Apparently, I’m all about cold water cooking methods. First, it was pasta. Now, brown rice. What’s next? (wheels are turning)
So why a cold water brown rice method at all? What’s wrong with cooking rice in boiling water like a normal person, huh, Beth?
Well, first of all, thanks for agreeing that I’m not normal.
For something that seems so simple, brown rice is notoriously difficult to cook properly. And by properly I mean chewy, light, fluffy, and NOT MUSHY. Ugh, mushy rice. It is pretty fun to say the word mushy though, especially if you say it like Michael does. “MOO-SHEE.” It cracks me up every single time he does it.
Anyway, I was struggling to get brown rice right, and it was really bugging me. Even my fancy pants rice cooker wasn’t doing the job (yes, it could be operator error, but I don’t want to go there). Whenever I tried making brown rice, it took nearly an hour, and then I would open the lid to discover that the rice was gummy and overcooked. Cue sad face. Cue even sadder face to learn the rice cooker I have is discontinued. Hmmmm…might not be operator error after all (a girl can dream). Supposedly the Instant Pot can cook rice too, but I haven’t had great luck yet. More to come on that front. UPDATE: This TOTALLY works in the Instant Pot, just not using the Rice setting. Go figure. Here’s the tutorial!
I’m not alone in this struggle either. There are methods all over the internets for the perfect brown rice, including boiling it like pasta. And that got me thinking…if the cold water method worked for pasta, would it work for brown rice? Friends, I’m here to tell you that perfect brown rice can be yours in 35 minutes start to finish – just enough time to do all of your veggie chopping for a stir fry. Let’s get started!
Step 1. Measure your rice.
Step 2. Rinse your rice and add it to a medium to large pot.
Step 3. Cover the rice by two inches with cold water.
Step 4. Bring the rice and water to a boil (takes about 10 minutes), then reduce the heat to a low boil/medium simmer for 25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked to your liking. Drain the rice and rinse it under hot water in a fine-mesh strainer. Serve right away or store in the fridge or freezer for later use.
That’s it! There are a few things I really love about this method.
– The cooking time is reduced, because the rice starts to cook as the water comes to boil. Efficiency for the win!
– You can control the doneness of the rice by testing it as it cooks, until it’s perfect to you. Maybe you LIKE mushy overcooked rice, who am I to judge?
– The starchy factor that leads to gummy/mushy rice is eliminated, because you strain off the excess water and rinse the rice after cooking. Perfect, fluffy, chewy grains of brown rice = awesomeness.
– If you reserve the cooking liquid, you can use it to make this sauce. Look at you, all repurposing stuff.
– It’s easy to cook a whole bunch of rice and freeze it for later. Just rinse it with cool water after cooking, then it’s ready to be bagged up and frozen for instant rice anytime!
So what do you think? Will you give this method a try? I hope you do, and I hope you tell me about it. Leave a comment here or send me a shout-out on Instagram with hashtag #passtheplants – it seriously makes me want to jump up and down with happiness.
Cold Water Brown Rice Method
- 2 cups brown rice (rinsed and drained)
- Water to cover by two inches
- Place rice in a medium pan (at least 4 quarts), and cover with cold water by at least 2 inches.
- Bring the water and rice to a boil (takes about 10 minutes on a standard stovetop).
- Reduce the heat to a low boil/medium simmer and cook for 25 minutes, testing the rice at the 20 minute mark.
- If the rice is not cooked to your liking after 25 minutes, continue cooking and testing at 1-minute intervals until it is done.
- Drain the water using a fine-mesh strainer, and serve as desired.
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The most nerve wracking part of cooking rice for me, is not being able to lift the lid to check on doneness. Instead, I listen for a sizzling sound. That works sometimes and sometimes it means burnt rice! My son buys cooked frozen rice because he once ruined a saucepan trying to cook rice. I have pinned this post and sent my son a link! Thanks, Beth. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this, Wendy! I hope it saves your son from a trip to the store to buy a new pot next time he makes rice. 🙂
If you’re trying out the InstantPot, don’t believe the cooking times in the manual. (And the Rice button appears to be useless as far as I can tell – too long for white rice, too short for brown rice. I do short grain brown rice, 2 cups to 2.5 cups water for 22 minutes on Manual-high. And white Jasmine rice, 3 cups with 3 cups water, for 4 minutes on high.
