How to Cook White Rice

How to cook white rice on the stove, no rice cooker or special equipment involved. If you've wondered how to make perfect rice every time, or struggled with rice that turns out dry or mushy or bland, a few tricks make all the difference. It's time to fall back in love with rice!

How to Cook White Rice ♥, it turns out perfectly every time without special equipment.

Cooking Fundamentals, Perfected. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. Vegetarian & Easily Vegan. Great for Meal Prep.


Switching Rice

It usually goes the other way, right? We start off eating white rice but then convert to brown rice, because, no doubt, whole-grain rice is healthier.

But for me, Oven-Baked Brown Rice came first. And once I discovered easy, tender, nutty brown rice, I stuck with what was familiar for a mere ten years.

But then our dog had a bad tummy – it's no wonder, he'll eat most anything. This week, he consumed not only toothpicks (ha! I never should have left those appetizers unattended on the coffee table) but also the heavy orange handles of Fiskars kitchen scissors.

Who knows what he ate way back when but the vet recommended a bland hamburger and rice diet for a few days.

Falling In Love With White Rice

And here's what I learned. Even unseasoned, the dog's rice tasted great.

So I made another pot, with salt, for the humans.

That was a year ago and now there's no going back. Brown rice remains an active part of our diet but white rice is ... such comfort food, especially when someone doesn't feel well.

"White" Rice vs "Brown" Rice

The Short Version All white rice starts off as brown rice. But when it's processed, what's left is white rice.

To understand white rice, we first have to understand brown rice.

First, every rice, no matter its variety (jasmine, basmati, arborio, etc.) starts off as brown rice.

Brown rice is the "whole" version of any rice. Only the outer hull is removed (like the skin of an orange) so brown rice is considered a whole, unprocessed food.

To create white rice, brown rice is further processed to strip away the kernel's inner bran and germ (along with their nutrients). What remains is the endosperm, that's the starchy center and what we call white rice. Some white rice is enriched with nutrients to compensate for nutrient loss during processing.

So why is brown rice processed? It's to reduce spoilage and extend shelf life. Rice's bran and germ are full of natural plant oils that quickly turn rancid. So brown rice is stripped down, leaving white rice with that will last longer. But brown rice keeps for a good six months so really, that's not much of an issue in the modern age.

So why does white rice even exist? Well ... good question. Me, I think taste and texture are the reasons. White rice is still chewy but softer than brown rice. White rice more easily absorbs other flavors (lookin' at you, butter) so can taste better too.

And if you're going to eat white rice, it should be cooked well and taste good.

How to Cook White Rice

With a few tricks, rice almost cooks itself.

  • RINSE THE RICE What a difference this makes, just rinsing the rice under running water through a fine-meshed strainer. Give it a good go, moving the rice grains around. Some times I even put the strainer over the sink drain with the water running. Why rinse white rice? The cooked rice turns out less gluey, less sticky, the individual grains are separate and independent.
  • CHOOSE A POT WITH A HEAVY BOTTOM The rice cooks at low temperature for 20 minutes, a pot with a heavy bottom insulates the rice itself from the heat, avoiding scorching and sticking.
  • USE LESS WATER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK I usually cook a cup of rice at a time, that calls for only two cups of water to yield, yes, more than three cups cooked rice.
  • SEASON THE WATER A little salt, a smidgen of butter, that's all it takes. So good!
  • SET THE TIMER Bring the water (no rice, yet) to a boil with salt and butter. Add the rice, cover the pot, turn down the heat and set the timer for exactly 20 minutes. When it goes off, the rice will have absorbed all the water and be all plump and perfect.
  • That's it!

Can You Freeze Cooked Rice? Yes!

Hello, meal prep.

Wow, what a revelation! Freezing rice is the reason I always make a 1.5x or 2x batch every time I cook a pot of rice.

I pack cooked, cooled rice into small freezer containers, just enough for two for another night. (If your family is bigger, obviously, freeze a larger amount.) I press a layer of wax paper onto the top of the rice, this prevents freezer burn, then seal the container and slip it into the freezer.

But here's the real magic. Is dinner a little skimpy? Is your stir-fry crazy husband prone to announcing, two minutes before dinner, "We could use a little rice." Do you need a little rice to stir into soup?

Just reheat the rice in the microwave, no need to thaw first. The small containers for two I use take exactly two minutes. Yeah. Two minutes.

It's wonderful!

Do You Need a Rice Cooker? No! Or An Instant Pot? No!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that cooks love their rice cookers and pressure cookers. But cooking good rice just doesn't need that equipment overhead. Just use a regular pot – the same pot you use for a hundred other cooking tasks – no special equipment needed, I promise.

