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Sticky, Mushy Rice...HELP

I don't know what I do, but everytime I make rice, it's an overcooked, mushy, sticky mess. I'm not sure if altitude has anything to do with it. I live above 7200 feet. I have tried rinsing, not rinsing, a rice cooker (with & w/o extra water), stovetop (gas), and boiling in water and draining. What am I doing wrong? Every once in awhile I get it right, but never the same way twice. Help!!!!

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  1. i spent a few weeks in colorado cooking at my sister's house and didn't notice any problems when cooking rice in our rice cooker...what kind of rice were you using and what were the proportions of water to rice?

    1. There really is no correct answer to your problem. Method, type of rice, quantity of water, altitude all affect the outcome. Simply pay close attention to your proportions in the rice cooker and remember the best method.

      1. I don't know what I do, but everytime I make rice, it's an overcooked, mushy, sticky mess

        You say it is over cooked, well? undercook and see what happen for you?

        But if you are using pretty standard white rice and you are getting mushy and sticky, you are overcooking.

        WHy don't you cite some times you are using.

        1. jcattles, I used to have the same problem, and I made one simple change that has made a world of difference - size of pot. When cooking a batch of rice (2 cups chicken stock, 1 cup rice, 1 tsp. salt) I changed from a small-bottomed, tall-sided two quart saucepan to a wider-bottomed, shorter three-quart pan, and it has changed my rice from a sitcky, mushy consistency to the nice, fluffy texture I wanted. For what it's worth!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Andiereid

            Thank you thank you great advice. Even works with the usual mushy brown rice

          2. Boil 2 cups of water in a heavy bottomed pot that you can cover tightly...
            Non-stick is nice but not necessary...

            After it boils stir in one cup of Jasmine white rice...
            As it comes back up to heat, boil it for a few seconds...
            Turn the heat to low, stirring the rice so it doesn't settle on the bottom of a HOT pot and stick...

            As the action subsides, cover tightly and set the timer for 25 minutes...

            After the DING, uncover and fluff up with a fork...

            As a treat for a job well done, scoop out a few tablespoons of rice and add a little butter, salt & pepper, and a sprinkling of greated Parm...
            Kraft is fine here...

            Freak out how fragrant, delicious, and cheap this combo is, and stop worrying about cooking rice...

            You do it the same way using broths and seasonings--- and/or with sauteed onions, celery, and garlic...

            2 to 1..
            High then low--- stir before you pop the lid or foil on...
            25 minutes on low...

            2 Replies
              1. re: Mild Bill

                I am pretty much a 2 to 1 heavy pot kinda guy too...

              2. Sounds like you have too much water for the rice you're using. You said you used a rice cooker with and without extra water. Have you tried decreasing the amount of water?

                1. I have not cooked rice at 7200 ft but here a few tips which may or may not help.

                  It sounds like you have too much water.

                  But I add only enough water to coming to the first join ot my index finger as I rest my finger tip on the rice. About 1" about the top of the rice.

                  Also you can try to stir the rice aroond the pot or cooker pan just before the rice is done. Then allow to finish cooking and to rest before serving.

                  I just use a rice cooker.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: yimster

                    I use the same method as yimster to determine how much water should go in the rice.

                    Rinse the rice in the pot by adding water over the rice and dumping it out a few times, then rest the tip of your finger on the top of the rice and add water just until it comes to about the first joint.

                    1. Bring to a boil on medium heat.
                    2. Boil until the water is barely level with the top of the rice.
                    3. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting, put the top on the pot, and let it steam for a few more minutes.

                    The type of rice you are using definitely matters -- this works perfectly for long-grain white rice, but I find that I need to use a little more water when cooking brown rice.

                  2. I usually find that 2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice is too much. Here is my method. I put a bit of olive oil, butter, or veg oil in bottom of saucepan I fry the rice for a couple of minutes over medium heat stirring constantly until it starts looking more white. I then add 1 and 2/3 cups water, and bring to a boil, place lid on pot turn down heat to med-low set timer for 15 minutes, after 15 minutes is up take off the heat and leave lid on for 5 minutes after 5 minutes fluff with fork and serve.

                    1. I use my microwave to cook rice and it always comes out great. And yes, I mean always.

                      With stovetop methods it's always a good idea to use less liquid than you think you might need and then watch closely. You can always add more water or broth - but it's very hard to take away too much.

