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6 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Rice

Get a perfect pot of rice every time with these super simple tips and tricks!

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Bowl full of brown rice on napkinAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Who doesn’t love a big helping rice? Whether it’s in a burrito, rolled up in sushi, served as a side with dinner or any other of the seemingly million ways to use it, rice is the perfect way to bulk up a dish. While rice is relatively straightforward to cook, just adding it to a pot with water, it’s incredibly easy to mess up. Here are some common ways that rice goes wrong, and how to make sure your next pot is absolutely perfect!

Psst! Check out these delicious ways to enjoy rice. 

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young inexperienced home cook woman in panic with apron holding pot burning in flames with stress and panic face expression in fire in the kitchen and amateur newbie rookie ad messy cooking conceptPhoto: Shutterstock / Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley

The Problem: Burnt Bottom

The Solution: Turn your burner way down. A scorched pot probably means that the burner setting is too high. Set your burner to the lowest setting possible when cooking rice—the steam should be doing all the work, rather than the burner. Also double check that you’re using a heavy-bottomed pot, like a Dutch oven, as a thin pot will expose the grains to too much direct heat.

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Glass of rice and measuring jug with water on wooden tableAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

The Problem: Mushy or Hard Rice

The Solution: Double check your water-to-rice. Here’s a handy guide:

  • One cup of short grain white rice needs about 1 ½ cup water.
  • One cup of long grain white rice needs about 1 ¾ cup of water.
  • One cup of brown rice needs about 2 cups of water.
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Pot with glass lid closeup to see water steam dropseakkkk/Shutterstock

The Problem: Crunchy Rice

The Solution: Make sure your lid is tight. If the lid of your rice pot doesn’t seal properly, steam will escape the pot rather than cooking your rice. An easy remedy is to lay a clean kitchen towel between the pot and lid to keep steam from getting out. Just make sure the towel isn’t touching your burner.

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Woman rinsing rice in sifter under running waterShutterstock/Africa Studio

The Problem: Clumpy White Rice

The Solution: Give white rice a quick rinse. When white rice rubs together in its package, some of the grain’s starch rubs off and forms a fine powder. When this starchy powder come into contact with water, it becomes incredibly sticky and pulls grains together as water is absorbed into the rice to make a globby mess. Rinsing white rice before cooking removes this starchy powder, and with it, the threat of clumpy rice. You can also add a touch of oil or butter to your pot to help prevent sticking even further.

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pot lid steam on stovemikefusaro/Shutterstock

The Problem: Uneven Cooking

The Solution: Give your rice a little rest. As tempting as it is to dig into a pot of rice right when its done, letting your rice sit for 10 or 15 minutes, off heat, lets the heat redistribute in the pot, leading to a more evenly cooked pot of rice.

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food, junk-food, cooking and unhealthy eating concept - close up of hand holding white salt cellar;Syda Productions/Shutterstock

The Problem: Always Tastes Bland

The Solution: Add some flavor in! Toss in some butter or olive oil, along with some salt and pepper, into your pot when pouring in your rice for a more flavorful end result. Another easy way to boost flavor is by replacing your cooking water with chicken, beef or vegetable both. You can also lightly toast your rice in the pot before adding your cooking liquid for a nutty taste.

Caroline Stanko
As an Associate Digital Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.

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