How Long to Cook White Rice

Cooking perfect white rice is a fundamental skill in many cuisines worldwide. Whether preparing it as a simple side dish, a base for flavorful stir-fries, or the foundation of sushi, knowing how to cook white rice perfectly is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to cook white rice on the stovetop, sharing tips and variations along the way. So, let’s get started and master the art of cooking fluffy and tender white rice.

Ingredients and Equipment

To cook white rice, you’ll need the following ingredients and equipment:


White rice: Choose a high-quality long-grain or medium-grain white rice. Common varieties include jasmine rice and basmati rice.

Water: You’ll need water to cook the rice. The general ratio for white rice is 1 cup of rice to 1.5 to 2 cups of water, depending on the type of rice and your desired texture.

Salt (optional): A pinch of salt can be added to enhance the flavor, but it’s optional.


Medium-sized saucepan with a tight-fitting lid: Choose a large saucepan to accommodate the rice you want to cook.

Fine-mesh strainer (optional): For rinsing the rice before cooking.

Wooden spoon or fork: For fluffing and stirring the rice.

Timer or clock: To keep track of cooking time.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking White Rice

Follow these steps to cook white rice perfectly:

Measure the Rice

Determine the amount of white rice you want to cook. A common serving size is 1 cup of uncooked rice, which typically yields about 3 cups of cooked rice.

Rinse the Rice (optional)

Rinsing white rice is optional but can help remove excess starch, resulting in fluffier grains. Place the rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it under cold running water until it clears. Drain well.

Choose the Right Ratio of Water

The amount of water you need depends on the type of white rice and your desired texture:

For long-grain white rice (e.g., jasmine or basmati), use a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1.5 to 1.75 cups of water. This ratio typically results in slightly firmer grains.

For medium-grain white rice, such as sushi rice, use a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1.75 to 2 cups of water. This ratio produces stickier rice suitable for sushi or rice bowls.

You can adjust the water quantity based on your personal preference. Less water yields firmer, separate grains, while more water yields stickier rice.

Combine Rice and Water

Place the rinsed or unrinsed rice in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the appropriate amount of water based on the ratio you’ve chosen. If desired, add a pinch of salt to enhance the flavor. Stir gently to distribute the salt evenly.

Bring to a Boil

Place the saucepan on the stovetop over high heat. Bring the rice and water to a rolling boil while stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Reduce to a Simmer

Once the water reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to the lowest to maintain a gentle simmer.

Cover and Cook

Cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the rice to simmer undisturbed for the specified cooking time, which varies depending on the type of rice:

Long-grain white rice: Typically cooks in about 15-18 minutes.

Medium-grain white rice: It takes approximately 18-20 minutes.

Check for Doneness

After the designated cooking time has elapsed, check the rice for doneness. You’re looking for grains that are tender and have absorbed the water. If you need more clarification, taste a few grains. They should be fully cooked but still slightly firm.

Rest and Fluff

Remove the saucepan from the heat, but keep the lid on. Let the rice sit, covered, for about 5-10 minutes. This resting period allows the rice to absorb any remaining moisture and ensures even cooking throughout the grains.

Fluff the Rice

After resting, gently fluff the cooked white rice with a fork or wooden spoon. This helps separate the grains and prevents them from clumping together.


Your perfectly cooked white rice is now ready to be served. It can be enjoyed as a side dish, paired with a variety of main courses, or used as a base for stir-fries, curries, and more.

Tips for Cooking White Rice

Use the right rice-to-water ratio: Adjust the amount of water based on the type of white rice you’re using and your desired texture.

Avoid peeking: Once the rice is simmering, resist the temptation to lift the lid and check on it. Keeping the lid on ensures the steam stays trapped, allowing the rice to cook evenly.

Refrain from stirring while cooking: Stirring rice during cooking can release excess starch, leading to stickier rice. Stir only when combining rice and water initially.

Customize the flavor: You can enhance the flavor of white rice by cooking it with broth instead of plain water or by adding herbs and spices to the water.

Keep it warm: If you’re not serving the rice immediately, place a clean kitchen towel or paper towel between the lid and the saucepan to absorb excess steam. This prevents the rice from becoming too moist.


Cooking perfect white rice is a fundamental culinary skill that opens up a world of culinary possibilities. Following the steps outlined in this guide and customizing the water-to-rice ratio to your liking, you can consistently prepare fluffy and tender white rice that complements a wide range of dishes. Whether used as a side dish, in sushi, or as a base for stir-fries, properly cooked white rice can elevate your meals and impress your guests.

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