The Perfect Way To Cook Brown Rice On The Stove

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Published by: Maria Kelley • Updated: October 25, 2023 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

The key to a perfect bowl of fluffy brown rice lies in the water-to-rice ratio (brown rice needs almost double the amount of water that white rice does), stir-frying the grains before boiling and letting the grains soak up the water sufficiently. Depending on the variety, cooking brown rice takes 30-45 minutes.

I love brown rice—what’s not to love about this nutty, earthy, nutritional grain?

However, though it’s now a staple in my diet, my early days of learning to cook brown rice saw too many instances of overcooked mush and chalky grains for my liking.

Figuring out the rice-to-water ratio can be tricky, especially for beginners. Still, once you have it down, brown rice is a nutritious, delicious base for fried rice, stir-fries, curries, salads, jambalaya, wraps, and burritos.

If your experience with brown rice has been touch-and-go so far, don’t worry! Here’s everything you need to know about getting that perfectly cooked bowl of brown rice every single time.

How To Cook Brown Rice Perfectly

Cooking brown rice can be straightforward if you know how to treat it right. After much experimentation and failed attempts, I hit upon a foolproof method that involves three steps and three ingredients that come together in one pot on the stovetop.

The great thing about this method is that it works with any variety of brown rice, as long as it isn’t some special quick-cooking or instant type, which means that the cooking time will vary.

I also recommend avoiding such varieties because they’re often so highly processed that they’re empty calories by the time they go into your system.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cooking perfectly fluffy brown rice on the stove.

Gather What You Need

  • Water (two cups for every cup of rice)
  • Brown rice (as many cups as you want; make sure you adjust the water quantity accordingly)
  • Salt to taste
  • A large saucepan

Cooking Instructions

Bid farewell to mushy, overcooked rice with the following steps:

1. Rinse

Rinsing brown rice before cooking removes all the excess starch coating the rice. However, not washing this away will result in gummy rice that clumps together, so unless you want to cook sticky rice for a particular dessert or dish intentionally, don’t forget to rinse the rice.

I rinse brown rice under the tap, using a fine-mesh strainer to hold the rice and a large bowl underneath. I keep rinsing until the water in the bowl below runs clear.

Alternatively, you could rinse the rice in a huge bowl of water. When I use this method, I do three rinses, removing the starchy water after each rinse and using fresh water for the next one.

To get the rice out of the bowl after the final rinse, you can pour the whole thing through your fine-mesh strainer so that the water is removed and the rice remains.

2. The Right Amount Of Water

For perfectly fluffy rice, you need to nail the rice-to-water ratio. Two cups of water for every cup of rice is a standard rule that works in most cases unless the packaging specifies otherwise. You can also add a teaspoon of olive oil to the water.

3. Cook The Rice

Once the water has reached a boil, bring the heat down, cover the pot/pan, and let it simmer until the rice has absorbed all the water and is tender, which should take about 45 minutes at most (I advise keeping an eye on your rice throughout the cooking period, though, at least the first few times, to make sure you’ve got the timing right).

Once your rice has hit the desired texture and doneness level, turn off the heat and let the pot sit for about ten minutes before you take off the lid. Then, fluff the rice with a fork, et voila! A cup of perfectly cooked brown rice, ready to serve and relish on its own or accompanied by a delicious curry or stew.

brown rice and peas in a bowl

I also use cooked brown rice as ingredients in various recipes, such as stir-fries and poke bowls, and as a healthy alternative to white rice in recipes that use white rice.

Brown rice is an excellent option even for adding texture to meatballs and burger patties (short-grain brown rice works better for this than long-grain as it’s much stickier and helps your meat hold its shape on the stove, grill, or in the oven).

How To Cook Brown Rice On Stove: The Final Word

Brown rice is an excellent addition to any diet, with higher levels of nutrition (since the grain’s outer layer is intact) and a beautifully strong, nutty flavour that pairs perfectly with punchy accompaniments such as soy sauce, ginger, fish, etc.

Cooking brown rice isn’t that hard and majorly comes down to nailing the rice-to-water ratio. It may take a little practice and experimentation to find what works best for your palette, but once you do, I guarantee you’re going to get hooked!

Happy cooking!

Maria Kelley
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