How Much Water for ½, 1, 1½, and 2 Cups of Rice?

Published Categorized as Cooking Tips
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So you want to cook rice, but you don’t know how to do the math? We’ve done the numbers for you so you can concentrate on the cooking.

Rice, the pantry staple that it is, is hearty, economical, and has a mild flavor that goes well with rich sauces and gamey meats. Moreover, rice is easy to cook. All you need to prepare a tasty dinner for the whole family is a cup or two of rice and strong broth or salted water.

But let’s suppose you already know this. And you’ve measured out ½, 1, 1½, or 2 cups of rice. How much water do you need to cook it? We did the math and wrote this guide for you so you can focus on the cooking.

How Much Water Do You Need to Cook Rice?

The amount of water you need to cook rice depends on (a) the cooking method and (b) the rice variety you have on hand.

This guide assumes that you’re using the simplest cooking method for your rice:

  • Bring a heavy-bottomed pot of water to a boil over high heat
  • Add the rice, turn the heat down to medium, and cover the pot with the lid
  • Let the rice simmer until it is cooked to safety and tenderness

If the recipe you’re following specifies a different cooking method and/or other cooking times, they should probably override the general recommendations we’ve given in this guide. (For example, The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients mentions an open-pot method that uses 5 to 6 times as much water as rice.)

The general rule of thumb for cooking rice in a lidded pot can be found below:

In Keys to Good Cooking—a book that should be in a prominent place on every home cook’s bookshelf—American culinary author Harold McGee says that long-grain rice requires twice the amount of water, medium-grain rice 1¼ the amount of water, and sushi rice the same amount of water to cook.

Brown rice takes longer to cook because, unlike white rice, the husk is left intact. With that being said, here are two ways to cook brown rice: with and without pre-soaking. Brown rice soaked in lukewarm water for 60 minutes cooks in half the time and requires half the cooking liquid. And this is how you even out the difference.

To create the guide, we took these proportions and applied them to the most commonly cooked quantities of rice in the household—that is, ½ cup, 1 cup, 1½ cups, and 2 cups of rice—so you don’t have to.

To find out how much water you need to use, scroll down to the amount of rice you need to cook.

How Much Water to Cook ½ Cup of Rice

Rice VarietyRice WeightWater Volume
American rice, long grain½ cup1 cup
Basmati rice (for Indian curry)½ cup⅔ cup
Bomba rice (for Spanish paella)½ cup⅔ cup
Arborio rice (for Italian risotto)½ cup⅔ cup
Japanese rice, short grain (for sushi)½ cup½ cup
Brown rice, not presoaked½ cup2 cups
Brown rice, presoaked for 1 hour½ cup1 cups

To cook ½ cup of American long-grain rice, bring 1 cup of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook ½ cup of Basmati rice, bring ⅔ cup of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook ½ cup of Bomba rice, bring ⅔ cup of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook ½ cup of Arborio rice, bring ⅔ cup of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook ½ cup of Japanese short-grain rice (a.k.a. sushi rice), bring ½ cup of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook ½ cup of brown rice that hasn’t been presoaked, bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

To cook ½ cup of presoaked brown rice, bring 1 cup of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.

How Much Water to Cook 1 Cup of Rice

Rice VarietyRice WeightWater Volume
American rice, long grain1 cup2 cups
Basmati rice (for Indian curry)1 cup1¼ cups
Bomba rice (for Spanish paella)1 cup1¼ cups
Arborio rice (for Italian risotto)1 cup1¼ cups
Japanese rice, short grain (for sushi)1 cup1 cup
Brown rice, not presoaked1 cup4 cups
Brown rice, presoaked for 1 hour1 cup2 cups

To cook 1 cup of American long-grain rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 1 cup of Basmati rice, bring 1¼ cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 1 cup of Bomba rice, bring 1¼ cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 1 cup of Arborio rice, bring 1¼ cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 1 cup of Japanese short-grain rice (a.k.a. sushi rice), bring 1 cup of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 1 cup of brown rice that hasn’t been presoaked, bring 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

To cook 1 cup of presoaked brown rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.

How Much Water to Cook 1½ Cups of Rice

Rice VarietyRice WeightWater Volume
American rice, long grain1½ cups3 cups
Basmati rice (for Indian curry)1½ cups2 cups
Bomba rice (for Spanish paella)1½ cups2 cups
Arborio rice (for Italian risotto)1½ cups2 cups
Japanese rice, short grain (for sushi)1½ cups1½ cups
Brown rice, not presoaked1½ cups6 cups
Brown rice, presoaked for 1 hour1½ cups3 cups

Note: If we stick to the exact proportions this guide is based on, 1½ cups of medium-grain rice should be cooked in precisely (1.5 * 1.25) = 1.875 cups of liquid. We’ve rounded this number up to 2 cups for ease of measurement.

To cook 1½ cups of American long-grain rice, bring 3 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 1½ cups of Basmati rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 1½ cups of Bomba rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 1½ cups of Arborio rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 1½ cups of Japanese short-grain rice (a.k.a. sushi rice), bring 1½ cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 1½ cups of brown rice that hasn’t been presoaked, bring 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

To cook 1½ cups of presoaked brown rice, bring 3 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.

How Much Water to Cook 2 Cups of Rice

Rice VarietyRice WeightWater Volume
American rice, long grain2 cups4 cups
Basmati rice (for Indian curry)2 cups2½ cups
Bomba rice (for Spanish paella)2 cups2½ cups
Arborio rice (for Italian risotto)2 cups2½ cups
Japanese rice, short grain (for sushi)2 cups2 cups
Brown rice, not presoaked2 cups8 cups
Brown rice, presoaked for 1 hour2 cups4 cups

To cook 2 cups of American long-grain rice, bring 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 2 cups of Basmati rice, bring 2½ cups cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 2 cups of Bomba rice, bring 2½ cups cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 2 cups of Arborio rice, bring 2½ cups cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 2 cups of Japanese short-grain rice (a.k.a. sushi rice), bring 3 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

To cook 2 cups of brown rice that hasn’t been presoaked, bring 8 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

To cook 2 cups of presoaked brown rice, bring 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat, then add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.

Up next: How Many Grams Are There in a Serving of Rice?

By Dim Nikov

Cooking for family and friends, one dish at a time. I love to make food that's delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare.

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