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How To Cook the Perfect Brown Rice


Cooking white rice is very simple and a great skill to know if you regularly eat it, but cooking brown rice success can be a bit harder to achieve on the first few tries. Because the bran of the grain is intact, it takes longer when cooking rice thus making it a bit more difficult to get the texture just right, and many of us have definitely encountered a pot of mushy brown rice. When it comes to brown rice, you’re looking for a chewy texture that is neither soggy nor crunchy. 

Adding more brown rice to your diet is much healthier than white rice and learning how to achieve evenly cooked grains can help you add more whole foods to your daily diet. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to making perfectly fluffy brown rice every time. Here’s how to cook brown rice on the stove, in a rice cooker, and in the oven and come out with perfectly cooked rice no matter what.

Types of Brown Rice

Short Grain Brown Rice

Short-grain rice, when cooked, becomes sticky so the grains clump together much like white rice. Cook brown rice like this when you’re looking for something that can easily be picked up with chopsticks and where you want the rice to stick together such as sushi. 

Medium Grain Brown Rice

Slightly longer than short-grain, medium-grain brown rice is a type of brown rice that is a great all-rounder that is slightly stickier than long-grain, but not as sticky as short-grain.

Long Grain Brown Rice

Long-grain brown rice does not stick together as much as its shorter counterparts, but still has some slight stick and comes out fluffy when cooked. Long-grain brown rice is a favorite to use when cooking up fried rice.

Brown Basmati Rice

Brown basmati rice is a type of long-grain brown rice that is the least sticky variety and is the ideal partner for dishes like curry or stir-fries.

How Do You Make Brown Rice That’s Not Mushy?

All too often, people who are unused to making brown rice have found that their cooked brown rice turned up mushy or only partially cooked. Mushy rice happens when the rice cooks for too long or has too much liquid. On the other hand, partially cooked brown rice happens when the cooking time isn’t long enough or you cook rice with not enough water, which can often be a mistake when you’re accustomed to making white rice. The secret to understanding brown rice cook time and getting perfect rice to cook evenly is knowing what type of brown rice grain you’re cooking.

Fixing Brown Rice Mistakes

  • Watery brown rice happens when there is too much liquid used. Strain out the excess water, return the rice to the pot, and let it sit on the lowest heat for 10 minutes with the lid on if the rice is still hard or the lid off if it’s mushy rice.
  • Crunchy or dry brown rice happens when there was not enough liquid, or it didn’t cook long enough. Let it rest off the heat for 10 minutes. If it’s still too crunchy, add some boiling water and cook brown rice for 10 minutes on low heat over the stove or in your rice cooker, then steam for 5 minutes for perfectly cooked rice.
  • Burned brown rice happens when the heat was too high as you cook brown rice, there wasn’t enough liquid, or both. If only the rice on the bottom of the pot is burned and the remaining rice is edible, remove it without disturbing the burned rice. Then fill the pot with water and let it soak for a while so you can scrub out and discard the burned rice.

What is the Ratio of Water to Brown Rice?

A good rule of thumb for cooking brown rice is to follow a 2 to 1 water to rice ratio. Unlike white rice, brown rice takes longer to cook and will need more water if you want perfect rice and don’t want it to come out dry. For 1 cup of rice, use 2 cups of water. When in doubt, check the package directions for the optimal amount of cups of water for short, medium, and long-grain.

How Long Should You Cook Brown Rice?

On the Stove

  1. Rinse 1 cup of brown rice in a fine-mesh sieve under cold water for 30 seconds. Drain.
  2. Combine the rice, a big pinch of kosher salt, and 2 cups of water in a wide, medium saucepan.
  3. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. For long-grain and basmati rice, use the Boil and Drain method (which is exactly like cooking pasta.)
  4. Remove from the heat and let the rice sit covered in a warm pot for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

In the Oven

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place the rice into a baking dish.
  3. Bring water to a boil in a kettle or covered medium saucepan. Pour the boiling water over the brown rice, stir to combine, and cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. 
  4. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour.
  5. After 1 hour, remove the cover and fluff the brown rice with a fork. Serve immediately.

How to Add More Flavor to Cooked Brown Rice

Cook in Broth

Swap out the water as you cook brown rice for chicken stock, add a bouillon cube, or use vegetable stock for vegetarian recipes. However, be sure to adjust the seasoning to compensate for the broth’s sodium content.

Toast the Grains

Sauté the rice in olive oil before cooking to toast the grains; this will make brown rice have a toasty, nutty flavor which is perfect for stir-fries.

Add Aromatics

The best brown rice recipe will often include aromatics. While you’re toasting grains, add ingredients like chopped onions, garlic, shallots, ginger, or spices before proceeding with cooking.

Add Extra Seasoning

Cooking brown rice with salt is essential for flavorful grains, but you can also infuse more flavor by adding olive oil and butter, swapping in garlic salt, or adding different spices.

Stir in Add-ins

Turn brown rice into a fast side dish by adding shredded cheese, grated parmesan, salsa, canned beans, or chopped, cooked veggies.

Experiment with Condiments

Amp up brown rice recipes with different types of vinegar, soy sauce, chili crisp, or hot sauce.

Cooking Tips

  • Make sure to rinse brown rice if you’re looking to get rid of starchiness. When you cook brown rice without rinsing, the cooked grains are a little more starchy and you can see a thin layer of gluey starch at the bottom of the rice cooker pot after steaming. 
  • When using the Boil and Drain method as you cook brown rice, you will notice the grains are unpleasantly soggy once the rice is immediately drained. You must return the brown rice to the pot to the stove and cover it with the lid, then let the rice rest for 10 minutes. By letting the rice steam, the brown rice absorbs the excess water and becomes fluffy and perfectly cooked when you do this.
  • Brown rice is gluten-free, so be mindful of additions to your recipe that could add gluten. Soy sauce, for example, is not gluten-free. Get an additional and more nutty flavor without adding gluten by toasting your brown rice grains.
  • For a wild rice option, use 8 cups of water and boil the wild rice for 40 to 55 minutes until it’s tender but pleasantly chewy.
  • These tips will help you cook perfect brown rice grains. Quick-cooking, parboiled, and sprouted brown rice will have different cooking times and may call for different amounts of liquid.

Final Note

Being able to cook brown rice is a pretty essential skill, especially if you’re looking to add a bit more of a healthier option to your everyday diet and want to replace your typical white rice. We love brown rice because of how well it goes with anything, but getting this cooked rice to become perfect brown rice every time can be a little more challenging.

By following the steps we laid out, you’ll be able to cook brown rice perfectly in no time.


Hailing from California, USA. Ji-hyun is a Korean American 🇰🇷🇺🇸 with two growing boys who eat their weight in rice each week. After graduating UCLA & becoming a mom she started We Know Rice as a guide for all the students and moms out there looking to cook healthy and filling meals.

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