How to Boil Rice

Ryan Nadolny

Need to know how to boil rice? Wondering what the difference is between parboiling rice and boiling rice? Here's your guide.

It’s seems easy, right?! Then why is boiling rice one of the most blundered activities in the kitchen?! Learning how to boil rice can be oddly daunting.

If you have as much trouble as I did, you’re likely overthinking the process. It took many mistakes before I started getting consistent fluffy rice.

Once you get it down, it’s a skill you will have for the rest of your life.

There is a plethora of different types of rice available, many with different cook times and water to rice ratio, but the process remains the same.

Dill Rice Image

The most common types of rice are white and brown rice. Brown rice still has the husk from harvesting, as opposed to white rice where the husk is removed.

When the husk is removed, so are all of the nutrients. Brown rice has a nuttier flavor and considered much healthier. Think of white and wheat bread!

This doesn’t mean white rice is unhealthy. Most white rice you find on the shelf is enriched with vitamins and minerals, but it's different than brown rice.

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Fried Rice Image

What is the Difference Between Boiling and Parboiling?

You may have heard of parboiling before. We've talked about how to parboil quite a bit around here. Especially for vegetables and potatoes.

Just what is parboiling? Simply put, parboiling is partially cooking an ingredient to be added to something else, or to cut down on cook time for a future recipe.

We especially love parboiling potatoes, peppers, sweet poatoes, Brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli and carrots.

Parboiling is also great for prepping meats such as ribs, sausage, brats, chicken and even chicken wings for faster grilling or smoking.

But, what about parboiling rice? In this sense, you can parboil rice for a few minutes, let it cool, then portion and freeze for easy dinners on hectic evenings.

Miso Glazed Salmon Image

If you've ever wondered what parboiled rice is, now you know! It's just partially cooked rice meant to speed up meal preparation.

Brown rice has a shorter shelf life. While white rice can be stored indefinitely, brown will go rancid in less than a year.

Parboiling brown rice helps to increase the shelf life and keep all of those natural nutrients intact.

Alternatively, boiling rice is cooking rice fully from start to finish, meant to be eaten right away, or within a day or two.

How Long Does It Take to Boil Rice?

One cup of white rice will take approximately 17 minutes to cook, but will likely vary depending on the amount of rice you are cooking

To be on the safe side, you should plan for 15 to 25 minutes of cook time when boiling rice to have the perfect consistency.

Brown rice will take a little longer as it requires more water and a longer time to cook through that husk we were talking about earlier.

Brown rice can take anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes to boil, plus another 10 minutes to steam. This is where parboiling comes in handy.

To cook parboiled brown rice or parboiled white rice, remove from the freezer, add a couple of tablespoons of water and microwave on high for about 90 seconds.

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Fried Rice Pic

How to Boil Rice

Before you run out to buy an expensive rice cooker or pressure cooker, let’s go over the basics for cooking rice right on your stove.

  1. Quantity - Determine how much uncooked rice you will need. Plan on half a cup per person. If you plan to do fried rice the next day, go with a full cup per person.
  2. Wash your rice - To wash or not wash your rice. This is a highly debated topic. My friends from Korea say you should always wash your rice, so that’s what I do. Just grab your mesh strainer and rinse the rice until the water runs clear, about 15 to 20 seconds.
  3. Water to rice ratio - This is another highly debated topic. I’ve always done a 2:1 water-rice ratio and it’s worked perfectly for us. Every recipe says something different. I’ve seen 1 cup, 1 ¼ cups, and 1 ½ cups of water per cup of rice. It may take a few tries to determine what you prefer.
  4. Rice cook time - Add your water to a small pot with a tight-fitting lid. Salt your water (optional) and bring to a rolling boil. Cover and set your timer for 17 minutes. Reduce your heat to low but keep a constant simmer.
  5. No peaking - Seriously, if you want your rice to cook properly, you have to keep your grubby little mitts off the lid. Do not check it. Do not lift that lid under any circumstances. Trust in the process!
  6. Ding ding! - Once your timer goes off, remove from heat, and let steam inside the pan (with the lid still on!) for 10 minutes, up to 30 minutes.
  7. Fluff and serve - Ok, now you can remove the lid. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve. If you want to up your presentation, put the rice in small soup cup, then invert on your plate for a for a nice dome shape of rice. This works best with sticky rice.

Need to know how cook brown rice? Follow the steps above, except you’re going to cook it for 35 to 45 minutes.

The longer cook time breaks down that outer husk for tender and soft rice. The rest of the process is entirely the same.

Black Beans and Rice Stuffed Tomatoes Image

What Not to Do When Boiling Rice

We’ve covered everything you should do to cook the perfect rice, but what about the things you should NOT do?

  • Do not skip washing the rice. Washing your rice removes excess starch and dust to keep the rice from clinging and allowing for a more even cook.
  • Do not skip salting your water. I know I said it’s optional, and it is, but don’t skip it unless you have to.
  • Resist all temptations to peak under the lid to check on your rice. Trusting yourself in the kitchen is the single hardest thing to overcome for home cooks. You got this!
  • Double and triple check your measurements of water and rice. This is super important! Cooking rice is a delicate process and just if just one thing is off, it could ruin everything.
  • Much like your measurements, check your temps and don’t forget to reduce your heat to low once you’ve added your rice.
Black Beans and Rice Stuffed Tomatoes Photo

Other Ways to Cook Rice

How to Cook Rice in a Electric Pressure Cooker 

Cooking rice in a pressure cooker is pretty close to fool-proof. I prefer to it this way because it frees me to work on other parts of the meal. It’s so ridiculously easy to do.

1:1 water to rice ratio. Add everything to your pot, close the lid, and set to manual cook for 4 minutes. It’ll take a few minutes to come to pressure. Once it’s finished, let it natural release for at least 10 minutes for doing a manual release. Or just leave it in the pot until you’re ready.

How to Cook Rice in a Rice Cooker

I’ve never used a dedicated rice cooker because I have an electric pressure cooker. After a little research it sounds like it’s about the same steps as above.

How to Cook Rice in a Microwave

I know a lot of people swear by this method, but I’ve never been a fan. I think it turns out either mushy or still crunchy. There’s no in-between.

Same ratios added to a microwave safe bowl and cooked on high for 10 minutes or medium-low for 15 minutes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

How to Cook Rice in a Slow Cooker

No. Just no. There is zero benefit to cooking rice in a slow cooker for 90-150 minutes. Your results will be all over the place.

Planning a dinner party and need some inspiration?

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Ryan is a food and writer from Toledo, Ohio where he's had a love affair with food since 1984. When he's not cooking or writing, he's planning the next he wants to eat.

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