Instead, technique (the rinsing, the seasoning, the timing) produces the most perfect rice.

What Kind of White Rice to Use

Food people go on and on about long-grain, medium-grain and short-grain rice.

But the truth is, most of us just grab a bag of rice and that's good enough. That's because what we find in most grocery stores is what we want. Jasmine rice? Basmati rice? Even arborio, the risotto rice? Yes. Yes. If the rice is white in color, it's white rice, no matter how the rice package is labeled. Brown rice will always say "brown rice".

I really do need to write a practical primer on rice. Would that be useful? Let me know! It would be along the lines of Ham 101, what to know before buying a ham.

The one type of rice to avoid? Instant rice. Minute rice.

Cooked White Rice for Meal Prep

Day One, I usually cook rice to go "under" something, a stew, a gumbo, a cacciatore.

But after that, cooked rice is handy to have on hand, it gets used up, no problem. Honestly, now I think of cooked white rice as meal prep, just like quinoa, see How to Cook Quinoa for Meal Prep.

Here are a few ideas!

  • Cooked rice makes wonderful salads, we love this easy Tomato & Rice Salad
  • Throw a spoonful into an impromptu no-recipe supper salad, the carbs are a great contrast to all the vegetables
  • For breakfast, do a quick little stir-fry, a few vegetables with a little rice, then an egg on top
  • By the spoonful, as an afternoon pick-me-up
  • For more ways to use up cooked rice with actual recipes, scroll to the bottom of the rice recipes
  • And of course, back to the beginning, feed white rice to a dog with a bad tummy!

But Let's Not Forget Brown Rice

Brown rice belongs in our diets and I like to think my recipes cover these bases too.

What Makes This Recipe Special

  • No special equipment to buy, store, lug out.
  • Ready in 30 minutes, like clockwork, start to finish.
  • It perfects and codifies how to cook a staple dish.
  • The rice turns out distinct, tender and flavorful rice.
  • The rice keeps! It's a meal prep win.

How to Cook White Rice ♥, it turns out perfectly every time without special equipment.

  • Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time-to-table: 30 minutes
Makes 3-1/2 cups
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil for vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (200g) white rice, jasmine is our favorite

Bring the water, butter and salt to a boil in a medium-size pot with a heavy bottom.

Meanwhile, use a fine-mesh strainer to rinse the rice under running water for a minute or two, really letting the water clean off the dustiness.

Add the rice to the pot and return to a simmer. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. Without lifting the lid, let the rice cook for exactly 20 minutes. Alexa, set the rice timer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, lift the lid, all the water should be absorbed and the rice fluffy and fully cooked.

If there's time, fluff the rice, cover and let rest (with the heat off) for five minutes.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Once cooked, after fluffing, leave the rice on the stove with the lid on, it'll stay hot for a good hour.

FREEZE Here's a good reason to make a big batch. Cooked rice freezes well! Just pack cooked and cooled rice into freezer container, press a layer of wax paper onto the top. (The packing and the wax paper prevent freezer burn.) Freeze for up to a couple of months. To reheat, just pull the container out of the freezer, remove the lid and wax paper and heat in the microwave until hot, stirring every so often. A small container with enough rice for two, say, heats up perfectly up in two minutes.

ALANNA's TIPS Gas stove people, the first time you make the rice, take note of the "low" temperature on the dial so it can be repeated or adjusted. The flame should be high enough to simmer the rice (but sorry, there's no looking inside to check) without boiling hard or especially boiling over – and high enough that after 20 minutes, the rice has absorbed all the water but the pot hasn't run dry, no rice is sticking to the bottom of the pot. I use a medium-size pot for cooking a single batch and a 1.5x batch. I also use it for a 2x batch but a larger pot would really work better, that much rice is just too deep to cook perfectly in that size pot. Go ahead, skip the butter or oil, especially if you're using the rice in another dish. Weight Watchers, you'll save a point without the butter.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 116 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 4mg Cholesterol; 93mg Sodium; 23g Carb; 1g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 4 & myWW green 4 & blue 4 & purple 4

Calling All Rice Lovers

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole (Kabeli Palau) Black Beans & Rice Skillet Casserole with Smoked Chicken Cauliflower Risotto
~ more rice recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

~ Cajun Dirty Rice with Eggplant ~
~ Finnish Carrot Casserole ~
~ Vegetable Pulao (Indian Rice & Vegetables) ~
~ more vegetables with rice ~
from A Veggie Venture

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ rice recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2020 & 2021

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.