White rice is one of my preferred side dishes! It’s like a blank canvas — it pairs well with so many different things. From stuffed zucchini, and Thai baked halibut, to Chinese curry beef stir fry, its neutral flavor makes it the perfect option to round out a meal. It’s wholesome and filling too, and so it also goes great in salads and even soups!
With all of these benefits, you’re probably wondering how to cook white rice! While it is very simple once you get the hang of it, there are some important things to keep in mind before you begin. If you’ve ever tried to cook white rice and ended up with a hard and overly sticky mess, this helpful guide will teach you how to get perfect results every time.
The general rule is that the shorter the rice grain, the stickier the rice, meaning the grains stick together more, rather than being crumbly. The longer the grain, the less sticky it is.
Think short grain used in Chinese cooking, and is easily picked up using chopsticks. Long grain, like jasmine, would be a little more problematic if using chopsticks.
You’ll also learn:
- Different methods for cooking white rice
- The right water-to-rice ratio
- Cooking rice tips and tricks
- Serving suggestions for white rice
I’ll also share some of my favorite recipes that feature white rice. Let’s get started!
How to Cook White Rice
You don’t need a lot of fancy kitchen equipment to make perfect white rice at home. In fact, if you have a stovetop, oven, pressure cooker, or microwave, you have everything you need! You don’t have to run out and buy an expensive rice cooker to get it right.
There are 3 types of white rice:
- Short grain
- Medium grain
- Long grain
The methods I share below will work on any type of white rice grain! Different recipes will require different grains. Generally speaking, short-grain varieties are more starchy and are sticky and soft. Long-grain rice has less starch and tends to be drier. Now you know!
The rice-to-water ratio is key when learning how to cook white rice. I tend to follow this rule when cooking rice on the stovetop or in the oven (my preferred methods):
Use 1.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry white rice.
If you decide to cook your rice in the microwave, you’ll have to increase this to 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry white rice. If you use a pressure cooker, you can opt for a 1:1 ratio. That said, you may have to play around with the amount of water you use for this method. Every pressure cooker is different, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you get it right.
Now it’s time to jump into the specifics for each method!
How to Cook White Rice on the Stove
I typically cook white rice on the stovetop. It only takes about 20 minutes and doesn’t require me to get out any special appliances!
Step 1: Place 1 cup of dry white rice and 1.5 cups of cold water into a saucepan without a lid. Bring the water to a gentle boil.
Step 2: Lower the heat, cover, and allow the rice to simmer for 15 minutes.
Step 3: Remove the rice from the heat but leave the lid on. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then fluff it with a fork before serving.
How to Cook White Rice in the Oven
Another one of my preferred methods for cooking white rice is in the oven. Again, it requires minimal work and minimal equipment!
Step 1: Place 1 cup of dry white rice and 1.5 cups of boiling water in a small baking dish and cover it with aluminum foil.
Step 2: Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.
Step 3: Remove the rice from the oven and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
How to Cook White Rice in a Pressure Cooker
If you want to save time, use a pressure cooker to cook your white rice. This is a wonderful method if you have an Instant Pot.
Step 1: Place 1 cup of dry white rice and 1 cup of water into your pressure cooker. You can also add 1 tablespoon of butter and a bit of salt if desired.
Step 2: Lock the lid of your pressure cooker securely and cook the rice on High for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that it may take between 8-10 minutes for the pressure to build before it starts.
Step 3: Allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then perform a quick release if necessary. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.
How to Cook White Rice in the Microwave
Don't laugh, I do it all the time if stove top space is limited! Lots of folks use a microwave to cook white rice — it’s one of the most common methods. It’s a great one to use if you don’t have time to keep an eye on the stove.
Step 1: Place 1 cup of dry white rice and 2 cups of boiling water into a large microwave-safe container or bowl. You don’t need to cover it.
Step 2: Microwave on High for 12 minutes.
Step 3: Remove the rice from the microwave and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Fluff it with a fork before serving.
Cooking White Rice Tips
When you follow the instructions above, you should end up with perfectly cooked white rice every time! That said, there are a few things to keep in mind as you go along:
- You don’t have to rinse the rice: Lots of recipes will call for you to rinse the dry rice before you get started. White rice is naturally starchy, and some chefs will use the rinsing method to remove excess starch in the hopes of making the rice fluffier. If you use the correct rice-to-water ratio, you don’t have to worry about this extra step!
- Don’t use too much water: You may be tempted to add more water than recommended. This is perhaps the number one mistake folks make when cooking white rice! If you use too much, the rice will become mushy and almost gluey in texture. Don’t underestimate the all-important rice-to-water ratio!
- Speaking of ratio: you can use anything to measure the rice and water as long as you use the same ratio. For example, 1 level coffee cup of rice and 1 ½ coffee cups of water, or soup can, etc.
- Don’t bring to heavy boil: for stovetop rice, don’t bring it to a rapid boil because when you put the lid on it will trap in too much heat and will probably boil over. Just bring it to a simmer/gentle boil so there’s big gentle bubbles on the surface and it gets a slightly foamy.
- Be sure to let it rest: You’ll notice that each of the different rice cooking methods requires you to allow the rice to rest for 5-10 minutes before fluffing. This will ensure that it absorbs any excess water and will give you the light and fluffy results you’re looking for.
- How long does cooked rice keep in the fridge? 4-5 days in an airtight container, I use a Ziploc bag after it's cooled.
- Can you freeze rice? Yes, rice freezes extremely well and can keep for 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
Ways to Use White Rice — Serving Suggestions
The possibilities are endless when it comes to white rice! Here are some ways that I like to use it:
- As a side dish: White rice has a fairly neutral flavor, which means it goes with almost any savory main dish you can imagine! Seafood, beef, pork, or poultry all pair wonderfully with rice. And remember, you can also add any type of seasonings and spices to your rice to enhance the flavor of whatever you serve it with.
- In salads & soups: Rice is hearty and filling, so it will bulk up otherwise light salads and soups. It’s a great alternative to noodles or pasta.
- In desserts: Rice pudding anyone? I love making mine myself, and it all starts with perfectly cooked white rice!
5 Great White Rice Recipes
Now that you know how to cook white rice, it’s time to use it in some recipes! Here are a few of my favorites I want to share:
- Hibachi Fried Rice
- Greek Stuffed Peppers with Chicken
- Greek Lemon Rice
- Chinese Curry Beef Stir Fry
- Lebanese Lentil Soup
- Greek Avgolemono Soup
What is the White Rice to Water Ratio?
The white rice to water ratio will vary depending on the cooking method. For the stovetop and oven, use 1.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry rice. If you use the microwave, opt for 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice. Finally, for a pressure cooker, use a 1:1 ratio.
How Long Does it Take to Boil White Rice?
It will take about 20 minutes to cook white rice on the stovetop. This includes 15 minutes of simmering and 5 minutes of rest time.
Do You Put White Rice in Boiling Water or Cold?
It depends on the cooking method you use. If you opt for the stovetop or a pressure cooker, the water can be cold. For cooking in the oven and the microwave, it should be boiling.
Hi there, nice instructional on the subject of white rice. Anything on brown rice? Also, curiously what brand of cookware are you using in the pictures? Thank you Kevin so appreciate your wonderful blog, very well done. S