How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

Here's how to make perfect rice on the stove top without a recipe. Works with white or brown rice. Best for weeknight stir-fries, rice bowls, burritos, or served plain as a simple rice side dish.

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Photography Credit: Emma Christensen

If all you need is a plain bowl of rice to serve with dinner, this is the easiest, most foolproof method that I know.

You don’t need measuring cups, a recipe, or even a specific water-to-rice ratio — just cover the rice with a few inches of water, bring it to a boil, then simmer until the rice is tender. Drain the rice, return it to the pot, and let it steam in its own residual heat until you’re ready to serve.

Super easy, right? It’s nothing fancy, but I promise that it gets the job done.

How to Make Rice Without a RecipeI first learned this rice-cooking method in culinary school. As someone who always seems to burn the rice at the bottom of the pot no matter what recipe I follow, learning this way of cooking rice was a life-saver. I’ve used it ever since whenever I want a simple, un-fussy bowl of rice.

This technique works best with long-grain white rice, like basmati, Texmati, or jasmine, or long-grain brown rice. You can also use it to cook short-grain rice (or barley, farro, or any other grain, for that matter), but you’ll lose some of the unique textures and sticky properties that come from properly cooking those grains.

How to Make Rice Without a RecipeYou can cook any amount of rice you like, one serving or ten servings, as long as you use a big enough pot. One cup of dry rice will make about four cups of cooked rice, so just scale up or down depending on how much you need to make.

You also don’t need to measure out an exact amount of water or remember any water-to-rice ratios. Just cover your rice with enough water so that it has room to bob up and down. It’s like cooking pasta! (If the lack of precision makes you nervous, use roughly three or four cups of water for each cup of rice.)

Think of this as your “everyday rice.” It’s great for things like weeknight stir-fries, freezer burritos, and easy rice bowls. If you’re in the market for something a little fancier — like what you might serve at a nice dinner or when trying to impress a date — go for a rice pilaf or something like this Cilantro Lime Rice.

How to Make Rice Without a RecipeA few tips to follow

  • It’s best to undercook your rice ever so slightly at the boiling stage. You want it to be tender, but still a touch more firm that you usually like it. It will continue to cook as it steams. (If you wait until it’s perfectly cooked before draining, then it might become mushy or overcooked as it steams.)
  • If you loathe gummy rice and strive for individual, distinct grains, try rinsing the uncooked rice a few times with water before cooking. This rinses the excess starch from the grains. You can also toast the rinsed grains in a little butter or olive oil before adding the water, or toss the cooked rice with a little butter or olive oil when you transfer it back to the pan for steaming.
  • You can save the liquid from cooking the rice and use it to thicken soups, use in baking, or even drink on its own. Just remember that it’s been salted so you’ll need to like want to adjust the salt in the recipe where it’s used.
  • Scrub and clean your strainer right away after using so that the starch from the rice doesn’t have time to dry on the strainer. Trust me, dried rice starch is very annoying to clean.

How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

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  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 or more cups of cooked rice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup or more long-grain white or brown rice
  • Water
  • Salt

Special equipment:

Method

1 Pour the rice a medium pot with a lid and cover with water by a few inches. Add at least 1 teaspoon of salt (more if you're cooking more than 1 cup of rice). Stir a few times to make sure the rice and water are mixed.

How to Make Rice Without a Recipe How to Make Rice Without a Recipe How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

2 Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Let the water come to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat until it maintains a gentle bubbling simmer.

How to Make Rice Without a Recipe How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

3 Cook the rice until barely tender: White rice will cook in roughly 10 to 15 minutes. Brown rice will cook in roughly 20 to 30 minutes. Stir the rice a few times during cooking, when you remember. Taste it as you get toward the end of cooking to test its doneness. It's ready when tender and no longer crunchy, but still a touch too firm for your liking.

How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

4 Drain the rice: Set the strainer over your sink or a large bowl and strain the rice and cooking liquid. (The cooking liquid can be saved for other cooking projects.)

Shake the strainer a few times to fully drain the rice.

How to Make Rice Without a Recipe How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

5 Return to the pot, cover, and let stand: Immediately after straining, while the rice is still hot and steamy, transfer the rice back to the pot and cover with the lid. Let stand off the heat, for 10 to 15 minutes. The steam from hot rice trapped in the pan will finish cooking the rice and help give it a perfect texture.

How to Make Rice Without a Recipe How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

6 Fluff and serve: Uncover the rice, fluff with a fork, and serve.

How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

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Emma Christensen

Emma Christensen is the managing editor for Simply Recipes, as well as a food writer and homebrewing expert. She was formerly the recipe editor for The Kitchn and is the author of three books on home-brewing, True Brews, Brew Better Beer, and Modern Cider. Emma is a graduate of The Cambridge School for Culinary Arts and Bryn Mawr College. She lives in San Jose, California.

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How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

Showing 4 of 12 Comments

  • michel

    One of the easiest & simple way to make a tasty rice. its not take to much time to ready. I liked it!!!
    Thanks you for sharing it!!!!!

  • Lesli

    It is my understanding that if you are at all concerned about the level of arsenic in rice, this is the cooking method for you. Pouring off the excess cooking water is said to remove about (read this somewhere!) 40-60% of the arsenic. That works for me!

  • Jack Burton

    1 Cup Jasmine Rice
    2 Cups Water
    3 Tbsp Cooking Oil(not Olive)
    1 Tbsp Garlic Salt
    1/4 Cup chopped Onion
    1/4 Cup chopped Scallions

    In large pot or rice pot heat oil on medium heat
    When oil gets hot add onions, scallions and garlic salt
    Cook for one minute but do not brown
    Add water and rice, stir to mix everything together
    Cook, uncovered, until some of the water cooks down
    Reduce heat to lowest, cover and cook for 25 minutes
    Taste, if rice is still too firm, test in 5 min intervals

  • Deborah Everette

    2 cups of water of every one cup of rice. Salt to taste stir once. Cover bring to boil drop to 1/4 temp. Cook for 20 min. Do not remove lid. I have cooked rice like this for 60 years with no problem. Everyone loves my rice.

  • Chris

    A rule of thumb I have used before is to put your rice in the pot, then cover with water using your index finger as a measure. You place the tip of your index finger on the top of the layer of rice and adding water until it reaches the first knuckle of your finger. Bring to a boil, cover, simmer for 10 minutes, and usually no extra water is left, and the rice is perfect.
    I suppose your mileage may vary based upon finger size, but it’s always worked well for me (though I prefer my Zojirushi rice cooker nowadays).

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How to Make Rice Without a RecipeHow to Make Rice Without a Recipe