About a month ago, I wrote about six kitchen appliances that save us money. One of them was our rice cooker. We’ve been using it for years and love it! The reason we love it and rely on it so heavily is because neither of us can make rice turn out right.
Well, after that post, my good friend Catherine emailed me and told me that she makes perfect rice every time without a rice cooker. She was willing to share her secrets with all of you!
I’m excited to be writing a guest post for Stephanie. She and I have known each other for years. I always learn from Stephanie when we talk about finances and household frugality. Now, I get to help her and you out with a little knowledge of my own. My special skill: I can cook rice on the stovetop, perfectly. Every time. White rice or brown rice. Also, I’m going to include a simple recipe for Mexican rice that I use all the time. Oh, and give you my special tip for cleaning the rice pot.
A few years ago I realized that, despite cooking it frequently, I didn’t actually know how to cook rice. Sometimes it was great, and sometimes it was terrible. So, I decided to figure it out. As a side note, just a month ago I realized I didn’t know how to cook oatmeal how I like it (not mushy), and I’m pleased to say that I figured that one out too.
Before I get into the details I want to point out two key tips:
- Don’t let it boil over! That messes up the amount of water.
- Don’t stir! It just doesn’t need it.
1- Choose your pot, but it’s not that crucial
I have two pots that I use to cook rice. The one on the left is the best, because it is a thicker-bottomed pot. If you use a thinner-bottomed pot, like the one on the right, you can still cook rice, and it will turn out great, but it will have what I call a sacrificial layer. The sacrificial layer is the layer of rice that will stick to the entire bottom and some of the sides of the pot. Just don’t scrape that layer off when you are serving and the rest is fine. It’s like the rice needs a bit more insulation from the heat like it gets with a thicker pot, so it makes its own insulation by sacrificing a bit of itself for the good of the whole. And don’t worry, even with a sacrificial layer, cleanup is not bad.
2- Measure your rice and water into the pot
For our family of six, I usually put 1 cup rice and 2 cups of water into the pot. Sometimes I do 1 1/2 cups rice and 3 cups water. It’s the same for brown rice.
3- Turn your stove up high
Place your pot with your rice and water onto the stove and crank the heat. Oh, and you don’t want a lid on for this part. On my old gas stove I would go to the max, but on the electric stove I have now I back it off a little or I get a sacrificial layer of rice even in my thicker pot. Now here’s the important part…DONT. WALK. AWAY. Don’t get distracted by the kids, don’t try to finish up a few dishes in the sink, don’t read a magazine. Just stand there and stare at your rice pot. Can you tell I’ve gotten distracted, had my rice boil over and messed the whole water to rice ratio all up? Yeah, stare at the pot. And as soon as it starts to boil just a bit…
4- Turn your stove way down low
Put the lid on your pot and turn the heat all the way down. Again on my old gas stove I would go to the very lowest the flame would go, but on my electric stove now I keep it right in between 1 and 2 (the max is 9). Now you can set your timer for 15 minutes for white rice (40 minutes for brown), and walk away to go clean up all the toilet paper your 3 year old unrolled while you were staring at your rice pot. Brown rice takes a lot longer, and I find that more frequently I have to check and let it go 5 more minutes and check again. I think, since it absorbs the water more slowly it is also more sensitive to the heat. The other day it still wasn’t done after 50 minutes, and I realized it was because the stove was set closer to the 1 than right in between the 1 and 2. You just have to plan dinner accordingly.
5- Check if it’s done
After your timer goes off you can check if your rice is done. Most likely it will be or will be very close. To check it, don’t stir it. Just open the lid, take a spoon and stick it straight into the middle of the rice and just slightly move the rice to one side.
You are looking to see if there is still water under the rice. If you still see water bubbling down under there, scootch that rice back into its place and put your lid back on for 5 more minutes. Then check again after 5 minutes. The timing is really not that crucial, so you don’t have to be too worried about overcooking it. Worst case scenario, you get a sacrificial layer of rice. If there’s no water when you check, your rice is done.
After everyone has enjoyed your fluffy, perfectly cooked rice, just fill the pot with water and set it off to the side while you do your other dishes. By the time you get to the end all the rice will come off easily. If you have a sacrificial layer, just use a spoon to scrape around the pot. It actually comes off kind of in one layer, so it’s not like you’re scrubbing and scraping your entire pot for an hour. I just slide the spoon around under the rice and it all comes right off. Hopefully that’s not just my pot and works for you too. And as promised a recipe for Mexican Rice to shake things up a bit
Easy Mexican Rice
- 2 c. hot water
- 1-2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 3 Tbsp. oil
- 1 cup white rice
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Dissolve the chicken bouillon cubes in the water to make a broth, set aside. Heat the oil in your rice pot over medium heat. Add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until puffed and golden. Do not walk away from this step either. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up burning the rice and having to start all over. Just stare at the pot and stir. (If you’re using brown rice, don’t bother cooking it in the oil. It never seems to get puffy like the white rice does. It still tastes good in this recipe though, even without cooking it in the oil.) Add in the chicken broth and tomato sauce. It will hiss and boil a lot at first. Add cumin and garlic powder.
Follow your new rice cooking steps: Turn your stove up high, and do. not. walk. away. Once it boils, turn the heat to low, put the lid on, and set your timer for 20 minutes. There’s more liquid in this recipe, so it takes a bit longer, and the rice ends up more swollen when it’s done, but you can still check it in the same way. Just look under the rice in the center for any liquid bubbling down there. Give it a few more minutes if it needs it.
Good luck! I hope it works for everyone. And I’d be happy to answer any questions and hear about your successes in the comments below.
