Despite (or perhaps because of) its simplicity, making a pot of fluffy white rice on the stove challenges many cooks. If that’s you, don’t run out and get a rice cooker just yet. You may already have a perfectly fine rice cooker at home: your microwave!
Why Microwave Rice?
The microwave turns out steamed white rice that’s predictably light and tender, not mushy or crunchy. It also frees up your stovetop for other endeavors. The trickiest part is making sure you have the right microwavable vessel, but there’s some flexibility there.
Marianne Williams in our test kitchen describes this as “almost too easy! So many people feel intimidated when making rice, or as if theirs is never ‘right’. When using rinsed rice, this method works like a charm.”
The Best Rice to Use
Long-grain white rice is what you want here: jasmine, basmati, or plain old “long-grain white rice”—the most affordable rice option at the supermarket, as it turns out. Sushi rice, which is medium-grain rice, also worked with this method.
Choosing a Bowl
No need for a single-function microwave rice cooker! Many microwave-safe vessels will work. Whatever you microwave in, it needs to hold 8 cups; anything smaller and the cooking liquid can seep out and make a sticky mess.
A 2-quart glass or ceramic casserole with a lid (such as Pyrex or Corningware) is perfect. An 8-cup glass measuring cup is a fine choice, too, and some come with microwave-safe lids. If you don’t have a lid, plastic wrap works, but be mindful of steam. A microwave-safe ceramic plate that’s larger than your bowl also works.
For Fluffy Rice, Rinse First
Jasmine Smith in our development kitchen played around with variables to get the best result, and she discovered that the extra step of rinsing the rice was indeed worthwhile. “Rinsing the rice was better. The rice grains were more defined and not as starchy, “ she said.
A Short Rest Before Serving
Once the microwave beeps after the final 4 minutes of cooking, your rice isn’t quite ready. The 5-minute resting period before serving is vital to fluffy rice; think of it as more cooking time, even though there’s no active heat involved. The rice finishes steaming in the residual heat and becomes lighter in texture.
You can let the cooked rice rest, covered, in your microwave for up to 15 minutes before your meal and it should still be piping hot.
Dress It Up!
- Finish the cooked rice by stirring in a pat of butter or a handful of your favorite chopped fresh herbs.
- Use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water. If the stock is on the salty side, omit the salt.
- For quick cilantro lime rice, add a little lime zest, fresh lime juice, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Leave Out the Salt…Or Not
Unseasoned rice can taste bland on its own, but if you’re serving it with something salty or saucy, it can be best to omit the salt.
A Matter of Watts
Not all microwaves have the same power, and this can affect your results—although in the case of this recipe, the differences were slight. We tested this in 1200-watt, 1000-watt, and 700-watt microwaves. All had the same cook time, but the rice in the 700-watt microwave needed a slightly longer rest, about 7 minutes.
More Amazing Microwave Recipes
We tested this in 1200-watt, 1000-watt, and 700-watt microwaves. All had the same cook time, but the rice in the 700-watt microwave needed a slightly longer rest, about 7 minutes.
1 cup (7 ounces) uncooked white rice (such as jasmine, basmati, or sushi rice), rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt, optional
Rinse the rice:
To rinse the rice, put it in a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Set both in the sink. Run cold water over all of the rice, using your hands to stir and agitate it.
Dump the water out of the bowl when it fills up. It will initially look milky white, but as you continue to rinse the rice, the water should turn clearer. Now the rice is ready.
Combine the ingredients
Stir together the rice, water, and salt (if using) in an 8-cup microwave-safe bowl or glass measuring cup.
Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH for 9 minutes:
Leave off the cover and microwave for 9 minutes on HIGH, until the water is mostly absorbed and the edges of the dish begin to appear dry.
Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 minutes:
Cover with a microwave-safe lid, plate, or plastic wrap, and continue cooking on HIGH for another 4 minutes until rice is tender.
If using plastic wrap, pierce it a few times with a paring knife to make vent holes for steam.
Let rest, then serve:
Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 14g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|