                        1. I agree with some of the others, too much water is a likely place to look. Most packages say something like 2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice. First, that is only true of some varieties of rice, and with some cooking methods. The method you use and the variety you use changes the ratios. Second, the more rice you are cooking, the less water you need (at least with some methods). What I mean is, one cup of raw rice needs more water proportionally than two cups of raw rice needs.

                          Are you cooking Jasmine? It is the hardest type I've tried to cook. Basmati (at least the aged, imported stuff) is much easier to cook and needs more water and time than Jasmine. If new Jasmine is your problem, I have had the best results from a more genuine steaming method than the usual absorption method. It was suggested to me by a website (scroll to bottom of the article). I'm new here, so I don't know if I can make a link work...


                          It does eliminate any variation in the texture of the rice. Through and through, the texture is right. The bottom of the pot is not mushy, and the flavor is clean. I used less water than suggested in the article.

                          I am completely unfamiliar with high altitude cooking. But at my altitude, it helps to let the rice rest, still covered, after being cooked. The grains regain a sort of solidity. Then fluff up the rice. I love that about rice. I time it to take off the heat during the rest of my cooking, so it gets to sit around until I am done cooking other things. Rice does not have to be precisely timed, so it is flexible.

                          1. I've heard that you can cook rice the way you'd cook pasta (free-swimming in water, keep trying a piece till it's cooked to your degree of doneness, then drain). I haven't tried this method but read about it in a cooking mag (probably Gourmet) within the last six months or so. I'm not sure if this is what you mean when you mention the "boiling in water and draining" method.

                            If you want to keep experimenting with the conventional method of cooking rice, you might try putting a folded dish towel between the pot and the lid for about ten minutes right after you take the pot from the stove, to sop up the extra steam.

                            My personal weapon of choice is a microwave rice cooker that I got from Uwajimaya http://www.uwajimaya.com I use the folded dishtowel trick and get perfect rice every single time, no matter what quantity.

                            1. I also used to have terrible problems with rice. Here's the method I use now. For perfect rice: 1.) use basmati rice 2.) put raw rice in a bowl, fill the bowl with water and swish it around and drain. Repeat until the water runs pretty clear. 3.) Cook in a saucepan with 2 parts water to 1 part rice and a little salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer, covered until it's done.

                              I don't know whether altitude would necesitate changing the water to rice ratio. However, rice can be hard to get right so I'd guess it's not your main problem. Several suggestions from the other posters were also very sound. Frying rice in oil does result in finely textured rice. If you are serving the rice as a side dish, you can saute some chopped onion in the oil first and then add the rice to give it a nice flavor. I rinse my rice first and then fry it. Also, my husband used to cook rice in the microwave, and I have to admit that it always came out well. Finally, using a larger pot is also a good idea.

                              1. Look, it could be your rice. A while back I bought a bag of rice that was absolutely impossible to cook nicely. It was soggy, sticky and mushy no matter what. I ended up using it only to make dog food. Buy a good brand of jasmine or basmati rice - you may want to ask at an Asian grocery to see what kind they recommend. Cook it 1 part rice to 1.5 parts water. That should do the trick, I think

                                1. Concur that it's too much water. I use 1-3/4 cups liquid to 1 cup rice. I also use jasmine or basamati rice, both of which I find much harder to cook to a "mush" than your standard rice. Unless I'm making the rice for an asian dish, I also saute the rice in 1 T of butter or oil prior to adding hot water (I measure the 1-3/4 c. water into a pyrex measuring cup, which I heat for 2 minutes in the microwave before adding to the rice -- that way it comes to a boil almost instantly after adding to the rice). Stir well to separate the grains of rice in the water, and reduce to a low simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, and it always comes out perfectly.

                                  If I am omitting the butter/oil, I bring the water to boil in the pot and add a little salt, then add the rice, and I find it still works well if you use basamati or jasmine rice.

                                  1. I was able to correct my soggy result for jasmine rice by adjusting the amount of water/rice ratio as some on this board have suggested. Hadn't cooked rice in awhile and I remembered the "rule of thumb" guideline, or should I say "joint rule", to have the water level be higher than the top of the rice by one of the finger joints. That's the visible way of telling how much water to put in.

                                    But, I found that the rice came out much too soggy. Even after I continued cooking the soggy rice, it didn't really dry out to the extent I thought it should - it continued to have that soggy texture. I then remembered that for a drier cooked rice, where kernels are separated from each other (other than frying the raw rice in some oil at the very beginning stage prior to adding water) to use only 1 1/4 to no more than 1 1/2 cups of water for each cup of rice (for white rice, such as white basmati or jasmine). When I used that ratio, the water barely came up over the rice sitting in the sauce pan. After 15 minutes of cooking on simmer (after having come up to the initial boil) with the cover on, I removed the pan from the burner, let it sit for five minutes, with a paper towel placed over the top of the pan secured by the covered lid.

