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Cooking Rice without sticking to pot

  • j

Every time I make rice on the stovetop or rice pilaf in the oven, it always comes out with a layer of rice stuck and burnt to the bottom of the pan. What am I doing wrong?

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  1. If the rice is actually burnt, you are using too high a heat or too little liquid or both. For stovetop cooking the correct ratio for US long grain rice is 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of liquid. If the liquid is thick (e.g., tomato sauce) increase the liquid to 2 1/2 cups.

    Bring the rice to a boil, cover, turn to simmer, and cook for 25 minutes (don't uncover the pot to peek). After 25 minutes, remove from the heat, fluff up the rice with a fork, re-cover, and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Sometimes when cooking something like a chicken pilau or red rice, the time needs to be extended a little.

    If the rice is just crisped, you have the best part of the rice - what we always called "rice cake," and fought over. A little sticking is normal, unless you are cooking it in a (Heaven forbid) non-stick pan.

    I cook my rice on the stovetop in a cast iron pot, with no problem with burning or scorching. I've never cooked any rice dish in the oven, so I can't help you with that, except that the basic rules should apply if the dish is covered.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sandy

      Agree with above, and I also have found that if you take the pan (keep the lid on and don't peek in - use the package instructions) off the burner five minutes before the "done" time, it will continue to absorb water and "cook" until done without burning the bottom.

      1. re: kc girl

        All the above are great tips.

        The only things I would add are, do not overstir your rice. Once you add your rice to either boiling water, or once you add cold water to the rice--depending on what cooking method you use--just let it be. One of the worst things you can do to rice is keep stirring it to death.

        Regarding the pot cover, when you are first letting the rice achieve boil, the pot should be uncovered. Once you lower the temperature I would cover the pot but not seal it (so some steam can escape.) After the liquid has been totally absorved, and you are rady to lower the temperature again to the lowest possible level then you totally cover the pot.

        Fluffing of the rice before you serve it should be done once, with a fork, and a very lite hand.

        One last thing, some people (including myself) actually like the crispy, golden rice that results when some rice sticks at the bottom of the pot and you let it cook over extremelly low heat, uncovered. I have the opposite "problem" where I do not get rice stuck at the bottom to accomplish this.


        1. re: Maria

          I don't measure out water. I just put rice in my Farberware saucepan (not nonstick), put enough water in it to have about a half inch of water above the rice, add a pat of butter, cover and bring to boil, immediately turn to lowest setting and let simmer for about 10 minutes. It comes out perfect- you don't need fancy cookware or a rice cooker. I'm sure if you follow the ratio, however, all will be fine as well- just add the butter and do the boil then simmer thing.

          1. re: Maria

            And above all else, please don't use converted rice - the finished product is the most un-ricelike thing I know - no rice flavor or texture. And it's so easy to cook good regular rice.

      2. here in britain, lots of people cook their plain rice like pasta--a lot of water, then strain when done. seems to work, though i still haven't gotten around to trying it that way.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kristen

          Cooks Illustrated recommended this method, which they called the "abundant water" method, for rice salads, where you want individual grains separated, rather than clumping together. It should be easy enough to try.

          1. re: kristen

            There's one bbq place here in central SC that cooks their rice that way - it comes out gummy, saltless, and generally vile tasting. Maybe if the water were drained off at once and it were dried out some, it might be edible, but that's a lot of extra trouble to go to since the straight stove-top way is so simple.

          2. I agree with the poster about the way you heat the rice will cause burning of the bottom. When we cook on the stove top we use high high to get the water to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook till done.
            If you do not want any crisp bottom then buy a rice cooker (Mrs. Yimster loves National brand something know as Panasonic in the US with a non stick insert). You will find they will cook the rice with less crispy bottom.
            With all that said my wife will cook rice in a sand pot in the stove top just to get the burnt rice. If you use extra water you will be mushy rice which we do not like as much but that may not be a problem to you.

            1. It depends on the rice and the method. For long-grain white rice, I put the usual 2:1 ratio of water and rice (plus a little extra water) a pinch of salt, and a tiny bit of butter or oil.

              Turn one burner on high and another turned to low heat. Place the pot over high heat, stirring once in a while until it boils. Place lid over pot and transfer to low heat burner. Allow to simmer about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff rice with a fork. Allow to stand 10 minutes.

              I generally find when I fluff the rice, some of it is sticking to the bottom. After the 10-minute "rest" that has disappeared.

              1. I concur with the others, regarding using high heat to get to a boil, then very low heat once it reaches that. Then, turning the element off altogether a few minutes before (with the lid on) and let it sit for a while.

                One other thing to add, what kind of a pot are you using? A nonstick pot is probably less apt to burn the rice on the bottom.

                But again, the real issue is the level of heat. Just turn it really low once it boils, then take it off when it is close to done. I can't imagine you getting anything burnt on the bottom.

