DIY Food

How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice

March 19, 2014

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: How to make perfect brown rice, every time.

Brown Rice on Food52

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Compared to its white counterpart, brown rice is a challenge to get right: Where white is stripped down, giving up flavor for ease of cooking, brown has more burliness to fight against, more factors to figure. But when you succeed, you are rewarded with a depth of flavor and texture that white rice will never live up to.

Here's what's tricky about cooking brown rice: You need to soften the outer bran layer, but if you try to force it into submission with too-long cooking times, you're left with gummy innards.

The best route to success, luckily, is a straightforward technique we picked up from our friends at Saveur: You treat the rice like pasta, boiling it in ample water, then strain it and let the rice steam in the pot's residual liquid, which makes things soft but never gummy.

This technique yields a bowl of fluffy brown rice with just the right amount of chew, ready to give curries and stir-fries and braises a place to rest their heads. Don't feel too bad for the white rice you'll soon begin to ignore; it will be helpful in cleaning your coffee grinder and washing your vases.

Here's how to make perfect brown rice, every time:

First, put on 12 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Then rinse a cup of rice in a fine mesh strainer under cold water until the water runs clear -- this should take you about 30 seconds.

Brown Rice on Food52

Once your water boils, add your rice and 2 teaspoons of salt; stir once, and then let it cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Brown Rice on Food52  How to Cook Brown Rice on Food52 

Strain your rice (and discard the cooking liquid), then add it back to the pot, cover it, and let it steam in its own moisture for 10 more minutes -- this lets each grain's outer bran soften without overcooking the innards.

How to Cook Brown Rice on Food52

We end with the timeless rice refrain: Fluff with a fork! And you're done. Go ahead and serve it immediately, or save it for tomorrow's lunch or a week of cheap dinners.

How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice on Food52

Tell us: How do you like to cook brown rice?

Photos by James Ransom

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • SCL
  • Chuan Seng Leong
    Chuan Seng Leong
  • btglenn
  • nancyg
  • Anjana Devi
    Anjana Devi
Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



SCL January 12, 2019
I finally got around to trying this method. (I actually forgot I had printed it out and saved it in my "recipes to try" pile!) I had been following the package directions for brown rice and always found it came out gummy, but ceded to my husband's wishes to eat brown rather than white rice. Wow! The grains came out separate, whole (not chipped) and a bit chewy with the center fully cooked. Fluffy in fact. Not gummy or gloppy at all. Who knew brown rice could be so enjoyable? I can't wait to make it again (easy to remember) and will never go back to the "traditional" method.
Chuan S. September 22, 2018
Thanks for your nutritious brown rice recipe.Also Brown Rice beverage is wholesome diet with calcium,thiamine,potassium,potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron,vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6.It is very convenient to use.All you need is luke warm water, a glass and a spoon.

