Which method is your favorite?
How many bags of rice are in your pantry right now? I just checked mine, and there are seven. For the billions of people who grew up eating rice nearly every day, a bowl of fluffy, warm rice is the equivalent of pure comfort. And for all the people who appreciate rice, you know it’s an incredibly versatile ingredient that works well with just about anything.
Rice is one of the simplest and most widely consumed ingredients in the world, but it’s also shockingly easy to mess up. Perhaps too many of us overestimate its simplicity and don’t give proper attention to what it needs, much like your dying houseplant in the corner. The good news is that there’s plenty of time to remedy those mistakes, or even learn an entirely different method that best suits your lifestyle.
We got some help from recipe developer Nicole McLaughlin, who tried seven different ways of preparing rice. For this experiment, Nicole cooked long-grain white rice (the best kind). Her criteria for perfect rice is separated, fluffy, thoroughly cooked (but not mushy) grains. That’s the golden standard she used to judge all seven cooking methods. Here’s how they all work, and which she liked best.
Slow Cooker Method
To cook rice in a crock pot, rub the inside with butter and add 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water (ratios are key to rice, and using too much water is one of the easiest ways to mess it up! If you prefer a chewier rice, try 1 ¾ cups of water instead), additional butter, and salt. Cook on high for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
Instant Pot Method
Dump a rinsed cup of rice and 1 ¼ cups chicken broth (In a pressure cooker, the ratio needed is closer) into the inner pot. To prevent sticking, add a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Stir only to submerge the rice evenly. Screw the lid on and press the “rice” setting, making sure the steam valve is closed. After the rice is done cooking, let sit for 10 minutes to release pressure.
Get the Recipe: Instant Pot Rice
If you need to feed a lot of people, this method may be your best bet. Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with oil. Add rice, salt, unsalted butter, and warm chicken stock and stir. While the mixture is still hot, cover the dish with foil. Cook at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
Stovetop “Follow the Directions on the Bag” Method
Bring two cups of water to a boil and then stir in a cup of rice. Cover, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Stovetop “Rinse and Boil Everything Together” Method
Add a cup of rinsed rice directly into the water, and bring everything to a boil together. Cover, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 17 minutes.
3-Step Pilaf Method
Melt some butter in a pot, then add 1 ½ cups of rice and any necessary aromatics. Coat the rice in fat until it looks slightly translucent. Add 3 cups of broth and a little salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce, and simmer.
“Cook It Like Pasta” Method
This method may be controversial, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Add your desired amount of rice to a pot of salted, boiling water. Cook to your desired degree of doneness, then drain.
Across the board, every method Nicole tried proved successful. So it’s really up to you. Choose the method that best suits your dinnertime needs. The one hiccup Nicole encountered was that some of the slow-cooker rice was a bit mushy, so it requires more babysitting than you’d think. Flavor-wise, though, Nicole liked the 3-step pilaf method best.