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Oct 24, 2010 05:28 PM

How to make stovetop rice?


I don't have a rice cooker, and to save some money I decided to to cook the rice on stovetop. However, I'm only one person. How do you make small amounts of rice on stovetop? I tried boiling water and then placing a bowl of rice in the pot, but it doesn't seem to work. Any ideas?


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  1. Whatever package you bought should have directions printed on it, but if not, here ya go.

    1 cup rice
    1.5 cups water
    rinse the rice a few times, and then add the water. Bring it to a boil uncovered on the stove. Once it boils, give it a quick stir, cover, and turn the heat to the lowest setting possible. Set a timer for 20 minutes and walk away. When the timer dings, turn off the heat and leave the pot alone for another 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

    If this is too much rice, refrigerate the unused portion, covered, and use it within a week.

    14 Replies
    1. re: tzurriz

      Exactly right, at least to my mind. Perhaps a pinch of salt, too.

      1. re: tzurriz

        tsurriz: 20 minutes for 1 cup or rice? What kind of rice, and what does the end product look like?

        I cook rice at least 2-3 times a week for my family, and for 2 cups basmati rice (=4 cups water) on the stovetop, I need maximum 10 minutes after it comes to a boil and I turn it down.

        I get perfect fluffy separate fully cooked grains each time. If I cook for longer it becomes mushy.

        1. re: Rasam

          What do you do with your rice after the 10 minutes to prevent further cooking?

          There is nothing unusual about tzurriz's 20 minutes. One possibility is that it takes longer to bring your 4c of water to a boil, and thus more cooking has occurred by the time you turn the heat down. In my experience, mushiness is more the result of too much water, not too much time at low heat. With the exception of a rissotto type of preparation (which leaves the rice wet, even soupy), letting rice sit longer at low heat or just covered off the heat, does not adversely affect the texture.

          1. re: paulj

            What do I do with the rice? We eat it :) The only "resting" that happens is while everyone gets to the table.

            I use a pot with a vented lid so that even at the lowest heat setting I don't have steam and starchy water climbing out of the pot and running down the side.

            I've never had undercooked rice, but your explanations all sound plausible.

            I never salt or butter my rice, because it's used to mix with the other dishes (dal, Thai curry, whatever) which have plenty of salt in them anyway. The only time I salt the rice if I am making pulao or similar.

          2. re: Rasam

            20 minutes no matter how much rice. I make rice regularly also, 3 times a week is not uncommon. mine is fluffy separate grains and I've never once had mushy. If I'm short even a minute, I get undercooked, crunchy rice. My pot, my stove. /shrug. YMMV.

            1. re: Rasam

              20 minutes plus a 5 minute rest is the standard recipe you find on every bag fo rice out there. Perhaps basmati takes less time to cook?

              I concur with spot. you need a little salt in rice. I suspect tzurriz just forgot to mention it.

              I use 2 cups water but I don't rinse. If you rinse 4 or 5 times, you need to reduce the water down to 1.5 cups.

              I have considered a rice cooker but the stovetop method is so easy, I have never gotten around to it. Besides, the rice cookers I have seen are for pretty large quantites of rice.

              1. re: Hank Hanover

                I find the salt is optional based on how I'm serving the rice. If it is a side dish by itself, then salt and even a bit of butter or oil. If it's an ingredient in something else, or a base (like for gumbo or curry) then no salt is required.

                I just went and looked at my bag of rice. I'm cooking basmati these days.

                1. re: Hank Hanover

                  I make basmati all the time -- I don't set a timer, but I let it simmer until the water is gone (I have glass lids for my pots and pans) -- and it's usually about 20 minutes, and the rice is light and fluffy.

              2. re: tzurriz

                This [tzurriz's first reply] is the method I use, except that I only cook the rice on low for 12-13 minutes instead of 20. Then I turn the heat completely off and let the rice rest for 20 minutes.

                The water should be just absorbed at the 12-13 in. mark. The turning off of the heat during the last part means it never gets overcooked or burned.

                1 to 1.5 rice/water ratio
                Bring to boil; turn heat to lowest possible and cook 12 minutes.
                Turn off heat and let rest 20 minutes.

                I have found this to work with pretty much all kinds of white rice.

                1. re: tzurriz

                  I think you mean 2 cups of water? 1.5 is not enough....

                  . I just did your method and the water was not enough....Microwave rice is much easier..have you tried it...? Since our microwave broke, we now have to do stove top rice..and our rice ends up getting mushy... what could we be doing wrong.. ? we put 1 cup of rice by using a regular cup...and we put two cups of water. the rice and water look like they meet so it could make it make it nice and good to eat.

