If your rice is too salty, you can either add starch to absorb the excess salt, mask its taste with acid or milk, or simply rinse it away.
Don’t throw out that salty rice! It’s not the end of the world. Chefs, food scientists, fitness experts, and food bloggers across the web have found tons of workarounds for salty rice.
Throwing away salty rice is a huge waste of food and starting all over again is an even bigger waste of your time.
Can You Fix Salty Rice?
Yes, salty rice can be fixed. You don’t necessarily have to start all over again if you’ve accidentally made a super salty batch of rice.
It’s all about learning what can counteract the overpowering taste of too much salt in rice and water, whether that be masking it with other ingredients or finding clever ways to remove excess salt.
We asked food experts to tell us their best ways to fix salty rice and most agree that salty rice can be fixed and there are many ways to do it.
The best method can also come down to the type of rice you’re cooking with and depend on what you have available in the kitchen.
How to Make Your Rice Less Salty?
The most practical way—in most cases—to fix salty rice is with a bit of acid. Food scientist Bryan Le recommends adding a little vinegar or lemon to the rice.
Le points to research by S. A. Simon of the Duke University Medical Center from 2002 that shows that the presence of acids in foods inhibits “the receptor that responds to sodium chloride, or salt.”
Le continues: “As the pH is further lowered by increasing concentrations of acids, the salt receptor continues to lose its ability to detect salt.”
The salt is still in the rice, it’s just that the taste receptors in our mouths can’t taste it because of the added acid. So, this is not a method that’ll remove salt, just mask it.
Mireya Recipe developer and food photographer of the Vegetarian Globe agrees that vinegar is a fantastic way to cancel out saltiness, recommending apple cider vinegar.
Furthermore, she says you can add “sugar or sweet syrup such as honey or maple to counteract the saltiness,” and “vinegar combined with the sweetness of the sugar evens out the salty flavour.”
And Le has another clever method you can use, “add a type of milk with high-fat content, whether that’s dairy, coconut, or another full-fat alternative.”
What happens is that the presence of the fat molecules creates a coating on the tongue that blocks receptors—again, they won’t detect the salt in the rice.
Le explains that “Because salt cannot dissolve in fat, the salt ions can’t access the receptors and you do not detect the higher concentration of salt.”
But there are also some methods to reduce salty rice aside from just masking its presence.
Jenny Hunter of Happy Muncher shared, “If the rice is too salty, add a starch such as cooked potato or breadcrumbs. This will help absorb some of the excess salt.”
And to avoid salty rice beforehand, Hunter says you should “Rinse the rice in cold water several times before cooking. This will help remove some of the salt from the grain.”
How to Fix Salty White Rice?
Dee Broughton of Scratch Market chimes that “What’s always worked for me is rinsing the cooked rice in cold water to remove some of the excess salt.” Pretty simple.
After that, Broughton says she will “simmer the rice again with a little bit of water over low heat for a few minutes. Works like a charm.” This will warm the rice back up again after rinsing with cold water.
How to Fix Salty Dirty Rice?
Broughton has an easy fix for salty dirty rice—“cook up more unseasoned rice and add it to the cooked dirty rice.”
However, Broughton does note that “With this option, some of the other flavors may be diluted.” To overcome this, Broughton recommends adding “additional spices and herbs to the mix.”
For salty dirty rice, Cynthia Drachenberg recommends adding a few spoonfuls of milk, similar to what Le suggested earlier.
But it should be noted that adding milk can give your dirty rice a ‘creamier’ texture and you might not want this for your dish, so be cautious with the amount you add. Cream is also an option.
How to Fix Salty Mexican Rice?
“[T]he most effective method is to rinse the rice under cold water,” says Drachenberg, “This will wash away the salt without affecting the flavor.” The same method Broughton recommends for white rice.
Drachenberg reminds us that the sodium and chloride molecules of salt ‘dissociate’ in water and become ions.
“These ions are attracted to the rice grains and begin to be absorbed into the grain.” Which is why rice can get so salty so easily.
“However, when you rinse the salt off the rice’s surface, you prevent it from being absorbed into the grain,” Drachenberg adds.
How to Fix Salty Rice After It’s Cooked?
If you’ve just finished cooking rice and found it to be way saltier than anticipated, you can do something about it.
Drachenberg says raw potato is the answer. Her advice is to add raw potato to the pot and cook the rice for a further 10-15 minutes. The salt will then move from the rice to the potato.
This works because “the water molecules move from the area of high concentration (the water) to the area of low concentration (the potato).”
The Best Way to Fix Salty Rice
Fixing salty rice comes down to technique and whatever you might have at hand to neutralize or masks its powerful taste.
Some of the methods mentioned above for specific types of rice will also work for others.
To summarize, here are some of the top ways you can fix a salty batch of rice:
- Acid or fatty milk can be used to mask the taste of salt—they can block salt receptors on our tongues.
- Properly rinse rice before cooking to remove any excess salt that might already be on the grain.
- Salt can be absorbed from rice by adding starchy foods like potatoes or breadcrumbs to the water.
- You can fix salty rice after cooking by washing it again in cold water and then reheating it.
- If you add something, like milk, vinegar, or lemon, to counteract the taste, consider how it could change the texture of the rice.
Don’t fret about salty rice! You now know several ways to fix it.