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How do you cook your white rice?

Last night my wife asked me , "why is your rice always so good"? I said it's because I always use chicken stock & a little minced onion and garlic and cook it pilaf style sauteing everything first in butter or olive oil, including the rice grains, then adding the stock.I sometimes add fresh herbs near the end of the cooking process. I notice on CH that a lot of folks use rice cookers. I own a small one that I've cooked Nishiki Medium Grain Rice in but I find plain white rice boring. I realize that in a lot of cuisines that's the desired result as a contrast for spicier fare on the plate. Does anyone make pilaf in a rice cooker? Can it be done? Do you prefer simple plain rice or rice that has aromatics added?

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  1. You can't do the sautéing step in the rice cooker as far as I know, but you can use stock instead of water. If you add other ingredients, they tend to either sink to the bottom or float to the top, but you can always give everything a stir after the liquid level goes down. You will have to experiment with the liquid volume because it may be quite different from what you're used to on your stove top, and this will also affect the seasoning.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DeppityDawg

      It depends on the style of rice cooker that you have, whether or not you can saute successfully. I think the "smart" rice cookers won't work at all, unless they have a saute function (some do!), whereas the one button sort will. As an aside, the Iranian style ones definitely work for this, because they seem to be either alternating cooking for the set time and keeping it at that temperature, or just cooking (like a timed electric pot).

      1. re: ipsedixit

        ipsedixit....what type of rice do you use? Can you use, say a basmati, and get grains that are not stuck together?

        1. re: zackly


          It will depend on your rice cooker. If there isn't a separate setting you will need to play around with the water:rice ratio.

      2. Water, rice, saucepan, daily. Periodically, pilaf with various add-ins depending on mood. I have a rice cooker but rarely use it. Ok, never.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tcamp

          When I make 'pilaf' in my rice cooker I do what you do regarding sautéing first. I use well rinsed basmati. After sautéing I dump everything in the rice cooker, add the stock in place of water and it turns out perfect.
          BTW I use equal parts of rice to liquid in the rice cooker. Alway ends up fluffy and perfectly cooked through.

        2. Always toast the rice first. Into a pot or cooker with water, salt, seasoning. Use Cajun Cabin Med. grain or either Toro...a long grain that cooks up like a medium. Both grown in Louisiana....Falcon Rice Mill in Crowley.

          1. 2 cups water,pat of butter, bring to boil, add1 cup basmati rice, 15 minute slow simmer in covered LC soup pot,fluff, 5 minute rest , serve.
            Dirty rice(aromatics,onion,mushrooms,peas,tomato,etc), when in mood...Stock sometimes,
            Wild rice, medium ,and short grain are an other story.

            1. Nothing fancy. According to directions. Always comes out perfect.

              1 Reply
              1. re: grampart

                Brown Texmati is absolutely delicious. I bought it at Costco. In fact, I plan to cook some plain for dinner tonight.

              2. Mine is almost zackly like yours.
                After sauteing the onion or shallot in the butter and adding the rice and stock, I bring it to a short boil before putting into a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes and allowing the ambient heat to do the work. I prefer Arborio and add the aromatics just before serving. I also use a 100-year old cast iron rice pot that may partially be the key here as it keeps the rice from burning.
                P.S. Julia Child recommended that the rice rest for 5 to 10 minutes with a cloth towel over the top of the pot (between the pot and the lid) to absorb the steam that may otherwise make the rice sticky. It works!

                9 Replies
                1. re: Chefpaulo

                  chefpaulo....does Arborio cook in twenty minutes like regular white rice? I never thought to try it for anything else but risotto. I'm trying it tonight. And chef, there's a new thread about marinara sauce. Some of the respondents said they put baking soda in their tomato sauce to remove acidity. Have you ever tried this?

                  1. re: zackly

                    With the standing time afterward and the towel treatment my Arborio has always turned out excellent. (IMHO - but I also like it a bit al dente.) Two factors to consider however: the oven is preheated and the thick iron pot is conserving more heat than your thinner gauge cookware. Liquid to rice ratio is also an issue.

                    As for the baking soda in tomato sauce, it makes sense as it is a base catalyst that would counteract the acid in the tomatoes without adding flavor. Go for it and get back to us!

