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Jul 3, 2013 10:26 AM

Which sauce pan to use for cooking rice? Shallow/wide or taller/more narrow?

Yet another question from me (still with sauce pans on my mind)....which is more effective for cooking rice and quinoa: shallow/wide surface pan (like the Calphalon Tri-Ply 2.5 qt. shallow sauce pan) or taller/more narrow (like the Cuisinart MCP 2 qt sauce pan)? Thank you!

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  1. Hi, kimbers:

    I'm not sure there's a correct answer to this, but I like a taller pan for cooking plain rice. All you're doing at a basic level is moistening and heating the grains enough to gelate and soften the starch granules.

    For more elaborate rice dishes, e.g., pilaf, paella, risotto, polo , I like a shallower/wider pan, but for different reasons.

    Indian and Iranian cuisines tend boil rice in an excess of water, which is poured off; this tends to keep the grains intact and distinct. Chinese and Japanese cuisines favor using just enough water, yielding clumpy rice that is easier to eat with chopsticks. But with enough volume and the right water/rice ratio, I think either of your pans will work about the same.


    1. I prefer taller but either ought to work.

      1. Hi kimbers324;

        Rice is a complicated matter, as there really are a very wide range of rices, and also several general methods to cook them, each of which is done best in different vessels.

        Regarding basmati rice, to cook it in the persian style, the best is an aluminum pot coated in teflon (to allow for good tahdeeg production) with a glass lid that has a tiny hole allowing a little steam to escape. This pot will also work well for other basmati rice dishes, such as mixed rices from various cultural recipes.

        Regarding medium and shorter-grain asian style rice (Jasmine white, brown, red; short Japanese varieties like white, haiga, brown, sweet), modern fuzzy logic rice cookers (e.g. Zojirushi, Cuckoo, etc) are your best bet. They make amazing white, brown, Gaba-brown, sushi, sweet, porridge, .... you get the picture.

        Personally, I lack the skill and would not attempt to cook rice in a pan lined in stainless, ceramic, bare iron, tin, etc, unless it's a particularly wet recipe like a Paella (which is best in a paella pan).

        So assuming your pans are non-stick, there's no wrong answer. I would choose a short wide pan in order to maximize the amount of tahdeeg. My wife would choose a taller more narrow pan in order to provide significant height, because she like the fluffiness of the "middle-rice" that only a taller pot can produce.

        I'm eager to read what the other more accomplished cooks here have written.


        1 Reply
        1. re: alarash

          If you can make good tahdeeg, how much more accomplished can you be with rice? :-D

        2. I like taller, narrow for most rice, mostly because that's what I've always used. I don't see any reason, though, that either of those pans would present a problem.

          Regarding the comment by Alarash about not using a stainless saucepan, I (and millions of other cooks) do it every week, and it's no big deal. It doesn't stick and clean-up's a breeze.

          4 Replies
          1. re: DuffyH

            I just saw that comment about not cooking in stainless. Yep, I do it with no problem. In a dented pot with a lid that doesn't quite fit... Rice isn't a mystery. Plus, it's fairly cheap so trying different spices, water ratios, etc isn't a big deal.

            1. re: Hobbert

              The glass lids on my Calphalon stainless don't seal well, so I wrap the lid with a kitchen towel, pulling the corners through the top loop handle. Works like a charm and no steam escapes. IIRC, I got the idea from a CI rec. many years ago.

                1. re: Hobbert

                  You're welcome. The towel ends make a dandy cool grip for the lid, too. :)

          2. I like a heavy pan with a heavy lid when cooking rice. For me, it’s best for measurements if the heavy lid fits into the pot and so seals, rather than having a more flimsy lid lightly resting on top of the pot and blubbering away as it boils and steams. My two favourite rice pots are a cast aluminum one picked up at the Salvation Army years ago, and a smaller Le Creuset enamelled cast iron pot. Both are somewhat squat and neither shallow nor tall. Having a couple of different sizes is useful unless you make the same quantity all the time. And as others have pointed out, specialized styles of rice making can benefit from more specifically tailored pots or pans.

            6 Replies
            1. re: VitalForce

              I've used a 2 qt Le Creuset round oven - about 7.5" wide, 5.5" high - for years. Perfect rice every time!

              1. re: janeh

                What rice, and what water ratio?

                1. re: paulj

                  The rice:water ratio depends on the variety of rice. I've tried many varieties in my 2-quart LC, and it's worked well for all of them.

                  1. re: Miss Priss

                    and cooking style. In Spain they distinguish between dry (seco), moist (melloso) and soupy (caldoso) rice dishes.

                    1. re: paulj

                      Good point, paulj. That's one reason I like using a pot on the stove, rather than a rice cooker - more control over the final product.

                2. re: janeh

                  That's what I use, too. Not only does it make perfect rice and other grains (such as quinoa) - it keeps the contents warm for a considerable time after the heat is turned off.