How to Cook Rice Without Burning It

Burnt rice is the last thing you need when the kids are already hungry for dinner. With our tips, you’ll be making perfect rice in no time at all. Like pasta, rice can be enjoyed in countless dishes, and there are TONS of varieties to choose from. White, brown, red and even purple rice. Short-, medium- and long-grain rice. Jasmine, basmati and wild rice. It’s also healthy and affordable … and kind of hard to cook. The bottom burns, or it’s too watery or too sticky or too mushy. Whether you’re using the stovetop, a rice cooker, or even the oven or microwave, these are my best tips for cooking rice right every time.

The Basics

  • U.S. milled white rice doesn’t need rinsing. Actually, you shouldn’t rinse it. The U.S. requires it be enriched with vitamins and other nutrients. To preserve those nutrients, no rinsing.
  • The size and shape of your pot affects cooking time. Wide, shallow pans tend to cook rice faster and more evenly than deep ones.
  • The lid of your pot needs to fit snugly or else you’ll lose too much needed cooking heat.
  • After rice has cooked on the stove, remove from heat and keep the lid on. This allows the rice to steam and finish cooking properly.
  • Don’t stir things up! Unless you’re going for sticky rice, which might be the case sometimes. Stirring releases extra starch, which makes rice sticky.
  • Consider investing in a rice cooker for perfect rice every time.

Cook Rice in the Microwave

Fill a microwave safe bowl with rice and water. Cover and cook on high for 5 minutes, then on medium for 15 to 20 more minutes, depending on the type of rice. Let the rice stand covered for 5 minutes after cooking.

Cook Rice in the Oven

Add the appropriate ratio of boiling water to rice in an oven safe dish (like a casserole dish). Cover tightly and cook 45-60 minutes at 350°F for brown rice, 30-45 minutes for white rice. Rice cooks more slowly in the oven, so you have less room for error.

Rice, Rice, Baby!

Different kinds of rice are good for different kinds of dishes. Medium grain brown-rice is amazing with stir-fried anything and makes a mean healthy fried rice, while red rice goes great with sausage. Here are a few to try, with tips for cooking them and easy rice recipe ideas.

Basmati Rice

Long and lean, this one. Basmati is a long-grain rice that pairs well with the creamy dishes and spicy curries of Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Like other long-grain varieties, the light and fluffy grains separate easily when cooked.

How to Cook Basmati Rice:

Use a ratio of 1 cup uncooked rice to 2 cups water. Brown basmati rice takes 40-45 minutes to cook; bring to a boil, then cover and simmer. Let it steam in the pot, covered, 5-10 minutes after you take it off the heat.

Japanese Sushi Rice (Konnichiwa)

This medium-grain rice is great for sushi, of course, as well as other Asian dishes that don’t have a ton of sauce. When cooked, it has more moisture than long-grain varieties, but not as much as short-grain rice. Top with sautéed mushrooms, avocado, a lightly fried egg, a few drops of soy sauce and sesame seeds for a Japanese-inspired dish. It’s a white rice, but you can substitute a short grain brown rice for a similar taste and texture.

How to Cook Japanese Sushi Rice:

This rice is especially great in a rice cooker. Since sushi rice has a high starch content, rinsing it 3-5 times helps remove excess starch. Before cooking, soak rice for 30 minutes, to further break down starches. Then cook for 20 minutes on the stovetop before leaving it to steam for an additional 10 minutes. 

Medium-Grain Brown Rice

This variety walks the line between dry and sticky. The in-between length and texture of makes it endlessly versatile. It’s AMAZING with stir-fry. In my house, leftover brown rice gets added to a sautéed frozen veggie mix that includes onions, carrots and peas. Sauté for a minute or two with an egg and a couple teaspoons of soy sauce, and you have the easiest, healthiest fried rice you can imagine. It’s such a hit with my kids! Add shrimp, chicken or even slices of chopped ham and turkey lunchmeat, and top with chopped green onions for extra flavor. I also love using the short-grain version of brown rice to make meatloaf and adding lots of veggies.

How to Cook Medium-Grain Brown Rice:

Great for a rice cooker but just as easy on the stove. Use a ratio of 1 cup uncooked rice to 2 cups liquid, and cook for 30-35 minutes.

Arborio Rice

Arborio is commonly used for risotto. The constant stirring releases the rice’s high starch content, contributing to the dish’s super creamy texture.

How to Cook Arborio Rice:

Arborio is the most high-maintenance of the rice varieties. If you have time, it’s worth it every once in a while. Start by heating your cooking liquid in a pot (chicken or vegetable broth are both good choices). Then, in a large saucepan, sauté chopped onions and veggies of your choice in a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil. Once the onions are translucent, add a cup of Arborio rice. Sauté for a minute or two, then add the heated liquid, one ladleful at a time. Let the rice absorb the liquid before adding the next ladleful. And of course, stir constantly. Continue this process until rice is tender. It’s tedious, but hey, at least you get an arm workout in?

Wild Rice

Wild rice is usually a blend of different varieties of rice, including brown, red, white and black. The varied texture makes it interesting enough on its own for a side dish. Try adding quinoa for even more texture and protein.

How to Cook Wild Rice:

Since wild rice comes in different blends, it’s always good to follow package directions. In a pinch, use a ratio of 1 cup uncooked rice to 2 cups water and cook for 35-40 minutes.

Red Rice

Aromatic red rice has a slightly chewy texture and nutty flavor. Use it to make a perfect pilaf, with a side of tomatoes and sausage to complement its natural flavors.

How to Cook Red Rice:

Red rice needs a little more water than other varieties, so for every 1 cup of uncooked rice, add 2-3 cups of water. Depending on the variety, cooking time ranges from 20-45 minutes.

Chinese Black Rice

Also known as forbidden or purple rice, this rice variety is trending. It’s a long-grain rice, so it’s not sticky, and its dark purple color makes a dramatic addition to any dinner.

How to Cook Black Rice:

Black rice needs 1 3/4-2 cups of water for every 1 cup dry rice. It cooks for 30-45 minutes before steaming. The best part about rice is how kid-friendly it really is. There’s white rice for picky eaters who are going through an only-white-foods phase, and Arborio rice for kids who love creamy textures. Whatever the rice, now you can cook it perfectly. Every. Single. Time.


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