Introduction: How to Make Rice

Picture of How to Make Rice

Cooking rice is a valuable skill that you'll use many times over a lifetime of eating. This Instructable will show you how to cook both white and brown rice. It's not a strict "recipe" like existing web pages out there. It's the theory behind cooking rice, so that you can become your own expert at cooking rice.

Step 1: Rice Theory

Picture of Rice Theory

Cooking rice is about understanding the proportions of the two ingredients, the rice and the water. Some people prefer using different ratios of rice to water. The range goes from 1 part rice to 1.5 parts water to as much as 1 part rice to 2 parts water.

After you cook it a few times you'll have your own ideas about how much water to use, for now, we'll walk the middle of the road and use 1 part rice to 1.75 parts water.

If you've added in too much water, fear not, simply cook your rice longer and crack the top allowing more moisture to escape. If you've added too little water, you're in luck, because you can always add more!

Ideally you won't need to make the adjustments described above when you're cooking rice, and your batches will come out perfectly fluffy, moist, with just the right amount of chewiness and only enough starchy glueyness to keep the grains clumped together enough to get them into your mouth.

White Rice vs. Brown Rice

Cooking methods vary slightly for white and brown rice. White rice is generally speaking, cooked for a shorter period of time (20-30 minutes), with less water. Brown rice is cooked for a longer period of time (30-40 minutes), with more water.

Rinsing the rice

Some methods suggest rinsing rice before combining it with water in the pot. This is an attempt to "wash off" the excess starches on the outside of the rice which purportedly make the rice gluey. I haven't noticed any real difference in final results between doing this and just going straight to the pot. The real quality comes from the cooking method in my opinion.

Toasting the rice

Other methods call for the rice to be cooked in the pot for a few minutes before the water is added in. This is a useful technique when trying to impart additional flavors to the rice. When making a middle eastern style basmati rice, or an Italian arborio rice used in rissoto, I would fully suggest this process, however, for just making plain, unflavored white or brown rice as we are in this Instructable, this step is unnecessary.

I just find it important to always state that when cooking, there's no need to follow the recipe exactly. If you can understand what's going on inside the pot, then there's often many ways to cook something delicious and successfully. Take the recipe as a grain of rice.

Step 2: Gather Supplies

Picture of Gather Supplies
Cooking rice is one of the most basic and inexpensive things you can cook, so you won't need much, however, that doesn't mean that it's necessarily easy to make. Gather:

  • a pot
  • water
  • rice (any kind you like, here I'll be using long grain white and short grain brown rice)
  • measuring cup
  • salt and butter optional

Measure 1 cup of rice and pour it into your pot. Then, measure 1 3/4 cups of water and pour that in too.

If you're using the same measuring cup for both the rice and the water, make sure you measure the rice first, otherwise the wet sides of the measuring cup will make the rice stick.


Rice expands when you cook it, so 1 cup is usually enough for two people to eat along side something else. To be honest, if I'm cooking rice for myself, I still make 1 cup because it's so cheap, and the stuff sort of has to reach a critical mass in order to be able to cook correctly.

In terms of serving sizes, figure on about 1/2 cup of rice per person eating. Adjust quantities of water accordingly.

Step 3: Combine Rice and Water and Boil

Picture of Combine Rice and Water and Boil

Once the water and the rice are combined place the pot on the stove over high heat until the water begins to boil.

It should take about 3-5 minutes for the water to boil if you're making 1 cup of rice to 1 3/4 cups water. If you're making more rice, expect longer waiting times.

Step 4: Cover and Simmer

Picture of Cover and Simmer

After the water has boiled, cover the pot and turn the heat down as low as it can go. This is what's known as simmering. The water will still be boiling and bubbling with the cover on, but it shouldn't burn at the low temperature. If it smells or looks like it's burning, turn your burner down even further.

White rice will cook like this for 20-25 minutes.

Brown rice will cook like this for 35-40 minutes.

Step 5: Let the Rice Sit for 10 Minutes

Picture of Let the Rice Sit for 10 Minutes

Once the rice has simmered for the appropriate amount of time, remove the top and check to see if all of the moisture in the pot is gone. To do this, tilt the pot and look for pooling water. If there's no water, the rice is done cooking.

If you've cooked the rice with the correct amount of water there shouldn't be any moisture left, or burn marks on the bottom of the pot.

If you've got too much water left over, you either didn't cook it long enough, or used too much water in your ratio. If you've got burn marks on your pot and on your rice, then you either cooked it too long, cooked it at too high a heat, or used too little water.

Place the lid back on the pot, turn the heat off, and let the rice just sit there for 10 minutes. If you are using an electric stove, switch the pot to a different burner. Electric elements can retain their heat for along time and can continue the cooking process.

This is an important step, so, just set a timer, walk away, and build something awesome. Need an idea of something you can make? I know this great website called

Letting it sit helps the rice reabsorb some of it's starches and results in less gluey rice.

