How to Cook Perfect Rice


Boil, cover, simmer, fluff. The instructions seem basic enough, something even a novice could handle, but the perfect pot of rice often eludes even the most accomplished cook.

For the record, impeccably cooked rice should be tender (think al dente like pasta) and not at all mushy. It should retain its shape and not split open; individual grains should still be distinguishable.

The absorption method (boil, cover, simmer, fluff) is the technique most of us have been taught and what is commonly found on a bag of rice. The ratio of water to rice differs with the variety, as does the length of cooking time. In theory, by the time the water is absorbed the rice is finished.

The problem I’ve often run across, especially when cooking whole-grain rice, is that the water is gone and my rice is still hard and chewy. If I add more water than directed my end product ends up soft but also mushy.

The pasta or open-pan method of cooking rice is foolproof. Like pasta, rice is boiled in a large pot of boiling water, then quickly drained, returned to the pot and left to steam away the remaining liquid. It takes virtually the same amount of time as the absorption method, but results in perfect rice every time.

I use this method for all of my whole-grain rice needs, but prefer to cook Basmati, converted and other white rice by the absorption method. If you use this method for white rice, cut the cooking time in half.

FYI: Most of us don’t lack for nutrients in our diet, however, boiling rice in large amounts of water and then discarding the liquid does result in a minimal loss of vitamins and minerals (as does washing rice), but the appearance and palatability of the rice is so superior, that to me it is worth it.

How To Cook Perfect Rice

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Perfect every time!
  • 1 cup rice
  • 12 cups water
  • salt to taste
  1. Put rice in sieve and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds.
  2. Bring 12 cups of water to a full boil.
  3. Add rice and stir.
  4. Reduce heat to medium high and boil uncovered for 30 minutes.
  5. Drain and let water drip through sieve for 10 seconds.
  6. Return the rice to the pot (off the heat) cover with a tight fitting lid and let it to steam for 10 minutes.
  7. Uncover, fluff and serve.
Rice is best when served immediately after cooking.
To reheat: place rice in a colander and cover with a damp paper towel. Set colander over a pot of boiling water, cover with lid and allow to steam for for 5-10 minutes.

Do you struggle with rice cookery? —Karen


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1 Comment

  1. 12 cups of water for 1 cup of rice?? That is completely wrong and a waste of water! It’s 1 cup brown rice to 2 cups water or 1 cup white rice and 1.5 cups water. It depends on the type of rice you buy so follow the package directions if you can.