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Is Your Rice Foaming When Cooking?

Why did the rice cross the pot? To boil over on the other side! Our editor reveals how to keep your grains grounded.

We’ve all been there: one moment, you’re standing over the stove, waiting for your rice to cook. The next, you’re in a full-blown kitchen crisis, as a tidal wave of frothy, starchy water cascades over the sides of your pot. It’s like a culinary horror movie—The Blob, if you will, but with basmati.

And so, as you’re cleaning the countertop, you can’t help but think to yourself, “Why on God’s green earth does rice boil over?!” Perhaps more importantly, how can you prevent it from happening ever again?

Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place. Because if you read on, you’re about to get the Internet’s best crash course on foam-free rice cooking for free.

How to Stop Rice From Boiling Over

If you want to prevent rice from boiling over, you just need some cooking tricks, a little knowledge, and a lot of patience.

And while I can’t really help you with being patient, if you keep reading, I can certainly give you the knowledge and guide you through the cooking method.

Step 1: Rinse Your Rice

The main culprit behind your boiling over debacle is the excess starch clinging to each grain of rice.

So, when you rinse your rice thoroughly before cooking, you’re washing away a significant amount of this rogue starch.

As an added benefit, you’re also removing dirt, chemicals, and pests that may be present on the grains, cookbook author Nik Sharma tells The Washington Post.

It’s a good idea to rinse the rice thoroughly by placing it in a strainer with a fine metal mesh and washing it under lukewarm running water until the water becomes clear.

Step 2: Use a Big, Spacious Pot

Size does matter, at least when it comes to cooking rice.

If you use a pot that’s too small, there won’t be enough space for the rice to cook properly, which can cause it to boil over. Similarly, using a shallow pan is a sure way to end up with a mess.

Go big, and give your rice the space it needs. Trust me, it’ll make a difference.

Step 3: Cook the Rice at a Lower Temperature

Remember, high heat turns your innocent rice into an uncontrollable monster.

To prevent your rice from boiling over, turn down the heat after the water reaches a boil and let the grains simmer gently. This allows them to cook evenly and without that frothy overflow.

Step 4: Don’t Overcrowd the Pot

Just like people, rice grains need some personal space too.

When you overcrowd your pot, the rice has less room to move, and the water boils more rapidly.

Stick to the right water-to-rice ratio: for every 1 cup of rice, use 2 cups of water.

Related: Why Do US Recipes Use Cups?

Step 5: Try the Wooden Spoon Trick

Ah, an oldie but a goodie!

Place a wooden spoon across the top of your pot. The wood absorbs some of the heat and disrupts the formation of the foam. We’ve demonstrated how this works over at, “How to Keep the Water in Your Pot From Boiling Over.”

Just be sure not to leave the spoon alone for… um, safety purposes.

Rice Types And Their Starch Contents

The type of rice you’re using can dramatically affect your likelihood of finding yourself in the middle of a starchy overflow.

You know, not all rice is the same. Different types of rice contain varying levels of starch. Specifically, there’s something called amylose, which is a kind of starch that doesn’t become gelatinized when cooked.

This helps keep the grains of rice separate and fluffy. On the other hand, there’s amylopectin, which does gelatinize and makes the rice stickier… and yep, more likely to boil over.

Oh, and we shouldn’t overlook the length of the rice grains! Short-grain rice usually contains more amylopectin (the troublemaker in our boil-over problem), while long-grain rice has more amylose (our cooking hero).

So, if you’ve been a victim of the great rice boil over more times than you’d like to admit, maybe it’s time to switch up your rice variety. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common rice types:

  1. Basmati: Known as the prince of rice, basmati is a long-grain rice originating from India. It’s high in amylose, which means it’s less likely to boil over and will give you that nice, fluffy texture we all love.
  2. Jasmine: This long-grain rice from Thailand is more starchy than basmati and falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It can still boil over if not properly monitored, but it’s less likely to do so than the shorter, stickier varieties.
  3. Arborio: Ah, the short-grain rice of our risotto dreams! This Italian beauty is packed with amylopectin, making it one of the most starchy and, therefore, risky options when it comes to boiling over. Handle with care!
  4. Sushi Rice: Another short-grain variety, sushi rice (often a type of Japonica rice), has a high level of amylopectin, giving it the perfect sticky consistency for rolling sushi—and a greater likelihood of boiling over.
  5. Brown Rice: Whether it’s long-grain or short-grain, brown rice retains the outer bran layer, which gives it more fiber but also contains additional starch. Brown rice takes longer to cook and, depending on the specific variety, can have a moderate to high risk of boiling over.
  6. Wild Rice: The outlier of our group, wild rice isn’t technically rice at all! It’s a type of grass from North America. It has a chewy texture, a nutty flavor, and, most importantly, a low propensity to boil over.

When it comes to everyday cooking, you’ll likely want a rice that’s versatile, affordable, and, of course, less likely to make a starchy break for it over the edge of your pot.

Basmati and Jasmine are both fantastic choices here, offering the perfect balance between a lovely texture, a mild flavor that pairs well with many different types of cuisine, and a less dramatic cooking experience.

The Takeaways

Whichever rice you choose, make sure you rinse it well, use a big enough pot, lower the cooking temperature, avoid overcrowding, and try that magical wooden spoon trick. If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to boil over-free rice, every single time.

Bon appétit!

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.