Let’s talk cooking basics for a minute: Here’s how to cook rice on the stove top. For perfectly fluffy rice every time; how to make a pot of rice that doesn’t stick to the pan!
I recently received an email about the weekly ALDI meal plans from a newer cook. She let me know that, for her, saying to “cook up a pot of rice” to go with one of the meals wasn’t helpful without an accompanying explanation of how to cook up a pot of rice.
Totally fair! I actually clearly remember the very first time I tried to cook rice, because I scorched the heck out of it — and then had the fun chore of scrubbing out the pot.
Let’s take a step back for a minute, and I’ll tell you how I cook up rice on the stove. You might prefer to use a rice cooker or your Instant Pot; you might have a different method. If so, this post isn’t for you. But, as for those of you looking for a very basic method of cooking a pot of rice on the stove top? Read on!
How to cook rice on the stove top
So, all you need to cook up a fluffy pot of rice is:
- A pot with a lid
- Uncooked long grain white rice
- A little butter
You don’t need a fancy pot for this; I always cook up my rice in an ancient “aluminum clad stainless steel” Farberware four quart pot that my mom gave me for my first post-college apartment… let’s just say, more years ago than I’d like to count right now. I could use a slightly smaller saucepan for the amount of rice I usually make, but somehow this one is in my head as “the rice pot,” and forever the rice pot it shall be. (Aside from when Middle School Guy steals it for mac & cheese or ramen, that is!)
Not all types of rice are the same, so don’t use the same cooking method for each. Brown rice, for instance, takes longer to cook and requires a little more water. We’re starting with basic long grain white rice simply because it’s cheaper and fits nicely into the $60 ALDI meal planning budget. (The large 10 lb bag is even cheaper per ounce, so buy in bulk if you eat rice more often.)
Should you rinse rice before cooking?
There’s some argument over whether or not to rinse rice before cooking. Rinsing your rice removes some of the starchiness, but also removes some of the minerals. Rinsing your rice, however, also helps reduce any arsenic it might contain from its growing conditions in flooded paddies. If you don’t eat rice often, you might be less concerned about this than if you (or, especially, your kids) consume rice daily.
How to rinse rice
Unless I’m in a huge hurry, I generally rinse my rice about five times, until the water remains fairly clear. To rinse your rice, add it to your saucepan and add enough cold water to cover.
Pour out the water. Although the rice tends to stick fairly well and stay in the pot if you pour slowly, I generally pour mine through a fine mesh strainer to catch any errant grains. (It’s handy to have one of these in your kitchen anyway, for everything from rinsing quinoa to making homemade veggie broth.)
It’s ridiculously difficult to take a photo of rice under water, but if you squint a little you can see how the water starts out so cloudy you can barely spot the rice, but ends up clear enough that you can pick out the individual grains. So, repeat this process until the water is fairly clear, then drain and proceed to cooking.
Cooking rice in a pot
Step 1: Measure out one cup of rice. (One cup dry rice makes about 3.5-4 cups cooked rice.)
Step 2: Add the rice to your saucepan.
Step 3: Rinse rice thoroughly, optional. (See discussion above)
Step 4: Pour in two cups cold water.
Step 5: Add a little butter.
Step 6: Bring to a boil.
Step 7: Stir.
Step 8: Immediately cover the pot and reduce heat to low.
Step 9: Simmer covered for 20 minutes (do not remove the cover or stir, as this will let the steam escape).
Step 10: Remove the pot from the burner and let it sit covered to rest for five minutes.
Step 11: Open the lid, and fluff rice with a fork.
Ta-da! Recipe-ready rice. Scoop it on out of the saucepan with your favorite wooden utensil, and enjoy right away — or let cool a bit then store refrigerated in a tightly sealed plastic container for use throughout the week.
Note: Some people like to throw in a dash of salt; I don’t generally do so because of the saltiness of the dishes that we tend to serve or make with cooked rice. If you’re planning on enjoying your rice plain, though, you can try cooking it up with broth instead of water to add more flavor and interest.
Does your rice stick or scorch?
You want your rice to scoop easily out of the saucepan. If, however, you find that your rice is sticking excessively or scorching to the bottom of the pot, it’s most likely one of three things:
- You let it boil too long. Be sure to reduce heat right after the pot comes to a full boil.
- You didn’t give it a stir before covering. Stir the rice to get it off the bottom of the pot right before covering to simmer.
- You’re simmering too high. Make sure your burner is on low.
Rice comes to a boil quickly, so don’t make the mistake (I sometimes still do!) of walking away and coming back to it boiling itself down merrily.
It’s just that easy to make a pot of rice on the stove
That’s all you need for the perfect pot of rice! Cook up rice on Sunday, and it will help get you through the busy weeknights to come. I often do this myself so that I have cooked rice handy throughout the week, as the basis for various new meals or sides.
You can, for instance:
- Top cooked rice with your favorite stir fry recipe, such as this easy chicken & asparagus stir fry.
- Use leftover cooled cooked rice in your favorite fried rice recipe, as in this leftover pork fried rice.
- Use rice as a base for Korean style ground beef bowls.
- Use it as a base for burrito bowls, or for sheet pan fajita inspired chicken & peppers.
- Use rice to stretch leftover takeout into another full meal, from Chinese food to chicken tikka masala.
- Melt in some cheddar cheese and cooked broccoli (or spinach, or another favorite veggie) for a cheesy broccoli rice side dish.
- Add cooked rice to soup to bulk it up, or serve chili over cooked rice.
… and, so much more!
How to cook rice on the stove top, printable recipe
How to Cook Rice on the Stove Top
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 pat butter
- Measure out one cup of rice. (One cup dry rice makes about 3.5-4 cups cooked rice.)
- Add the rice to your saucepan.
- Rinse rice thoroughly, optional.
- Pour in two cups cold water.
- Add a little butter.
- Bring to a boil.
- Immediately cover the pot and reduce heat to low.
- Simmer covered for 20 minutes (do not remove the cover or stir, as this will let the steam escape).
- Remove the pot from the burner and let it sit covered to rest for five minutes.
- Open the lid, and fluff rice with a fork.
- Ta-da! Recipe-ready rice. Scoop it on out of the saucepan with your favorite wooden utensil, and enjoy right away — or let cool a bit then store refrigerated in a tightly sealed plastic container for use throughout the week.