Step 6: Fluff the Rice With a Fork

Picture of Fluff the Rice With a Fork

Once the rice has sat for 10 minutes it's time to fluff it with a fork. This basically just means mix it up a bit and let any resident moisture evaporate out.

The grains should be plump and hold together ever so slightly.

Step 7: Plate and Enjoy

Picture of Plate and Enjoy

Plate, or bowl as the case may be, the rice and enjoy with your favorite foods.


ender_scythe (author)2015-12-05

So if I want it really sticky should I A: cook it longer, B: not let it sit for 10 minutes or C: not fluff the rice?

Makaylayang6 (author)2015-02-09

I make white rice at home and i count how many write in the write cooker and when i t ready it look good.

Makayla Yang

Aleksandr Skotbot (author)2008-11-02

I don't mean to disagree, but I just thought I'd add that I was taught by my mother to boil the water alone and then add the rice. It's never failed me, and I would imagine it's at least a couple minutes faster. However, I never figured out how to reheat rice without the use of a microwave. Any thoughts on that one? It hasn't been a problem in the past with white rice, but when I make the switch to brown I'll be a little more concerned.

Put the ( already cooked) rice in a steamer and steam over boiling water for a few minutes. Hey, presto! Hot rice.

When reheating, I've always added a little bit of water or milk to the rice. That way the rice doesn't end up all crunchy and gross.

BH-Inspector (author)2010-10-15

IKEA-Clock :D

Blue Leopard (author)2010-02-19

In my experience, a few drops of cooking oil will help keep the starchy water from bubbling over the edge of the pot. I also tend to add at least half a teaspoon of salt per cup of rice to the pot after putting it on to cook.

westfw (author)2008-09-25
A couple more comments:
  • Rinsing of rice originates in older and further places than the US. It helps remove the bugs and rocks and things that can be found in bulk rice that hasn't been processed to the pristine standards of the US consumer. Also, US rice is supposedly frequently "enriched" by adding some vitamins and such, and apparently you can rinse them away (accidentally or on purpose?) (I have also never noticed a difference in texture/etc caused by rinsing or the lack thereof.)
  • A lot of the "fear" in cooking rice seems to be due to some idea propagated by a marketing department somewhere that rice isn't supposed to stick together. This is pretty much nonsense, and I think that it's been going away as americans have been exposed to more ethnic foods. (At least, the desire for non-sticky rice has gone away; the fear of cooking rice remains :-) If you want non-sticky rice ("french style"?), start with "converted rice" (like Uncle Bens) and follow their directions. (UB is probably responsible for the whole thing. "Our rice doesn't stick together." "SELL the fact that it doesn't stick together!")
  • Instant rices tend to be pretty awful. If your opinion of rice is based on Minute Rice or the equivalent, you really do want to try something else. The 30 minutes or so that it takes to cook rice "the long way" is mostly unattended simmering, so you can do something else then anyway.
  • Rice is pretty popular. A couple winters ago, I wanted some "snack" to deliver backstage to the middle school drama group during their play, since the timing of putting on a performance pretty much interferes with dinner. I wanted something warm, not too messy, not likely to develop food poisoning, relatively nutritious, not known to interfere with voices, hypo-allergenic, not too expensive, and not difficult to cook (being a busy guy.) So I threw some rice into the rice cooker and sent that. I knew my daughter would eat some, and probably a few others, but if no one liked it, there was no big loss, either... It was EXTREMELY well received; much more so than I expected! I took more the next night, and it now seems to have become a tradition. "Hi Mr WestfW. Did you bring rice?" I can live with that.

Aleksandr Skotbot (author)westfw2008-11-02

if you want rice that is not sticky, add some oil at the beginning. (:

or fry the rice with butter before adding the water(let the rice cool down a bit though, or else the water can flash-steam and burn your hand, i would know, lol)

Harvey_ (author)2008-09-25

Your title is incorrect. You don't make rice, you cook it. Rice is grain that isn't made, its grown. :)

Spiff73 (author)Harvey_2008-09-25

And, you cannot make an apple pie from scratch until you learn how to create apples.

davebrown (author)Spiff732009-11-05

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

Azayles (author)Spiff732009-06-29

Or grow them :-P

noahw (author)Harvey_2008-09-25

You are totally correct, but, I have a good reason for choosing the title I did.

Send complaints to "The Internet".


Harvey_ (author)noahw2008-09-25

Yes, blame others for the misuse of words. :) In any case, great write up. I already knew how to "cook" rice, but its assuring to know that I've been doing it the correct way.

standupclothing (author)Harvey_2008-09-25

i was thinking the same thing about the title.... nicely put together though, and made me hungry for rice!

NatureBoom21 (author)2009-09-19

Ughh. I HATE rice. It tastes disgusting!!! Well not really. I just hate it.

