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How to Cook Brown Rice

posted in Pasta, Rice and Grains, Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister

Brown rice, unlike white rice, has a high-fiber bran coating. It’s this extra coating that makes brown rice more nutritious than white rice.
Brown rice has a light tan in color and has a nuttier flavor and chewier texture than white rice. (Think of whole-wheat bread vs. white bread!)

The only difference between cooking brown rice and white rice is the water to rice ratio. Because of the outer bran coating, more water and a longer cooking time is needed for brown rice.

My video “Cooking White Rice” uses the 1-2-3 ratio for perfect white rice. (1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water, will make 3 cups of rice.)

This formula does not work for brown rice. Check the back of the package of rice to determine how much water is needed for your particular brand of rice.

Adding butter and salt is optional but it does give the rice a nice flavor. One Tablespoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, to 1 cup of rice, is the norm. Because brown rice has so much more flavor than white rice, I do often skip the salt and butter when I’m cooking it. This is totally your choice!

Start by bringing the water to a boil. Add the rice, salt and butter, and give it ONE stir. Cover the pot.

Return the pot to a boil, then turn the stove down to simmer and set the timer. It can take 45-55 minutes to cook brown rice.

When you uncover the rice it may look like all the water is absorbed but…

check to be sure by gently moving the rice to see if there is any water left on the bottom of the pan.

When cooking any and all rice, never stir the rice while it is cooking or you will end up with very mushy rice!
Store brown rice in an air-tight container. It should keep about six months in your cupboard. (White rice will keep almost indefinitely.)


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Jennifer said:

Great Kathy!

I love brown rice. It’s easy to cook and well worth the extra time. Unlike cooked white rice, brown rice stores extremely well in the fridge and heats up nicely. Leftovers can be used to make a fast stir-fry dinner for the next day.

If you want to cook it for kids – short grain brown rice is the best and has a chewy texture they’ll love!

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Jennifer for all the great tips! Sometimes when I cook brown rice I swear it smells like pop corn! (Well all most…)!

Eve Parker said:

Rice is one of the only things that I tend to mess up on but your tidbits have saved my rice making future!

To all you ladies who like to use leftover rice, be sure to avoid keeping it left out to cool for no longer than one hour and keep it stored in the refrigerator for no longer than one day. Due to the bacteria found in uncooked rice, temperature abuse can regenerate it.

suman sehra said:

I wanted to know how to make brown rice because my rice can not make easily and when we eat it looks uncooked

hector said:

wow great tips i love i come here everyday im 16 years old and i lvoe cookin i cook for my whole family and i just wanted to know how to mak brown rice since ive never tried it i guess i will tomorow!! thanks!

Richard P. Eisner said:

HELP…First time using BROWN RICE. Is 200 g of rice 1 cup??? Can you give me cooking directions that are not metric? Thank you Richard P. Eisner

Cherie said:

Hello there I cook in a daycare for 100 kids canI cook brown rice in a rice cooker?

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Richard,

1 Cup of brown rice =200 grams of rice

Good Luck!

Mary said:

Hi, I am new to your site but not a new cook. I have a gas stove and I find that when I cook white rice, it always cooks the rice very quickly. I usually have to check it early and I usually add more water than called for in the recipe. I’m not sure how this will work out with the brown rice recipe. Usually the white rice sticks on the bottom. Do you have any suggestions for this? Also, I’m not sure how my family (kids) will like brown rice…….do you have any suggestions for adding something to it? thanks for your time! :)

Justin said:

Brown rice is a staple of my diet… Though I cook it in a ricemaker, so I can’t help you with the gas burner, I can give you a great tip for making it delicious and kid friendly. My favorite way to eat brown rice is to put three tablesppons of garlic infused olive oil in it, squeeze 1/2 a lemon over that, add a pinch of salted herbs, then add a handful of sesame seeds… it’s delicious and doesn’t taste anything like you’ld expect rice to taste like.

