The simplest things in cooking are also the hardest to get right. Nowhere is this more true than when making rice on the stove top. A pot, a cup of rice, a couple of cups of water. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty. Just type in “why is my rice” in Google and let autocomplete do the rest. Rice can end up mushy, hard, sticky, slimy, soggy, and bubbling over (and these are simply the most searched for problems!).

Rice-related problems that home cooks look up on Google

Clearly, making good and tasty rice is as much a science as it is an art. It can also be surprisingly rewarding when done right. And this is what I’m going to share with you today.

In this post, you’re going to find out my five secrets to making the tastiest rice you could possibly make on the stove.

Keep on reading if I’ve got you curious.

1. Rinse the Rice Before Cooking It

Don’t fire up the stove just yet. The first secret to making tasty rice starts with your kitchen sink. I know it’s not the most pleasing activity in the world, folks. But hear me out and wash your rice. You’re not doing this for sanitary reasons. Rice producers have already taken care of that for you. You’re doing it to improve the taste and texture. Here’s why…

Before cooking rice, rinse it in a fine mesh strainer under cold running water. It’s ready to use when the running water turns from cloudy to clear, which takes 15-20 seconds. When you rinse rice, you remove surface starch from the rice grains. Surface starch causes cooked rice to smell strongly, clump together, and spoil faster.

Does rinsing rice remove the nutrients? In the US, manufacturers spray rice grains with vitamins. Rinsing rice removes 50% to 70% of the vitamins sprayed by manufacturers, according to a 2015 study published in the journal of Food Additives & Contaminants.

I’m going to take an unpopular stance here and say this: You shouldn’t rely on sprayed-on vitamins on rice grains to get your daily nutrients. Just cook healthy food in the first place.

2. Use the Right Water/Rice Ratio

How much water do you need to cook rice? Convention wisdom says it takes 2 cups of water to cook 1 cup filled with rice. While this is true for white rice, not all rice varieties are made equal.

And I’d argue that cooking time is as important as the water/rice ratio. You can always add or take water away. But you can’t always do that when it comes to cooking time.

So here’s my more detailed guideline for cooking commonly found rice varieties in the right amount of water, for the right amount of time:

RiceWater/Rice RatioSimmer Time
White rice2 cups water, 1 cup rice17-18 minutes
Sushi rice1 1/3 cups water, 1 cup rice17-18 minutes
Brown rice2 cups water, 1 cup rice40-45 minutes
Basmati rice1 1/2 cups water, 1 cup rice15-20 minutes
Jasmine rice1 1/3 cups water, 1 cup rice15-20 minutes
Black rice2 cups water, 1 cup rice50 minutes
Water/rice ratios and simmer times for most rice varieties

But you came here for the secrets to making tasty rice on the stove top, not just any rice. And cooking time isn’t really much of a secret now, is it?

Make tastier rice by simmering it in beef, chicken, or vegetable broth instead of water. The rice will become salty, savory, and aromatic as it absorbs the rich flavor of the broth. If you don’t have broth handy, add a bouillon cube in the cooking water.

Let what you’re cooking determine the broth or stock you use. For example, if you’re making chicken fried rice, cook the rice in chicken broth. If you’re making rice for beef chili or for bean and rice burritos, cook it in beef stock or vegetable stock.

This super-simple trick will take your rice dishes to the next level. If you’re making a recipe that doesn’t allow you to use broth, salt the cooking water (just like you’d do when cooking pasta).

3. Only Stir When Making Risotto

Unless you’re making creamy risotto, only stir rice for 2-3 seconds after adding it to a pot of boiling water.

The temperature of the water will drop when you add ingredients to it. This causes most cookware, especially thinner pots commonly found in home kitchens, to contract. As the water recovers the boil, your pot will expand. Contraction and expansion is what causes food to stick to the bottom of your pot unless you stir it.

Stirring rice after adding it to a pot helps prevent it from sticking to the bottom. However, most home cooks continue stirring the rice as it cooks. As you’re going to see in the next paragraph, this is a mistake.

Don’t stir rice during cooking unless you’re making creamy risotto. Doing so releases starches from the grains into the cooking water — and causes the rice to become creamy, thick, and saucy. This is a great technique for cooking rice when intentional, but it can spoil many recipes that favor firmer and crisper rice.

But how do you prefer it from burning? First, you cook it on low heat. Second, you use a thick and heavy pot like a Dutch oven. Thin pots will get too hot on the bottom and not conduct the heat evenly. Cheap cookware is a sure-fire way to scorch rice and ruin your recipe.

4. Don’t Boil Rice, Let It Simmer

The best way to cook rice is nice and slow. Rice is a tender ingredient that, once hydrated, requires care and attention.

Bring at least 2 cups of water to a rolling boil on medium-high heat. Add 1 cup of rice and give the water time to return to a boil. When the water returns to a boil, bring the heat down to low. Cover the pot with a lid and keep the rice at a simmer. A simmer happens just below boiling point at 212°F (100°C).

At this stage, set a timer on your phone for 17-18 minutes and, when the time is done, your rice will be perfectly cooked.

5. Let It Rest for 10-15 Minutes Before Serving

When the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and let it rest in the pot, lid on, for 10-15 minutes. The rice will finish steaming itself until it’s perfectly soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Remove from the pot, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Once you’ve cooked rice, it will stay good in the fridge for up to 5 days.

In Conclusion

Now you know my five secrets to making tasty rice:

  1. Always wash the rice before cooking to remove surface starches.
  2. Use the right water/rice ratio and cook the rice in broth or salted water.
  3. Don’t stir the rice while cooking (unless you’re making creamy risotto).
  4. Simmer rice, don’t boil it. Rice is best cooked gently and on low heat.
  5. Before serving, let it rest and finish steaming for 10-15 minutes.

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