4 Easy Ways to Cook Rice

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By the Author of Three Miles and The Flat Broke Cookbook

One of the thriftiest additions to stretch a meal (or to use as the basis of one) is the ever-so-humble rice. It’s a primary ingredient in exotic cuisines around the world, from Latin America to Europe to Asia. Depending on how you spice it up, it can be a tasty addition to a wide variety of entrees.

Even with the rampant inflation that we’re experiencing right now, you can still get a pound of white rice for approximately 92 cents and brown rice for about $2.75. For reference, you can get 7-8 one-cup servings per pound of rice. That’s a lot of rice bang for your rice buck!

Some people find rice to be challenging to get just right. If that’s you, look no further. The solutions to your rice-making problems are here! These recipes are for the regular, cheap white rice you get in big bags at the store.

How to Cook Rice on the Stove Top

Rice on the stove top requires a teeny bit of attention, and this is where people often go wrong. I know that I have forgotten I had rice on the stove before, and the resulting smoke in the kitchen when it burned to the bottom of my pot was less than pleasant.

Here’s how you do it.

  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 3 cups of water

Bring your rice to a boil on the stove top, then reduce it to a simmer. Put a lid on and set your timer for 13 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat, leave the lid on, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and serve.

How to Cook Rice in the Oven

This is my all-time favorite way to cook rice. I do this when I’m baking or roasting something else in the oven, even if I’m not serving rice with that particular meal. It’s completely hands-off.

  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 3 cups of water

Bring your water to a boil on the stove top. Meanwhile, put rice into an oven-safe dish that is big enough to hold the water. Stir the boiling water into your rice, put the lid on your dish (or cover it with foil if you don’t have a lid for your dish), and pop it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. (Note: After you’ve done this a couple of times, you’ll be more comfortable baking it at different temperatures to go along with whatever you’re baking.) When your thirty minutes are up, pull the dish from the oven and let it sit, covered, for 10-15 minutes before serving.

How to Cook Rice in the Crockpot

This is another completely hands-off way to cook rice. It does take longer, but if you’re planning ahead, you can pop it into the slow cooker and forget about it until dinnertime.

2 cups of rice

4 cups of water

Either spray the inside of your pot with nonstick spray or rub it with butter or cooking oil. Otherwise, your rice WILL stick. (Ask me how I know.) Add your rice and water, then cook it on high for about 2 hours. Give it a stir at the two-hour mark and taste-test it to make sure it’s tender. If not, give it another half hour, adding water if needed.

How to Cook Rice in the Microwave

Once, when we were about to move, we didn’t want to drop a thousand dollars to refill our propane tank. That meant we went three weeks without a working stove. My daughter cooked rice in the microwave during that time. It’s easy but not any quicker than the stove top method.

  • 1 cup of rice
  • 2 cups of water

Bring your water to a boil in the kettle or use the microwave. Add the boiling water to a microwave-safe bowl and stir in the rice. Microwave it on high for 12 minutes with no lid, then top it with a lid and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Variations: The Fun Part of Cooking Rice

Now we get to the fun part – variations on basic rice. Below are several different ways to jazz up your rice.

  1. Toast the rice in cooking oil on the stove top before cooking it.
  2. Switch out the beef, chicken, or vegetable broth for the water.
  3. Add half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables at the end of your cooking time.
  4. Season it with your favorite spice blend.
  5. Add a bouillon cube to the cooking liquid.
  6. Switch out the cooking liquid for coconut milk.
  7. Add garlic powder and parsley.
  8. Stir in some butter.
  9. Top it with finely shredded cheese.
  10. Indian Rice: Cook it with a cinnamon stick, 4-6 cloves, and some garlic powder. Remove the cinnamon and cloves before serving.

How to Stretch a Meal with Rice

Here are some ways you can use cooked rice to stretch a meal.

  1. Replace pasta with rice for a thrifty twist on sauce-y meals.
  2. Serve leftover chili on a bed of rice to make it go further.
  3. Make fried rice with protein leftovers, veggies, and a couple of eggs.
  4. Stir it into a small serving of soup to turn it into a casserole.
  5. Add milk, fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey to make a tasty breakfast porridge.
  6. Top it with leftover gravy.
  7. Add cooked beans and spice it up with your favorite flavors.
  8. Add it to the filling of stuffed peppers or cabbage rolls.
  9. Prep protein bowls with rice as a base.
  10. Add tomato sauce and Mexican seasonings.

