Easy, foolproof method for cooking light and fluffy Perfect Basmati Rice on your stovetop. Vegan and gluten-free.
The Best Basmati Rice Recipe
Learning how to cook perfect long-grain basmati rice may seem like an impossible feat, but I promise, it’s not. Today I’m going to show you just how easy it is to make authentic restaurant-style Indian basmati rice so that you can get fluffy, tender, individual grains of rice (every single time!) that are never clumpy or sticky. We actually have my mother-in-law, who was born and raised in India, to thank for this fun little rice-cooking tutorial.
Other cooking methods are out there – including the pasta method or the Instant Pot – however, for the most flavorful, authentic rice, this method is best. Hands down.
Serve your soft and fluffy basmati rice as a simple side dish or smothered in your favorite curries and gravies (as my mother-in-law likes to call anything with a sauce).
What is Basmati Rice? Where Does it Come From?
Basmati rice is one of the most popular types of long-grain rice. Available in two main varieties, milled white basmati rice or whole-grain brown basmati rice, it is known for its light, nutty flavor, and somewhat floral aroma. One of the longest and most slender varieties of rice, grains can elongate to twice their length (or longer) after cooking.
There are many countries that grow basmati rice, including the United States, but none do quite like India and Pakistan. Originally grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, these days you’ll find more than two-thirds of the global supply grown in India.
LEARN MORE: What is Basmati Rice?
How to Cook Basmati Rice
1. Always wash basmati rice.
Yes, this is the first, and one of the most important steps. Now, my mother-in-law will argue that thorough washing isn’t that important since the rice here in the US is so clean (she’s correct about the clean rice). However, I (respectfully) disagree about not needing to wash the rice. You need to wash your rice. In at least 3-4 changes of cold water. Does the water need to be completely clear after 3-4 changes? No. But it should be cleaner.
2. Soak your rice.
Whether it is necessary to soak rice before cooking is another hotly debated topic. In the past, I had never soaked my rice before cooking, but I have found that my rice always turns out better after just 15-20 minutes of soaking in cold water.
3. Drain your rice – thoroughly.
Since we are cooking our rice via the pilaf plus absorption method, the rice to water ratio is super important. The last thing we want is more water. So, please, drain your rice really well.
4. Pre-boil your water or stock.
I recommend boiling a few tablespoons of additional liquid to account for any loss due to evaporation.
5. Toast your rice.
This is the pilaf part of the recipe, where you toast the uncooked rice over medium-high heat in a little bit of olive oil, butter, or ghee and a pinch of salt. This is also the time when you would add aromatics like whole cloves, a cinnamon stick, whole cardamom, peppercorns, etc.
6. Add the boiling water and cook.
Measure 1.5 cups of water (or stock) and add it directly to the rice. Increase to high heat and bring to a rapid boil before decreasing heat to low and covering with a tight fitting lid. Leave the rice to cook for 10-12 minutes without lifting the lid.
If you have a clear glass lid you can check for doneness by carefully tilting the pan to one side. If you see a pool of extra liquid, you know to keep cooking. If no liquid is visible, it’s a good indication that most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Just as important as rinsing the rice, you want to allow the rice to rest, covered, off heat and undisturbed, for 10-15 minutes. Just before serving, fluff with a fork and dot with 1-2 tablespoons of butter, if desired.
RELATED: Different Types of Rice: Varieties and What to Do With Them
How to Serve Basmati Rice
Basmati rice pairs well with a variety of different cuisines including Indian, Pakistani, Israeli, Persian, Greek, Armenian, and makes a terrific substitute anytime a recipe calls for long-grain white rice. Popular Indian dishes where basmati rice is the star include biryani and kheer, and you’ll almost always find a big serving to go along with Indian food like,
It is also common to infuse basmati with whole seasonings like cloves, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom and top with dried fruits like dried cranberries, apricots, pine nuts, or caramelized onions.
More Rice Recipes,
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup Recipe
Creamy Parmesan Risotto Recipe with Shrimp
Basmati Rice with Fresh Herbs and Caramelized Onions
Easy Spanish Rice Recipe (Saffron Rice)
Easy Fried Rice Recipe – How to Make Perfect Fried Rice
If you try making Basmati Rice, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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How to Cook Perfect Basmati Rice
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1.5 cups just-boiled water - (or low-sodium chicken stock)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil - (or butter)
- ½ teaspoon salt - plus more to taste
- Wash rice. Wash your rice in several changes of cold water, or until the water runs nearly clear. Thoroughly washing the rice removes dirt and surface starch and helps promote fluffier, less sticky rice.
- Soak. Transfer the rice to a medium bowl and fill with cold water. Allow rice to soak for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the water (or chicken broth). You may use an electric or stovetop kettle, or old-fashioned pot. You will need 1.5 cups of just-boiled liquid - no more.
- Drain the rice. Thoroughly drain your rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Then, place the rice-filled strainer on top of a kitchen towel and carefully tap to remove any excess water.
- Toast the rice. Heat the olive oil (or butter) in a wide, lidded saucepot or pan over medium heat. Add the rice and salt. Thoroughly mix the rice so that each grain is covered in oil.
- Add the liquid and cook. Add the boiled water (or stock), increase heat to high, and bring to a rapid boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and cover with a lid. Leave the rice to cook for 10-12 minutes without lifting the lid.
- If you have a clear glass lid, you can check for doneness by carefully tilting the pan to one side. If you see a pool of extra liquid, you know to keep cooking. If no liquid is visible, it's a good indication that most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Steam the rice. Without removing the lid, turn the heat off and allow the rice to steam, undisturbed, for 10-15 minutes. Just before serving, fluff with a fork and dot with 1-2 tablespoons of butter, if desired.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)
I’m wanting to switch to Basmati rice from the Asian jasmine rice. There are many types of Basmati rice in the market. Can you please recommend a white Basmati rice similar to the one they use for Biryani.
Thank you very much.
Jessica Randhawa says
North Indian Biryani uses a white long-grain rice.
This is an excellent recipe! I followed every instruction & rice came out the best I’ve ever made it.
Jessica Randhawa says
Thanks, Janet, I really appreciate your excellent feedback 🙂
Thanks for this basic recipe. It worked well.
Jessica Randhawa says
Thanks for the kind feedback Renee 🙂