When it comes to cooking rice, there’s no need to be shy. It’s a simple side dish that goes with almost any main course or meal. It also has some of the best home-cooked nutrition on our list of top 20 foods (see above). But many people find cooking rice a little tricky. That’s because it can go from perfectly cooked to overcooked in the blink of an eye. Many people make the mistake of thinking that more water leads to more absorption and better flavor. But in fact, the opposite is true. More water means more evaporation and faster cooking time. If you know how to cook rice correctly, you’ll have a side that’s fluffy and flavorful every time.
How Do You Know When Rice is Done?
- When the rice is soft and the grains are separate but not mushy, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. If the rice is too dry, add a little bit of water to the rice while fluffing.
- When you bite into the grains of cooked rice, it should be soft but not mushy or wet.
- The rice should not stick together when you pick up a handful of it, and it should be slightly sticky when you put some in your mouth and chew it for about 30 seconds before swallowing.
- The water that is left in the bottom of the pan after cooking will be clear and will taste like cooked rice (unlike leftover cooked rice which has a brown color from burnt flour). It will also smell like cooked rice.
- If you smell baked bread or bread dough, your rice is not done yet! To fix this mistake, drain off all the water from your pan (or if you don’t have a pan, use a plate or bowl), then turn your burner back on.
- When you take the lid off the rice, it should not stick to itself or to the lid. If it does, you may need to lower your burner temperature or add a little more water.
- When you scoop up some of the cooked rice with the back of a spoon, it should fall slowly off the spoon in a steady stream rather than sticking together and falling off in clumps. If it falls apart at all, this means that your rice is too dry and needs more water.
- The rice should not be so sticky that if you put some in your mouth and chew for about 30 seconds before swallowing, you feel like you’re chewing on glue instead of grains of rice!
- If even one grain of rice is white (not brown) when cooked through, your rice is overcooked! This usually happens when people are cooking rice in a rice cooker.
- If your rice turns out to be too dry, add some more water to the pan and cook it for another 5 minutes or so.
What Do You Need To Know Before You Start Cooking?
- Rice should be cooked with the water to a rolling boil before adding it to the pan.
- Once the water is boiling, add the rice and cook for the time given in your recipe.
- Rice that has been cooked in a rice cooker will not need any additional cooking at this point.
- If you are cooking rice on a stove top, don’t add more water than what is called for in your recipe, otherwise, your rice will end up too sticky and might stick to your pan or pot when you go to remove it from the heat source.
- If you are cooking rice in a pressure cooker, use less water than called for, otherwise, you might end up with undercooked rice as well as overcooked ones (if you’re lucky).
- The best way to check if your rice is done is by using an instant-read thermometer or by using an instant-read digital thermometer (if you have one). You can also see if your rice is done by placing a wooden spoon inside a small bowl of cooked rice. If the rice is soft, it is done.
- If you’re not sure if your rice is done, test it by tasting it. If it’s cooked, you can go ahead and remove it from the heat source and serve. Otherwise, let it sit for 2-3 minutes until cooled down before serving.
- Once cooked, the rice should be placed in a large strainer to drain any excess water before being transferred to another container (for example a bowl or plate).
- Do not leave uncooked rice sitting at room temperature for more than 4 hours without covering it with some type of lid or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out and getting stale (unless you’re using freezer bags).
- Rice should be stored in an airtight container or in the refrigerator after being cooked and cooled down once cooled down completely before being stored for later use (unopened).
How To Tell When Your Rice Is Done?
- Rice is done when it has absorbed most of the water and becomes fluffy. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to fluff the rice and then serve. You can also let it sit for up to an hour and then reheat it in the microwave.
- If you are using a rice cooker, the cooker will automatically stop cooking when the rice is done. You can also use a timer to set your rice cooker to this time.
- If you are making it on the stove, watch it carefully and stir every few minutes until it is done. This will help prevent burning at the bottom of your pot.
- When you put the rice in the pot, add extra water if needed to make sure that all of the grains get covered with water, or else they will stick together when cooking.
- You can also use a timer if you are cooking rice in large amounts such as for a company or for some other reason where efficiency is important. Just be sure to turn off your stove before you leave, so that nothing burns while you are not around!
- If your rice looks like this, it is not done yet! It may be because 1) you did not add enough water or 2)you used too much water and it will not cook.
- If you are cooking rice in a pot on the stove, you can also use a timer to help keep track of how long you have been cooking. Just be sure that you have turned off your stove before leaving!
- If your rice is not fluffy, it is probably because the water was too hot and caused the grains to stick together so they clump up and make the rice hard to separate when cooked.
- Rice that has absorbed much of its water will be very sticky and hard to separate when cooked. It may also feel more solid than usual because all of the starch has been converted into sugar during cooking (see note below).
- The longer you cook rice, the more tender it becomes and less sticky it becomes as well (just like meat or vegetables). Note: All of the starch in rice is converted into sugar during cooking (called “glucose”) which increases its sweetness as well as helps it to caramelize (burn) during cooking. This is why the rice becomes sweeter and less sticky as it cooks.
Baking soda is a great addition to your rice. It’s cheap and easy to use, and it will make your rice taste better and fluffier. Simply add a teaspoon of baking soda to two cups of rice when you are cooking it, and you will notice a marked improvement in your rice. That’s because baking soda helps neutralize the acid in the rice, which helps to make it fluffier and taste better. It’s a simple trick that can make a big difference in your rice. And as always, remember to rinse your rice before cooking it. That’s your first line of defense against a gummy, sticky mess.