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The perfect microwave brown rice

It took me a few pounds of rice, but I have it down

1. Wash rice three times or until water runs clear to remove starch which makes rice boil over

2. Put rice in a large bowl and add 4 parts water to 1 part rice.
(1 cup rice / 4 cups water 1/2 cup rice / 2 cups water, 1/3 cup rice / 1 1/3 cups water, etc)

3. Cover and microwave until water boils (8 - 10 minutes depending on microwave)

4. CAREFULLY remove cover (there's a lot of hot steam in there)

5. Microwave uncovered 20 minutes or until most of water is absorbed

6. Remove from microwave, cover and let sit until remaining water, if any, is absorbed

Over the past few weeks I tried almost every method I found on the web with mainly disasterous results.

First ... yes it doesn't save time from the stove top method. However, there is a greater degree of control. If I forget about the rice, I'm not going to burn it. At worst, overcooking rice in the microwave results in rice concrete ... a solid block that throwing water on and microwaving again resolves.

I don't want a rice cooker because I don't want another appliance. I don't cook rice that often.

The most common method is 5 minutes on high followed by various suggested times on medium ... yeah ... I don't want to have to remember how to cook on medium on my microwave. I'd have to find the manual, if I still have it ... too fussy.

Most recipes use too little water or don't cook long enough.

Major kudos ... MAJOR ... to the forgotten Chowhound who clued me in to the tip about removing the starch by washing to prevent overboiling ... really ... major thanks. Until then my microwave rice strategy was to cover and cook until water was absorbed and that always resulted in boil overs and having to clean the turntable.

One recipe suggested adding a teaspoon of vinegar to make the rice fluffier. Didn't make a difference on back-to-back tests. Skip the vinegar.

Another suggested stirring the rice every once in a while. There was no added value to that.

Nope. This is easiest and works every time. Don't have to watch it. Don't have to think.

Lots of recipes suggest adding oil/butter and salt. I don't need extra fat in my diet so I didn't do that. If I want buttered rice, I can just add it when the rice is done.

One site suggested putting rice in dish, putting your finger on the top of the rice and adding water to the level of the first joint in your index finger ... that actually kind of works, but I like a little more preciison.

I tried just cooking rice uncovered on high for about half an hour, but for some reason, rice needs to boil at some point in the process ... it needs that heat buildup.

The first time, in order to calculate the time for your microwave, you'll have to watch it. But to sum up
- Cover and microwave until rice boils
- Cook uncovered until liquid is absorbed (you could use chicken or veggie stock)
- Remove from microwave and let sit covered if there is remaining liquid

It's better almost to leave a little bit of water since sitting on the counter absorbs it and, to me, the rice is a bit fluffier.

I microwave 1/2 cup of uncooked rice.

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  1. Just wanted to say 'thanks' for bringing together this data. It worked perfectly for me, just as described (8min first phase, 20min second phase) with 1c rice to 4c water.

    6 Replies
    1. re: jbuberel

      Thank you very much for taking the time to solve a difficult rice
      cooking problem..

      I have a plastic Microwave Rice Cooker. I followed your instructions
      to the letter.

      It was perfect rice . (Nice and fluffy.)

      I was able to use the plastic Microwave Cooker with the top snapped on for 10
      minutes to boil, then 20 minutes to complete.

      It was 10 times better than following the Regular Microwave Cooker
      instructions. The 4 cups water to 1 cup rice worked great.

      All the water was absorbed in the rice.
      Washing the rice solved the boil over problem.

      I eat a lot of brown rice. I even make a mean rice pudding.

      Once again, thanks a million.

      1. re: kenschoon

        What brand of plastic rice cooker non electric do you have?

        1. re: Tinkerbell

          The Plastic Microwave Rice/Pasta cooker is
          Miracle Ware Rice/pasta Set.

          I found the Web Site.


          1. re: kenschoon

            I had a plastic microwave cooker a while back that I threw out because of concerns over toxins in plastic, especially when plastic is heated. I don't heat up plastic any more, and try to avoid plastic that doesn't say it's BPA-free in general.

            I've been using a microwave method similar to this one when I make white rice and it works great in a glass microwave-safe mixing bowl, with a microwave-safe plate as the lid. I'm definitely going to try the above method for brown rice; rinsing the rice first is a great idea.

            1. re: kenschoon

              I use glass measuring cups in the microwave. They don't stain, there is nothing to leach into the food, they have handles, and they are inexpensive (my favorites are the old Pyrex ones with the "D" handles). I have multiples from 1-cup up to 2-quart. I also have a 3.5-quart glass Dutch oven (there is also a 5-quart glass Dutch oven that will just fit the microwave). These last two are discontinued but available at auction.

              1. re: Quadrifoglio

                We use corning ware and pyrex. Too bad Corning Ware has stopped manufacturing their products. I buy them on Ebay or wherever there are any that I need and have all that I need actually now.