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Mary, Some gas stoves have a higher “simmer” level than others. My old stove was like that and simmering just about anything was really tricky. You might want to think about investing in a A “Flame Tamer“. Also be sure to cook your rice on the smallest burner as well. Brown rice is chewier and nuttier tasting and who knows, your kids may love it! Good Luck!

KIM said:


Please give me a recipe on how to cook brown rice with pressure cooker. In the past, my brown rice always turned out so hard, it make it difficult to chew … Any idea why? Please help. Thanks for your advice.


Kathy Maister said:

Hi Kim,
First of all, be sure to accurately measure both the rice and the water! I do not own a pressure cooker so the best I can do is offer some links to other sites for directions. If you Google – Brown Rice in a Pressure Cooker- there are thousands of recipes to choose from.

Pressure Cooker Recipes gives cooking times and amounts for all types of rice.

Good Luck!

Susana Osorio said:

Thanks for the tips. I have always make a delicious white rice, but I almost give up trying to make the brown one. I wanted to change for a more healthy rice, but it was always hard to chew and so salty.

Thanks, I am going to try your way now.


Dawn Bennett said:

Hi Cherie, I live in Mauritius and I cook in a daycare for 35 children between 3 months and 3 years old – would you kindly contact me so we could share recipes

Thanks, Kathy, for the recipe for cooking brown rice – I’d done it before but it was always a little chewy – will try your way to night

rick said:

I add dried black-eyed peas to the rice and once cooked add graded parmesan and parsley or basil.  I usually start with cold water rather than boiled – is there a difference in taste or texture? a rice cooker works great for brown rice. per suggestion will try the pressure cooker next since it takes less energy. thanks.

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Rick, there are many different methods for cooking rice. My recommendation is to follow the directions on the package of the particular rice you purchased.

I have used rice mixes that call for starting with cold water, adding the rice and bringing the whole mixture to a boil and then simmer until all the water is absorbed. I believe several of the Near East brand of rice mixes have you start by adding the rice to cold water. I have never tried this method with brown rice so I do not know how it would affect the texture of the cooked rice.

If you follow the directions on the package you should be safe!

Priya said:

Hi there

I stay in Redmond WA. We come from a rice loving family and have been using white rice for decades, Im planning to switch to brown rice because of its nutritional benefits, but i was wondering which is the best place to buy brown rice in bulk and also how long can we store it? can anyone suggest a place?


Kathy Maister said:

Hi Priya,
Hopefully someone will jump in with some suggestions!
Good Luck!

Sara R said:

Sometimes when I change a rice pilaf recipe over from white rice to brown rice, the rice doesn’t cook all the way through in the normal amount of time. Instead of cooking up in 40-45 minutes, it might take 2-3 hours. Why would that be? Does brown rice cook through if you saute it in fat first?

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Sara,
If you are measuring correctly it should not take more than 40-50 minutes to cook the brown rice.
I googled brown rice pilaf and there are tons of recipes for this dish. Try following a pilaf recipe specifically designed for brown rice.
Good Luck,

David H said:

Regarding brown rice in bulk…

I’ve had problems with brown rice and miller moths or similar. They seem to be in the packages when bought at the grocery store. Sometimes I find the larva dead inside an unopened bag. For this reason I freeze brown rice in Tupperware or Rubbermaid containers until I’m ready to use it.



startcooking said:

Hi Dave, If I were you I would consider buying my brown rice elsewhere!

According to the USDA this is how to store brown rice:

“When you bring brown rice home, be sure to store it properly to prevent spoilage. Since brown rice is whole grain it can spoil faster than white rice. Brown rice will keep about six months stored in the pantry. Store in an airtight container or zip top bag. Store brown rice in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life. Cooked brown rice will keep in the refrigerator about six days. Frozen cooked brown rice will keep about six months.”

ellen said:

when buying any product subject to bugs etc . The trick is to treat them before you see them . As soon as I bring them into the house j I always put raisins or nuts etc into a microwave container and microwave for about 1 minute. Store in a container with a tight lid . they will show no signs of life .I know. I know they will still be t there like many invisible fellow travellers bit they wont be crawling and wont reproduce and will be invisible

startcooking said:

Hi Ellen,

I’ve never heard of zapping bugs before they appear!