Catherine is a stay-at-home mom of five (ages 6 and under) who also has a Master's degree in chemical engineering. She loves being creative in organizing and decorating her home. She blogs at The Engineer's Kids where she shares great educational toys and activities.
Really helpful and detailed guide to cook rice on a gas stove, and the Mexican rice recipe looks yummy.
Love this information about cooking rice on stove. Thank you for sharing.
Nice detailed guide to cook perfect rice on the stove. Actually, I was curious about the same question earlier, you have answered it all. Thanks for such help.
Hello! I get disaster every time I make stove top pop corns. Main failure is I added sugar when they start to pop which burns the bottom of stove. I am really excited to find out your method, with very beautiful pictures and clear instructions. I have never pop them in coconut oil before. Usually use butter. And we do get good coconut oil over here (I’m from thailand) so yes!!!!! This is so going to be my next experiment! 🙂
Lexis Joy says
The best rice recipe I’ve seen. I just made some rice & followed your instructions & it came out PERFECT!!! So soft, no burnt rice or extra layers. Thank you soooo much
Years ago I learned to cook rice from an Oriental friend. This is so easy, too.
One part rice rinsed
Two parts water
Place in pot on stove on high, DO NOT WALK AWAY!
As soon as the water starts to boil the rice will start to form little craters.
Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot for about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat off and remove from the heat. (On my gas stove I just leave the pot sitting there.)
Let set for 15 minutes to let the rice finish steaming.
Remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Oh goodness! I found your post via Pinterest and just finished making rice. It turned out perfectly! Not sticky, burnt, mushy or anything else. Thanks!
Joan Western says
Well girls, I’ve been cooking rice on top of the stove in a non-stick large skillet with a glass lid and never
have to clean the pan. I use chicken broth instead of water…2 cups broth, 1 cup white rice. The flavor
is great. I set the timer for 25 min. and turn the gas flame as low as it will go. I check at 20 minutes and
with a spatula scrape the bottom and if it is dry I taste the rice. Perfect? if still some moisture turn off
the stove and let it set.
Mexican rice: A little olive oil in the non-stick large skillet. Stir the rice until it starts to turn a little golden,
pour in the chicken broth, toss in some strips of bell pepper, lightly coat the top of the rice with cumin, and paprika, add some chopped onion, & 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 small can of tomato sauce and let it simmer again for no more than 25 min. Check at 20 min. This rice is so delicious.
You’re right!!! Perfectly cooked….no burning, no sticking to the bottom. Thanks for these great tips!
I used this method for many years there is one difference on how i cook it through. i turn off the stoce when rice when i no longer see bubbles coming up between the rice and serve. I cook only One cup through. Its always been perfect and fluffy.
Found this on pinterest and I literally jumped for joy when my rice was perfect last night!!! My rice cooker bit the dust a while back and just have had no luck making rice on the stovetop. i thought it was my non-tight fitting lids but nope, it was my technique! Thanks so much for sharing, especially the part about not leaving the stove for any reason…best advice ever!!! 🙂
Sarah Lux says
Made this according to your directions and it turned out perfectly! Yay! Thank you!
PS- found it on Pinterest 🙂
Andrea B (@goodgirlgonered) says
This Mexican rice recipe looks really good.
I don’t always cook rice perfectly but these are good tips, so thanks! 🙂
Thanks Andrea! I hope they help!
susan - ofeverymoment says
It could have been me who wrote the first paragraph of this post – but not the rest!! I have the reputation of being a pretty good cook, but I cannot make rice without a rice cooker. I am definitely trying this! Thanks!!
I know what you mean Susan! I always had the same problem too!
[email protected] says
Oh I am going to try your method. I have never been successful with cooking rice on the stove. I do have a Mexican recipe a lot like yours that works. I usually put it in the oven
for 30 which seems to work best for me. But your way is faster. Definitely trying next time. I enjoyed my visit from the SITS linky. I’ll be following you and staying around a few minutes to read a few more posts before going back to the linky.
Thanks for the recipe!
Have a great weekend,
I hope it works out well for you!
Stephanie! You are a life saver…I have NEVER been able to cook rice on the stove. I had a rice cooker and then I resorted to the boil-in-a-bag rice because the burned pot bottoms were becoming to common. LOL Thanks for sharing 😀
You’re welcome Tiffany. Good luck on future rice! 🙂
I used to be the WORST about burning rice. It was so bad that my husband still makes fun of me for it. (There’s a reason I prefer potatoes and pasta!) Thanks for the Mexican rice recipe…it’s always good to find a new spin on a classic side dish.
We have had some bad rice burnings and boil overs too!
I just entered the wonderful world of Senior Citizen Housing. For that privilege you get the use of an ELECTRIC STOVE! Have you ever watched cooking show and seen a chef using said stove? Or seen videos of commercial kitchens using one? ALL senior housing has electric stoves, to my knowledge. It is proven that gas stoves are less expensive to operate. It is true electric stoves are $25 to $50 dollars cheaper to buy than a gas stove. So give me a good reason for these stoves. Controlling the cooking of rice is not the only cooking issue. Any type of heat control on an electric stove top is ridiculous! I firmly believe if all the cooks on Pinterest, all cook book writers, all food editors and reviewers, all professional chefs, and everyday chefs were to protest Electric Stoves we could eliminate them. This is not a joke! Electric stoves are not conducive to fine dining! (Response comes from above directions on something as simple as cooking rice).B. Karr
Yes to this! I only discovered this method a few months ago, it’s the only way I can make a proper risotto without sacrificial layer. When I tried it for ‘normal’ rice, it worked out as perfectly. Yay!
That’s awesome Elvira!