How To Cook Black Rice


Black rice, also called purple rice, gets its name from its dark-colored grains. Originally from China, this rice has been around for more than 9,000 years and has spread to other parts of the world. This rice may seem mysterious to you, especially if you’re only used to white or brown rice. In reality, black rice is very easy to cook and can be used in a lot of dishes!

If you have never cooked black rice before, you’re in for a treat. Read on to know how to cook black rice!

Is Black Rice the Same as Forbidden Rice?

Yes, black rice is also called forbidden rice. It’s also referred to as Chinese forbidden rice or Emperor’s rice. This is because, in the days of ancient China, it was reserved for royalty and the very wealthy, as it was believed to be the healthiest of all varieties of rice

It also meant that the nutritious properties of black rice would ensure the longevity and health of the emperors. It was cultivated under strict surveillance and the common people were forbidden to grow or consume it, hence the name forbidden black rice.

Is Black Rice the Same as Wild Rice?

Not at all. Wild rice is technically the seed of semi-aquatic grass, while black rice is a type of whole grain. They require different cooking techniques and also taste different. 

What Does Black Rice Taste Like?

Black rice or purple rice has a delicious, nutty roasted flavor. In some ways, it can be similar to brown rice. Cooked black rice has a dense and chewy texture and also gives off an earthy sweet, savory profile.

Black Rice Health Benefits

Black rice is much healthier compared to white rice or brown rice. In fact, black rice is the healthiest out of all rice types. This is because uncooked black rice is sold as a whole grain, meaning that its outermost layer of bran is intact. 

Whole grains are unrefined, which means that they keep their high nutrient content and aren’t stripped of their beneficial properties in the milling process. Due to that, black rice contains more fiber than traditional white rice and also has more protein and iron per serving. 

Forbidden black rice has a very high level of anthocyanin, an antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. It’s also suggested that consuming black rice may help in improving brain function and reduce inflammation.

Three Common Types of Black Rice

It is very easy to find black rice in any supermarket or your local health food store. However, the different names of black rice can get confusing, especially if you are new to buying and cooking black rice. Here are the most common types of forbidden black rice you can find in stores:

Black Rice

Also referred to as forbidden rice, Chinese black rice is a medium-grain rice that is primarily grown in the Zhejiang Province in eastern China but recently, it is also grown in various parts of the world. This type is the most common one sold in U.S. grocery stores. Cooked black rice has a firm texture and is mostly eaten as congee or porridge. It also cooks faster than brown rice.

Black Japonica Rice and Black Pearl Rice

Both Black Japonica and Black Pearl are black rice varieties that were developed in California. Black Japonica rice is a mixture of short-grain black rice and medium-grain mahogany rice, which is a type of red rice. Black Pearl rice is similar to black rice in the way that it is whole grain rice with the bran intact. It has a black pigment on the kernel.

Black Sticky Rice

Black sticky rice is also known as Thai Black Rice or Thai Sweet Rice. It is a medium to long-grain glutinous rice that hails from South East and East Asia. True to its name, black sticky rice has a sticky texture compared to Chinese black rice. It is often used in desserts, custards, pudding, and porridge recipes. Korean cooking also uses black sticky rice but they refer to it as wild sweet rice or black sweet rice.

Does Black Rice Need to Be Soaked?

You can cook rice without soaking the grains. But, as is the case with most whole grains, soaking black rice before cooking may have some benefits. Soaking black rice may remove some of the naturally occurring phytic acids in the grains, which inhibits mineral absorption.

Soaking can also break down some of the hard-to-digest proteins. Moreover, soaking black rice may cut its cooking time down substantially.

If you decide to soak, mix 1 cup of black rice with three cups of water in a bowl. You can let it sit for an hour or overnight. The longer it soaks, the quicker it will cook. 

Does Black Rice Take Longer to Cook?

Compared to white rice, cooking forbidden rice can take a while. It often cooks for around 40 minutes. If you want to shorten the cooking time, you may soak the grains before you cook black rice. However, do take note that the amount of time will depend on how long you soak it. 

What is the Process of Cooking Black Rice?

Cooking black rice is just as easy as cooking white or brown rice. In fact, you can cook black rice using a variety of cooking methods. Additionally, any of these cooking methods can be used to cook any black rice recipe. 

Before you cook black rice using any of the techniques below, you should rinse the grains first to remove excess starch, which can make the rice gummy, as well as dirt on the grains. When you rinse black rice, the grains become fluffier and softer once cooked.

