8 Common Rice Cooking Mistakes to Avoid


Rice is a staple food in most households. When it comes to cooking rice, the steps can seem very simple but often, a lot of people make mistakes during the process. Due to those mistakes, the cooked rice often ends up lumpy and stuck together, with a texture that’s glue-like.

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to avoid common rice cooking mistakes and have perfectly cooked rice. We’ve rounded up the ones you’re most likely to come across, and laid out some tips to ensure your rice is soft and fluffy. Read on!

Mistakes You Can Make When Cooking Rice and How to Avoid Them

Rice can be very, very easy to mess up. However, by knowing the most common issues when cooking rice and how you can avoid them, you can prevent ruining your rice and have it done to perfection.

Treating All Types of Rice the Same

The most common mistake that people make when cooking rice is treating all types of rice the same way. Just because they’re all small grains doesn’t mean that you can use them interchangeably. They also require different types of treatments, especially when it comes to the liquid needed and their cook times. Otherwise, they will end up mushy or dry, and inedible at worst.

To avoid this mistake, it’s best that you should know the rice type you’re working with. You don’t need all the specifics; you only need to know its type and what recipe you’ll be using it for. From there, you’ll be able to work out the correct amount of liquid you need and the cooking time it requires.

Not Rinsing the Rice

One of the most important things to do before cooking rice is to rinse the grains. However, a lot of people tend to skip this step, resulting in gummy rice. Rinsing the grains is a vital process as it gets rid of the excess starch that makes rice mushy when cooked.

Aside from removing starch, rinsing rice also ensures that you clear away dirt and grime that may have gotten mixed in during the process. Washing your rice means you’ll have clean grains to work with and when you cook it, you’ll achieve that soft and fluffy rice you desire.

Not Using the Correct Rice-to-Water Ratio

As mentioned earlier, knowing the type of rice you’ll be cooking will make the entire process more manageable and you’re less likely to end up with a ruined batch of rice. When you know the kind of rice you’re working with, you’ll also know the correct water-to-rice ratio that you need to use.

Not all rice types require the same amount of liquid. For example, your regular white rice has a ratio of 1:1 where 1 cup of rice is equal to 1 cup of water. However, if you’re cooking brown rice, you will need 1:1 1/2, which means 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cup of water. Using the right amount of liquid will ensure that your rice won’t get wet or mushy once it’s done.

Not Using the Right Equipment

Whether you’re cooking rice on the stovetop or using a rice cooker, it’s ideal to use the correct equipment when cooking rice. When cooking rice on the stovetop, make sure that you’re using a pot or a pan with a thick bottom as that can help distribute heat evenly.

This prevents your rice from burning at the bottom. Aside from a heavy-bottomed pan, ensure that you are also using a tight-fitting lid so that the steam doesn’t escape.

If you want to cook using a rice cooker but don’t have one yet, be sure to select a well-made, quality rice cooker. Having a good quality rice cooker will make things easier as it will do all the cooking for you. All you have to do is place your grains and liquid in the rice cooker’s inner pot, cover it, and press a button.

Boiling Rice

Cooking on the stovetop is a popular way of making rice but it can get tricky, especially if you aren’t aware of the temperature. Too much heat will cause the grains to split and ruin the rice’s texture. Remember, you’ll want to cook rice with steam and not with pure heat.

Instead of boiling rice, bring the water to a boil instead. Add the rice and reduce the heat to a simmer, then close the lid. This process lets the steam do the work, cooking your rice perfectly.

Disturbing the Rice During Cooking

It’s very tempting to open the lid and check on your rice during the cooking process. However, taking a peek at your rice while it’s cooking is something that you shouldn’t really do. When you interfere with the steaming process, you risk undercooking the rice.

You may also be tempted to stir the rice but if you do, you will activate the starches. This will leave you with clumpy, mushy rice. One of the best things to avoid this is to leave the rice alone. Don’t open the lid, and most of all, don’t stir it. Let the steam work its magic.

Not Letting the Rice Rest

The urge to scoop out rice right after it cooks may be strong, but it’s in your best interest to ignore that and let your rice rest instead. Serving the rice immediately will disturb the grains and make the moisture spread through the grains. This results in mushy rice.

To avoid this, let the rice sit. After it cooks, turn the heat off and keep the lid on your pot. Let your rice settle in its steam for 7 to 10 minutes. This will help distribute heat throughout the covered pot, ensuring that your rice is evenly cooked.

Not Fluffing the Rice

Stirring the rice while it’s cooking will ruin the grains and activate the starch, making the final product gloopy and mushy. However, if you fluff the rice after resting it, you’ll achieve a perfect consistency.

Fluffing the rice before serving will allow the excess steam trapped to escape. Otherwise, it will continue to heat the rice and overcook it. The best item that you can use to fluff the rice is a fork. A long-toned fork or a meat fork will work best.

Final Note

It can take a bit of practice to master the right rice cooking technique. If you’ve run into any of the mistakes we’ve listed, don’t beat yourself up over it! The most important thing is that you now know how to avoid making them. Certainly, you’ll be able to cook your rice better and perfectly the next time.

Want to gain more rice cooking experience? Check out our collection of rice recipes.