to Meal Prep Rice
Rice is a great tool for building healthy meal prep recipes. It’s a good source of carbohydrates, and a little goes a long way. For every cup of dry rice, you get roughly 3 cups cooked. That’s a lot of yield for a small amount at $0.18 a serving! Here’s a few meal prep recipe with rice to get you started:
- Korean Chicken Bowls
- Buffalo Chicken Power Bowls– swap for cauliflower rice
- Thai Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
- Burrito Bowls
Rice Recipes for Kids
Over the years, I’ve found the recipes made with simple ingredients are the ones that appeal to kids the most. While my sons often request plain buttered rice as a side dish, I’ve had a lot of success serving it alongside meals, like the ones below, that everyone can enjoy.