Tips & How-to

How to cook brown rice so it’s perfect and fluffy

Nutritious brown rice is easy to make and versatile to use.
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From its nutty flavour to added nutritional value, brown rice is the preferred choice in many dishes. 

Watch: How to make salmon fried rice

The only problem is that it can be trickier to cook than white rice. 

How to cook brown rice

Emma McCaskill is Tasting Australia’s Food Curator. She says there are some basic things that can impact how your brown rice will turn out. 

Firstly, “The cooking time for brown rice can vary greatly depending on the variety, so be sure to check the packet for cooking times before using.” 

Additionally, she says getting the ratio of rice to water right is key. 

“The ratio of water to rice is important when cooking brown rice, as using too little water can result in undercooked rice while using too much water can make the rice mushy. Be sure to measure the water and rice accurately and use the correct ratio.”

boil and rain method for cooking brown rice
(Credit: Getty) (Credit: Getty)

What is the best way to cook brown rice?

The absorption method is a popular way to cook any kind of rice, but when it comes to cooking brown rice  there’s an easier way.

Instead, try the boil-and-drain method, where you cook the rice like pasta. It’s quicker and the result is fluffy, delicious brown rice every time. 

“The boil and strain method for cooking brown rice has many benefits,” says Emma. “It results in a fluffy texture, ideal for stir-fries or salads. It also removes excess starch, which can cause the rice to become gummy or sticky. 

She adds: “The results are a nuttier and chewier texture, typical of brown rice.”

brown rice and tofu dish
(Credit: Getty) (Credit: Getty)

The boil and drain method

Here’s how:

Before cooking brown rice, Emma recommends soaking it for at least 30 minutes to help soften the grains. 

  1. Soak brown rice for at least 30 minutes before boiling. 
  2. Rinse the brown rice thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer. 
  3. Add the rinsed rice to a pot of boiling water and add a small pinch of salt. The ratio of water to rice for this method is typically 6:1, so for example, if you’re cooking 1 cup of rice, you’ll need approx. 6 cups of water. 
  4. Let the rice boil for about 30 minutes or until the rice is tender. 
  5. Once the rice is cooked, remove from the pot, strain using a fine mesh strainer, and then let it sit for a few minutes to steam.
cooked brown rice in a bowl
(Credit: Getty) (Credit: Getty)

The absorption method

Still want to use the absorption method to cook brown rice? Sarah Murphy, food editor of Better Homes and Gardens, shares her basic recipe to cook both white and brown rice

Basic rice recipe

Prep + cook time 20 minutes (white) & 30 minutes (brown) (+ standing) 

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (300g) white or brown rice
  • 2¼ cups (560ml) water for white rice or 3 cups (750ml) for brown rice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Rinse rice in a sieve under cold running water until the water runs clear.
  2. Place water, rice and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to the boil.
  3. Cover with a lid; reduce heat to low. Cook white rice for 15 minutes; cook brown rice for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from heat; stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
  5. Fluff rice with a fork.

If you prefer the absorption method for cooking brown rice, Emma has a handy top to stop it from going mushy. 

“Brown rice can be delicate, and stirring it too much can cause it to break apart and become mushy,” she says. “To avoid this, try not to stir the rice too much while cooking.”

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