How to cook rice

Learn how to cook basmati rice for perfect, fluffy results with an easy video guide from the BBC Good Food cookery team. All you need is a saucepan with a lid, a colander and a fork.

Rice is cooked in millions of households every day; it is one of the world's staple foods yet it's a dish that some people think they're incapable of cooking correctly. Cooking rice is easy, provided you follow a few simple rules and choose the right method for your type of rice. Do this and we guarantee that you’ll never make a clumpy, sticky or glutinous mess again. 

There are only two rules: firstly, measuring rice by volume makes it easier to judge how much water to add. Secondly, NEVER stir rice as it cooks or it will break up and turn sticky. In some recipes a knob or butter or spoonful of oil is often added at the start to help separate the grains before they cook.
 

Types of rice and how to cook them

Long-grain rice like basmati needs to be rinsed before cooking to get rid of any excess starch and then boiled or cooked by the absorption method. Brown rice needs more water than white rice to cook and takes longer. Soaking it in cold water for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours will help cut the cooking time. To use the method below, add 1¼ times the amount of water. 

Short-grain rice for risotto, paella and rice pudding need the excess starch to make the final dish creamy, so don’t rinse it. For these dishes, the rice is cooked along with the other ingredients. 

Egg fried rice in a bowl topped with chopped sping onions


How to cook rice - basic recipe

  • 1 cup basmati rice per serving (or weigh 75g per person)
  • knob of butter or ½ tbsp oil (optional)
  1. Measure the rice into a cup and level the top, or weigh the amount of servings you want into a jug and note the liquid level it comes up to. 
  2. Rinse the rice thoroughly in cold water until the water is clear. If you have time, soak the rice in cold water for at least 30 minutes. This will help the grains cook more evenly.
  3. Pour the rice into a pan over a low heat, then add the butter or oil, if using, and stir to coat the rice grains.
  4. Add double the amount of water (2 cups, or 150ml water for a 75g serving) plus some salt, if you like. To shorten the cooking time, add boiling water.
  5. Bring to a boil. Swirl the rice in the pan (or stir once) to make sure it’s well distributed. 
  6. Put a lid on and turn the heat down to as low as possible. If you cook the rice on too high a heat, it will cook too quickly and may end up chalky in the centre.
  7. Cook for 10 mins and do not take the lid off. Check the rice is cooked at the end by trying a grain. Keep cooking for another couple of mins if it isn’t quite ready, then turn the heat off. 
  8. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve it straightaway if you like, but if you cover it with a tea towel for 10 minutes any residual water is absorbed. You can then fluff up the grains for an even better texture.

5 popular rice recipes

Utterly foolproof rice

Rice in a sieve and pot
This method for boiling rice works for all long-grain varieties as well as wild rice.
 

Chicken & chorizo jambalaya

Chicken and chorizo jambalaya in a pot
Cook our popular chicken rice pot with chorizo using the absorption method. This American-style recipe really packs a flavour punch.
 

Chicken biryani 

Chicken biryani in a pot
Try our easy Indian recipe for fluffy, fragrant rice with chicken. It's enhanced with a hint of cardamom.
 

Spicy Indian rice

Yellow rice with cashews in a bowl
Serve our vibrantly yellow rice cooked with turmeric as a great side dish for curries.
 

Spicy vegetable egg-fried rice

Vegetable egg fried rice in a wide pan with wooden spoon
Use leftovers in this fried rice recipe, or cook the rice from scratch but leave it to cool before frying.

Find more recipes in our rice collection.