What about you?

How do you like to cook rice? Do you have any favorite variations or ways to stretch a meal using rice? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media, and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on FacebookPinterestGabMeWeParlerInstagram, and Twitter.

4 Easy Ways to Cook Rice
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of TheOrganicPrepper.com, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

23 thoughts on “4 Easy Ways to Cook Rice”

  1. FYI: All rice extracts arsenic from the soil as it grows. When you boil rice, you ALWAYS want to add triple the amount of water suggested so the arsenic gets boiled off and expelled through the steam as the rice cooks. Save the rice water to drink which is rich in Vitamins A, C, E, phenolic compounds, ferulic acid and allantoin, all of which are necessary for skin function.

      1. I am Asian and my Mom taught me to wash my rice before codking. At that time she she explained that it had powdered talc in it, which we now know is toxic. It has been a long time since I switched from the big bags of white rice to basmati rice. I have always washed this too. I once bought a burlap bag of basmati rice and when I poured out the first two cups of it, a nice, dry cat poop (or some critter that produced poop that looked like that) poured out of the the bag. This was several decades ago, and the standards may have improved for imported rice, but I still wash my rice thoroughly. As for arsenic content, there are locales where the arsenic content is very low, producing rice with a far lower arsenic content than most. Mike Adams at the Health Ranger Store sells rice that is tested with a gas chromatograph and other tech for a wide array of chemical and metal toxins. He can usually only find such a rice in small volumes and his prices reflect the extra testing and siourcing it takes to find it.

      2. The damage is cumulative. Like the fluoride in tap water. You may not get enough in your lifetime to make a difference, others may.

  2. Love to add milk instead of water. Then the sugar and cinnamon. Love a sweet rice pudding. I use all the methods above. Especially the stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls.

  3. Thanks for the crockpot idea – I’ve never tried that before but I’m doing it right now. I noticed none of your recipes call for any oil or salt. I’ve always used both – prefer coconut oil with just a sprinkle of salt. Maybe that’s an old wife way of doing things but I’m an old wife. Thanks again for the crockpot suggestion!!

  4. This was a dear friend’s recipe for cooking brown rice. The initial proportions can be scaled upwards to fit your (and your dear ones’) needs.

    1/2 cup of brown rice — the behavior will vary depending on moisture content, brand, variety, etc. So browing operations will vary a bit regarding time and temperature.

    1 & 1/2 cup of water — Water, broth or water leftover from steaming operations. Notice the 3:1 ratio of water to rice to maintain for greater quantity.

    2 tsp of oil (preferably peanut oil).

    as desired — flavoring vegetables.

    Heat the oil to “about” medium heat. (Each stove is different so each batch of rice is a little different.) Then brown the rice in that oil at that heat — Do NOT stir. Instead, shake and “sluice” the rice until oil is spread evenly. Brown until about HALF the rice is translucent, and HALF is browned. Add the “nearly but not quite” boiling water/broth/stock. Turn down the heat to nearly LOW (or to a hot simmer). Cover and leave for 15 minutes. Do NOT “peek.”

    At the 15 minute point, peek to see if any more HOT water / broth / steam leftovers are needed. It is OK to stir now if needed, and to add more hot liquid if needed. Also, you can now add room temperature vegetables (if they had been frozen), or sauteed vegetables (if fresh). Flavor with a little cheese, parsley, onions, celery & butter if desired. Adding flavoring vegetables, etc., earlier will leave them softer and more cooked; adding them towards the end (especially if tiny-diced) will leave them more “crunchy.”

    Here’s one slightly scaled upwards ingredients list I like:

    4 tsp peanut oil

    1 cup of brown Nishiki rice

    4 cups distilled water

    4 heaping tsp of Maggi chicken bouillon

    4 pats of butter

    I switched over to fixing brown rice instead of white many years ago after being introduced to the taste, health benefits, and cooking how-to from an expert. These two articles have since appeared in support of my switchover:

    11 Impressive Benefits Of Brown Rice,
    by Meenakshi Nagdeve, last updated – June 20, 2021 Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

    https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/cereal/brown-rice.html

    AND

    https://web.archive.org/web/20171209061043/http://www.riseearth.com/2017/12/white-rice-pales-in-comparison-to-these.html

    –Lewis

  5. Gwen B-Pendragon

    Ah rice – the leftovers are the best. I keep it in the refrigerator. The next day it is fried rice. Saute some onions and garlic, add some eggs- meat scraps if you happen to have any. As the eggs are about to be cook, throw in the rice. Season with salt, pepper. You can also add some green onions and thinly sliced carrots. We use what we have on the farm thus egg fried rice is often served here at home. Now that the hot peppers are ripening – they do add a nice zinc to this dish. Other than eggs, protein is the rice could be bacon bits, spam…..

