How to Cook Perfectly Fluffy Brown or White Rice Every Time (2024)

  • Food
  • Cooking

Say "goodbye" to sticky rice, undercooked rice, or dry, overcooked rice in five easy steps.


Jenna Helwig

How to Cook Perfectly Fluffy Brown or White Rice Every Time (1)

Jenna Helwig

Jenna is the food director at Real Simple and the author of Bare Minimum Dinners, a cookbook featuring more than 100 low-lift, high-reward recipes. Previously, Jenna was the food director at Health and Parents. She is also the founder and operator of Rosaberry, a boutique personal chef services company, and the author of four other cookbooks, including the bestselling Baby-Led Feeding.

Real Simple's Editorial Guidelines

Updated on May 22, 2024

Learning how to cook rice is like riding a bike. Once you know how to make fluffy, perfect rice, you can easily repeat the process over and over and wonder how your rice ever turned out any differently. Brown or white riceor any other kind you prefer—is a staple in countless dishes, so knowing how to make perfect rice yourself is a pretty important skill.

Many rice recipes make cooking this ingredient look so simple (see over a dozen of our favorite rice recipes for reference), but everyone I know has burned rice at least once, including me—and I went to culinary school! So to master the cooking feat once and for all and make sure your water-to-rice ratio is always on point, follow our step-by-step guide to making rice. We promise these are the only rice cooking methods you'll ever need—and once you nail it, you'll never wonder how to cook rice properly again.

Cooking Rice on the Stove

What You'll Need

  • 1¾ cups water, rinsed if desired
  • 1 cup long or medium-grain white rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Boil water and add salt. Pour water (for every additional cup of rice, add another 1¾ cups of water) into a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil and add salt.
  • Pour in the rice. Slowly add the rice to the boiling water, and be careful not to splash any boiling water out of the pot.
  • Stir once, or just enough to separate the rice. Use a wooden spoon to separate any clumps. Don't over-stir. That can cause the rice to become sticky.
  • Cover the pot and simmer. Be sure the lid fits tightly on the pot and turn the heat to its lowest setting. Let the rice simmer for about 18 minutes, then remove from heat and allow the rice to steam in the pot for another 5 minutes. Don't uncover the saucepan or stir the rice during cooking.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork before serving. Just before serving, gently fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains. If the rice is done before you're ready to serve it, place a folded towel over the saucepan, replace the lid, and set it aside. The towel will absorb excess moisture and condensation, helping prevent overcooked and mushy rice.

How to Make Perfect Brown Basmati Rice

Cooking Rice in the Microwave

Cooking rice in the microwave may seem surprising, but it's actually a smart method since the microwave is naturally a moist cooking environment, just like a rice cooker or pot on the stove-top. Follow these basic steps for well-cooked white rice every time.

  1. Plan a 2:1 ratio of water to rice. So, for a half cup of uncooked rice, use 1 cup of water.
  2. Rinse your rice (if desired), and place it in a microwave-safe dish. Pour in the water. Stir once or twice to make sure all of the rice is submerged and roughly evenly distributed beneath the surface of the water.
  3. Microwave the rice, uncovered, for 15 minutes. If all of the water is absorbed the rice is ready. If the water is not absorbed, continue to cook the rice in two minute intervals. It may take up to 25 minutes to cook the rice, depending on your microwave and the cooking vessel you're using.
  4. Let the rice rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Fluff with a fork, and enjoy!

Remember that microwave strengths vary, so it may take some trial and error to find just the right amount of time for your appliance.

Cooking Rice in the Oven

According to the trade group USA Rice, cooking rice in the oven is an ideal way to free up the stove-top. Here's the group's method for both white rice and brown rice.

  1. Plan a 2:1 ratio of water to rice. Bring the correct amount of water to a boil.
  2. Stir together the rice, water, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a tablespoon of butter in an oven safe dish or pan. If using a dish, cover tightly with foil. If using a pan, cover with foil or a tight-fitting lid. When choosing vessel size, remember that your rice will triple in volume as it cooks.
  3. Bake at 350°F. White rice should take between 25-30 minutes; brown rice 50-60 minutes.
  4. Fluff with a fork, and serve.

Cooking Rice in a Rice Cooker

Cooking rice in an electric rice cooker is practically foolproof. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the correct ratio of water to rice (virtually any type). With most models you can delay the start time so the rice is ready whenever you are. The appliance will also keep rice warm if your meal is delayed. Another rice cooker bonus? You can use it to cook dishes beyond rice.

And after you've cooked up your perfect rice, might we suggest some slow-cooker vegetarian chili to go with it?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you need to rinse rice before cooking?

    If you want fluffy, separate grains, then yes. You should absolutely rinse your rice using one of these two methods. Rinsing helps remove excess starch that can cause rice to be stickier. If you don't mind if your rice clumps up more, it's okay to skip the rinse.

  • Are all types of rice cooked the same way?

    All types of rice can be cooked in a similar way, by hydrating the individual grains with water or another liquid, called the absorption method. The ratio of rice to water varies depending on the variety of rice.

  • What's the easiest way to cook rice?

    Using a rice cooker and following its instructions to the letter is probably the easiest and most foolproof way to cook rice. But using the stove-top, microwave, and oven are all pretty simple once you know the method.

  • Do you have to use water to cook rice?

    While water is the most common liquid for cooking rice, you could also use broth or stock.

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