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What is the Difference Between Parboiled Rice and White Rice?


Many people consume white rice daily. As a food staple, it is used in countless applications all over the world. While white rice is the most popular type of rice, one that has gained popularity over the years is parboiled rice. This type of rice is commonly found in Asian and African regions, and numerous individuals easily confuse it with one another.

Parboiled rice vs white rice, what are their differences, and which one comes with more health benefits? Read on to find out!

What Is Parboiled Rice?

Before we go into the differences between white rice and parboiled rice, it’s important to define exactly what parboiled rice is. Also known as converted rice, parboiled rice is partially boiled in its husk and goes through a unique three-step processing method. 

Unlike brown or white rice, the parboiling process involves soaking the rice in water, steaming it under pressure, and then drying it out. This results in rice grains that are firm and less sticky than regular white rice. 

Parboiled rice is available in various sizes such as short grain, medium grain, long grain, and extra long grain. Each grain size contributes to the texture as well as the individual’s preferred cooking method.

What Is the Point of Parboiled Rice?

Parboiling rice makes it easier to remove the husk of the rice before eating it. The process also improves the texture of grains as it’s fluffier and less sticky when cooked compared to regular rice. It also offers nutritional benefits that cannot be found in white rice.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Parboiled Rice?

When rice undergoes the parboiling process, it changes at a molecular level. This means that there is an increase in the texture, storage life, and nutritional value of the rice. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of parboiled rice.


Parboiled rice is known to have several potential health benefits when consumed. It is good for digestive health as it has a high fiber content. This is thanks to the parboiling process which steams the rice in its husk. Its starch content also acts as a prebiotic, making it good for your gut. The rice is versatile, lending itself well to various recipes. It also lasts long in food storage.


Depending on your texture and flavor preference, you may not like parboiled rice. It is firm and sometimes takes on a subtle nutty taste compared to white rice. 

What Is White Rice?

While most people already know what white rice is, it still helps to define it, especially when comparing it to parboiled rice.

White rice is a type of rice that has been milled to have its husk, bran, and germ removed before undergoing polishing, which gives it its shiny white look. White rice is also referred to as regular rice. White rice has little nutritional benefits compared to parboiled rice or even brown rice due to the removal of the germ and bran layers.

What Is the Difference Between Parboiled Rice and White Rice?

At a quick glance, many people think that parboiled and white rice are the same thing but in reality, they are not. There are several differences and some similarities between them.


Cooked parboiled rice has a firm texture and grains that aren’t too sticky. This is because of the parboiling process which gelatinizes the starches in the rice. Grains of parboiled rice keep their own space and offer a nice, firm bite. On the other hand, white rice can be delicate and can end up clumpy if cooked wrong.

Does Parboiled Rice Taste the Same as White Rice?

White rice undergoes an extensive milling process that leaves it with a far less inherent flavor than parboiled rice. Overall though, cooked white rice and parboiled rice can roughly taste the same. Some do say that parboiled rice has a very subtle taste that only hints towards the bold nutty flavor of brown rice.

Why Does Parboiled Rice Taste Different?

Most people find parboiled rice to have the same taste as cooked rice. However, there can be times when parboiled rice may have a very subtle flavor to it. This is due to the partial boiling process where the husk is still intact.

Method of Cooking

You can cook parboiled rice and white rice using just about anything, be it the rice cooker, an Instant Pot, the stove, or the microwave

Cooking Time

Parboiled rice can take around 20 minutes to cook. It’s faster than regular rice due to the partial cooking it undergoes during the parboiling process. With that said, parboiled rice should not be confused with instant rice, which is precooked and dehydrated before packaging. Parboiled rice takes longer to cook than instant rice.

In contrast to that, white rice can take up to 25 minutes to cook. It cooks faster than brown rice and just a little longer than parboiled rice.

Best Use

Both parboiled rice and white rice are multipurpose and highly versatile. Both of them can either be incorporated into a main dish or eaten as a side dish. You can cook white rice in casseroles, pilafs, risotto, paellas, stir-fries, and other dishes. Similarly, you can cook parboiled rice as a pairing for meat and veggie dishes, use it in paellas, or even make great fried rice with it. 

One thing that you can’t do with parboiled rice though is to use it as a substitute for sticky rice dishes as it is not as sticky as white rice and other varieties.

Shelf Life

Aside from being convenient to cook, parboiled rice is also a good choice for long-term food storage as it has a longer shelf life than white rice. Parboiled rice can last up to several months or even years if stored properly.


When it comes to affordability, white rice has the upper hand. Parboiled rice is highly affordable but it is not as cheap as white rice. A pound of parboiled long-grain rice sells for roughly 1 to 1.20 USD while white long-grain rice is cheaper at 82 cents to 1 USD per pound.

Parboiled Rice vs White Rice, Which Is the Healthier Choice?

Parboiled rice beats white rice when it comes to nutritional content. This is because parboiling rice preserves more nutrients compared to the conventional milling method that white rice undergoes. The milling process typically destroys 65% of the nutrients on average. Parboiled rice contains fewer calories, more protein, and more fiber compared to white rice. 

Parboiled rice also has a lower glycemic index than white rice. Foods with a lower glycemic index are digested more slowly, providing a more gradual release of energy and keeping blood sugar levels steady. This makes parboiled rice a better choice for individuals with diabetes.

Compared to white rice, parboiled rice is better for improving gut health. It has a special kind of starch that acts as a prebiotic – a type of nourishment that promotes the growth of probiotics which are the beneficial bacteria living in our digestive system.

Is Parboiled Rice a Good Substitute for Brown Rice?

Brown rice is a whole grain with only its first outer layer removed through milling. This means that brown rice keeps the germ and bran layer intact, unlike white rice which has the germ removed along with other layers. Because of that, it is seen as a much healthier option than white rice. It is chewy in texture and has a nutty flavor. 

If you find that your store doesn’t have brown rice in stock and you want an alternative that’s similar to it, an option that you can go for is parboiled rice. While brown rice is certainly more nutritious, parboiled rice also has tons of vitamins and minerals that make it a good substitute. 

Final Note

Parboiled rice vs white rice, are they the same thing? Not at all. Parboiled rice is made using a unique process that involves three steps, namely soaking, steaming, and drying it out. It is also known as converted rice. On the other hand, white rice is a grain that has been milled to remove all outer layers before polishing, resulting in its white appearance. 

They cook differently, with parboiled rice turning firm and non-sticky, while white rice is softer and has a prominent stickiness to it. The two can taste the same, but parboiled grains can have a subtle flavor that’s slightly reminiscent of brown rice. When it comes to nutritional content, parboiled rice has more of it compared to white grains, due to it being partially boiled in the husk.

If you consume rice daily but want something healthier than white rice yet are not a fan of brown rice, parboiled rice may be the one for you.

Hui Yin

Hui Yin moved from Hong Kong 🇭🇰 to the USA 🇺🇸 when she was just 8 years old. Now in her late 20's she enjoys writing and taking long walks in the park to burn off the copious amounts of rice she eats for dinner.

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