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Perfectly Fluffy Brown Rice

Do you want to know how to cook brown rice? You know, rice that’s not sticky, mushy or wet? Perfectly fluffy brown rice is easy to make, once you stop cooking it like rice. The secret? Cook brown rice like pasta and you’ll get fool proof fluffy brown rice every time!

My dad always made Perfect White Rice.

But we never had brown rice, or at least I don’t remember my dad ever making it.

Brown rice is simply white rice before the side hulls and the bran are removed. Because brown rice still has these components, it’s nutritional information differs from white rice. It has more fiber and is richer in manganese.

But I’m not here to give you a full nutritional lesson on brown rice or convince you that brown rice is better than white. We eat both in our house.

How to Cook Brown Rice

I figure if you’re reading this post, it’s because you want to know how to make it. And make it well.

Since I’ve already shared how I make Perfect White Rice, today’s post is about how to make Perfectly Fluffy Brown Rice.

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You might think that because I grew up cooking rice and learning tips and tricks from my father, I might have the golden rice “touch” and be able to produce a great pot of brown rice. Not so.

When I started making brown rice years ago, I knew it was different than cooking white rice and that, at the very least, it would take longer to cook.

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So, I dutifully followed the package directions for water to rice ratios and cooked the rice. Needless to say, I never ended up with a pot of rice that was cooked properly.

It was either mushy and wet, or sticky, or not fully cooked through.

I kept wondering what I was doing wrong. I changed water/rice ratios and cook times to no avail.  It never met my expectations.

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What is the “Pasta Method” for Cooking Brown Rice?

Then, I had a breakthrough and learned an entirely different way to cook brown rice. Instead of cooking it like rice, I learned this little secret from Saveur……cook it like PASTA!

What?!? Pasta?!? Yes! Cook it like pasta!

What is the best ratio of rice to water?

You know how to cook pasta, right? Lots of water. That means, there’s no 2:1 water rice ratio. Instead, break out your big pasta pot, and bring about 12 cups of water to a boil.

Once you have an idea of what that 12 cups looks like in your pot, I wouldn’t bother measuring again. I would just make a mental note of how high the water level is and fill the pot to about that same level each time.

Or measure it every time, if you’re more comfortable with that. I’m so used to my no measure white rice process, I like using as little measuring as possible with brown rice.

So, your basic rice to water ratio is 1:12. That’s 1 cup of rice to 12 cups of water. I know. That’s a LOT of water, so sometimes I cut that in half and go with 1 cups of rice for 6 cups of water.

You can play around with the ratio a bit to see what you like best.

The most important thing is that your rice has lots of water to swim around in while it’s cooking. In other words, just get rid of the 2 cups of water to 1 cup of brown rice ratio. That ratio has never, ever worked for me.

Perfectly Fluffy Brown Rice

Rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking

Rinse your rice, just as you do for Perfect White Rice.

Rinsing the rice removes starch. Starch makes rice stickier. I rinse until the water starts to run almost clear.

When the water comes to a boil, add your rice to the pot and stir briefly, just as you would with pasta to make sure nothing sticks together when it hits the boiling water.

Boil for 30 minutes or until your desired level of tenderness.

Drain the rice

Then you drain it, just like you do for pasta.

Let it drain for about 10 seconds, then throw it back in the hot empty pot where it was cooked.

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Let the rice steam covered in the pot

There should only be a bit of moisture left after you strain the rice.

Cover the pot with a tight lid and let it sit, off the heat, to steam for about 10 minutes. (This part is not like pasta ;)

When you lift off the lid, you will be greeted by a pot full of Perfectly Fluffy Brown Rice. Not sticky, not mushy, not wet or under cooked.

You will cheer because you will have finally mastered how to cook that tricky little grain. And if you’re me, you’ll make a big batch of Perfectly Fluffy Brown Rice so you’ll have extra to freeze.

How to Freeze Rice

I always, always make more rice than I need whether it’s brown or white and I always, always freeze the extra. Rice freezes beautifully and heats up perfectly in the microwave.

To freeze leftover rice, make sure it has cooled. Then, portion rice into zip top freezer bags and flattening the rice into a shallow slab and pressing out all of the air.

Freezing the rice into a shallow slab will make it easier to thaw since it won’t be in a huge chunk. Also, if you only want a small portion of rice, it makes it a little easier to crack a piece of the slab off.

Then, place the rice in a microwave safe bowl, add a spoonful of water and cover with plastic wrap. Heat until steamy and hot! It will taste just like it was freshly cooked!

It’s a fool proof process!

No one likes mushy, sticky, wet, poorly cooked brown rice. Yes, the struggle was real.

But this? This is pretty much a fool proof process. It hasn’t failed me even once and I’ve been doing it this way for a good 7 years now. Cooking rice like pasta? What can I say?

