Rice is a staple in many diets around the world, but it can be tricky to get the texture right. This guide will show you how to cook rice perfectly whether you're using a rice cooker, the stove or the microwave.
How to cook basic white rice
One of the best pieces of equipment to cook basic rice in is, of course, a rice cooker.
Quick and simple to use and guaranteeing perfect rice every time, this staple piece of equipment can take the hassle out of making rice midweek and is loved across the globe.
A pressure cooker is next on the list for quick, simple and delicious grains. If you don’t have a rice cooker or pressure cooker to hand – you can still cook delicious rice on the stove.
Regardless of which method you are using, make sure to follow the basic rules when it comes to cooking rice.
Measure your rice to ensure the correct water to rice ratio. This way each grain cooks perfectly by absorbing all the water and there’s no need to drain.
For white rice, you need 1 and a half cups of liquid to 1 cup of rice.
Make sure to rinse your rice before using to remove the starch and ensure a fluffy texture.
Top tip for cooking white rice
3 is the magic number when it comes to rinsing. Add your pre-measured dry rice to the vessel you are cooking in and cover with cold water.
Use your hands to wash the rice in the water, drain and repeat 3 times. Using your hands really helps ensure the grains are suitably washed and really improves the overall texture of the rice when cooked.
Always cook rice from cold water rather than hot and then bring up to heat on the stove.
Once the water is boiling, pop the lid on and turn the temperature down to simmer to cook the rice gently.
Top tip for seasoning your rice water
For basic grains, treat the rice water like pasta water. This means you should always use salt more than you think.
You can always add more seasoning to taste after you are finished cooking, if needed.
Leave the rice to do its own thing. Leave it covered on a medium to low heat and don’t be tempted to stir, shake or uncover during its cooking process.
For extra fluffiness, once it has reached its cooking time, allow it to sit off the heat and steam in its own vessel for around 5-6 minutes.
How to cook basic brown rice
A little extra preparation, liquid and cooking time is needed for brown rice. Soaking brown rice is recommended but not always essential as it contains less starch than white rice.
You can get around not soaking if you slowly simmer the grains for ¾ of the cooking time before removing off the heat, covering and allowing to steam for the last 1/4.
However, if you can spare even just 20 minutes, soak your rice in double the liquid, uncovered, at room temperature. You will definitely notice the difference in the texture.
The ideal time to cook brown rice is around an hour and a half, but you can also do it the night before to help save time and effort. Just make sure to drain and rinse before using.
Once done, follow the above rules but cook on a lower temperature for longer.
Read these articles while you wait for you rice to cook:
- Best afternoon teas in the UK (and yes, they’re all vegan!)
- Vegan dogs – can you feed your dog a vegan diet?
- 10 vegan athletes you didn’t know ate a plant-based diet
How to cook basmati rice
Basmati, regardless of its colour: white or brown, will take longer to cook than its basic friends (above) due to its length.
Basmati is one of the longest grains which can add a significant increase in cooking time. For example, brown rice has cooking times over double that of basic white rice.
Treat the two colours the same as the basics by adding more liquid, time and preparation to the brown variety.
However, soaking is not essential here as it is above, a basic rinsing will suffice.
After cooking, fork through the grains to separate before serving. I like to bring my basmati to a boil before bringing it down to simmer and allowing it to cook through – but this is all to do with personal preference.
Basmati also lends itself to a more complex method of cooking – pilaf style. This means coating the grains in a hot oil alongside other aromatics (such as if you were making a risotto) before cooking covered until all liquid is absorbed.
How to cook the perfect rice
Make sure to choose the rice that is the right fit for your dish. Some add more nutty flavours and others a more fluffy grain.
Rice comes in multiple varieties including: long, medium and short grain.
There are also aromatic, wild or coloured and special grains that lend themselves to more of a specific dish or cuisine: Japanese, sushi, risotto, paella etc.
Each type comes with its own unique characteristics that impact the taste and texture of the final finish and each needs its own preparation and cooking times/techniques.
Top tip for cooking rice
1 cup of uncooked white rice (regardless of grain type) will equal around 3x the amount when cooked.
However, 1 cup of uncooked brown rice (regardless of grain type) will equal around 4x the amount when cooked – so you need less brown rice per recipe than white. Keep that in mind if you are substituting.
Most rice requires rinsing first – this helps to remove any excess starch and leave you with perfectly cooked separate grains without them becoming claggy or mushy.
Risotto rice is one of the exceptions as you need that starch to create the renowned creaminess risottos are known for.
How to cook microwave rice
Want to learn how to cook rice quickly? Try using your microwave!
You might think it’s impossible to cook rice in the microwave, but it can actually be cheaper and easier than using a rice cooker.
Unlike cooking rice on the stove where you have to wait until the water boils before turning down the heat, you can simply leave the microwave to do its thing.
An added bonus, there’s less washing up as all you need is a microwave-safe bowl. Furthermore, it’s less likely to burn than cooking in a pan and is less sticky too.
To cook rice in the microwave, rinse it thoroughly with cold water before placing it in a microwave-safe bowl.
Next, cover the rice with water using the ratios suggested above but be aware that you will need more water if you are cooking brown rice.
Then, cover the bowl with clingfilm and pierce with a fork several times. You can also cover the bowl with a plate if you don’t want to use plastic.
Cook the rice on a high heat (900W) for 6 minutes, then turn the temperature down to medium (500W) and cook for a further 8 minutes.
Once cooked, leave the rice to stand for a few minutes before serving.
Can you reheat cooked rice?
Contrary to popular belief, you can actually reheat cooked rice1. However, there is only a short window in order to do so and must never be done more than once.
After cooking your rice, (the first-time round) you need to act quickly to cool the rice before storing in the fridge (or freezer). Doing this will help to slow down bacteria growth.
In order to reheat cooked rice to a safe degree (anything over 75c) make sure to heat the rice all the way through before eating.
Regardless of the method of reheating: microwave, oven, stove – make sure to stir in intervals to ensure even re-heating.
Stop throwing oil down the drain!
Find out how to get rid of excess oil safely with our guide to disposing cooking oil.