Cooking rice: the ultimate guide to the perfect preparation

Rice cooker
Updated on 29 May 2023

Cooking rice: it doesn’t seem that difficult, yet it often goes wrong. In practice, it proves difficult to determine exactly how long to cook rice and how much water you need. Do you often have to deal with burnt rice? With this guide to the perfect cooking, burnt rice will be a thing of the past.

How should you cook rice?

You can cook rice in a pan on the stove, in a rice cooker or by steaming. For all methods, follow these steps:

  1. Wash rice
  2. Add the right amount of water (more on this later)
  3. Add a pinch of salt

How much rice per person?

Per person, you need about 75 – 100 grams of rice, which is about half a cup. In this case, you will be left with about 200 grams of cooked rice per person.

Way of cooking rice: how much water?

This depends on the method and what kind of rice you cook. In our ultimate guide to perfect rice, we discuss the correct preparation for each method and type of rice. 

What methods are there to cook rice?

  • Cooking rice in a pan
  • Rice cooker
  • Steaming rice

A rice cooker is by far the easiest method. You fill the inner pan with rice, water and a pinch of salt and don’t have to worry about anything else.

How do you cook rice in a pan?

Most Dutch people still cook rice in a pan on the stove. Fine, because it works. There are two methods for cooking rice in a pan:

Cook rice in a pan with plenty of water

This is the easiest way. The amount of water is less important with this method; as long as the pan is well filled with water. When finished, drain the rice with a sieve. In this method, you let the water boil well.

Amount of water: Plenty of water

How long to cook? 8 minutes

Based on white rice

Dry cooking rice

This method preserves the flavours, vitamins and minerals better; because you cook with little water and a low temperature. When finished, leave the lid on the pan for a while to soften the rice.

Amount of water: 1.5 times as much water as rice

How long to cook? 10 – 15 minutes

Based on white rice

How to cook rice in a rice cooker?

If you regularly cook rice dishes, consider a rice cooker. With a rice cooker, you only need to get the ratio of rice to water right: other than that, you don’t have to worry about it. The big advantage: you don’t have to worry about burnt rice.

Amount of water: 1.5 times as much water as rice

How long to cook? The rice cooker automatically jumps to the keep-warm function when the rice is ready. This takes about 20 minutes.

Based on white rice

How should you steam rice?

You can steam rice in a steamer, steam pan or simply by placing an iron colander on top of a pan with the lid on.

Amount of water: Fill the (inner) pan with plenty of water

How long to cook? 20 – 30 minutes

Based on white rice

How much water with the rice?

The key to perfect rice – and where it also often goes wrong – is the ratio of water to rice. The right ratio is particularly important when dry-cooking with a pan or using a rice cooker. The rule is simple: for every cup of rice, add 1.5 cups of water.

How to keep rice from boiling over?

Cooking starches such as rice, pasta and noodles creates large bubbles that can cause the water to boil over. To prevent this, turn down the heat or place a heavy object such as a spoon in the pan.

The ultimate tips for perfect rice

After cooking, leave the rice to stand for a while with the lid on or on the keep-warm function (rice cooker). The steam creates a fluffy result. This method is definitely recommended when cooking brown rice.

Tips for washing rice

The rice you buy in the supermarket has already been cleaned and so you don’t need to wash it. However, there is still a layer of starch around it. This layer makes the grains stick together after cooking. Don’t want to make sticky rice, but fluffy rice? For fluffy rice, you will have to wash the rice first.

Tips for weighing rice

For the right ratio, it is important to weigh the rice. Not everyone will have a scale, but the following tips will ensure you get the right ratio:

  • The cup coffee method: often one cup of rice per person is enough. The amount of water you then add varies for each type of rice (see the exact proportions for each type of rice below).
  • The finger method: if you cook white rice in a pan or a rice cooker make sure the water is 1 cm higher from the rice surface. This is comparable to 1 finger’s length.

Cooking tips per type of rice

The amount of water and cooking time varies per type of rice. For instance, brown or wholemeal rice with the skin still around it requires more water and a longer cooking time. Below, we discuss three types of rice: unpolished rice, jasmine or pandan rice and basmati rice.

How to cook unpolished rice?

Unpolished rice is the same as brown rice or wholemeal rice. It is actually white rice with the husk still around it. The husk is high in fibre, which is why unpolished rice / brown rice / wholemeal rice is considered a healthier option.

Amount of water: 2 times as much water as rice

How long to cook? 20 – 30 minutes

This is based on unpolished rice (brown rice, wholemeal rice)

How to cook jasmine or pandan rice?

Jasmine rice, also known as pandan rice, comes from Thailand. It has more flavour than white rice but needs less water. It is called pandan rice because this type of rice is often cooked with pandan leaves.

Amount of water 1.25 times as much water as rice

How long to cook? 10 – 15 minutes

Based on jasmine or pandan rice

How to cook basmati rice?

With basmati rice, you have a choice of two different types: white basmati and wholemeal basmati rice. For wholemeal basmati rice, use twice as much water as rice. Below is the ideal ratio for white basmati rice.

Amount of water: 1.75 times as much water as rice

How long to cook? 10 – 15 minutes

Based on basmati rice

Cooking rice in the microwave, how does it work?

  1. Fill a large bowl with rice and water (follow the instructions for water-to-rice ratios we gave earlier in this article)
  2. Put the microwave on 600 – 700 watts
  3. Let it cook for 8 – 9 minutes
  4. When finished, place the lid on the bowl and let the rice simmer for a few more minutes

I’m in a hurry: how to cook rice quickly?

Are you in a hurry and want to cook rice quickly? Then choose precooked rice. This rice is pre-cooked, so it only needs to be on the stove for 8 – 10 minutes. Keep in mind to add less water than usual. In this case: check the packaging for the instructions for quick-cooking rice.

Conclusion: the best way to cook rice?

The easiest way to cook rice is with a rice cooker. The big advantage is that the appliance automatically shuts off as soon as the rice is cooked. So you don’t have to worry about it any more. When finished, leave the rice to warm for a while and you will achieve perfect rice!

Don’t feel like buying a rice cooker? Dry-cooking in a pan ensures the best results in terms of flavour, aromas and preserving nutrients. After all, you don’t throw away any water afterwards. With this method of cooking, however, it is important to get the ratio of water to rice right. You can always add some boiling water during cooking, but it is not ideal.

Frequently asked questions

How do you drain rice without a colander?

In this case, use the lid with a cloth to pour off the rice. Just be careful not to burn your hands. This works quite well, as rice is heavier than water. So it stays on the bottom.

Why should you wash rice before cooking?

Thanks to modern production processes, nowadays you buy clean rice without dirt and small stones. Nevertheless, it is important to wash rice again with cold water. This removes the layer of starch that naturally surrounds rice. This layer of starch makes rice stick together. If the recipe calls for sticky rice, do not wash the rice.  

Why leave the rice after cooking?

For the perfect rice, let the rice stand for a while after cooking. The steam will make the rice even softer. Especially for whole-grain rice, this is a must.

Can you steam rice?

Yes, this process takes a little longer. For steaming, use a steam oven, a steam pan or simply a pan with an iron colander with the lid on.

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