Absorption Method

This is the most basic and popular method to cook black rice. Implied in the name of this method, this technique requires the black rice grains to be cooked in a specific quantity of liquid that should be fully absorbed by the end of cooking.

To cook black rice using this method, you can use water or any broth that you like. The water-to-black rice ratio for the absorption method is 2 to 1, meaning you will need 2 cups of water or broth for every cup of black rice.

Here’s how to cook black rice using the absorption method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, place 2 cups of water or broth and 1 cup of black rice.
  2. Place it over medium-high heat. 
  3. Bring to a boil, put the lid on, and turn the heat down to low.
  4. Cook for about 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. Continue cooking until the purple rice is tender and all the water is absorbed.
  6. Take it off the heat and let the black rice stand covered for about 5 to 10 minutes. 
  7. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Pasta Method

The pasta method isn’t a popular technique when it comes to cooking grains, but it works very well with black rice. This method requires the forbidden rice to be cooked just like pasta in a large amount of water in a pot without a lid.

The pasta method is an excellent way to make black rice because you don’t have to figure out the exact water-to-rice ratio. Forbidden rice cooked using this method will have a very nice, non-stick consistency. 

One thing to note is that you can only use water to cook forbidden rice using this method. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place 6 cups of water, 1 cup of forbidden rice, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 to 35 minutes until the rice is tender.
  3. Drain the liquid using a colander or a fine-mesh strainer.
  4. Serve.

Pilaf Method

If you’re a fan of rice cooked with aromatics and simmered in stock, the black rice pilaf method is one that you should totally try. This method is a great way to make a black rice recipe dish that incorporates vegetables, fresh herbs, and spices. Moreover, this black rice recipe is very versatile as you can switch around the ingredients to your preference. 

To make black rice using the pilaf method, you will need olive oil, herbs and spices of your choice, and water or stock.

  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook your desired vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add the black rice and cooking liquid of your choice. You can use chicken or vegetable stock. The water is alright as well.
  3. Add the seasonings that you prefer.
  4. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down. Simmer for 30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. 
  5. Garnish with herbs.
  6. Serve.

How to Cook Black Rice in a Rice Cooker

Cooking forbidden rice on the stovetop can be done in three ways, but if you prefer something that is more convenient and easier, you can use a rice cooker as well. The rice cooker is a fool-proof device that will yield you restaurant-quality, soft and fluffy cooked rice every single time. You also won’t need to soak your grains when cooking your black rice in a rice cooker, making it perfect for busy nights. 

The rice-to-water ratio for cooking purple rice in a rice cooker is 1 3/4 cups of cooking liquid to 1 cup of forbidden rice. 

  1. Rinse the rice grains until the water runs clear.
  2. Add the rinsed black rice and water into the inner pot of your rice cooker.
  3. Close the lid and press the cook function. If your rice cooker has a brown rice setting, use that instead.
  4. Once set, allow it to cook for 50 to 60 minutes. 
  5. Let the rice rest for 5 to 10 minutes after it’s done cooking.
  6. Open the lid and fluff with a fork before serving.

How to Cook Black Rice in an Instant Pot

The Instant Pot version of making black rice is also an easy and convenient method, similar to using the rice cooker. An Instant Pot is a wonderful gadget that combines multiple appliances in one. The Instant Pot doesn’t only have the ability to make rice, it can also cook a variety of dishes with its numerous settings. 

The rice-to-water ratio for cooking forbidden rice in an Instant Pot is 1 to 1. This means that you will need 1 cup of water for every cup of purple rice. 

  1. Rinse the rice using a strainer and drain. 
  2. Add the black rice to the inner pot of the Instant Pot.
  3. Pour your choice of liquid.
  4. Close the Instant Pot lid and set the vent to Sealing.
  5. Pressure cook on High for 17 minutes.
  6. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
  7. Carefully open the vent to release any remaining pressure.
  8. Fluff with a fork and serve.

How to Store Leftover Black Rice

Leftover black rice can be kept in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for four days. You can use it to make grain bowls, black rice porridge, or fried rice.

Final Note

Black rice may look mysterious thanks to its dark purple color, but this grain is nothing to be afraid of. It is packed with a ton of nutrients, making it a great choice for anyone who looks out for their health. It also has a delicious nutty flavor that lends well to a lot of rice recipes.

We hope that this article helped you learn how to cook black rice. Once you master any of the techniques, you’ll be sure to have perfectly cooked black rice every time.