  6. We have an inexpensive rice cooker (<$20 from walmart) and it does rice perfectly every time. EASY! Put in the rice and water, push the button down and forget it for till it clicks up!

  7. For Mexican Rice: we brown the rice in hot olive oil, with a little chopped onion and some minced garlic. When it gets brown, we add the hot water, a couple of spoonsful of the Knorr chicken/tomato bouillon, some chili powder and salt. Then cook it for 15 or 20 minutes.

    This method makes it taste like the rice at my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in Fort Worth, Joe T. Garcia’s.

  8. If you eat a lot of rice, one of those little rice cookers is really worth it. Set and forget. You can cook hot cereals and other grains in them too. I had a cheap one that lasted forever.

  9. I like to mix the rice with a can of broccoli and cheese soup and add some fresh or frozen broccoli to the rice while it is cooking.
    To make it a meal, I have also cooked the rice in cream of chicken soup and added cut up left over chicken pieces.
    Cream of Mushroom soup can be substituted and sausage or ground meat (deer for example) can be used instead of chicken.
    Taco meat and seasoning with black beans or pinto beans and diced tomatoes and peppers can also be added to rice to make a nice meal that goes well with tortillas.

  10. Years ago my mom taught me an easy way to figure out water to rice ratio if you don’t have any measuring cups:
    Pour your clean rice into your pot.
    Put your index finger on top of the rice and pour your liquid in until you reach your first joint.
    Works every time.

  11. I’ve been using a rice steamer for about the last 30 years. Add the water and rice, a little salt and butter… then cover and press the button. We have a programmable one we got as a wedding present back in 2006, but before that I had an old Hitachi model that I got as a hand-me-down from my folks.

  12. Daisy, could you please provide some advice on how to cook rice when there is no electricity or gas? Could it be pre-soaked to reduce the time cooking on an open fire or BBQ?

  13. High mountain desert. 2 1/2 water to 1 rice. 1/2 teaspoon salt or bullion.. Bring to boil 15 minutes. Cover 5 minutes. Fluff and serve. Late husband liked reheated rice 8n milk with sugar and butter. I make lots of stir fried veggies and meats to serve over rice. Any rice left will then become stir fried rice with whatever I have. Last time it was a big wock half full of veggies and 2 lb medium shrimp. Then stir in the pan of rice to heat through and set out the soy sauce and a sweet sour sauce and let each one add sauce of their choice. My son, the bee keeper, used soy sauce and honey. I spent more time cutting up the veggies earlier than I did cooking at dinner time visiting with company while I cooked. The big pan of rice made us 2 big meals. 6 Green onions, 2 bell peppers- 1 red 1 green, a few baby carrots finely cut, 2 lb baby spinach, 3 celery ribs, 2 medium zuchinni , and 2 lb medium raw shrimp. Then stir in 4 cups cooked rice. Lightly salted as it cooked. Three grown men and I polished off every bite of it. Plus 3 apple and 4 blueberry fried pies. While at camp I also made stuffed bell peppers which used more rice. Spanish Rice and pinto beans were sides for stuffed sopapias. Ground beef, pinto beans, red chili sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and grated cheddar cheese topped fry bread for a dinner. Rice was easier than potatoes on a camping trip. Spanish rice, pinto beans, red chili sauce, ground beef, wild garlicky onions and cheddar cheese were stacked for our final clean up lunch. Rice and beans were cooked in multi meal amounts. Reheating was fast and easy. At home I make about equal meals with rice or potatoes. Soups are made with either. If it gets toghter living it will be some pasta and lots of rice.

    1. Glad to see your comment, Clergylady. I enjoy reading your comments and hadn’t seen one for awhile. Maybe it’s because I’m not reading all of the articles.

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