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Perfectly Fluffy Brown Rice

No more sticky, mushy, wet brown rice. 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.

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!

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.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

*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

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

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KS

Sunday 29th of August 2021

I don’t understand why you drained it, the point of rice is that it absorbs the water. IMO, this is a huge waste of water just to drain and it’s not authentic to the cooking style used in Asian cuisine. You’re better off using 3-4 cups of water and letting it absorb completely.

Ramona

Monday 30th of August 2021

KS, this is simply a different way of cooking brown rice. In my Perfect White Rice post, the rice absorbs all of the water. In this method, the rice is used using a pasta method. When you cook pasta, you also drain the water. You certainly could reduce the amount of water used if you like the end result better. The good news is that each of us have the choice to cook our rice in whatever way we like best. This method just gives those who struggle with brown rice another opportunity for success.

Brian

Tuesday 24th of August 2021

If I want only 1 cup of uncooked rice, I am assuming 6 cups of water. Correct? Also, am I still cooking it for 30 minutes, or reducing that time as well?

Ramona

Tuesday 24th of August 2021

Hi, Brian! Yes, you can use less water for less rice. You might even be able to get away with 5 cups of water. And you can still cook it for 30 minutes or to your desired doneness. Once you make it, you might decide to cook less or more. Remember, it's sort of like cooking pasta, so you can even check it along the way before you decide to drain it. Good luck!

Lizzette

Wednesday 4th of August 2021

For how long do you cook 2 cups of rice?

Ramona

Thursday 5th of August 2021

Lizette, the time is the same, but you can always check the tenderness of the rice while it's cooking and adjust to your preference, just as you would for pasta.

Diane

Sunday 27th of June 2021

I don’t understand how you get 8 cups of rice from adding 2 cups?

Ramona

Sunday 27th of June 2021

Hi Diane, rice fluffs up when it cooks. One cup of raw rice will give you 3-4 cups of cooked rice. Remember this is raw rice. It's not the kind of instant rice that has been pre-cooked so it absorbs the water and gets bigger. Then, because it's fluffed up, it's not as compact in a cup as a raw grain of rice so it takes up more room.

Sue

Saturday 20th of February 2021

I CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH. My whole life has been a fruitless quest for the perfect simple fluffy brown rice. So easy and it came out perfectly. My new hero! Thank you again and again!

Ramona

Sunday 21st of February 2021

Sue, just coming back to share your success is plenty thanks for me :) And hero status? Well, I'll just consider that a bonus ;)

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