                  1. re: shirleyod111

                    The water to rice ratio depends on the type of rice (and whether you rinse or not). American long grain, unwashed, usually requires a 2;1 ratio.

                    My latest rice purchase was broken jasmine. The package specified a 1.2: 1 ratio after rinsing.

                    In any case, adjust the water to suit your rice and cooking method. Depth of the pot, seal of the lid, and heat also affect the needed water ratio.

                    1. re: shirleyod111

                      Mushy rice tells me that you are probably using too much water. Like paulj said, YMMV depending on your elevation, the type or rice, the water, the pot, the lid, etc.

                      1. re: shirleyod111

                        If it's a white rice and not brown rice I used Lidia's ratio of 1 rice: 1.5 H20. Bring to boil and when the water is near the top of the rice, stir, cover and simmer for 15 min. Never failed me yet.

                        1. re: shirleyod111

                          I have always found the 1:1.5 ratio sufficient for:
                          --American long grain white rice
                          --Italian short grain converted rice (Riso Flora which is something like Uncle Ben's)
                          --Generic Asian white rice bought at an ethnic market
                          --"Perfumed" Thai rice bought both at a supermarket and in bulk
                          --Italian medium-grain white rice sold as "Riso Drago" (cultivar Ariete)

                          This is using a stovetop boil-then-simmer method for 10-12 minutes plus a 15-20 min. rest period.

                          The only place I use a 1:2 rice/water ratio is when I do pressure-cooker risotto with Arborio rice, which needs to be slightly soupy.

                          Of course YMMV and cook as you like!

                          When I use Arborio rice outside of the pressure cooker context, I don't really pay attention to the water/broth ratios and just go by the seat of the pants.

                          Scubadoo, I get it to a boil, then simmer very low, covered, for 10-15 minutes (usually I time 12), then I turn off the heat for 15-20 minutes and let everything "meld". This is in a pan with a heavy bottom, N.B.

                      2. I cook small amounts of rice on the stove (I've never had a rice cooker) -- you just need to use a fairly small pot so the water doesn't evaporate too quickly. Use the smallest covered pot you have. Bring one cup water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and half a cup of rice. When the water starts to boil again, put the lid on, lower the heat as far as you can and leave it for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat off and let it sit a few more minutes (it reabsorbs the steam).

                        You can also cook rice in the oven, and you can cook rice by throwing in a pot with lots of water and then draining it.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          That small amount cooks very well for one, yields approximately 11/2 cups of cooked rice. I've cooked less amounts in small shallow saute pans, 1/3 cup rice to 2/3 cup water, pinch of salt, covered, low heat until done. I usualy add a little butter to my rice while it's cooking.

                          Since there's just two of us, I use a full cup of rice to two cups water, 1 tsp salt, with leftovers good for a few days to a week.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            I guess I could use my really small pot. I just saw a video of people steaming their rice in a cup, seemed like it would be easier to do that way. I hate cleaning up the rice stuck to the pot. Anyway around this?


                            1. re: bshee

                              Soak the pot for a bit; the rice will come off, it's just carbs that loosen their grip on the pan. Ain't no biggie, unless you burn the rice, then you're really in a ricely mess. Besides, you have to wash the bowl you steamed the rice in, right?

                              I've never had much success with that steaming rice in a separate bowl in a pot method, but I have seen it done by using a strainer with the rice in it, suspended over the boiling water, with a strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the pot to seal it tightly. A tight seal is very important. It takes significantly longer time to cook rice by this method, than by boiling it, which is sometimes referred to as steamed rice also. The cooking time vs having to wash the pot is the trade off.

                              1. re: bshee

                                Cold water dissolves starch. Just soak the rice pot in cold water and all the stuck on will come loose.

                                1. re: bshee

                                  Also, I find that if I let rice sit for a few minutes after I turn the heat off the way I described the rice sticks much less to the pot. But yeah, a quick soak with warm water and a drop of dish soap will take it right off.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    I would second this. If you let the pot sit, covered, after turning off the heat, the grains on the bottom that might have gotten a little crunchy because they were closest to the heat source will have a chance to steam a bit and let go.

                              2. As an alternative to the steam method (which doesn't work well for single servings) you could try simply boiling the rice, like you would pasta.

                                Bring salted water to a boil, toss in your loose rice, cook until tender and drain. Depending on the rice you may want to rinse it first.

                                This won't work for sticky rice (Chinese or Japanese) but for Indian style it works pretty well, and you can make as little as you want.