                                    When I removed the pan cover and towel (which helps to absorb the moisture from dropping back down onto the rice which would increase the chance of it not being dry or having the kernels stick to each other from the moisture), I was amazed at the difference. It was done exactly as I wanted. If I had used oil first, the kernels would have been even more separated.

                                    Some Indian recipes call for not only cleaning the rice first until the water runs clear, but also letting the rice sit for about 20 to 30 minutes to absorb some of the water to increase their size, drain, THEN cook.

                                    My shorthand method for cleaning the rice and removing some of the starch is to put the rice and the water in the pan at the SAME time, to bring the water up to a boil, and as the boil begins, to remove the white starchy froth that bubbles up on top with a spoon. It takes me about six spoonfuls of froth before there is no more starch coming up on top. I then add salt, stir the rice, place the cover back on, and only lift the pan cover after 15 or twenty minutes followed with the paper towel cover to absorb the moisture.

                                    If you do brown rice, you will need a greater water/rice ratio. White rice is more forgiving for having less water than you should. Brown rice normally takes at least 45 minutes to cook with a 2 to 1 water to rice ratio, but again, the principle is that if you rice is coming out too soggy, reduce the amount of water by a small amount until the rice comes less soggy.

                                    (The other thing to keep in mind is that the sogginess is an indication that the rice kernaes are not absorbing water as you would expect, for various reasons, atmospheric conditions, inadequate temperature inside the cooking liquid, inadequate time to fully absorb water, resistant kernels, etc.)

                                    I know that some people swear by the rice cookers and that they do a great job, but I have never had much problem using sauce pans/pots to make rice. Non-stick make the cooking of the rice and the cleaning of the container very easy.

                                    1. Agreed re: suggestions to use a bit less water -- the convention to use twice as much water as rice has never worked for me. Also, sometimes letting the pot sit for an additional 15 minutes (after the initial 20 or so minutes for cooking the rice) has good results; maybe it allows any extra water to evaporate/absorb a bit more? I'm terrible at science so this may not be a correct explanation, but I've always let it sit for the extra 15 and get that perfect, fluffy texture.

                                      I've used both regular pots and rice cookers, and while I'm attached to my rice cooker for its ease of cleaning, I've never had a problem with using a regular pot.

                                      Good luck, and don't give up!

                                      1. Sounds like either too much water or too long cooking time.

                                        1. You don't specify the type of rice you're using. I use four different types of rice (have them on hand always), depending on what I'm cooking.

                                          I use short grain "sushi" rice for (obviously) sushi or to make gohan to go with a Japanese meal, or to make risotto.

                                          I use medium grain rice with Middle Eastern cooking. And I use either short or medium grain rice for Chinese food, except for fried rice as explained below.

                                          Basmatti/Jasmine rice when I want an aromatic, often in pilafs.

                                          And when I want "just plain American" (long grain) rice, I exclusively use Uncle Ben's Converted Rice *because* I have found way too much variance in cooking time and water-to-rice ratio in "standard" long grain rice, even when using a different package of the same brand. Please note that "converted" rice and "instant" rice are not the same thing. Converted rice requires standard cooking time.

                                          And I never use long grain rice when I'm aiming for leftovers because, unlike medium or shortgrain rice, long grain rice tends to "reharden" in the center when refrigerated and doesn't "relax" when reheated. For fried rice, I use "left over" (at least a full day, preferably two or three day old) medium grain rice. Medium grain rice is a little stickier than long grain rice, but not nearly as sticky as short grain rice.

                                          Water ratio is always a bit of a guessing game, but I do nearly always follow the package directions on ratio. Except for risotto, of course.

                                          And I always use a saucepan. I know some people swear by rice cookers, but I just don't want to think about another countertop appliance!

                                          And unless I walk off and forget about the rice (the aroma of burnt reminds me I've goofed, but it only happened once!), I *always* get perfect rice.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            Four years later and I'm embarrassed by that answer because it really doesn't address the problem! "Mushy, sticky" means two things: Mushy comes from over cooking. Sticky comes from not pre-rinsing the rice before cooking. So... Rinse your rice under clear running water, or put it in a bowl and fill with water, stir and drain, repeat until water runs clear. Then reduce your cooking time (but not your resting time) until you attain the degree of doneness you prefer. This will work with all types of rices except those specialty types that are sticky no matter what you do. Sorry for being so slow, everyone!