THIS is how to cook perfect brown rice.

Trust me.

It just works.

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Would you rather make white rice? Click below to make Perfect White Rice!

cooked brown rice in a wooden bowl with steam coming from top

Perfectly Fluffy Brown Rice

Yield: 4 cups of cooked rice
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Perfectly Fluffy Brown Rice. No more mushy, wet or sticky brown rice. This is the easy, fool proof secret to cooking perfect brown rice.


  • 1 cup of uncooked whole LONG grain brown rice, not instant, not quick cooking
  • 6-12 cups water, see note


  1. Bring 12 cups of water to boil in a large pot.
  2. Meanwhile rinse the rice in a strainer for about a minute. When water is boiling, add rice to pot and stir once to insure grains are separate and not stuck together.
  3. Boil for 30 minutes or until desired tenderness, uncovered.
  4. Drain the rice in a strainer for about 10 seconds, then return to the pot, off the heat.
  5. Cover with a tight fitting lid and let sit for 10 minutes. The rice will steam during this time.
  6. When the 10 minutes is up, remove the lid, fluff with a fork and serve.


*I have used up to 2 cups of uncooked rice in the 12 cups of water (or the equivalent of 1 cup of rice for 6 cups of water.) Just remember, if you cook 2 cups of uncooked rice, you need a strainer large enough to handle straining 8 cups of cooked rice.

*Store rice covered in refrigerator up to 3 days. To reheat, sprinkle a spoonful or so of water over rice, cover and reheat in microwave. The bit of added water will help create steam in the reheating process. Use your judgment on how much you need. If you've reheated and your rice seems a bit dry, add a bit more water and heat long enough to create some steam.

* For longer storage, place cooled rice in a zipped freezer bag, pressing the rice flat and removing all the air. Freeze up to 3 months. I don't like to reheat in plastic, so I usually just heat the bag briefly in the microwave until I can break it up. I then transfer the rice to a bowl, sprinkle with a spoonful of water, cover and reheat in the microwave. It comes out hot, steamy and fluffy as if you've just made it.

Recipe Source Saveur 2008

The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2015

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Monday 1st of January 2024

Thank you for sharing this recipe!!! Its kind of a small cooking miracle> when you think about it. tr(sorry no working delete button on my iMac cordless keyboard) Was tired of awful tasting, textured brown rice just because I'm trying to eat better. I feel this is genius info for cooks at all stages of cooking, bravo!


Wednesday 24th of January 2024

You're welcome, Nancy! I'm happy it was a helpful post :)


Monday 21st of August 2023

Tried this tonight. Hubby likes sticky white rice and whenever I've done brown rice to be healthier it's always been a bit hard/chewy. This method definitely got a good fluffy texture, so that was an improvement...however, it was quite tasteless which makes me think boiling it in that much water/draining perhaps took away some nutritional value. I did 1 cup of rice to 7 cups of water with half a stock cube, boiled 30 mins, drained and left to steam for 6 mins. Also chucked in some frozen veg for the last 5 mins of boiling time. I'll probably try less water and a whole stock cube, and might try putting a lid on it.


Thursday 24th of August 2023

Hi Beth, You can definitely use less water. In the notes, I mention using 6 cups for 1 cup of rice. I think there's lots of room to experiment with amounts. You can try less. I think the main point of this cooking process is that there's enough water for the rice to boil freely like pasta.


Tuesday 27th of June 2023

How would add sautéed onions and garlic? After?


Wednesday 28th of June 2023

Hi Dennis, because this is a pasta like cooking method, I wouldn't add them to the water. I think I would saute them and then add them after cooking. I would probably remove the rice from the large pot once it's been drained and steamed. Add oil or butter to that same pot and saute your onions and garlic in butter or oil. Then, I'd add the rice back into the pot and stir to soak up all that flavor.


Monday 1st of May 2023

Howdy Ramona,

I've been screwing up brown rice for months! Tried pressure cooking it, steaming it, low, high, everything! Your solution was the only one that worked!

Thank you for being so concise and to the point in your article! It was pleasant and easy to follow!


Monday 1st of May 2023

Howdy,Edward! You're welcome! Glad it worked out for you :)


Friday 10th of June 2022

Any advice if the rice wasn’t as soft as expected yet? Thank you for this Ramona, my brown rice is no longer sticky mush, but my rice didn’t seem to be fully cooked yet, should I boil longer than the 30 minutes?


Friday 10th of June 2022

Hi Miriam! You might have a particularly sturdy rice grain. To be honest, I think I could cook mine less than 30 minutes and still be fine. It should be tender at the end of the boiling stage. So, yes, go ahead and boil it longer and check for a level of tenderness that suits you, knowing that it will still get some steaming time...then proceed with the draining and the steaming.

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