4 Easy Ways to Cook Rice—and How to Decide Which Is Best for You

Instant Pot Rice

For something as (seemingly) simple to cook as rice, there are a bewildering number of cooking methods. And all of them have their passionate adherents. To one extent or another, they all work, but which is the right method for you? My suggestion would be to read through the following and see which approach sounds the most appealing to you, and start there! If you’re not thrilled with the results, try a few more methods over the course of your meals until you land on the technique that speaks most clearly to you. 

The Rice Bag Method

Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated

The most basic approach is the “directions on the bag of rice” method. All you have to do is place twice as much water as rice in a saucepan, with or without some butter and salt, bring it to a boil, then cover and turn the heat to low. Proceed to simmer for the amount of time suggested on the packaging, turn the heat off, let it sit a bit, fluff with a fork and enjoy. Personally, I find the 2:1 ratio makes somewhat soggy rice. If using this method, I would suggest 1.5 or 1.75 :1, water to rice.

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The Rice Cooker Method

Another very simple method requires you to own a rice cooker. Yes, it’s a single-use appliance but if you love rice, it’s a mighty valuable one. And it couldn’t be simpler to use. Following directions, put recommended amounts of rice and water in the cooker, close the cover, and push “go.” That’s all there is to it, pretty failsafe. 

The Pasta Method

I’m a big believer in the “pasta” method… I put any amount of rice in the pot (I often saute the rice in oil and salt for a minute or so beforehand to give it a toasty flavor), and then I add a lot of water—covering the rice by at least 2-3 inches. You then cover the pot and bring it to a boil; once boiling, turn the heat to low—and about 8 minutes later (for long grain white), I start to taste the rice. When it’s REALLY close to the texture I like, I drain all of the remaining water, recover the pot and let it steam off heat for a few minutes. I’ve never ended up with overcooked or burned rice with this method, and I can make exactly the amount I want—no measuring necessary.

WATCH: How to Make Easy Oven Rice 


The Oven Method

A lot of people are fans of rice in the oven, especially when feeding a crowd. It essentially relies on the same 2:1 ratio (or the 1.5 or 1.75:1 ), using boiling water, in a baking dish sealed with foil, at 375 degrees, for about 20-25 minutes. This is a great hands-off method that clears some stovetop space, but I prefer to have easy access so I can check on the rice as it cooks.

All in all, each of these methods work and have their merits. It all depends on what makes you most comfortable. And yes, brown rice can be cooked using any of these methods. Just remember, the cook times will be significantly longer.

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