Cooking 101: How to Cook Rice

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 20, 2021
3 min read

Rice is a staple food in many cultures across the globe. It is important as a high-calorie food that is usually affordable and available for purchase in bulk.

Many different countries and cultures have their own signature rice dishes. Examples include rice and beans from Mexico, steamed rice from China, and risotto from Italy.

Follow these steps to learn how to make rice on a stove:

  • Wash your rice. Before you do anything, rinse your rice off. This removes excess starch and any dirt or impurities that may have gotten on the rice grains during the production process. Rinsing can also clean the rice of dust if it has come from a bulk bin at your local grocery store.
  • Measure your rice and water. For most types of rice, you can use a water to rice ratio of 2:1. So, if you want to cook 1 cup of dry, uncooked rice, you will cook it in 2 cups of water. However, some types of rice may vary, so be sure to read the directions on the package.
  • Combine the rice and water in a pot. Stir it and then put a lid on before turning the burner on high.
  • Wait for it to boil. Once the water with rice is boiling, turn the heat down to low. The water should now be simmering.
  • Let it cook. The amount of time it will take to cook depends on the type of rice. In general, brown rice takes longer than white rice. Do not stir your rice or remove the lid while it is cooking. It's best to use a see-through lid for your pot so you can tell when it is done. Once all the water has evaporated, your rice is ready.

A rice cooker is an electronic device that is designed to cook rice. Most rice cookers come with instructions for how to cook different types of rice, including how much water to use.

The benefits of using a rice cooker include putting the rice and water in, turning it on, and walking away. Alternatively, when you cook rice on the stove, you have to pay more attention. Rice cookers also often have a feature that keeps your rice warm after you are done cooking it.

Follow these steps to learn how to make rice with a rice cooker:

  • Wash the rice. Again, before you cook rice, you should rinse it.
  • Measure the rice and water. Read your rice cooker's guide or recipe book to find out how much to use for the particular type of rice you are going to make.
  • Combine the rice and water. Put it in the non-stick container that came with your rice cooker.
  • Turn it on. Turn on your rice cooker and wait for it to alert you that it is done.

Once you master cooking basic rice dishes, you may want to spice things up. Here are some ideas to make your plain rice a little more interesting:

  • Use vegetable or chicken broth instead of water to add flavor.
  • Add dried spices into the water before you cook the rice.
  • Stir fresh herbs into the cooked rice while it is still in the pot.
  • Add your cooked rice to soup to make it more hearty.
  • Throw a handful of rice on a salad.
  • Stir rice into a sautée of meat or vegetables.
  • Simmer your rice in butter or oil before boiling it in water to add richness.

Many types of rice come in short grain, medium grain, and long-grain varieties. Rice can also be whole grain or refined.

Brown rice is a whole grain, while white rice is refined. With white rice, the outer layer has been removed. This removes some of the nutrients. Some white rice options are enriched or fortified with nutrients to bring back some of the nutritional value that was lost in the milling process.

There are many different types of rice including:

  • Basmati rice
  • Jasmine rice
  • Arborio rice
  • Black rice
  • Purple rice
  • Red rice
  • Brown rice
  • White rice

Different types of rice have different properties. For example, purple, red, and black rice have the same antioxidants as blueberries. Jasmine and basmati rice have distinct smells. Arborio rice is often used to make risotto and pudding, due to its starchy quality.