btglenn April 29, 2018
Fuchsia Dunlop, the renowned author of several books on regional Chinese cookery solved the brown rice problem fo that is used regularly in China.... and it is a lot simpler than the method described here. You just wash the rice and then soak it in clean water for a couple of hours before cooking. The cooking method is the standard one for Chinese rice cooking -- place rice in a heavy bottomed pan, season with salt, and cover with water to about an inch over the rice. Bring to a boil, than lower to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Turn of heat and let stand on the stove for ten minutes, tightly covered. Remove cover, fluff up the rice, and serve. Of course you need to remember to soak the rice early on, and it doesn't matter if you let it soak longer if that is more convenient.
nancyg February 3, 2018
I've used Alton Brown's method for never fails!
He specifies using "short grain" brown rice. I've never deviated from this, so...
1 1/2 cups rice, 2 1/2 cups boiling water , put in 8"x 8" pan. COVER with foil.
Bake in 375* oven for 50 minutes. Remove from oven & uncover. Fluff & serve....... try it...NancyG
Anjana D. May 22, 2017
Will not draining water lose nutrrients from rice?. I always cook rice draining excess water and i always have this doubt
Corinne May 13, 2017
Does it need to boil or simmer for the 30 minutes?
jenncc October 11, 2016
So worth the extra step! Rice had perfect texture.
Equator180 October 8, 2016
I have a different method that works everytime for me. Wash rice, say 2 cups, let drain. In a frying pan, melt 1+ tbls butter (OO if you prefer) over medium heat, add rice, stir to coat with the butter and stir until you smell the nutty aroma of the rice kernels starting to cook. At this point add water, enough to cover the rice and perhaps 1/2 inch above,l add salt, stir, bring to a boil, cut the flame and leave it for at least half an hour, longer if you want, to completely cool. Then when I am ready to cook the rice, I put the contents in my trusty rice cooker, add enough water to cover the rice by one joint on my index finger, switch on the rice cooker and forget it.. (I usually add a bit of tarragon for a touch of sweetness), when the rice cooker turns off I fluff with a fork and for me this works every time and the flavour is special. I usually make double the amount I need so I have enough int he refig. for my in a pinch fried rice recipe..good luck
Dori September 12, 2016
I made this recipe yesterday, and it was perfect! I had my doubts, but now I'm a believer. Also, since I have gas burners I was concerned that there wouldn't be enough residual heat to steam properly, so after I put the lid on for the 10 min steam, I turned the flame back on of 10-15 seconds. I had no problems with the steaming cycle.
Belinda August 11, 2016
Holy cow! I made brown rice the "wrong" way last night, we all hated it. Found your instructions after dinner, tried making it again tonight. We all LOVED it. Thank you!
bookjunky September 13, 2015
The biggest reason for rice failure is that most of the cooking instructions on the rice package call for about 30-50% too much water, resulting in soggy rice. I use about 1 1/4 - 1 1/3 cups water to 1 cup brown rice. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to very low. Cook 45 minutes and remove from heat. (This is all pretty standard cooking instruction for brown rice.) Let sit another 10 minutes before opening pot.
Moises September 10, 2015
PERFECT recipe!, I loved it :D, thank you!
Lovey August 4, 2015
BEST recipe for cooking brown rice!! It works perfectly, comes out light and fluffy as it should be. I always disliked it before finding this method. Thank you so much!! xoxo
Jade X. August 3, 2015
Mmm, sorry about that last comment. Not sure what happened. All I have to say about the article is "BOOM" that's amazing.
Jade X. August 3, 2015
SLopez April 30, 2015
I learnt the no drain method when I came to US. It is a common practice in Asia to cook with lots of water and drain off the excess when rice is done.

The 2-1 no-drain method works because there are two may be three varieties of white rice. All of these are variants of same base Jasmine or Calrose. In most parts of Asia, there are tens of varieties and you use each one based on the purpose.

So only way to get it right is to cook with lots of water, keep checking and drain when almost done.
William S. March 29, 2015
But Lynne, China is not among the three top exporters of rice in the world. I do not have statistics, but I very much doubt that much Chinese rice enters our markets. We produce quite a bit ourselves, and also export our rice. California is not the only significant U.S. rice producer; Arkansas is first, producing almost twice what CA does, and LA produces almost as much as CA. Mercury contamination is not a problem here.
lynne March 29, 2015
I disagree re mercury in rice. The vast majority of china's water for agricultural is horribly polluted by industrial waste. I have even read that rice crops are used to clean soils that are polluted with heavy metals. I think if you're going to eat rice, best to buy organic grown in california, and at least soak and rinse it well before cooking.
William S. March 28, 2015
Marisamarisa, there is no need to worry about mercury in rice; I did a little research and discovered that this was an isolated incidence that occurred some years ago in a particular part of China where mercury contamination was a problem. The vast majority of people (worldwide) were not affected.
victoria March 28, 2015
Read about this method around a year ago and have been making my rice like this all the time. This is the easiest, no fuss, no worry method of making perfect rice!