I still would just re-think where I was doing my shopping if unwanted bugs started appearing in my rice, nuts, raisins, etc.


Morgan said:

I have given up cooking brown rice on the stove top. There is just no consistency and you have to constantly monitor it. I got a brown rice cooker and it only takes about 2-3 minutes of set-up and clean-up total.

anne said:

I cooked sweet brown rice from an Asian supermarket , and it tastes sour. Is it possible I am doing something wrong (I washed it before cooking ) or is it possible that it was old in the plastic bag which didn’t have any date on it. Thanks, Anne

startcooking said:

Hi Ann,
Brown rice has a much shorter shelf life than white rice. Your brown rice may have been too old, or had not been stored properly which probably caused it to go off. I would recommend tossing the remainder of the bag out and buying fresh rice.

Erin said:

I love cooking brown rice, I use 2 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of orange juice to 1 1/2 cups of rice. in the end I mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup of whole cranberry jelly and almonds in it…my family loves it

startcooking said:

Hi Erin,

That sounds totally unique and really delicious!

Just a word or caution though – I am not a food scientist but I do remember reading something about heating orange juice can destroy the vitamin C in the juice.


Chakra K said:

Hi Kathy

Thanks for the article

I live in India. My family switched to brown rice 3 years and my kids love it absolutely. I get organic brown rice from nearby store. We soak it for one hour and cook in pressure cooker on gas for 40-50 mins in ‘Simmer” mode. Need to add 50% more water as compared to white rice. It doesn’t stick to the bottom,may be because of the rice bran oil.


Chakra & Pushpa

Jackbon said:

Kathy Thank your great tips!

And I like Brown Rice too,I heard Brown Rice can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes,Is this true?



startcooking said:

Hi Jackbon,

Brown rice (like all whole grain foods) has many health benefits, particularly when compared to white rice.

I am not a dietatician or a food scientist, but I do know that eating whole grain foods is a healthier option.


Help said:

I have tried cooking Mahatma brand rice 3 times in the last two days and have burnt it to black each time. I have followed the instructions exactly. What the heck am I doing wrong??

I tried twice in the microwave and once on my gas stove.

startcooking said:

First of all, not all stove or microwaves are calibrated the same way. Hence directions need to be adjusted to your particular stove or microwave. It sounds like you need to lower the temperature and also cook your rice for fewer minutes.

My stove has four different size burners. Simmer on the biggest burner is actually about medium on the smallest burner.

Plus a heavy bottom pan will distribute the heat more evenly than a lighter weight pan.

Experiment with also adding a bit more water to cook the rice.

Good Luck!

LoveToCook said:

I always burnt rice (especially brown) until I found a great, no hassle trick. I use it for white rice all the time.

Add your rice and cool water to the pan at the same time. Cover, and turn your burner on. Bring to a boil. For white rice, turn off the burner and leave rice covered until done. For brown rice, you may have to let the pot boil a couple extra minutes before turning off the burner/flame. This makes perfect rice that never burns. Plus, you can forget all about it after a few minutes. No constant checking to ensure it hasn’t boiled over! And we all know what a mess boiled-over rice is to clean up!

startcooking said:

Hi L to C,
This sounds positively brilliant! I will have to give your method a try.
Thanks for sharing,

LizinSLO said:

To keep bugs, larvae, etc.; out of grains and flours, add a few bay leaves to each storage container. This has worked for my family for a couple of generations.

startcooking said:

Hi Lizin,
Thanks for the great tip!

startcooking said:

Love to Cook,

I can’t thank you enough for sharing your brilliant comment on how to cook rice.

I have been using your method for cooking brown rice and I love it! You are so right – it comes out perfect every time.

The best part is that my brown rice actually turns out fluffy and has a nice bite.

Many thanks!

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