How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice

Brown rice. I love to hate you.

I freely acknowledge that brown rice is more nutritious and hearty and good-for-me than its white counterpart but most of the time, it tastes like terrible, crunchy grains of inedible quality or is so mushy it’s disgustingified. The only way I’ve been able to really enjoy brown rice’s qualities is to bake it. It turns out fluffy and tender and delicious. But sometimes, I just don’t have an hour plus to nurture brown rice to tasty proportions (or else my oven needs to be used for something else).

Imagine my delight when I found a better way to cook brown rice on the stovetop (the traditional method of cooking it like white rice, just with more water and longer, has never worked for me). I was skeptical, so skeptical, but after trying it out, I am smitten again with the goodness of brown rice. The true test was my kids – they growl when I serve stovetop-cooked brown rice because they just plain don’t like it (I can’t blame them). This version? Um, yeah, major hit. In fact, my 5-year old had thirds of rice with a bit of butter and salt and declared ownership of all the leftovers.

This really is a better way. I’m so happy that brown rice is in my life to stay.

How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice

One Year Ago: Smoked Salmon Chowder
Two Years Ago: Chicken Pot Pie Crumble
Three Years Ago: Baked Brown Rice

Mel’s Kitchen Tip: How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice

Mel’s Kitchen Tip: How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice

Note: You can use any type of brown rice (long grain, basmati, etc.) If you make this and find the rice isn't quite as tender as you like, add another minute or two to the boiling time.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. While the water is coming to a boil, rinse the rice under cold water for 30 seconds. When the water comes to a boil, stir in the rice and salt (optional), stirring once.
  2. Boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the rice into a strainer/colander set in the sink. Let the rice drain for 10-15 seconds then return it to the pot off the heat (it will still be a bit moist).
  4. Immediately cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. If your lid isn't really tight, place a kitchen towel over the pot before nesting the lid tightly into the pot. Let the rice steam for 10 minutes before uncovering the pot and fluffing the rice with a fork. Season with more salt, if desired.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/mels-kitchen-tip-how-to-cook-perfect-brown-rice/
Recipe Source: found via Pinterest on Pinch My Salt, originally from Saveur (I decreased the water amount in my version)

71 Responses to How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice

  1. Charlotte Moore says:

    I might have to try this even though I LOVE it cooked just by the directions. Never have had any problems with it.

  2. Judith - Texas says:

    I normally cook my brown rice in the microwave; however, will definitely try this version. Cooking in the microwave is always hit or miss. Just bought a huge 20 lb. bag of brown rice so this recipe came just in time. Thanks!

  3. StephenC says:

    If I can make this work I will worship you forever (from afar). My attitude about brown rice is exactly the same as yours.

  4. Diane K says:

    I think I tried this once before I discovered your oven method, and I think I really prefer the oven. Maybe it’s the elevation? Or maybe I just didn’t do it right.

  5. Lila says:

    So far, I’ve had the best luck with steaming brown rice. I put a bowl of rice in the top part of a steamer and add boiling water (1:2 rice to water ratio) to the bowl from the tea kettle. It usually takes 30-45 minutes and can’t burn or get mushy.

  6. auntie m says:

    I discovered this method a couple of months ago and have used it many times with great success.

  7. Amber says:

    We LOVE the baking method you posted. We make up a double batch nearly every week and eat on it for several days. My picky littles adore it! But, sometimes, I forget to/am not home in time to start the rice and think, “Dang it! I don’t have an hour to cook rice in time for dinner! Now what?”, so it will be nice to try this alternate version. Also, we live in southern AZ, and sometimes I don’t feel like having my oven on for over an hour in the middle of the summer! If this method turns out as fool-proof and delicious as your other, I will thank you forever!

  8. This is how I cook my brown rice too and once I discovered it, it totally changed my life because for whatever reason I’m just incapable of making rice the way it instructs you to do on the side of the bag. So easy and foolproof!

  9. thank you for this post…my brown rice always ends up too hard :-(

  10. This is perfect, Mel! I bought a gigantic bag of brown rice from Costco a few months ago and couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t cooking up nice and soft like our white rice. Thanks so much!

  11. nicole myers says:

    I will half to try this, I too have trouble with brown rice. I was wondering if you would be interested in compiling a collage of your recipes that you can freeze? I don’t recall seeing one before. Thanks!