Rhsameera (author)2009-08-25

I'm from sri lanka.our main food is rice. but we make it as seperate

noexit (author)2009-06-25

Your water amounts are not that clear. You say 1 3/4 water to 1 cup rice, but don't say what kind, or if it's washed rice or not. When I make Japanese rice, I wash it, and once drained, add only 1 1/8 cup water to every cup rice. This is based on my rice cooking training while in Japan.

killbulletbill (author)2008-09-25

I like to substitute coconut milk for the water. Try it and it will blow your mind!

That would be awesome for rice pudding!

its actually good if u add some fresh cold mango after u cook the rice and let it cool till its still warm very nice taste i love it

noahw (author)killbulletbill2008-09-25

This is an awesome suggestion - you should post a How to make coconut rice Instructable!

linuxmom (author)noahw2008-10-15

And then there is "red rice"---use tomato puree instead of the water. (Toss fresh tomatoes from the garden or market in the blender and puree away.....) . And If you don't have enough puree , add water. Great with fresh basil.....Mmmmmm

jongscx (author)killbulletbill2008-09-25

Personally, I It's a pretty big waste to actually cook the rice WITH the coconut milk, as a bit of the flavor is lost during the cooking process (proteins get denatured by heat, as well as oils separating) and you end up needing a lot of coconut milk to make up the 2-to-1 volume needed. I suggest cooking the rice as usual with water, and around step 4, when the rice is "mostly cooked", adding the coconut milk.

Ph3nomin0n (author)jongscx2008-09-26

Thats what I do except I cook the rice regular then drain as much water possible and in a large Wok stir fry it in the coconut milk making it brown and crispy... In my family we have to make 6 cups of coconut rice because each person has atleast 3 servings... And with steak or ground chuck it makes one heck of a dish

queen717 (author)2009-04-15

all sound delish :) try adding a lil ground corned beef,tomato puree,and a puerto rican fav sazon! all cooked together of course then add it to the rice :D a personal fav! plus to give it even more flavor you could add some diced onions or green bell peppers or both :D it's just amazzzzzingg! it's kinda like puttin corned beef hash w/ rice.

dollarside (author)2008-12-25

nice, everyone (should) love(s) rice!!!

Alcreion (author)2008-10-23

Where my family originates (Laos). We cook rice a lot differently. We let the rice soak in water for most of the day so its nice and juicy, then we kind of steam it with type of pot and a thin wooden thing to put the rice in. Thats how we make sticky rice though.

rattyrain (author)Alcreion2008-12-23

Do the grains become enlarged?

Alcreion (author)rattyrain2008-12-24

yup it like soaks all the water, but you have to wait like all day. so you like soak it when you wake up come home from school, work, w.e and then cook it

fwjs28 (author)2008-12-23

yummm..... i can hear the chinese resturaunt music already.......

compacho (author)2008-10-20

Wow. Even though I know how to cook rice now, I must say this is probably one of the best and most complete Rice how-to's out there. Great job! I will definately refer other people to this page if they ever need help. Another simple way to enhance the flavor is by substituting half the liquid for chicken stock. Or, u could keep the same amount of liquid and add a bouillon cube. I come a spanish family so I've eaten my fair share of flavored rice, but no matter how much of I love it, I still prefer plain, lightly salted, white rice. :)

krowii (author)2008-09-28

Great 'ible! I remember the good old days when I had to cook rice in a pot...that was before I got my Zojirushi fuzzy rice cooker.

FreshPineSent (author)2008-09-26

How to *cook* rice.

inquisitive (author)2008-09-26

Ah, the food of my Nice iBle, my mom would be proud-except for the rinsing part-that is mandatory in my home (two times rinse in cold water and the third time is the water that stays in the pan). We don't measure the water though we just touch the rice with the tip of our finger and have the water come up to approximately the first knuckle. By the way, different harvests of rice can differ in amounts of water needed-so if the exact amounts and timing come out different-just go with the flow and adjust. Don't give up-I guarantee you will burn a couple batches-Mom never let me forget those-enjoy.

DrSimons (author)2008-09-25

Nice! Never knew how rice is actually cooked. We always just use a rice cooker in my family...but now, when I move out that's one less thing I'll need to buy. Sticky rice is way better!

jessyratfink (author)2008-09-25

This is a really good beginner's guide, sir! I think I could live off rice. Especially jasmine. We always have at least 10 lbs of it on hand. :D

=SMART= (author)2008-09-25

Very Good !! I like sticky rice the best !

westfw (author)2008-09-25

It's worthwhile to have a "rice tasting"; find one of those upscale markets that has a wide variety of rices and buy half-a-dozen or so. Cook them up, either similarly or per package directions, and taste them side-by-side (it's a good thing that rice reheats pretty well!) The differences between "Uncle Bens" and a brown Basmati rice are pretty dramatic. (alas, in our family the kids prefer white sushi rice (jasmine a close second) and the adults prefer brown basmati rice.)

About This Instructable




Bio: I've worked for Instructables off and on since 2006 building and documenting just about everything I enjoy doing. I am now the Creative Programs ... More »
More by noahw:How to Send Art Into Outer SpaceCómo soldar意式烤面包食谱
Add instructable to: