Our Test Kitchen’s Favorite Instant Rice Brands

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No time to make rice on the stovetop? No worries. We tried all kinds of instant rice brands to find the best shortcut to stash in the pantry.

Test Kitchen Preferred the best Instant Rice TKPTaste of Home

When cooking up weeknight meals, we often rely on a few staples to form the foundations of our dishes. Pasta, potatoes and rice all lay the base for some great suppers. When it comes to rice, though, some home cooks tend to balk. Making rice takes time and if you don’t have a rice cooker, you always run the risk of it burning. The easiest solution is instant rice.

Yep, we’re talking the rice you can zap in the microwave or boil on your stovetop for a few minutes. But of course, not all rice options are the same. We found the best through some serious testing in our Test Kitchen.

What Is Instant Rice?

Instant rice is regular rice that’s been cooked and then dehydrated. When you make instant rice at home, all you’re really doing is rehydrating the grains and heating them back up again. The whole process is pretty quick—typically under 10 minutes. That’s a fraction of the time it takes to cook rice right out of the bag.

You’ll find all kinds of instant rice varieties, including jasmine and brown. For our test, though, we focused on basic white rice.

How We Found the Best Instant Rice

Our Test Kitchen wrangled up every brand of quick white rice they could find. As always, our testing was conducted blindly by a panel of our Test Kitchen staffers, who kept these questions in mind:

  • Flavor: How did the rice taste? Were there any additional or outstanding flavors?
  • Texture: What was the texture of the rice like? Tender? Mushy? Al dente? Sticky?
  • Appearance: How did the rice look? Was it pure white? Did it look appealing?

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Instant Rice Brands

Think all rice is the same? No way! These quick-cooking brands were our Test Kitchen’s favorites.

Best Basic Rice: Good & Gather Instant White Rice

Overhead Shot Of Good & Gather White Rice In Package And On PlateTaste of Home

We get it: It’s rice! You aren’t looking for anything flashy—just a good base for your next healthy side dish or easy dinner. For a great basic, go for Target’s Good & Gather Instant White Rice.

This brand had a tender texture and a beautiful snow-white appearance. Testers agreed it would be a great start to any dinner recipe and especially good for soaking up delicious stir-fry sauces.

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Fluffiest: Minute White Rice

Overhead Shot Of Minute White Rice In Package And On Plate.Taste of Home

Oftentimes quick rice products can come off as sticky or claggy when all you really want is fluffy white rice. For that perfect texture, try Minute White Rice.

This rice got high marks for its fluffy texture—in fact, every tester used the term fluffy to describe Minute rice. And it wasn’t mushy or too crunchy. The grains separated easily and tasted like delicious white rice—all without the hassle of making rice on the stovetop.

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Best Texture: Success Boil-in-Bag White Rice

Overhead Shot Of Success White Rice In Package And On PlateTaste of Home

Getting just the right texture can be challenging with rice. At least it can be if you’re not using Success Boil-in-Bag White Rice

This rice cooked up with a pleasant texture that was slightly chewy without being sticky or dense. Combined with the lightly toasted flavor and creamy color, our testers enjoyed this brand and could picture using it to whip up this top-rated Southwest rice and veggie side.

While the sole ingredient in this product is long grain rice, it definitely tasted a bit more like brown rice than we expected (not a bad thing!).

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Most Flavorful: Great Value Instant White Rice

Overhead Shot Of Great Value White Rice In Package And On PlateTaste of Home

While every brand we tested was plain white rice, some brands had more notable flavors, especially Walmart’s Great Value Instant White Rice.

Great Value tasted slightly nutty to our testers, giving it more personality than its competitors. While we know that rice is just a starting point for most dishes, it never hurts to start with a little extra flavor. Be aware, though, that this tasty rice was a bit stickier than other options—though sticky rice definitely has a place on your table!

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What to Make with Instant Rice

Meat Lover's Pizza Rice SkilletTaste of Home

Just like with traditional rice, you can use instant rice as the foundation for all sorts of meals. Spend your time and effort making a delicious stir-fry or curry dinner and pop a package of this quick rice in the microwave as you finish it off.

Or try recipes that specifically call for fast-cooking rice. This five-star pizza rice recipe is a great place to start. Then again, so are these recipes for skillet nachos, Spanish rice and speedy burritos.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.