How To Cook Rice on the Stovetop

I want to dedicate this post to my sister. When I was down in Orange County last weekend to support my dad after his knee replacement, my sister mentioned that she wanted to buy a rice cooker because she couldn’t cook rice properly on the stovetop.

Top-down view of a saucepan full of fluffy cooked white rice on a light-toned wooden surface.

I tried and tried to tell her that you don’t need a rice cooker, and that cooking rice in a pot is the easiest thing in the world, but she was skeptical. So, I told her I’d do a how-to post just for her, explaining how to do it. And here I am!

Before we get into it, let’s talk about why you don’t need that darn rice cooker first. I have three reasons for you:

3 Reasons to Skip the Rice Cooker:

1. It’s Just Another One-Job Appliance

Here’s my personal rule: if the appliance only does one job, and that job can be done using something that I already have on hand (like a pot, in this case), the appliance is a no-go.

2. It Wastes Prime Kitchen Real Estate

Save that space for something better – like a cookie jar!

3. You Don’t Have Any Control Over the Texture

“Set it and forget it” is great – until you want the texture to be a little different from the generic standard that a given appliance will produce. Sometimes I want it a little crunchy, sometimes I’m craving something more mushy. Cooking in a pot gives you more control.

Top-down view of uncooked white rice in a glass mason jar.

Now, I know some of you live and die by your rice cooker. If you have plenty of storage space or the whole set-it-and-forget-it thing really saves you time, then by all means, charge ahead and use your rice cooker. If you already have one, by all means, use it.

But, if you are considering buying one, then just give your plain ol’ pot a shot first. With the proper technique, cooking in a pot is super duper easy – and you don’t need to buy another appliance to get the job done.

How to Cook Rice:

Step 1 – Gather Your Kitchen Implements and Ingredients

You’ll need a pot that holds twice the volume of the uncooked grain and the water you are putting in it. So, if I’m cooking 1 cup of white rice with about 2 cups of water, I’ll want a pot that holds at least 6 cups of water. Make sense?

A collection of ingredients and kitchen implements including a clear glass mason jar of uncooked white rice, a metal tin of sesame oil, a jar of vegetable bouillon base paste, a stainless steel saucepan and lid, and a glass measuring cup, on a wood surface.

You’ll also need liquid and dry measuring cups, your choice of rice, water or broth, and any flavoring ingredients you like. Some of my favorites are sesame oil, butter, or bouillon paste.

Step 2 – Calculate

For every 1 cup of uncooked white varieties, you’ll need 1 3/4 cups water or broth. Most packages say to use 2 cups of liquid, but I have found this to be excessive for the vast majority of the types I’ve used.

Oblique view of a metal saucepan with black handle and a lid, a glass measuring cup filled with two cups of water, a metal one-cup measure filled nearly to the top with grains of uncooked white rice, and a mason jar of white grain nearly cropped out of the right side of the frame, on an unfinished wood surface.

For brown varieties, you’ll need 1 cup of uncooked grain and 2 cups water or broth.

Oblique closeup view of uncooked white rice in a small metal measuring cup on a wood surface, with a glass pitcher-style liquid measure to the left of the frame

Step 3 – Boil

Bring the water to a boil on the stove over high heat. Add the rice and any add-ins if you want to use them, stir, and return to a boil.

A hand pours uncooked white rice grains into an empty saucepan, on a wood surface.

Step 4 – Cook

Once the pot comes to a boil again, put the lid on and turn it down to very low heat. Most stoves don’t go too low, so you’re probably okay turning it as low as it will go without the flame going out or the burner turning off.

Cook white long grain varieties for 15 minutes. Cook brown types for 45 minutes.

Important! During this cook time, do not lift the lid to check doneness. This lets the heat escape and results in unevenly cooked grains.

Step 5 – Let Sit

Turn the heat off and remove to a cool place if necessary (i.e. to a cool burner if your stove is electric). Let sit without removing the lid for 5-10 minutes for white long grain and 15 minutes for brown.

Top-down view of a metal saucepan of cooked, unfluffed rice sitting a rustic wooden tabletop. The pan has a black handle, and the image is in partial shadow.

Step 6 – Fluff

After it’s finished resting, fluff with a fork (not a spoon – it makes a difference, I promise, since your goal here is to separate the grains). Now you’re ready to serve! If you are going to let it sit a while longer, keep the lid on the pot.

Top-down view of fluffed cooked white rice in a saucepan, sitting on a rustic wooden surface.

And you’re done! I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial, and that it helps you cook tender, satisfying polished or whole grain rice without burning it, and without having to buy another appliance.

Now that you have the basic technique down, you can adjust as needed to get the texture exactly the way you want it for a specific recipe.

Add more liquid to start and cook a little longer for a softer final result that’s more like porridge, or add a touch of oil and return to the heat after cooking for a crispy crust. Your options are nearly limitless, and you don’t need to be afraid of uncooked grains, or unwanted burned bits that stick to the bottom of the pan and make it difficult to clean.

Best of luck in all your rice-cooking endeavors! If you have any questions or comments, please let us know. And give some of these delicious dishes a try to show off your new skill.

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published June 22, 2015. Last updated: September 18, 2018 at 15:33 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now being merged into Foodal).

Don't have a rice cooker and you need to figure out how to cook rice on the stovetop? Struggling with uncooked grains, burning and sticking, or watery results? Check out this quick little guide from Foodal, and it will have you making rice like a pro in no time. #cookingtips #howtocookrice #wholegrains #foodal

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