How to Make Basic White Rice

Basic white rice in a bowl
The Spruce
  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Servings: 6 servings
  • Yields: 3 cups
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
34 Calories
0g Fat
7g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 34
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 180mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 9mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

You don't need a rice cooker to make foolproof rice. Use this recipe to make basic white rice in a saucepan on the stovetop. It's easy and will come out right every time if you follow a few simple steps.

There are several keys to cooking perfect rice. The first is the ratio of water to rice: For plain white rice, use 2 cups of water for 1 cup of uncooked long-grain rice. This will result in 3 cups of cooked rice. Second is the temperature. You want to bring it to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat so it simmers for the rest of the cooking time. Don't walk away until that's done. Finally, timing is important. Use a timer to ensure you're cooking the rice for the exact time required.

You might have heard that you have to soak rice before you cook it, but it's not necessarily true for all long-grain white rice, and it's definitely not needed for this basic recipe. However, rinsing the rice before cooking helps create the best texture, as it removes some of the surface starches.

Plain white rice is an excellent inexpensive side dish for nearly any meal—it's hard to find a dish that rice doesn't complement. It's also a blank canvas to which you can add countless ingredients for extra flavor, and it does a good job of soaking up the sauces of whatever you pair it with, too. Once you discover how well this method works, you won't hesitate to cook rice for dinner.

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Click Play to See This Perfect Basic White Rice Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white rice (long-grain)

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Optional:

    1 tablespoon butter

  • Optional:

    1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for basic white rice
    The Spruce 
  2. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Drain in a colander and set aside.

    Rinsed and strained white rice
    The Spruce
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the salt, stir, and then add the rinsed and drained rice. Stir with a fork.

    White rice in a pot with water
    The Spruce
  4. Reduce the heat, cover the rice, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Check it after 15 minutes to see if all the water has evaporated. If it has, the rice is ready. If not, replace the lid and let the rice simmer an additional 5 minutes. 

    Cooked white rice in a pot
    The Spruce
  5. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, and transfer into a serving dish.

    You can also stir in 1 tablespoon of butter or add chopped parsley or other herbs to the pot before serving. Enjoy.

    Basic white rice in a pot garnished with parsley
    The Spruce

What Can I Add to White Rice?

  • For a hint of flavor, use stock instead of water.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of butter or oil to the water once it comes to a boil.
  • In the serving dish, top the cooked rice with finely chopped green onions or chives.
  • Add frozen peas to the cooked rice while it's still in the saucepan and let the residual heat from the rice thaw the peas.
  • For Mexican dishes, add a tablespoon of lime juice and some chopped fresh cilantro to the rice.

Tips

  • The exact time required to cook rice depends on your stove and the kind of pot you use. When you find the ideal time, the stove setting, and the pot that works in your kitchen, write it down. Follow that formula exactly every time you cook rice.
  • Taking the rice off the heat and letting it steam with the lid on for 5 to 10 minutes makes for fluffy rice.
  • This cooking method can be adapted to different types of white rice, such as basmati, jasmine, etc. You may have to adjust the amount of water and cooking time.

How to Store and Keep Rice

Rice will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to a week. It may become a little dry, so when your heat it on the stovetop or the microwave add a couple of tablespoons of water to it.

Rice also freezes beautifully. It's often helpful to freeze leftover rice in 1-cup increments so you can easily incorporate it into a meal later, or use it to supplement a recipe's needs. You can defrost it in the fridge before reheating, or add it to a pot of chili or soup in its frozen state, for example, and it will thaw quickly.