  12. Nancy says:

    Of the recipes that I have tried and saved from your site, the baked brown rice is the one that I use the most. I look forward to trying this version, for those nights that I don’t have an hour to make rice.

  13. I can’t get myself to eat brown rice– I hope this recipe changes things!

  14. Karly says:

    Ooh, I’ll have to try this. I love brown rice, but generally not when I cook it myself. ;)

  15. Erin says:

    Does this recipe still work well if doubled, or does it need more boiling time? Thanks for posting, I’m excited to give this a try!

  16. Nicole Hunn says:

    Have you ever tried a 1 cup rice : 2.5 cups water ratio, and begin by soaking the rice in the water in the pot for a few hours before boiling it (covered)? That’s my preferred method, but of course now I have to try yours! We eat nothing but brown rice around here, but my son the celiac doesn’t generally like rice (*curses*). He will eat brown arborio rice, though. It’s my personal fave, too, but it does take longer to cook.

    Love-hate with brown rice is about right, though. ;)

  17. Mel says:

    Nicole – here is a link to the recipes I freeze:
    http://www.melskitchencafe.com/category/freezable

    Erin – I have doubled and tripled this with great results (I add maybe a minute to the cooking time but that’s it).

    • Georgia says:

      I use this recipe weekly! Love the texture of the brown rice- it is perfect!! When increasing the recipe- Do you double or triple the amount of rice? Liquid? Both?
      Thanks!!

      • Mel says:

        Georgia – If doubling I double each component, same with tripling – triple the broth and rice. I hope that helps!

  18. Cyndi says:

    Can’t wait to try this!! Also love your new print recipe section!! Very nice! :)

  19. Bonnie says:

    We had this with our dinner tonight, and it worked out great!! We also made your sugar cookies for family night. Thanks so much for all the work you put into this site.

  20. ErinNH says:

    This is fabulous as you pour off extra water. We have stopped eating brown rice because of the arsenic reports, but cooking more like pasta and draining was one of the recommendations. I am excited to try this!

  21. Terry Bridges says:

    Am I the only person on the planet who loves brown rice? Or, am I the only person on the planet who has resigned herself to al dente rice? Either way, I can’t wait to try this! You always make my day!

  22. Natalie says:

    I, too, have brown rice fears and bad experience enough for my family’s lifetime. This actually worked!!!! Love it! Thank you thank you!!

  23. carrian says:

    I bow to you, my friend. How the heck didn’t I know to bake this shizzle? My mind is blown.

  24. Alyssa B says:

    I have had good luck with browning the rice in a couple tablespoons of oil and then adding the water (2:1), bringing it to a boil, and cooking for 35-45 minutes. It does add some fat, but it doesn’t affect the taste at all. I may have to try this method, though, it sounds intriguing.

  25. Kathy says:

    I make something with brown rice that turns out something like risotto. My kids adore it and call it Mommy’s Special Rice. I saute short grain brown rice, onion and a little butter and then add chicken broth at a 2:1 ratio plus a little extra broth. Cook for about an hour. Yum!

  26. Emily says:

    I have finally found a way to cook brown rice, and not only make it edible, but also delicious! I use my pressure cooker! 3 to 1 water to rice ratio, pressure for 20 minutes, done, delicious! If there is a little extra water at the end, I just boil it off quickly. Works great!

  27. Cait says:

    Yay! I’m so excited to hear that this works really well. I use brown rice for everything, but have far from perfected it. The great thing is though, some people would say that this is the safest way to cook brown rice too…draining the cooking water disposes of most traces of arsenic that can be in rice. Now I’m motivated to do it more!

  28. Sarah says:

    I have the Costco brown rice, too :) Oh dear, change is hard! I am DEVOTED to your baked method, but if you say try this, I’ll sure try it! Thanks!

  29. Wanda says:

    My easy brown rice method is 2:1 in a glass bowl with a plate on top. In the microwave on high 40 minutes. It is so easy and never burns or clumps. Still, I’ll give this a try! :)

  30. Mirien says:

    This worked beautifully! It was faster than my usual stovetop method, and the texture of the rice was better. I’m doing it this way from now on. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Jessica says:

    This was so good! Thank you! made this tonight, and it turned out so yummy.

