Easy Boiled Rice

Side DishHow ToGluten-FreeVegan

Here's how to boil rice on the stovetop! It's an easy, fool-proof method that works with white or brown rice. Best for weeknight stir-fries, rice bowls, or as a simple rice side dish.

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 — fill a pot with water, add the rice, 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.

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The Best Rice for This Method

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 Recipe

How Much Rice To Cook

You 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.

How Much Water to Use

You also don’t need to measure out an exact amount of water or remember any water-to-rice ratios. Just fill a pot with water and add the rice — the rice should be covered by several inches of water and have enough 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.

Ways to Use this 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.

Easy Boiled Rice

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


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

Special equipment:


1 Fill a pot with water and add the rice. The rice should be covered by several inches of water (use a 1:4 ratio of rice to water if you're nervous). Add at least 1 teaspoon of salt per cup of rice. Stir a few times to make sure the rice and water are mixed.

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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How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

Emma Christensen

Emma Christensen is the Editor-in-Chief of Simply Recipes, and has over 10 years of experience creating food and content for web and print. 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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22 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Joaquin G.

    I can forgive people not washing the rice because of some brands that have their rice pre-washed, but draining the rice? getting the rice to water ratio is not that difficult, i’m not even asian and I’ve been making rice since i have 13 you can use your finger to measure or just get any cup or glass and fill it with rice and then add two to one and a half of the same cup or glass you used for the rice but of water, it just depends on how done you like your rice, add salt to taste (yes, just sip some of that rice water) and a piece of celery, carrot or a clove of garlic, let it boil and then lower the fire to the minimum and just wait for the water to evaporate, easy, it’s even more difficult to try to guess when to drain the water to let it steam since you have to do it before it’s cooked so you can end up under cooking the rice or even more easily over cooking it and by getting rid of part of the water you don’t know how much salt the rice will absorb so you will have to use.

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  2. Ashwini



  3. leah

    nice work emma


  4. MzGlo

    Wow. What an easy way to make this, and it turned out perfectly! I used basmati rice that was quite old but has a long shelf life. I followed your directions exactly. Thank you, thank you. Also the tip about the size pan was very helpful. When I made white rice before the traditional way 2 to 1 ratio, it always overflowed and messed up my stove, even with the vent hole in the lid. Apparently the pot was too small. Thanks again.


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  5. Connie

    I tried this but my rice came out too sticky and clumpy. There was no water left after cooking for 10 minutes to drain so did I not use enough water? I made a cup of rice and a little more than a cup of water.

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