Make Perfect Rice

Brown rice on wooden spoon
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Rice is one of the best side dishes for many meals, but many people have difficulty making fluffy, tender rice. There are a few tips and rules to follow. Making good rice just takes practice and a bit of knowledge. Rice can be a good side dish to many recipes, including soups, stews, stir-fries, and casseroles. And remember, if all else fails, buy a rice cooker! That will ensure the exact texture of the rice you want every single time.

  • First, be sure you're using the right rice for the result you want. For tender, fluffy rice with separate grains, choose long grain white rice that has less branching starch and more straight starch. That means the rice won't release starch that will clump it together.
  • Rinse rice before you cook it—all types. Some rice is coated with talc in processing. This material is inert and won't hurt you if you ingest it, but I'd prefer to have just rice in our side dishes. Rinsing also helps keep the grains separate as they cook.
  • Use a little less water than the recipes call for if you want fluffy rice. The ratio of rice to water should be a little less than 1:2. In other words, if you are cooking 1 cup of rice, use about 1 3/4 cups of liquid.
  • We like using chicken broth when cooking our rice; it adds more flavor. You can use water, vegetable broth, or beef stock if you'd like. It all depends on what you're serving with the rice, and the flavors you want to enhance.
  • Time the cooking carefully, follow instructions on the package or in the recipe and lift the lid as little as possible. Lifting the lid will disturb the cooking process. If you lift the lid a lot, add about five minutes to the cooking time.
  • When the rice is cooked (tender to the bite), leave the cover on the pan, remove it from the heat, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. This will let the rice absorb any extra liquid. Then fluff the rice gently with a fork and serve.
  • If you still don't have luck making fluffy rice with these tips, cook your rice like you cook pasta. Bring lots of water to a boil, add the rice, cook until just barely tender, then drain the rice in a colander. Return to the hot pot and cover; let stand for a few minutes to steam and then serve.