How to Cook Brown Rice Perfectly

By: Katherine C. Parker

Even though brown rice takes a bit longer to cook than white rice, it's well worth the wait: unrefined grains retain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Plus, they are high in fiber, which is important for a heart-healthy diet. Like other whole grains, brown rice has been minimally processed, in this case just enough to sort and remove the inedible outer husk, leaving the nutritious outer bran layer intact.

Use this simple ratio to measure out your ingredients:

• 1 cup rice
• 2 1/2 cups water or broth

Bring rice and water (or broth) to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. This basic recipe will make 3 cups of cooked rice.

Tips for Cooking Brown Rice Perfectly

Lemon Rice

Pictured Recipe: Lemon Rice

To make your rice even better, try these tips:

1. Get simmer-ready.

To cook whole-grain brown rice, use a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook the rice in lightly salted water, on your coolest (or simmer) burner and make sure the rice is simmering at the lowest bubble.

2. Pick the right pan.

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.

3. Watch the clock.

When cooking a small batch of rice (less than 1 cup), the cooking time can vary greatly, depending on your stove. Although brown rice usually requires 40 to 50 minutes of cooking, start checking it after 30 minutes to make sure it doesn't burn.

4. Follow the 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. For brown rice, the ratio is 1 cup dry rice to 2 1/2 cups liquid.

5. Rest up before digging in.

Once the rice is done cooking, let it stand for at least 5 minutes with the lid on. This time allows the grains of rice to cool a little and firm up, so that the rice doesn't break when scooped from the pot. After the standing time, fluff the rice with a fork, and you should have a light and aromatic final product!

brown rice pilaf

Pictured Recipe: Brown Rice Pilaf

Brown Rice Nutrition Facts

All varieties of whole-grain (brown) rice are good sources of complex carbohydrates and fiber. They also contain some protein and small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin and niacin. White rice is stripped of the fiber and trace minerals found in brown rice but is usually enriched with thiamin, niacin, iron and folic acid.

A 1/2-cup serving of cooked brown rice contains 108 calories, 1 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 22 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 5 mg sodium and 77 mg potassium.

How to Shop for Brown Rice

You can find whole-grain versions of most types of rice, including short-, medium- and long-grain, jasmine and basmati. You can also find "quick-cooking" or "instant" brown rice, which is ready in 5 to 10 minutes. For quick-cooking and instant brown rice, cook according to the instructions on the package.

Brown rice can be stored for up to six months at room temperature. To extend its shelf life, store brown rice in the refrigerator or freezer.

Types of Brown Rice

The following types of rice all come in brown and white varieties. Look for some brown-rice varieties in the natural-foods section or at natural-foods stores.

Long-Grain Brown Rice

Long grain brown rice

Long-grain rice has a mildly sweet, nutty flavor. This all-purpose rice has grains almost five times longer than their width, which stay separate and fluffy when cooked.

Medium-Grain Brown Rice

Medium grain brown rice

Medium-grain rice is not as fluffy as long-grain brown rice, but not as sticky as short-grain. The grains are two to three times longer than their width. It's good for rice patties or in casseroles.

Short-Grain Brown Rice

Short grain brown rice

Short-grain rice has grains that are more round than elongated. It releases starch when cooked, yielding a characteristic moist, sticky texture. Use it in place of white sticky rice for sushi, or in risotto or rice pudding.

Jasmine Brown Rice

Jasmine rice

Jasmine rice is a fluffy, long-grain rice with a sweet floral aroma. It can be used interchangeably with basmati rice, but purists would say that jasmine should be served with Thai food while basmati pairs best with Indian.

Basmati Brown Rice

Basmati rice

Basmati rice is a signature grain in Indian cuisine. This long-grain rice has a popcorn-like aroma and slightly nutty flavor. Basmati rice was once imported exclusively from India, but U.S.-grown basmati is now widely available. Use it as you would other long-grain rice.

Watch How to Cook Brown Rice

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