      2. Nice -- I'll definitely have to try this. Making brown rice without a rice cooker has always been a disaster for me.

        1. Great! I appreciate the info. I usually use the pressure cooker, but I don't have one right now. I might try your method. By the way, instructions to cook rice for 5 minutes on high, then 15 on med work really well for white rice.

          I appreciate knowing about this. Often there are mulitple ways of doing something, and you just discovered a way to micro cook brown rice.

          1. Perfect, and just what I need. Thanks!

            1. I can never get brown rice right...

              White rice in the microwave is a piece of cake... It only takes around 8 minutes and you can leave it covered the whole time.

              I tried your method - 8 minutes covered, 20 uncovered. When I took it out it was very watery. I covered and left it out for another 20 minutes. It looked like it absorbed it but the rice was still very wet, albeit cooked.

              I did 1 cup rice, 4 parts water in a Pyrex cup.

              I microwaved it again uncovered for 8 minutes and took it out. It was all mushy...

              Covered it for another 5 minutes but didn't help much.

              Put it back in the microwave for another 5 and then left it out covered for another 5. A little better but it was pretty much ruined.

              Any suggestions? Maybe only 3 cups water?

              I used 7 grain brown rice.

              1. Thanks for your investigations. I have not cooked brown rice for years as I was constantly burning it on the stove. I cooked 1 cup of brown rice and added 3 cups of boiling water, covered cooked for 8 minutes on high, stirred and cooked for another 20 minutes uncovered. The rice was perfect!

                1. I rinsed the rice until the water ran clear GREAT!
                  I did the 8 minutes covered and it boiled. GREAT!
                  I did the 20 minutes uncovered - water was all absorbed. GREAT!
                  I tasted the rice and it was still kind of hard.... BOO
                  Will be trying it again though.

                  1. thanks. i eat brown rice all the time. the micro helps from heating up the house as much. again, thank you.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sherri39buggsbunny

                      With respect to your having figured all this out, it seems much more involved than what I have been doing lately (as per Cook's Illustrated) which is to cook brown rice as if it were pasta. In other words, on the stove, with a lot of water, then straining it when done. Boil 25-30 minutes. Taste it at 25 and if it is still a bit too firm let it go a bit more. It takes much less time than with a measured amount of water that must all be absorbed, and will not burn!

                    2. I now cook brown rice this way: 6 min on high and 25 or so minutes on medium power. Use 2 1/2 C liquid to 1 C brown rice, and place in a 3 qt microwaveable casserole. The method is the same as for white rice, but the times are longer. Put a paper towel between lid and pot after pulling from micro; let sit for several minutes; fluff and serve.

                      This recipe is found in an old microwave cookbook, Mastering Microwave Cookery, by Marcia Cone and Thelma Snyder, c1986. p.199.

                      I prefer this to pressure cooking the brown rice, although I do that sometimes too, for a moister outcome. And sometimes I bake it with chicken. I've come to delight in brown rice, even though I also like white.

                      For brown rice lovers, try adding sunflower kernels, caraway seeds and/or choped nuts, or mix brown rices for an interesting dish.

                      1. Since Volume Measurements are different in Canadian Imperial and USA Volume Measurements, it might be good to convert measurements to Metric.
                        How many know that for instance the US Gallon is 3.78L, and the Canadian is 4.54L? Big difference when calculating MPG.
                        I used 3 Imperial cups of water and there was a pool on top left to absorb. In fact, the short grain rice is soggy. I will adjust.
                        But thanks heaps for a great simple way to do this.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: PreachJohn

                          Wild rice I used 3 cups water to 1 and 1/2 cups rice in the rice steamer I have (8 cups to be exact type rice cooker). It barely made it without any extra water left. But in these rice cookers it boils continuously. I knew last night it could have had a dab more or as you probably call it a little more water. For one reason is these cook until it mechanically knows the water is gone. Do not ask me how they know. The heat at the bottom of the pan must change a bit. Let us know if you try again.

                          1. re: Tinkerbell

                            You do know that Wild Rice is not a Rice at all? it is a Grass; from that Family.

                            1. re: PreachJohn

                              I threw the bag away. It is oddles and oodels of different colored rice. I just called it wild rice. Made by Brand called Village Harvest.

                        2. My brown rice comes out nicely when I nuke it at full power for 6-7 minutes, and and at 1/2 power for 25-30 min. I leave the cover on, but steam can escape and so I don't have boilovers. Proportions are 2 1/2 C water to 1 C brown rice. I place a paper towel between lid and pan after bringing pot of rice out of the micro.

                          My source is an old microwave cookbook. Mastering Microwave Cookery, by Marcia Cone and Thelma Snyder, c 1986.

                          I like micro cooking rice the best of any other way I've ever tried.

                          But here must be a million and one ways to cook rice.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sueatmo

                            I have a plastic microwave rice cooker that is highly thought of. It is good for this type of cooking. However, you can use regular cook pots like I have used of the ceramic corning ware all the time for items cooked in microwave.

                          2. Fantastic! I cooked it in my Redmond 250 - it's so tasty! It's warm, on time, also my multicooker remember that recepie... incredible! Thanks for recepie!