I’ll admit that I have had my share of mishaps when it comes to cooking rice. Sometimes when the top came off the pot I’d
find a mushy, sticky mess. Other times, the grains were burnt and stuck to the bottom. I always use brown or wild rice. Even
though these “real” whole grains take a bit longer to cook, they are worth the wait: unrefined grains maintain more
heart-healthy vitamins and antioxidants. Plus, they are high in fiber, which is important for a heart-healthy diet.
Since brown rice is such an important and healthy staple in my kitchen, I figured it was high time to get smart
about rice-cooking techniques. Through trial and some errors, and talking with our cooking experts in the
EatingWell Test Kitchen, I’ve gleaned these tidbits that lead to easier (and faster) brown-rice cooking:
Tip 1: Set yourself up for success.
To cook whole-grain brown rice, use a pan with a tight-fitting lid, cooking the rice in lightly salted water, on your coolest
(or simmer) burner, and making sure the rice is simmering at the “lowest bubble.”
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Tip 2: A large pan is a happy one.
Cook rice in a large saucepan. A larger cooking surface allows for heat to be evenly dispersed, leading to a more consistent
texture in the finished dish.
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Tip 3: Watch the clock.
The Test Kitchen has found that when cooking a small batch of rice (less than 1 cup), the cooking time varies greatly
depending on what stove they use. Although brown rice usually requires 40 to 50 minutes of cooking, start checking it after
30 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Tip 4: Use the right ratio.
Starting out with the right amount of water or broth (for more flavor) for the amount of rice you’re cooking will help you
avoid a burnt or mushy final product. Use the chart below for reference or follow the directions on the package.
How to Cook Brown Rice & Wild Rice: Rice to Liquid Ratio, Time and Directions
2 1/2 cups
Bring rice and liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been
absorbed, 40-50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
109 calories; 23 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber.
At least 4 cups
Cook rice in a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water until tender 45-55 minutes. Drain.
2-2 1/2 cups
82 calories; 17 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 1 g fiber.
Tip 5: Rest up before digging in.
Once the rice is done cooking, let it stand for at least 5 minutes with the lid on. Food-science expert Harold McGee
says this “resting period” allows the grains of rice to cool and become firm, so that the rice doesn’t break when scooped
from the pot. Once rested, fluff rice with fork, and you should have a light and aromatic final product!
By Wendy Ruopp, managing editor of EatingWell, and Cassidy Tawse-Garcia, editorial intern for EatingWell