                                For the stovetop steaming method, I do find it doesn't work well for amounts less than about a cup of rice, which is multiple servings for me. However, cooked rice freezes well, so you could cook several servings and freeze the extra for later.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                  I cook smaller amounts (1/2 cup, or even slightly less) on the stove, but you really need a small pot: if the surface area of the water is too big, it will boil away before the rice is cooked. Thrift stores are full of small non-stick pots you can pick up for a couple of dollars that work perfectly for small amounts of rice.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    Though for paella style rice, 1/2c of rice in a 10" diameter pot works fine. Yes there is more evaporation, but that can be handled by using more water (or broth). Of course this dish has a lot of other ingredients besides rice.

                                    But I agree that a smaller pot is nice to have when making modest amounts of rice. 1 1/2 qt is a good size, handling 1/2 to 1 c of rice.

                                    If I use the boil-like-pasta method, I drain the rice when still a bit firm, and then return it to the pot with some seasoning (like butter), and let if finish, steaming with the retained water.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      Also easy to find at your local Ross, TJ Maxx for probably $6-9...I have the best luck with the a nonstick interior and a tight fitting glass lid so I can keep an eye on the cooking rice. I have had several friends ask me what rice cooker I use and I always get one of these little pots for them.

                                      Does anyone use the finger method with the white Asian rice? I grew up putting my middle finger lightly on top of the rice, adding to just under the line of my first knuckle. I have never measured the amount of water to add to rice. By trial and error, I've also taught my friends to do this and they are all amazed.

                                      1. re: IndigoOnTheGo

                                        THANK YOU!!!! I have just realized why I always burn or under-do rice and can never seem to cook it properly. My Colombian stepmother told me to put rice in the pot and then fill with water to my first knuckle, but I never knew you were supposed to put your finger *on top* of the rice and then fill. I always put my finger on the bottom of the pot and then filled. Eureka!

                                        1. re: IndigoOnTheGo

                                          Can you explain? I don't quite understand how to do it.

                                          1. re: jvanderh

                                            This isn't my go to method, but Daisy Martinez's method does work - she does what she calls the "one inch- or two finger method" - same idea as IndigoOnTHeGo's first knuckle principle.


                                            It also works without the oil and salt.

                                            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                              My elderly Puerto Rican neighbor showed me the knuckle technique years ago. She used her thumb, and also an inch up a wooden spoon handle. I initally thought it was kind of wacky but I tried it and after I figured out just exactly where on my thumb the make or break line was, which was about an inch, it resulted in perfect rice. I only use it for white long grain, like Canilla or other Latino brands, seems to work best, along with salt and oil or butter for the sabor auténtico.

                                              Let the rice brown a bit on the bottom of the pot while steaming it, scrap off the "pegao" and eat, it's a special treat. Since the OP doesn't like cleaning rice stuck to the pot, which this really will be, I can't recommend he try this.;-)

                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                Ah-- I see. I think my pointer and middle finger together are about an inch.

                                                1. re: jvanderh

                                                  Ok, well, I'd say mine are also, as is my thumb to the first knuckle, so try it out next time you prepare rice. It may take some trial and error, as IndigoOnTheGo stated, but it's easier than dragging out the scale or the measuring cups every time.

                                    2. For Asian steamed rice, use a narrow saucepan (no wider than it is tall). Add whatever quantity of rice you want but no less than a couple of inches worth and no more than half a pan full. Rinse the rice well (I rinse until the runoff is only slightly cloudy). Level the rice in the pan and cover by 1/2 to 3/4 inch of cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Continue boiling until the water and the bubbles rising through the rice are no longer visible. Turn the heat to its lowest setting, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff and serve. Any leftover rice keeps for days in the fridge and can be recycled into fried rice.

                                      For white Basmati rice, I usually cook it like pasta, dropping it into a copious amount of boiling salted water, boiling until just al dente and then draining in a strainer. I then transfer it to a fairly deep ovenproof dish, stir in a little butter or ghee, sometimes add a pinch of saffron threads and/or crushed sweet spices and/or dried fruits and nuts, and bake covered in a 325ºF for about 15 minutes.

                                      1. I have an old pressure cooker that doesn't get much use other than for beans and rice. For the rice, I have a round rack in the bottom, and a scant inch of water. The rice goes into a pyrex bowl with half again as much volume of water as there is rice. Pressure cook it for 15-20 minutes plus a natural release for brown rice that would normally take 40 minutes of simmering. A plus to this method is that the pressure cooker needs no washing, and the pyrex bowl does double duty, being used for serving and for refrigerating what's left over. I always make more than I need, while I'm at it, so that I can make fried rice in the coming days.