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How To Cook Black Rice [Best Methods]

Published by: Maria Kelley • Updated: January 29, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

Learn how to cook black rice on the stovetop, in the oven, in an Instant Pot, and in a slow or rice cooker. Black rice takes longer to cook than white rice but has a lovely nutty, slightly sweet, and chewy texture once cooked, making it perfect for sticky rice dishes.

Though I’m a fan of rice, I’ve always stuck to the foolproof, garden-variety white rice that most grocers stock. It wasn’t until a recent luncheon that I even considered switching up my rice menu and giving black rice a go—and boy, am I glad I did!

Forbidden rice, purple rice, Emperor’s rice, Chinese black rice—whatever name you know it by, black rice is all kinds of delicious and easy to cook, no matter what method you choose.

Here’s how to go about it.

Cooking Black Rice: Everything You Need To Know

Black rice is a form of wild rice originating in China and has been around for over 9,000 years. This variety is highly celebrated for its flavour and nutritional value and is now popular worldwide.

Black rice has this beautiful nuttiness to it that’s very similar to the flavour of brown rice but better (at least in my opinion!). Cooking brings out a subtle natural sweetness and a dense, chewy texture, making this dramatically coloured whole grain perfect for sticky rice desserts and dishes (though you can always cook it dry, too).

3 balls of black rice on a bamboo mat next to a glass, half full of water with green leaves

Black rice is also quite nutritious, rich in fibre and protein, and gluten-free.

Without further ado, here’s how to cook black rice on the stovetop, in an oven, in a slow cooker, in a rice cooker, and an Instant Pot—yes, I’m covering all the bases!

Cooking Black Rice On The Stovetop

Combine a cup of black rice, a quarter teaspoon of salt, and between one and a half to two cups of water, depending on how chewy or soft you want the grains to be (more water makes the rice softer). Let the water boil over a medium flame.

Once it reaches a boil, cover the vessel, turn the flame to low, and let it simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender and chewy (this should take about 35 minutes, maximum). Take the vessel off the flame and let the rice stand, covered, for about ten minutes before you fluff and serve it.

Cooking Black Rice In The Oven

Preheat your oven to about 190℃, placing the rack in the middle. In an 8×8-inch backing dish, combine a tablespoon of melted butter or olive oil, a teaspoon of salt, and a cup and a half of black rice. Mix gently until the rice is evenly coated.

a spoonful of cooked black rice

Boil two and a half cups of water and pour this over the rice. Stir it and then even out the rice. Cover the dish tightly with foil and let it bake for an hour. Once done, you can uncover the dish, fluff the rice with a fork, and let it stand for about five minutes before you serve it.

If you don’t want the rice to get gummy, replace the foil with a clean towel while the rice stands; this will absorb the excess steam.

Cooking Black Rice In A Slow Cooker

I use this method when hosting a party and have many mouths to feed. Boil about six cups of water in a kettle or saucepan. While the water’s coming to a boil, put a teaspoon of salt and three cups of black rice into your slow cooker.

Once the water has reached a boil, pour it over the rice and place a sheet of parchment on the rice. Cover the cooker and let it cook until the rice has absorbed all the water and is tender. With a slow cooker, this can take quite a bit of time—about two to two and a half hours on a high flame.

Cooking Black Rice In A Rice Cooker

Most good rice cookers have instructions for cooking different rice varieties, so check the manual first. This generally involves rinsing the rice before cooking it and only using the cup included with the rice cooker for measurements.

black rice on a white plate

Put your rinsed rice in the pot, adding salt and the amount of water the manual recommends. If there are no specific instructions for black rice, you can follow the ones listed for brown rice, as both cook the same. This is typically about one and three-quarter cups of water for every cup of rice.

Set the cooker to the relevant mode, and once the rice is cooked, let it stand for 10 to 30 minutes before you fluff and serve it.

Cooking Black Rice In An Instant Pot

Combine a quarter teaspoon of salt, a cup of black rice, and two tablespoons of water in the Instant Pot. Lock the lid and let the rice cook for 15 minutes in the pot’s high-pressure mode. Once cooked, let the pressure release naturally for about ten minutes.

You may have to manually release any pressure before you fluff and serve the rice.

How To Cook Black Rice: Summing Up

Black rice is an excellent addition to your diet, with its rich flavour, texture, and nutritional value. Though it takes longer to cook than white rice, it’s worth the wait!

Make sure you use glass or metal cookware to cook the rice, as it can easily stain any vessel, surface, and other food.

Maria Kelley