The Secret Trick to Getting Perfect Rice Is With Your Finger

It's Been Passed Along for Generations

pot of white rice

The Spruce

Just like the search for jammy hard-boiled eggs, there's a lot of advice on how to cook a bowl of perfectly fluffy rice. Here at The Spruce Eats, we've got tips on making rice on the stovetop or in your oven, on using white rice versus brown rice, on finding the best rice cooker for your home—but there's a simple foolproof approach that requires no fancy equipment or magic water-to-grain ratios: the rice finger trick. Watch this method in action in the video below.


Watch Now: Get Perfect, Fluffy Rice Without Measuring

Also known as the first knuckle method, it's not so much a scientific technique as it is a piece of hands-on culinary knowledge that's been passed down through generations of home cooks.

Both of our food editors, Jess and Patty, learned the rice finger trick as kids and continue to bravely forgo all measuring cups. Here's what you do:

  1. Add the amount of rice you want to cook to a pot.
  2. Optionally, rinse and drain the rice.
  3. Make sure the rice is level.
  4. Put your index finger on top of the rice and add cold water until it hits your first knuckle.
  5. That's it!
one thing: rice finger trick
The Spruce

Then cook as you usually do, whether that's on the stove or in a rice cooker. The trick works regardless of finger size or grain length. Jess, whose family comes from India, uses it to make long grain basmati rice, while Patty received this important piece of cooking advice from her Chinese mom for cooking short grain jasmine rice. It can also be done with brown rice—those firmer grains require an extra 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time—but keep in mind that this technique cannot be applied to farro or quinoa.

It's puzzling that the rice finger trick yields the same results when so many variables can change, but our families swear by it and you probably will too after giving this a try.

Now that you've got a pot of perfect rice, use those fluffy tender grains any way you wish, whether that's plain to enjoy with your favorite Asian mains or to use in fried rice, rice pudding, or soup.