Learn how to cook soft, fluffy, and perfectly cooked white rice on the stove with this easy, foolproof recipe. No exact measurements or special equipment required, just a pot with a lid and a fine mesh strainer.
Perfect Stovetop Rice
Clumpy, mushy, stuck-together rice. The worst, right? We’ve all been there. Unlike cooking pasta, cooking rice is a little less straight forward. How do we get that elusive pot of perfect rice with fluffy, separate grains?
Today I’m going to share three methods for cooking rice on the stovetop – starting with my very favorite.
But first, let’s go over a few of the most common types of rice.
There Are Three Main Types of Rice
There are 3 main types of rice: long-grain, medium-grain, and short-grain. For this post, we’re going to focus on how to cook long-grain rice.
Long-Grain Rice has a length that is at least three to five times its width. The most popular varieties include aromatic long-grain rice, long-grain brown rice, and American long-grain white rice (or simply long-grain white rice).
- Basmati and jasmine rice – The two most popular and well-known types of long-grain rice that, when prepared properly, should cook up fluffy, tender, and the least bit clumpy or mushy. Basmati rice and jasmine rice are types of aromatic long-grain rice characterized by a nutty taste and aroma. May be either white (milled) or brown (unmilled).
- Brown rice – Brown rice is nutty and chewy and quite delicious when cooked properly. Often requiring additional cooking time and water.
- American long-grain white rice – or simply regular long-grain white rice. Similar in texture to basmati and jasmine rice, minus the nut-like taste and aroma.
How to Cook Perfect Rice on the Stove
As I mentioned above there are three methods for cooking rice on the stovetop. Regardless of which method you choose to use, you will need the following,
You will also need to properly rinse and wash your rice. The reason for washing rice is not just to get it clean (yes, very important), but also, and more importantly, to remove the surface starch from your rice. Skip this step and no matter how well you cook your rice, it will turn out clumpy and gummy.
How to wash rice the right way:
- Transfer the rice to a large bowl or pot and fill with cold water. As the water is running, very gently use your hand to fold the rice over itself from one side of the pot to the other.
- Drain the starchy water through your fine-mesh strainer.
- Repeat step 1 rinsing and draining until water runs nearly clear.
- Drain and allow the strainer filled with rice to rest atop your pot or bowl for a good 30 minutes (time allowing), then proceed to cooking.
Method 1: Cook Your Rice Like Pasta
1. Wash your rice following the instructions above. For this recipe, you do not need to measure out the rice (unless you want/need to).
2. Transfer the washed rice to a medium saucepan or pot and fill with enough water to cover by at least 1-inch (again, no need to measure the amount of water). Add a pinch of salt and stir.
3. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.
4. Check the progress of the rice every 5 minutes. If you can squish it between your fingers, it’s done. Drain any excess water from the rice (there will be water leftover) and rinse with warm water. Drain again and transfer back to the pot. Just like pasta, avoid over-cooking your rice.
This is my favorite method, by far, for guaranteed fluffy rice.
- Pros: Never clumpy or gummy, no measuring required
- Cons: If cooking with basmati or jasmine rice, you may lose some of the nutty taste and aroma. Best for cooking plain rice, but can also be used for other recipes like this Cranberry Wild Rice Pilaf with Sweet Potatoes.
- Type of rice: Brown rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, standard long-grain white rice.
Method 2: Simmer and Steam (Absorption Method)
This is likely the method you are most familiar with. Using this method the rice is placed in water and simmers then steams until it is completely absorbed and fully cooked.
1. Wash your rice following the instructions above. Unlike the method above you will need to measure your rice and water ratios (more on that below).
2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over high heat.
3. Once boiling add the salt, fat (butter or oil), and rice. Mix to combine, return to a gentle simmer, and cover. Reduce heat to low.
4. Cook for at least 18 minutes before checking the rice. If, after 18 minutes, all the water is not yet absorbed, return the lid to the saucepan and continue to cook until it is.
5. Once all the water has been absorbed, remove from heat. Gently fluff the top layer of your rice with a fork, re-cover, and allow your rice to rest (or steam) for 10 minutes.
6. Uncover, fluff again, and serve.
This is my least favorite method of cooking rice. I know, I’m sorry.
- Pros: You’ll retain the nutty taste and aroma when cooking with basmati rice and jasmine rice.
- Cons: Inconsistent results, hugely debated among cooks about what the “ideal” rice to water ratio should be
- Type of rice: All long-grain rice varieties, though I wouldn’t recommend cooking brown rice this way.
- Recipe: Fast and Easy Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe
Method 3: Toast, Simmer + Steam
Method 3 is quite similar to method number 2 except that’s it’s added an extra step.
1. Wash your rice following the instructions above. Yep, you will need to measure your rice and water ratios (more on that below).
2. You will need to boil water. You may do this using an electric kettle or using a separate saucepan.
3. Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the rice and season with salt. Stir to coat the rice in butter. Sauté, stirring continuously (it may stick a little at first), until toasted, approximately 3-4 minutes.
3. Slowly stir the boiling water in with the rice, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until all the water is absorbed, approximately 18 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow the rice to steam, covered, for approximately 10 minutes.
My thoughts on this method? If I’m going to simmer and steam my rice, I may as well toast the grains for extra flavor, too.
- Pros: Great full-flavored rice
- Cons: Extra work
- Type of rice: All long-grain rice varieties, though it is especially good with basmati and jasmine rice.
- Recipe: Coconut Rice Recipe (How to Make Coconut Rice)
Other Ways To Cook Rice
- Rice Cooker – Cooking rice in an electric rice cooker uses the simmer and steam (or absorption) method. You will need to measure specific amounts of rice and water.
- Microwave Rice – Using this method you will cook no more than 1 cup of rice at a time in a large microwave-safe bowl filled with water. Several factors will play a roll in the total cook time and power level.
- Baking Method – A method I have not tried personally, but it is one that many of my friends swear by. In this method, rice is covered with boiling water, then covered, and 375 degrees F for approximately an hour or so.
- Instant Pot – Easy, hands-off, and great for brown and white rice.
Water to Rice Ratio
In most cases, we will read that the proper water to rice ratio is 2:1, or two cups of water for every one cup rice. The truth is that this 2:1 ratio has never worked for me. My rice has always turned out mushy and soggy, with the exception of brown rice.
Here’s what has worked. For every 1 cup of rice,
- Basmati rice – 1 1/3-1.5 cups water
- Jasmine rice – 1 1/3-1.5 cups water
- Standard long-grain white rice – 1 1/3-1.5 cups water
- Long-grain brown rice – 1 3/4 – 2 cups water
Different types of rice, particularly short-grain rice and medium-grain rice (for example, arborio rice used to make risotto or sticky rice used to make mochi) call for different amounts of water when compared to long-grain rice varieties. Be sure to always check package instructions.
More Rice Recipes,
If you try cooking rice on the stove using this method, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
How to Cook Rice on the Stove
- 2 cups uncooked white rice - long or medium-grain (see notes)
- water - to cover by at least 1-inch
- pinch of salt
- Place the rice in a large bowl filled with cold water. Swish around the grains using one hand then drain the cloudy water through a fine-mesh strainer. Repeat this process of filling, swishing, and straining until the water turns clear.
- Transfer the rice to a medium saucepan and fill with enough water to cover by at least 1-inch. Add a pinch of salt and stir.
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.
- Check the progress of the rice every 5 minutes. If you can squish it between your fingers, it’s done. Drain any remaining liquid from the rice (there will be water leftover) and rinse with warm water. Drain again. Transfer back to the pot and enjoy with all your favorite recipes.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)