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How to Cook Rice

Created January 12, 2017
Slow-Cooker Hula Chicken

We love rice for its versatility and ability to add flavor and texture to our favorite meals. Here’s everything you need to know about rice: from identifying all the different grains, to cooking and serving, and everything in-between!


Cultivated for centuries, rice appears in many cultural cuisines, in an array of dishes and even in beverages. Rice is a food staple for almost half of the world’s population, mostly accredited to its incredible versatility. Rice can add flavor and texture to meals, and it pairs well with most proteins and sauces, making it a delicious side for any dinner!

The cultivation of rice dates back to ancient times, making it one of the oldest and most commonly used grains in the world. The top rice producers in the world are China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines and Japan. Though most of the world’s rice comes from Asian rice farming, other countries around the world produce rice as well, including the United States.

A whole grain is the entire seed of a grass plant containing all parts of its kernel, including the fiber-rich outer coating of bran, the energy-dense middle layer called endosperm and the nutrient-packed germ. If any part of the grain is removed, it’s not considered whole. Whole grains contain essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Wild rice is considered a whole grain. A refined grain has been through the milling process, which removes the bran and germ. This process gives the grain a finer texture, but it also removes some fiber and vitamins. Most refined grains are labeled as being “enriched,” meaning some iron and B vitamins have been added back in. An example of refined grains include white rice. Raw, long-grain white rice is a source of energy, carbohydrates, calcium, iron and vitamin E, though it is low in fiber.

Red rice has higher levels of iron and zinc, and has some antioxidant benefits, as well, while purple and black rice are high in protein and fat.

Different Kinds of Rice


Although you may be familiar with just white or brown rice, there are actually many varieties of rice—each with their own flavor, texture and nutritional value.

Arborio rice contains a high proportion of starch that gives risotto its characteristic creamy texture.

Bamboo rice is a white rice infused with fresh bamboo juice, which imparts a pale jade color when cooked and a fragrance similar to jasmine tea. A very moist, sticky rice.

Basmati rice is a long grained rice that stays separate (not sticky) when cooked. It has a subtle flavor and is aromatic.

Brown rice is actually white rice without the outer brown hull removed, so it’s considered a whole grain. It contains more nutrients and fiber than white rice.

Colusari red rice is burgundy-colored whole-grain rice. It has a light, nutty popcorn-like flavor and chewy texture that blends well with other rice or grains.

Jasmine rice is a fragrant white rice with a subtle nutty flavor that differs from basmati. It is less sticky than other forms of rice.

Organic sweet brown rice is sweeter and more glutinous than regular brown rice with the added benefits of whole grain.

White rice includes three main types, each with different characteristics. Long-grain white rice stays separate and fluffier when cooked, and it’s good for side dishes. Medium-grain rice is plumper and shorter; good for paella or as a substitute for Arborio in risotto. Short-grain white rice is the shortest and most moist; good for puddings and molded salads.

Did you know? Wild rice is not actually rice at all, but rather a long-grain marsh grass that in the past was harvested by local residents in the Great Lakes area. Now it is cultivated commercially in many states, so it is much more available than in the past. Nutty and chewy, wild rice has a wonderful texture and flavor. It is a whole grain that contains a good amount of protein and fiber, is low in fat and contains no gluten.

How to Cook Rice


Regular rice (long, medium and short-grain) takes the longest to cook. Converted rice is partially cooked and takes less time to make. When you are really in a hurry, instant white rice is the fastest, cooking in about 5 minutes. Instant or precooked brown rice is also quick, but takes just a bit longer: about 10 minutes.

To cook rice, bring rice and water to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and follow the specific directions for each kind of rice. (These directions each require 1 cup of rice.)

Basmati White: Cook 1 cup rice in 1 ½ c water. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Yield: 3 cups of rice.

Jasmine: Cook 1 cup rice in 1 ¾ c water. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Yield: 3 cups of rice.

Long-grain white rice: Cook 1 cup rice in 2 c water. Simmer 15 minutes. Yield: 3 cups of rice.

Parboiled (converted) white rice: Cook 1 cup rice in 2 ½ c water. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Yield: 3 to 4 cups of rice.

Precooked (instant) white rice: Cook 1 cup rice in 1 c water. After stirring in rice, cover and remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Yield: 2 cups of rice.

Long-grain brown (regular and basmati): Cook 1 cup rice in 2 ¾ c water. Simmer 45 to 50 minutes. Yield: 4 cups of rice.

Precooked (instant) brown rice: Cook 1 cup rice in 1 ¼ c water. Simmer 10 minutes. Yield: 2 cups of rice.

To cook wild rice, rinse the rice thoroughly under cold water to remove debris. Use the correct amount of water: 2 ½ cups water for 1 cup uncooked wild rice. Remember that it takes longer than white or brown rice to cook – up to 1 hour. Cook until the kernels “pop.” Overcooked rice will be mushy.

Rice pilafs are an easy, delicious way to enjoy rice. The best part about a rice pilaf is that it can be enjoyed differently every time you make it! Just substitute different ingredients each time for a simple side at the dinner table. The secret to the pilaf’s flavor is browning the rice in butter until it is golden brown before adding the liquid to the pan; learn how to make rice pilaf with the help of our Betty Crocker Kitchen experts. Here is a favorite kitchen-tested recipe for rice pilaf.

Rice is a great way to make a variety of dishes more filling. Next time you make rice pilaf or other rice for dinner, consider making a double-batch so you’ll already have rice on hand to add to other foods. Or, try one of these creative ways to use cooked rice:

  • Stir some into hot soup, just until the rice is heated through.
  • Use as a filling for omelets – reheat before spooning into the omelet.
  • Make up your own fried rice concoction. Brown the rice in a small amount of oil, then stir in chopped or shredded cooked meat or chicken, an egg, or any vegetables you have on hand.
  • Use as a filling for tacos or burritos – reheat before adding with your other favorite fillings.
  • Make a nice salad by tossing cold pilaf or plan cooked rice with your favorite vinaigrette or salad dressing; add finely chopped vegetables for color and crunch.

How to Serve Rice

Slow-Cooker Hula Chicken

Rice is the perfect side dish for any meal. Rice tastes especially great paired with chicken, or baked directly in a casserole. You can serve rice in small portions on the side of any protein, and rice takes on flavor well—especially with cheese, nuts or some vegetables. Coarsely chopped cashews, curry, mushrooms, pine nuts, prosciutto, peas, and parmesan all taste great when cooked with rice.

Sticky rice can be molded easily, or if you’re serving a protein, place it on top of the bed of cooked rice for a pretty presentation.

Try one of these delicious rice recipes for more ideas on how to serve rice:

Leftover Rice


Since rice is so budget-friendly, it’s easy to make large batches at once! Plus, rice retains its taste when reheated. You can store uncooked rice for up to six months at room temperature in a cool, dry place, or up to one year in the freezer. Store cooked rice tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to five days, or freeze in an airtight container for up to six months.

To reheat plain or seasoned rice (note: reheating frozen rice will take longer) add 2 tablespoons of water to every 1 cup of cooked rice. Tightly over and microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes in a microwave-safe container. Or, in a covered saucepan, add 2 tablespoons water for every 1 cup of cooked grains and heat over low heat 5 to 10 minutes.