                  2. re: Chefpaulo

                    I lived in Middle East counties for years. The towel treatment is standard for all Persian pilaf. I always use a towel.

                    1. re: sedimental

                      Oooooo...Persian pilaf. Love it. How do they get the crispy brown layer on the bottom of the pot? Is that with sumac? And is the rice basmati? It's been a while.

                      1. re: Chefpaulo

                        The crispy rice layer is with oil. Lots of oil and saffron water. And Its basmati

                        1. re: Chefpaulo

                          Cooking low & slow for some time gives it a crispy layer. The oil helps, but you can get it without it being extremely oily. Some people use other things like yogurt or egg yolk.

                          1. re: willownt

                            East Asian rice eaters also traditionally enjoy the crunchy scorched layer of rice stuck to the bottom of the pot. Do modern fuzzy logic rice cookers have a setting for that, too?

                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                              Yeah, I love that crunchy caramelized rice you get in a well made paella!

                          2. re: Chefpaulo

                            It's done with oil (and/or butter), as Siegal said. Sumac is a spice that you might mix into the rice, or sprinkle on top after it's cooked.

                      2. Generally I use Jasmine rice. I soak it for about an hour and rinse it several times so the surface starch is washed away. Then I let it dry a bit. Cook 1/2 C. rice to 1 C. water and some salt. Bring to a boil and turn to the lowest heat and cover. Leave it alone for 25 mins. It makes very fluffy and fragrant rice.

                        1. I've toyed with the idea of a rice cooker, but I've never had problems cooking rice in a saucepan and don't really want to buy another appliance we don't really need and don't have room for in the kitchen. Maybe if we ever move to a bigger place I'd be interested in experimenting with a rice cooker, since I know they can be used for other purposes.

                          1. Someone gave me a rice cooker years ago; I never used it and re-gifted it to my brother. I usually cook rice stovetop; heat butter or olive oil, toast rice and add liquid. Heat to a low simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes. If I'm making pilaf, I sauté the veggies before adding the rice. If making plain rice, I just use water; for pilaf, I'll use stock, broth, vegetable juice, etc.

                            I have also cooked my rice in the oven if cooking for a crowd.

                            1. I love to make it Pilaf style with broth - more comfortable to me like making risotto but sometimes you need plain rice. I always struggled to get my rice to work out - not burn or turn to paste - I find that boiling it in too much water - like pasta - and straining when its done has worked out well for me - maybe not as well as perfect steamed rice but mine never came perfect - boiling has given me more even results.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: JTPhilly

                                I've been cooking rice the same basic way for 40+ years. I never have a problem. Saute a bit of onion & garlic in oil or butter if you like then add the rice and liquid in a 2 to 1 ratio, cover the pan & simmer for about 20 minutes or until when the pan is tilted the rice holds firm. There are zillions of rice varieties that yield different results. I use basmati if I want the grains not to clump or Goya medium grain if I want it stickier.

                              2. I used to use a rice cooker... for years. Then last week I needed some rice fast to supplement my dog's diet. I steamed the rice in a 2-L pressure frypan for 6 minutes, then let it come off pressure naturally. This time the rice was moist and none of it was burned. I no longer need to make huge quantities of rice to compensate for the prep time. It was almost as if I had wiggled my nose and the rice had appeared magically before me. This was plain rice and water, and it was delicious.

                                1. My husband is Japanese, so plain white rice is a staple, although we also do variations.

                                  You can do pilaf-ish things in a rice cooker. It won't be the exact same thing, but you can get some nice results.

                                  One common East Asian variation is to add other grains - whole millet works well, and in a Chinese grocery look for something call seven/ten/twelve treasures oats/grains, which is a mix of grains and legumes than can be added as part of the rice. It will rise to the top, but it mixes back in when you fluff the rice.

                                  I do cumin rice in the cooker - add butter, cumin seeds (toasted is best), and some tumeric or saffron, plus a bit of salt. It helps if you soak the saffron in a bit of the water first.