  32. Crystal says:

    Hmmm … I’m going to have to try it this way. I typically can’t stand to cook brown rice on the stove top and have been baking it in the oven ever since you posted about it. When I do bake it I use my huge stoneware casserole dish and double or triple what I would typically use. That way I can freeze it to use later. :)

  33. Teresa R. says:

    This method of cooking brown rice worked perfectly! Thank you.

  34. Andrea says:

    In the past week I have made- classic buttermilk waffles (so fluffy I’m gonna die!!), breaded garlic chicken in lemon butter sauce (restaurant recipe here), spaghetti pie (kids loved), sweet and sour meatballs (plus one in the freezer for later), and chicken tikka masala (ah-mazing). All your recipes and all DELICIOUS!! Thank you so much for this amazing blog! You are so generous to share your talent with us!

  35. Erin says:

    I use 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of brown rice and cook it in the pressure cooker. 22 minutes and then I let it come down naturally. Perfect!

  36. Vicky says:

    I made a double batch of this last night for dinner, but I wasn’t sure if I really needed to double the water. I did, but do you think it’s totally necessary? Anyway, it came out great, but it was a little bland compared to the baked-in-chicken-broth variety that I usually make. I think some butter and salt would jazz it up nicely. I’m glad to have a stove-top alternative because, while I do prefer the baked rice, sometimes the oven is just not available. Thanks!

  37. Stacie D. says:

    I am so excited to try this! Your baked version is a staple in our home, so this will make life easier on those days that baking isn’t an option.

  38. Annie B. says:

    What changes would you make if you wanted to make a larger amount of rice? Love you blog- my SIL and I follow it religiously.

  39. Mel says:

    Hi Annie – I wouldn’t make any changes, per se, I would just increase all the amounts according to how much rice you want to make.

  40. Niki says:

    Loved this recipe!!! I hate that brown rice takes so long to make and I was a bit skeptical of this recipe….. But it worked! I did add an extra half cup water and cooked five minutes longer as I live at 7000 feet…. and rice always takes longer at that altitude. Perfect and so much faster! Thank you!

  41. Shanell says:

    Oh My HECK!!! I just made this and it is amazing! Wonderful texture and flavor! Thank you!!!

  42. Lesli Dustin says:

    Melanie, this rice was so perfect. I have been getting sick of soggy baked brown rice and trying to adjust the liquid amounts. This was perfect with stir fry tonight.

  43. Tawyna says:

    As a beginner home cook, it’s always a hit and miss when I cook brown rice, but I love this recipe! It is so simple and my rice came out perfect! I followed the directions to the “T” and it was just the right amount of moisture and firmness, without being over or undercooked. Thank you for posting this recipe!

  44. [...] or until brown. Fill with your favorite taco/burrito ingredients. I made some brown rice (try this technique for the best brown rice everl), refried beans, shredded chicken and topped it with salsa and [...]

  45. kate C. says:

    This really does make amazing brown rice! I used to eat brown rice because it was good for me, but it was always mushy or too sticky. Now my husband makes it this way and we both agree that we LOVE brown rice now! Almost better than the basmati white rice we have with indian food. Maybe next time we’ll try the Chicken Tikka Masala with brown rice instead…
    thanks!!! also – your new site design is pretty cool!

  46. Terry Bridges says:

    I have made 2 batches of this rice and it was perfection both times. I put about 3 cups each in boil-in bags in the freezer so always have rice at my fingertips. This makes me very happy! Someone mentioned Costco’s cooked brown rice. I bought some a while back. That stuff is vile! The taste isn’t exactly bad but it has the consistency of glue. Even if you buy the most expensive organic rice you can find, this recipe is cheaper, tastes wonderful and is easier to deal with. Once frozen, it defrosts very quickly so I don’t think there is any advantage to buying it pre-cooked. This is fool-proof and delicious. Plus, you control the quality. Have I mentioned that this recipe is perfection?

  47. Diane K says:

    Well, even though I love your oven method, I decided to try it. It worked out much better than my first attempt (I think the first site I saw instructed me to turn down the heat to medium for cooking). Do I love it more than the oven method? Debatable. But I like to think maybe it didn’t heat up my house as much as having the oven on for an hour and a half or so.

  48. Linda says:

    Your brown rice recipe is just superb!! Thank u so very much.