                                          2. As others have said, a lot depends on the type of rice. Even two different packages of the same brand of rice will require different amounts of water. If it helps, I usually find that 2:1 water to rice is way too much water (I use Thai jasmine rice). I get a much better result from about 1.5:1 water to rice.

                                            Also, make sure your heat is high enough. If it's too low, it might take too long to cook and end up mushy.

                                            There are two other methods that might help you: first, try heating a tiny bit of oil in the pan before adding the dry rice. You can also saute an onion or shallot or some spices in the oil for flavor, but it's not necessary. Stir the dry rice around in the oil till each grain of rice looks shiny. Then add water (again, I go with 1.5:1, but your rice may be different). Turn down to simmer, then cover and cook for 20 minutes or so till done.

                                            Second method: cook it like pasta. Boil lots of salted water, add rice, stir a few times, test, and drain when it's done to your liking. This method is pretty foolproof.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Kagey

                                              this is pretty much what that link I posted said but still somewhat different-sounds good - will try it


                                              1. re: Kagey

                                                I should read before posting. +1 on the cooking like pasta method. Works like a charm.

                                              2. what do you all think of this method for brown rice? rinse, boil in large amount of water for 1/2 hour, drain then add back to the pot for 10 minutes


                                                I tried this a few times-while it wasn't bad it wasn't great either.

                                                anyone have another method to make brown rice that isn't sticky?

                                                I am going to try less water cooking it the regular way and see how that goes

                                                any tips are helpful, I am trying to be healthy here :P

                                                1. Here's my tip for cooking plain old American long-grain.

                                                  Boil a pan of water and tip the rice in (I cook it the same as I would cook pasta). Probably about 2-3 to 1 the volume of water to rice.
                                                  Wait for around the minimum time specified on the packet, and then keep eating some every minute or so to see when it's done.

                                                  Then dump it out into a sieve, and let some steam evaporate before plating it. That's how I like it, goes great with a chilli, a curry, anything really. Donna loves it, I love it, and ouside of great restaurants, I've not had better.

                                                  1. Thanks a lot-I'll try both caroline and soop's ways, the one I made by reducing the water wasn't so hot (I rinsed first as well)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: madeliner

                                                      Try soop's method first and see if you like it. The advantage to it is that it doesn't require any further adjusting. With that method you cook the rice in lots of water as if it was pasta, then strain. My method may require adjustments. His shouldn't. Good luck!

                                                    2. Thousands of years of growing and preparing rice, and here we are, with soggy rice, still today. I have found that when I buy a new brand or variety, the first time or two of preparation is trial and error, but to follow instructions perfectly. If your results are not what (you) like, note your preference. Too mushy, a little less water, too dry a little more water. Or, you may need to adjust your total cooking time, but most of my adjustments can be corrected with liquid measurement adjustments.
                                                      That said, make notation of your (exact) reduction/addition amounts of ingredients. If the instructions call for a 2: to 1 ratio, reduce the liquid to maybe 1and 7/8 to 1. (but make note of the smallest incremental change). You may even have to measure 1 and 3/4 to 1, to get your personal preference desired.
                                                      Currently, the long grain Texas white rice I am currently describing and using calls for 2 water parts to 1 rice part, placing all ingredients (1Tbl. Olive oil. 1tsp salt) in a heavy bottom tight fitting lid 1qt sauce pan, when making only 1 cup of uncooked rice. If I am doubling that amount to 2 cups of uncooked rice, I will increase the pan size to a 2qt sauce pan, still maintaining the 2 to 1 ratio measurements.
                                                      I always bring to rapid boil over high heat (lid off), but keeping sure not to let it boil uncovered for anymore time than it takes to quickly move a spoon or folk across the bottom of the pan making sure to loosen any sticking grains and immediately put the lid on and reduce heat to a (very) slow simmer for 15 min exactly (timer) and then as the buzzer goes off, (immediately) remove the pan to a cold burner, (not even peaking) for 10 minutes (timer). Then, and only then, do I remove the lid and fluff with fork to serve immediately. If not serving immediately, I will transfer the rice in a (uncovered) larger stainless steel bowl to air and not overcook for 20-30 min. Then you could re-lid it so as not to cool any further for however you are utilizing it in your recipe.
                                                      I like to store my uncooked rice in one gallon glass containers with tight fitting lids to keep moisture content consistent.
                                                      In summary, there are so many types, varieties of rice out there to chose from, one needs to think of them (all) as different subjects (to a degree) when it comes to preparing them (all).
                                                      Just remember to make your incremental changes ever so slightly as you try your new rice variety, and make notes and stick the note on the storage jar for that particular rice. Every different rice container I have, has my specific modification noted inside the jar with the uncooked rice. It will eliminate any guess work the next time you are ready to cook your wonder batch of whatever rice you are preparing for your loved one, or two, or three, or....
                                                      That way, It is not a random guessing game, it is a time honored art of, "cooking correctly" through a trial-error-adjustment process of science in the kitchen.
                                                      Start with the recommendations of the grower-manufacturer-processor and make it (your) rice.
                                                      Think of it as a bonding relationship between you and your (specific) rice grain variety.
                                                      God, I love cooking! ;~}}}