                                  You can sub some of the liquid for a combination of stock/wine and/or tomato juice. Add fresh or dried herbs, or spices. Green peas or beans or edamame can be added to cook as the rice steams, or some diced tomato or spinach (decrease the water a bit in compensation). A bit of diced sausage or cooked bacon can go nicely.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. I cook rice pretty much like you do. Toasted up a little in butter, then stock (that's why I never toss bones right away). Have an iinexpensive rice cooker, but it's heading to a thrift store as a donation... just not worth the even minimal clean-up compared to one pot on stove top.

                                    1. I use a rice cooker, the rice comes out perfectly done every time.
                                      Most of the time it is just water and Rice, but sometimes I use nice thick Coconut Milk (some Thai brand) instead of ca half or two thirds of the water, Lemon grass and perhaps a clove. I love it!

                                      1. Wash sticky rice three times, soak for about an hour. Strain and place in pot with right amount of water. Boil down until hissing almost dry, drop temperature to low and cover for 11 minutes. Fluff with a fork, take off heat and cover for 20 minutes. (This is usually when I finish chopping and stir frying my other ingredients.)

                                        I occasionally do make pilaf for sofritos or yellow rice, but regular pilafs are boring to me served on the side. I like things on my rice like beans or stir fry. I started working with converted rice and just can't get into it.

                                        My SO likes really sticky rice that you can easily pick up in hunks with chop sticks. He has even mentioned that he doesn't like some restaurants rice as much as mine because it's too loose. lol!

                                        1. I'm a reasonably good home cook and I am 100% incapable of cooking rice on the stovetop. I grew up using a rice cooker and continue to use one today. The first couple of times I tried to make rice on the stovetop were such hilarious fails that I've stuck to my rice cooker ever since.

                                          Most of the time I just make plain steamed rice with any of the following types of rice: basmati, jasmine, calrose, brown. But I've also make Mexican rice and the Halal cart rice in my rice cooker. For the Halal cart rice or any pilaf style rice, I do the aromatics and sautéing of the rice on the stovetop, then transfer to my rice cooker, add liquid and start the cooker. I don't mind the extra pan to wash.

                                          1. I don't have a set way, I make a variety of rices and cook them different ways from plain steamed to pilafs. I do pilafs, baby basmati and Mexican rice on the stove and I use my Zojirushi for most everything else from short grain to basmati and jasmine.

                                            1. Bear in mind that "perfect rice" really depends on what you consider 'perfect'. To me, 'perfect' means slightly sticky, not wet or gummy, and tasting like rice, not salt, not butter, not oil. When I've really nailed the rice prep, it has a slight toasty flavor, which means I'm going to be able to treat myself to a little bit of 'koge' toward the end of the meal.

                                              To a lot of people, that's boring. To me, that's perfect.

                                              1. I do different things for different dishes. Normally, it's just rice in the rice cooker, often with tumeric. Never butter or salt. Very easy. I follow the cooker directions and use their measuring cup -- it sticks together beautifully when done.

                                                Sometimes I brown and make a pilaf, but that's pretty rare.

                                                1. The only thing allowed in my rice cooker is rinsed rice and water. Any other prep goes on the stove.

                                                  1. Different rices call for different techniques as well as it depends what I am serving. Sometimes a simple white is exactly what I want so it will just be rice simmered in water with a little butter or oil, sometime no oil. Other times it will rice (usually basmati) that will be cooked in chicken stock with butter. I might at various herbs. I often make pilaf use Barbara Kafka's microwave recipe, so simple and easy.

                                                    1. <Does anyone make pilaf in a rice cooker? >

                                                      There are a lot of rice dishes which I don't use a rice cooker. Some of these dishes I use an aluminum saucepan. Some I use a clay pot. Other I use a granite stone pot.....etc.

                                                      However, when it comes to plain white rice, I use a rice cooker. It is just easier. When I make plain white rice, then it is always accompanied with another dishes. Thus, I spend time on the other dishes, and leave the white rice for the rice cooker.

                                                      1. Rarely in water. Usually in broth or broth that's been flavored with bits of flavor enhancers like grated fresh ginger, diced spring onion, saffron, porcini powder, even wasabi powder.

                                                        1. White rice, water, pot with lid, follow instructions on package.

                                                          SO version: same as above. Add butter, salt & pepper.

                                                          No rice cooker. No desire for one.

                                                          Sometimes I make Coconut Jasmine Rice (The Joy of Cooking).