  49. Terry Bridges says:

    I stand by my earlier comment. This is amazing rice. I defrosted a bag last night, topped it with roasted vegetables and was in heaven. I have fixed it several times since my last post and it has been perfection every time. A thousand cheers for this recipe!

  50. Gadbriel says:

    I just tried it the way you posted and OMG!! You’ve nailed it. I’d all but left off eating brown rice except maybe at a restaurant since I could never seem to cook it right, but I’m in there now. Perfection to say the least! “Hat’s off to You for sharing.”

  51. Georgia says:

    I will never make brown rice the traditional way again! This recipe is so easy and delicious!!

  52. Molly says:

    Do you need to add more water if you double the recipe? I just made this, doubling it, and it turned out a little better than normal, but still kind of dry-ish. Maybe next time I’ll boil it longer.

  53. Jean says:

    It works!! No more sticky, gummy, mushy brown rice!! I doubled the serving and my rice was perfect!

  54. Darlene says:

    OMG! It turned out fabulous. I’ve tried several times in the past, including using a rice cooker, but just couldn’t get it right. I had given up on it ….broke down and bought instant brown rice ….But now, I can cook my rice and eat it too. Thanks for the recipe.

  55. Sandra says:

    I live at high elevation, so brown rice is always a challenge. I think this might be successful!!

  56. Shelley says:

    The only way I cook brown rice is in my electric pressure cooker! It is delicious and finished in about 30 minutes….perfectly cooked and the texture is better! BUT…I am going to try this method as well to see which one I like better!

  57. Tamara Bahr says:

    I love using my pressure cooker too. I place 1 c. brown rice, 1 1/2 c. water and 1/2 tsp salt in the cooker and put on the lid. Once it is up to pressure I let it cook for 8 minutes and then take it off the heat. I’ll have to keep this version in mind next time I need the pressure cooker for the main dish.

  58. Deborah says:

    Alton Brown has a great recipe for “baked” brown rice! 5 STARS! I’m going to try yours too! :)

  59. LynnH says:

    Tried the stovetop method today. Came out perfectly! No more mushy rice! Thanks!

  60. Sheila says:

    I made this rice tonight to have with your so incredibly tasty black beans and rice. I too had given up on brown rice. I would spend all that time making it for it to come out awful tasting and gummy. I dug the half used bag of brown rice out from the back of the cupboard and skeptically, but determinedly, proceeded with this recipe. Wow, what an amazing surprise! It was fluffy, delicious, and perfectly cooked! I was convinced I didn’t like brown rice and my family wholeheartedly agreed. You changed our minds. There was a cereal size bowl leftover from supper and before I cleaned the kitchen, I ate every single grain. You are amazing, Mel!

  61. Christen says:

    Best way to make Brown rice!!!! I love brown rice, but this way is so much better and faster. I’ve used a ricer to make it and it’s never turned out as fluffy or moist as this!!!

  62. Jeff says:

    Hey Mel – at 64 I finally learned how to convert that hard, lumpy, stuck together mess of waterlogged grains into something absolutely light, fluffy and fantastic. I am a happy boy once again. – Thanks

  63. Heather B says:

    Hi Mel! I have been a huge fan of your site for about a year now, and I had to comment on this post. My family loves brown rice when we’re out at a restaurant, but I could never get it to taste as good at home. I tried your recipe tonight and it was SO fluffy and moist and perfectly cooked. Brown rice is back on the menu at our house! Thank you for all that you do and for sharing this great technique with us.

  64. Kate says:

    This looks so easy! Mine always burns on the bottom, too. Do you use this recipe or your baked brown rice recipe more? Or do you just use each for different meals? I am interested to try this with Hawaiian haystacks and sweet& sour chicken. What would you suggest?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Kate – good question…you know, I really just use whichever one I’ve planned for. I tend to do the baked brown rice more in the winter than the warmer months (since I try not to run my oven as much when its hot in my house) but really, the result is nearly the same and really delicious. I’d do whichever one is easier for you prep- and cooking-wise when you make those two dishes. If I had to pick, though, I’d say the stovetop “perfect” version. Good luck!

  65. Michelle says:

    So happy when I googled “cooking brown rice on the stove” and your site came up first, because I know by now I can trust you! Thanks for saving me from having to turn on my oven today!
    My question is: How many servings does the recipe make? (ie how many cups of cooked rice) Thank you so much!

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