                - Adam

                1. Here is an absolutely foolproof recipe for cooking rice from Paul Prudhomme. I've used it many times.

                  2 cups uncooked rice (preferably converted)
                  2 1/2 cups basic stock (canned chicken or vegetable will do or use tap water)
                  1 1/2 tbls finely chopped onions (optional)
                  1 1/2 tbls finely chopped celery (optional)
                  1 1/2 tbls finely chopped green bell peppers (optional)
                  1 1/2 tbls unsalted butter or margarine
                  1/2 tsp salt
                  1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)
                  1/8 tsp black pepper

                  In a 5 x 9 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan, combine all ingredients and mix well. Seal pan snugly with aluminum foil and bake at 350° until rice is tender, about 1 hour, 10 minutes. Serve immediately. However, you can count on the rice staying hot for 45 minutes and warm for 2 hours. To reheat leftover rice, either use a double boiler or warm the rice in a skillet with unsalted butter.

                  1. All great ideas, plus I always spray a bit of non-stick spray on any type of pan, pot or even rice cooker before I add anything.

                    1. Just get a rice cooker and you will never have that problem. Never burns, so easy to clean, frees up your stove, never have to watch the pot -- just push the button and forget about it - I can't live without it! I've had my Tiger rice cooker for over 10 years and enjoy perfect rice every day -- you can even cook in advance without being there if you want -- just click the switch in the morning, and after work, come home to perfectly cooked rice. I even left it on the "warm" setting for a couple days - and no problem -- it gets increasingly dry the longer you let it sit, but still doesn't burn, but I wouldn't do that for more than 2 days. I've done all kinds of rice in it -- white, brown, wild, flavored with soup stock and stuff, or just steamed with water. It won't burn even if you use too little water -- however, your rice may come out too hard & dry.

                      1. Avoid a rice a cooker at all costs. I was once an enemy of rice, but that was because I had only dabbled with it by means of a rice cooker. Bland city. It's true that there are no hassles when you opt for the rice cooker, but it's also true that you can't perform those wondrous feats with the rice before you add the stock--like sauteeing lots of aromatics and then sauteeing the rice, till it smells nutty and is almost transluscent--which feats transform plain white rice into an upstanding and respectable inhabitant of the table.

                        I use a 2 quart stainless all-clad saucepan to cook mine and have never ever ever had problems with sticking.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: flybottle

                          You don't have to give up all that good stuff with a rice-cooker. Just do all your sauteeing etc. in the rice-cooker liner on the stovetop, then transfer it to the outer cooker when you add the liquid. Switch it on, and you're there. Done it like that lots of times.

                        2. Assuming you are using converted rice, this is fool proof. put a cup of rice into the pot with 2 C. cold water and a dsh of salt. Bring to a boil and stir once with a fork. Cover tightly and lower the heat to a simmer, all the way down. Do not uncover for 25 minutes. Use a timer. Then remove from the heat and do not uncover for 10 minutes. steam will losen any rice that might have stuck and this will produce nice dry fluffy seperate grains of rice. If you are using Basmati you will use less water, about 1 3/4 C. to 1 C. rice. Use a heavy bottomed pot, do not peek and do not stir the pot until the rice has rested. This will give you perfect rice every time.

                          1. You are a candidate for a rice cooker.

                            1. I'm going to assume that your problem is really one of 'sticking' (layer of browned crust left on the bottom) as opposed to 'burning' (layer of black, charred, bitter crust). If it's really burning, then you're applying too much heat for too long. Basically, if you can eat the rice without gagging, it's probably not burned - burned rice will spoil the entire batch. If the problem is simply that the rice sticks, read on.

                              All the recommendations for a rice cooker are great for fixing the stovetop part, but they don't address your question WRT pilaf in the oven. I think your problem is probably inadequate rest time after removing the rice from the heat. Letting it rest will serve much the same function as letting a roast rest - moisture will get redistributed from the center of mass to the outer parts. In a pot/pan of rice, it will steam/loosen the sticky bits. Five to ten minutes off the heat is all it takes.

                              Of course, as others have mentioned, that brown, crusty crust is wonderful by itself, too...the Japanese call it "koge" (burnt), and when my brother and I were kids, we used to fight over it. My daughter loves it so much that she asks that I not use the rice cooker...

                              1. Wash the rice, place in pot. Add just enough water that if you insert your middle finger into the water on top of the rice, the water comes up halfway between the first and second joints (strangely enough this finger method works whether you're cooking one cup or more-I've used this method for up to 4 cups of rice). Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low, open the lid and let cook until most of the water cooks off-no layer of water on top of rice, start to see large bubbles poking their way through the rice. At this point, lower the heat to simmer, close the lid and cook until all the water cooks off.