How Much Water For Basmati Rice

Cooking perfect basmati rice is an art that many aspire to master. Achieving that delicate balance of fluffy, fragrant grains with just the right texture can be challenging, but it’s certainly attainable with the right knowledge. One of the key factors in cooking basmati rice to perfection is getting the right water-to-rice ratio. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how much water you should use for basmati rice, taking into account various cooking methods and different types of basmati rice.

The Importance of the Water-to-Rice Ratio

The water-to-rice ratio is critical in cooking rice, including basmati. Getting this ratio right ensures the rice grains cook evenly and stay smooth and dry. Basmati rice, in particular, is known for its long, slender grains and fragrant aroma. To showcase these qualities, you must use the appropriate amount of water during cooking.

The Basmati Rice Varieties

Before diving into the water-to-rice ratio, it’s essential to note that there are different types of basmati rice, and the ratio may vary slightly based on the specific variety you’re using. Here are a few common varieties of basmati rice:

Regular Basmati: This is the most widely available type of basmati rice. It has long, slender grains and a pleasant aroma when cooked.

Extra-Long-Grain Basmati: As the name suggests, this variety has even longer grains and is known for its premium quality and exceptional fragrance.

Brown Basmati: Brown basmati rice is a whole-grain variety with the bran layer intact. It has a nuttier flavor and slightly different cooking requirements compared to white basmati rice.

Aged Basmati: Aged basmati rice is stored for an extended period to enhance its flavor and aroma. It’s often considered the highest quality and is used in gourmet dishes.

Each type of basmati rice may require a slightly different water-to-rice ratio due to grain size and starch content variations. Therefore, it’s essential to be mindful of the specific type of basmati rice you’re using when determining the water quantity.

The Basic Water-to-Rice Ratio for Basmati Rice

The most commonly recommended water-to-rice ratio for cooking basmati rice is 1:1.5 or 1:1.75. This means that for every cup of basmati rice, you should use 1.5 to 1.75 cups of water. However, this is a general guideline, and you may need to make slight adjustments based on factors such as the specific variety of basmati rice and your preferred rice texture.

Step-by-Step Cooking Basmati Rice on the Stovetop

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to cook basmati rice on the stovetop using the 1:1.5 water-to-rice ratio:


  • Basmati rice
  • Water
  • Salt (optional)
  • Butter or oil (optional)


Measure the Rice: Start by measuring the desired amount of basmati rice. You can use any measuring cup, but it’s essential to be consistent with your chosen cup size throughout the recipe.

Rinse the Rice: Place it in a fine-mesh sieve or a bowl and rinse it under cold running water. Gently agitate the rice with your fingers while rinsing to remove excess starch. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear.

Drain the Rice: After rinsing, drain the rice thoroughly to remove excess water. You can let it sit in the sieve or bowl for a few minutes to ensure proper draining.

Proportion the Water: Add 1.5 cups of water to a pot for every cup of rinsed basmati rice. You can use 1.75 cups of water per cup if you prefer slightly softer rice.

Add Salt and Fat (Optional): If desired, add a pinch of salt and a small amount of butter or oil to the water. These ingredients can enhance the flavor of the rice, but they are optional.

Bring to a Boil: Place the pot with the rice and water on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Could you bring it to a boil?

Reduce to Simmer: Once the water comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and let it simmer. Do not lift the lid during cooking, as this can disrupt the cooking process.

Cook Until Tender: Allow the rice to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the specific basmati rice type and the water ratio. Check the rice at 15 minutes to see if it’s tender and the water has been absorbed. If not, continue cooking for a few more minutes.

Rest Off Heat: Once the rice is cooked to your desired level of tenderness and the water has been absorbed, remove it from the heat. Let it rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes. This resting period allows the steam to redistribute within the rice grains and helps achieve the desired texture.

Fluff and Serve: After resting, use a fork to fluff the rice gently, separating the grains. Your perfectly cooked basmati rice is now ready to be served.

Adjusting the Water-to-Rice Ratio

While the 1:1.5 or 1:1.75 water-to-rice ratio is a good starting point, you can make slight adjustments based on your preferences and the specific type of basmati rice you have:

For Firmer Rice: If you prefer firmer rice grains, use the lower end of the ratio (1:1.5). This will result in less moisture being absorbed by the rice during cooking.

For Softer Rice: If you like your rice slightly softer, opt for the higher ratio (1:1.75). This will provide more moisture for the rice to absorb, resulting in a softer texture.

For Brown Basmati Rice: Brown basmati rice has a tougher bran layer, typically requiring more water and a longer cooking time. Start with a ratio of 1:2.25 to 1:2.5 (rice to water) and adjust based on your taste preferences.

Using a Rice Cooker for Basmati Rice

Rice cookers are convenient appliances that take the guesswork out of cooking rice. Most modern rice cookers come with specific settings for different types of rice, including basmati. To use a rice cooker for basmati rice, follow these general steps:

Measure the Rice: Use the same cup of rice and water as your rice cooker provides. Typically, the ratio for basmati rice in a rice cooker is 1:1.5 (1 cup of rice to 1.5 cups of water).

Rinse the Rice: Rinse the basmati rice under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly.

Add Rice and Water to the Cooker. Place the rinsed and drained rice in the rice cooker’s inner pot. Add the appropriate amount of water based on the 1:1.5 ratio.

Optional Season the Rice: If desired, add a pinch of salt and a small amount of butter or oil to the rice and water in the cooker.

Start the Cooker: Close the rice cooker’s lid, select the “Basmati” or “White Rice” setting, and press the start button. The rice cooker will automatically adjust the cooking time and temperature.

Wait for Completion: Allow the rice cooker to complete the cooking cycle. Most rice cookers will switch to a “keep warm” mode once the rice is done. Let it sit in this mode for 5-10 minutes to rest.

Fluff and Serve: After resting, use a fork to fluff the rice gently, separating the grains. Your perfectly cooked basmati rice is ready to be served.

Additional Tips for Cooking Basmati Rice

To further enhance your basmati rice cooking experience, consider these additional tips:

Quality Matters: Start with high-quality basmati rice for the best results. Premium or aged basmati rice often has a better flavor and aroma.

Rinsing: Be thorough when rinsing the rice. Rinsing until the water runs clear helps remove excess starch and results in fluffier rice.

Use a Good Pot: If you’re cooking rice on the stovetop, use a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid to ensure even heat distribution and proper steam retention.

Don’t Peek: Avoid opening the pot’s lid or rice cooker during cooking, as it can disrupt the cooking process and release steam.

Resting Time: The resting time after cooking is essential for the rice to finish steaming and for the moisture to distribute evenly. Take advantage of this step.

Flavor Enhancers: You can add flavor enhancers like spices, herbs, or bouillon cubes to the water for extra flavor. Just be mindful of the sodium content if you’re using bouillon cubes.


Perfect basmati rice is achievable with the right water-to-rice ratio and proper technique. The 1:1.5 to 1:1.75 water-to-rice ratio is a good starting point, but you can adjust it slightly based on your preferences and the specific basmati rice you’re using. Whether you’re cooking basmati rice on the stovetop or in a rice cooker, following the steps outlined in this guide will help you consistently prepare delicious and aromatic basmati rice to accompany your favorite dishes.

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