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: caseypons

                                                        Not only the brands and varieties of rice will vary the end result - even the harvest date has its effect on cooking and taste.
                                                        I'm cooking short grain rice; here's a tip from my mom: wash and soak rice in measured water for one hour before cooking (stove top or rice cooker methods)

                                                      2. I am newly gluten intolerant, so rice is as staple to my diet as it is to the asian diet. i did some research and here is the magic to long grain white rice- every rice is different with ratios of rice to water on the bag. 1st- rinsing the rice in cold water rinses away excess starch, but u also rinse the fortified vitamins away. Rine in a colander with small holes until the water is clear. this also adds water u need to account for in the recipe/ ratio. 1 c. water/ 2 c. rice. So, 3 c cold/ room temp liquid, 2 c rice 1 +/- tsp salt into the rice cooker, stir 30 seconds set to cook. perfect rice

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Mysti

                                                          @Mysti: OK, so maybe math was not my best subject, but you have lost me. First you state the (long grain rice) you are using, the water to rice ratio is reversed. And that it requires half as much water per measure of rice.
                                                          I have never cooked a rice that requires half it's volume in water to cook it. Unless you consider your (rinsing) method a (long soaking), prior to adding the boiling factor into the cooking process. Maybe this is just a typo, possibly??? That, or my Mother was right, and I have no business being in the kitchen.
                                                          And to further confuse me, you later state using 3 cups liquid to 2 cups rice. "Hep meh Lord..." Because that is what I have used on some rice that were a little higher in moisture content, right out of the bag, so to speak.
                                                          As they say, "All Rice Grains Are Not Created Equal."
                                                          "Happy Holidays" I need more Egg Nogg!

                                                        2. We are at sea level. Into our small rice cooker I put in 1 cup of well rinsed white basmati rice. It's wet from the rinsing. and the 1 cup of water. No salt. Put the lid on , click down the little button and the light goes red. When the rice cooker is happy I hear a click and the light turns orange. This means the rice is cooked perfectly......which it always is.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                            One to One ratio then. Right??? Don't confuse my Itty-Bitty brain.
                                                            Because it's too easy! Ha!

                                                            1. re: caseypons

                                                              That is right. 1 cup of washed drained white Basmati rice and exactly 1 cup of water. No salt. Into the little rice cooker. Maybe b/c I'm at sea level it makes some difference. I don't know. Press the button down the light goes red. Wait until the cooker 'clicks' and the light goes orange. The orange light indicates that the cooker is keeping the rice warm. I usually leave the rice staying warm for a few minutes until I'm ready to serve it. Sometime I take the rice out of the cooker immediately. The rice is always fluffy never gooey or sticky or under cooked. Hope this helps.

                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                Are you (soaking) your Basmati rice. I have read on (real) India Basmati rice instruction labels to soak for 20 min prior to adding heat to the party.
                                                                That is one efficient "Rice Cooker" you have there.
                                                                Lucky You!

                                                                1. re: caseypons

                                                                  Yeah it works great. It makes easy enough for two/three adults if I use 1.5 cups water and 1.5 cups washed rice. When I want to make enough for a bunch of people I just make however many batches I figure people will eat and put all the batches in the fridge covered. As each warm batch is added I gently toss all the rice together. When I want to serve it I put it in a large enamel bowl, covered, in the oven. Here's the type of Indian basmati rice I buy. The instruction don't say to "soak" just rinse the rice.

                                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                                    @Puffin3; What mfg Rice Cooker do you own, if you don't mind me asking?
                                                                    After all, it's not too late for a last minute Holiday Season gift to myself.

                                                                    1. re: caseypons

                                                                      Am I going to get trouble for mentioning the maker? Anyway, it's a Black and Decker Model # RC3203 Type 1.http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-RC...