How To Cook Rice on the Stove

How To Cook Rice on the Stove

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Faith Durand
Sep 24, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A very good pot of rice has the ability to transform a humble dinner of vegetables into a venerable feast. Rice is easy to find, inexpensive, and the perfect blank slate for the base of many classic dishes — stir-fry, butter chicken, and red beans come to mind.

A rice cooker is handy if you cook rice (and other grains) regularly and if you've got the space to store it, but you don't actually need any special equipment or ingredients to cook up a pot of stunningly simple, tender, and fluffy rice.

In fact, all you really need is a cup of rice, a pot, and a stovetop. Here are the three best ways to cook long-grain white rice, brown rice, and aromatic rices — like jasmine and basmati — on the stovetop.

Stovetop Rice: Watch the Video

3 Methods for Stovetop Rice

Many rice recipes rely on ratios for rice to water. I can cook pasta blindfolded, make grits with ease, and bake potatoes with the best of them. But cooking a pot of rice on the stovetop remained a mystery until I gave up juggling water-to-rice ratios and tried different techniques instead. A good pot of rice holds a mountain of fluffy, separate grains — no matter the type of rice. And not all rice varieties are the same, so there is no reason to cook them using the same method.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

These stovetop methods use different pot sizes and water boiling methods (make sure you have a nice, tight-fitting lid for each). Try not to peek while the rice cooks — that will change the cook time and water absorption rate.

First, Rinse the Rice

Rice, like dried beans, is an agriculture product, meaning it comes from the field and processor with some dirt, debris, and, in rice's case, starch in the bag or box. Rinsing the rice is the first line of defense against gummy grains, as it washes away loose, powdery starch that can stick to the grains upon cooking. Always use a fine-mesh strainer to rinse your rice under cool running water — no matter the cooking method.

Stovetop Methods for White, Brown, and Basmati Rice

For long-grain white rice: Standard long-grain white rice is best suited for the simmer-and-steam method. Here the rice simmers in water until completely absorbed. Slide the pot off the heat to steam, and with a quick fluff of your fork the rice is ready.

For brown rice: Brown rice has a nutty flavor and delightful chew. It also has a tough reputation, often cooking up gummy or underdone. A fool-proof method is what this rice needs, and cooking brown rice like pasta fits the bill. Bring a big pot of water to a boil and stir in the rice. Fish out a grain or two every so often and take a taste. Once the rice is tender and chewy, drain, return the rice to the pot, and steam.

For basmati or jasmine rice: When aromatic rice like basmati or jasmine are on the menu, use the pilaf method. Toast the rice in butter and then pour in boiling water. Cook until the water is gone, then steam off the heat for distinct grains of rice that perfume the kitchen and are full of toasty flavor.

How To Cook Rice on the Stovetop, 3 Ways

Makes Makes 3 cups cooked rice

What You Need

Ingredients

  • 1 cup

    rice

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter or oil, optional

  • Equipment
  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Fine-mesh strainer

  • 2-quart or 4-quart saucepan with a lid

  • Small pot or electric kettle, for aromatic rice

  • Spoon

  • Fork

Instructions

Method 1: Simmer and steam long-grain white rice.

  1. Rinse the rice. Pour the rice into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. This removes dusty starch that can lead to gummy grains.

  2. Boil the water in a 2-quart pot. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, covered, in a 2-quart pot over high heat.

  3. Add the rice, salt, and butter. Stir in the rice, salt, and butter or oil, if using.

  4. Simmer for 18 to 20 minutes. Bring back to a gentle simmer, then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until the water is absorbed, 18 to 20 minutes.

  5. Rest the rice off the heat for 10 minutes and then fluff. Remove from the heat and let the pot stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Method 2: Cook long-grain brown rice like pasta.

  1. Rinse the rice. Pour the rice into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. This removes dusty starch that can lead to gummy grains.

  2. Boil the water in a 4-quart pot. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil, covered, in a 4-quart pot over high heat.

  3. Add the rice and cook uncovered 33 to 35 minutes. Stir in the rice and boil, uncovered, for 33 to 35 minutes or until tender but still slightly chewy.

  4. Drain excess water and steam to until tender. Turn off the heat, and drain rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Return the rice to the pot off the heat, cover, and steam for 10 minutes.

  5. Add the salt and butter to finish. Add the salt and butter or oil, if using, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Method 3: Use pilaf technique for aromatic rice, such as basmati or jasmine.

  1. Rinse the rice. Pour the rice into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. This removes dusty starch that can lead to gummy grains.

  2. Boil the water separately. Bring water to a boil in a small pot or electric kettle. Use 2 cups water per 1 cup basmati rice and 1 1/2 cups water per 1 cup jasmine rice.

  3. Melt the butter and toast the rice. In a separate 2-quart pot, heat the butter or oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the rice and salt, stirring until excess water from rinsing evaporates and to coat in the butter. Sauté, stirring constantly, until a starchy film develops on the bottom of the pan and the rice smells slightly toasted, 2 minutes.

  4. Carefully add the boiling water, cover, and cook for 18 minutes. Pour in the boiling water, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the water is completely absorbed, 18 minutes.

  5. Rest the rice off the heat for 10 minutes and then fluff. Remove from the heat and steam, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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