How to cook rice
Learn how to cook basmati rice and get perfect, fluffy results with our tips and video guide. All you need is a saucepan with a lid, a colander and a fork
Watch our video for how to cook rice in a pot on the hob to achieve a perfectly fluffy texture. This method works best for long-grained basmati rice, but can also be applied for brown rice and short-grain rice with a few tweaks.
Rice is cooked in millions of households every day and it's one of the world's staple foods, but it's a dish that some people think they're incapable of cooking correctly. Cooking rice is easy, provided you follow a few simple rules and choose the right method for your type of rice. Do this and we guarantee that you’ll never make a clumpy, sticky or glutinous mess again.
There are only two rules: firstly, measuring rice by volume makes it easier to judge how much water to add. Secondly, NEVER stir rice as it cooks or it will break up and turn sticky. In some recipes a knob or butter or spoonful of oil is often added at the start to help separate the grains before they cook.
Types of rice and how to cook them
Long-grain rice like basmati needs to be rinsed before cooking to get rid of any excess starch and then boiled or cooked by the absorption method. Brown rice needs more water than white rice to cook and takes longer. Soaking it in cold water for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours will help cut the cooking time. To use the method below, add 1¼ times the amount of water. See our guide for more details on how to cook brown rice.
Short-grain rice for risotto, paella and rice pudding need the excess starch to make the final dish creamy, so don’t rinse it. For these dishes, the rice is cooked along with the other ingredients.
How long does rice take to cook?
As this guide shows, the cooking time of rice varies depending on the type of rice you're using and the method of cooking.
Basmati rice and long-grain rice: If you’re using one of the stovetop methods, it will take about 20 mins from start to finish, but basmati cooks best if soaked for 20 minutes before.
Brown rice: Brown rice takes longer to cook compared to white rice. Typically, cooking brown rice on the stove takes around 30 to 40 mins.
Short-grain rice When cooking short-grain rice for dishes like risotto, paella and rice pudding, the cooking time will depend on the specific dish and what application of heat is used. Generally, a risotto can be cooked in 20-25 minutes.
Oven method: Cooking rice in the oven generally takes around 35 minutes for basmati and is great if you want to make large quantities of rice.
Microwave method: It takes about 14 minutes in total for basmati rice. This includes 6 minutes on high power and an extra 8 minutes on medium power. Keep in mind that microwave wattage can vary, so adjustments might be needed.
Remember that these are just general guidelines, and the exact cooking time can vary based on factors such as the type of rice, the brand and equipment you're using. With practice, you'll become more familiar with the ideal cooking times for your favourite types of rice and methods.
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What is the ratio of water to rice?
For basmati and all kinds of white rice, we recommend a ratio of 1:2 when cooking on the stove. So this would mean for every 1 cup of rice, you add 2 cups of water. This quantity can easily be doubled or tripled for larger portions - just ensure that you are using a sufficiently large cooking pot as the rice swells in volume.
How to cook rice on the stove
- 1 cup basmati rice per serving (or weigh 75g per person)
- 2 cups (or 150ml) water
- Measure the rice into a cup and level the top, or weigh the amount of servings you want into a jug and note the liquid level it comes up to.
- Pour the rice into a bowl and pour in enough cold water to cover it. Jostle and move the rice in the water to remove the starch
- Drain well using a sieve, then repeat the rinsing process until the water becomes clear, once jostled. If you have time, soak the rice in cold water for at least 30 minutes. This will help the grains cook more evenly.
- Tip the rice into a pan over a low heat.
- Add double the volume of water to rice (2 cups, or 150ml water for a 75g serving) plus some salt, if you like.
- Bring to a boil. Swirl the rice in the pan (or stir once) to make sure it’s well distributed.
- Put a lid on and turn the heat down to as low as possible. If you cook the rice on too high a heat, it will cook too quickly and may end up chalky in the centre.
- Simmer gently for 10 mins and do not take the lid off. Check the rice is cooked at the end by trying a grain - this should also be indicated by the appearance of small holes on the surface and all the water having been absorbed. Keep cooking for another couple of mins if it isn’t quite ready, then turn the heat off.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and serve it straightaway if you like in a bowl, but if you cover it with a tea towel for 10 minutes, any residual water will be absorbed. You can then fluff up the grains for an even better texture.
Our preferred method is to cook rice on the stove, however if this is not available, or you would prefer to use the oven or microwave then this is also possible. Oven cooking is ideal if you have large quantities of rice, whilst the microwave method is quickest.
How to cook rice in the oven
- 1 cup basmati rice per serving
- 2 cups boiling water
- Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4.
- Rinse the rice well in a large bowl of water, then drain.
- Tip the rice into a medium casserole dish and pour over the boiling water.
- Cover with a lid and bake for 35 minutes.
- Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork to check it is separated and serve.
How to cook rice in the microwave
- 1 cup basmati rice per serving (75g)
- 2.5 cups boiling water (or 180ml)
- Put in the rice in a large heatproof bowl and top with the boiling water.
- Cover the bowl with microwaveable wrap and pierce several times. Cook on high (900W) for 6 minutes, then medium (500W) for 8 minutes.
- Leave for a few minutes to stand, then remove the wrap to serve.
Top rice recipes
Make this spicy cauliflower, spinach and halloumi rice for a speedy, simple supper. Nourishing and balanced, it's ideal for busy weeknights.
Make this easy Asian-inspired dish in just 30 minutes. It's healthy and low in calories but big on flavour, making it perfect for a speedy family supper.
Make a chickpea curry served with raita for a brilliant budget-friendly family meal. As well as being quick and easy, it's healthy too.
As well as being tasty, this aubergine and artichoke is low fat, low calorie and cost effective. Make a large batch and eat it cold the next day.
This speedy dinner is full of hearty chicken in a creamy peanut butter sauce. Serve with crisp, cooling ribbons of cucumber on the side.
Find more recipes in our rice collection.
Don't stir the rice throughout the cooking as it will make it stodgy.
Don't cook the rice on too high a heat – it may stick and burn on the bottom before the rest of the rice is cooked.