Who needs a manual when I’ve got Pat? Thank you so much for the cooking times! I haven’t tried brown rice yet, but I just did white jasmine rice just as you told me, and it was wonderful!!! Thank you so much!
You’re welcome! I know it was frustrating for me to get mushy (;-)) rice the first few times, so I’m happy to try to help other avoid that experience.
Oh goodness! I’ve always wanted to try brown rice, but it’s reputation about being hard to cook has always scared me. I’m going to have to try it this way if I ever get around to trying it. I’m just too lazy to actually *make* the things I think I should try sometime. 😉
And P.S. Now I’m going to make Michael say mushy next time I see him, because I’m dying to hear him say moo-shee, lol!
Just ask Hannah to try it for you! 😉 I can try to get a recording of moo-shee. Might be tricky, but I think I can do it.
I have a huge jar of Korean short grain sweet brown rice that I’d almost given up on. Sure it makes great congee. It makes the best horchata I’ve ever drank. It even makes good nasi lemak, but you want that to be sticky and mushy. But for my life I couldn’t figure out how to make just a normal bowl of rice to go with beans or veggies. This is the way to do it. The rice came out perfect! I was worried that the rice wouldn’t be sticky at all so I wouldn’t be able to make maki with the rice, but the next mourning the rice was cool and I rolled up a couple of breakfast maki without any difficulty at all. Thank you for sharing this amazingly simple solution to a problem that was really frustrating me.
Justin, I’m SO excited that this worked so well for you! (does a happy dance) And now I need to go learn about breakfast maki. 🙂 AND score some Korean sweet brown rice for horchata! That’s so coincidental, too, because I was thinking about doing a horchata post. Do you have a recipe that you really love?
Breakfast maki might be a Korean thing. I see them at the Assi supermarket all the time. I call them breakfast maki because it’s a fried egg and veggies rolled up in rice and nori.
For the horchata I put half a cup of short grain brown rice in the rice cooker with a gallon of water, set it on brown rice, and when its done, turn it off, turn it back on and send it around again. Then I transfer it to a pitcher, and immersion blend it. (A lot of brown rice hulls will get clogged in my blender which I just rinse into the sink.) Then I add a can of coconut milk, sugar and cinnamon. I’m afraid I constantly change the amount of sugar and cinnamon, based on my mood, so you’ll have to figure that part out on your own. One time I put a couple of old bananas in it and my sister went crazy for the stuff.
If you have short grain rice that the rice cooker always makes into a gloopy sticky mess, and a can of coconut milk, then you can probably start right now, because seriously, it takes a long time.
Kila Burton says
Its been three years so you probably already know but its called kimbap 🙂 And yes, super delicious!
I came across this post because I wanted to know if anyone had tried making rice without heat at all but now Im curious. I think I must have missed a step b/c I dont know any other way to cook rice than to put it in cold water and then raising it to a boil. Is that a southern thing? Or a me thing?
Joyce Cacchione says
I have been cooking brown rice for as long as I can remember….more than 25 years….the traditional way and always considered myself the brown rice expert. Until now. I recently moved to a new house and I’m convinced my new cooktop hates me. I haven’t made a decent pot of rice since moving here a few months ago. Until today. I followed your directions and I made the most perfectly fluffy brown rice ever. I’m not a gadget person and have turned out beautifully healthy and delicious meals for over 40 years with a few simple tools so the Instant Pot does not appeal to me so thank you in advance to everyone who is more than happy to send me their Instant Pot suggestions. Happy Healthy Eating to all of you. Thanks again Beth. You’ve again proved you can always learn something new.
Linda ferguson says
Just tried your way of makein g Brown rice for me it,s always been a bit of miss. So if had a go and do pleased I did it turned out perfect. I added salt to the rice before I put it on. As it was cooking i done a mixture of steam veg and was very lucky to have a salmon steak out of the freezer i made a marinade of thyme bezel and lemon juice which I left the salmon soaking for two hrs. When I put on the rice i steamed the veg after ten min i put the salmon on it all came together a nd ready at the same time. I mixed the veg into the strained rice and blacked the salmon over the dish perfect so thanks for your way of doing the rice haven’t enjoyed a meal so much in ages.