Cooking rice always seems just a tad more complicated than it should be. But, have you ever stopped to consider why? Well, when it comes to preparing this ingredient there’s a lot to consider.
Nonetheless, we believe two main factors should be taken into account: (1) what type of rice does your recipe require and (2) what techniques should you use for the specific recipe and rice you’ve chosen.
Type of Rice
- Classic Recipes
- Rice Sides
- Arroz con Pollo or Paella
- Asian Cuisines
- Salad Prep
- Simply Brown Rice
- How to Cook Paella
- Cooking Rice in Soups
- Risotto & Creamy Recipes
- Rice in the Oven
- How to Make Fried Rice
- Add Rice to Your Salads
- Making a Rice Pilaf
- Rice for Dessert?
Now, before we go into the plethora of rice varieties and countless cooking methods out there, we want to walk you through the essentials.
The following seven steps are the ultimate guide to making a great rice dish.
- Decide on the recipe that you want to make and read all of the instructions carefully before starting. We often find, the more specific, the better.
- Use the correct rice variety mentioned in the recipe or for the specific type of dish you are preparing. Then, study up on this rice type. Is it short-grain or medium-grain? Does it require a quick wash beforehand?
- Read the recipe over and then follow it step by step to avoid making any mistakes, especially if it’s your first try at it.
- If the recipe calls for broth, definitely use your own–if possible. Trust us, it makes a huge difference. Also, always bring your broth to a complete boil before cooking it in with your recipe.
- Keep a good eye on the cooking time to avoid overcooking your rice. The rice variety will change the amount of time you’ll need to cook it for.
- Only stir when necessary or when it’s directed in the recipe.
- Respect the time it needs to sit, especially if the recipe calls for it.
Recipe, Then Rice
Before picking out your rice, you’ve got to get through the tough part first–choosing your recipe. We recommend one that’s specific and full of valuable information. After all, you can’t choose which rice grain will best fit your recipe without a general idea of the cooking process.
From short-grain to basmati, each varietal is different and requires it’s own cooking process. The following is a list of standard rice recipes and their carefully selected grain counterparts.
Classic Recipes: White or Organic White Rice
When you’re making a classic rice recipe, one with simple ingredients and an easy cooking process, the obvious choice is White Rice. Always a crowd-pleaser, it’s versatile and more than ideal as It absorbs tons of delicious flavors from a wide array of cuisines including Mexican to Chinese. For a more environmentally-conscious alternative, go with our Non-GMO Organic White Rice.
Rice Sides: White, Basmati or Jasmine
If you want to make a basic side dish, go with our standard white rice. However, if your recipe comes from the Eastern part of the world, you’re going to want to choose something more aromatic and easy to mix, like our jasmine or basmati rice. These two rice categories, frequently found in Indian and Southeast Asian dishes, are both long-grain varietals.
That said, they do differ in some ways. Basmati tends to keep its long slim form when cooked and works best with Indian dishes or standard rice pilafs, while Jasmine puffs up a bit more and tends to serve best with Thai dishes or Asian specialties that require heavy sauces.
Arroz con Pollo or Paella: Parboiled Medium-Grain
This grain has just the right properties to soak up tons of hefty flavors. While subsequently releasing a bit of starch in the cooking process, it also gives your paella or arroz con pollo an added body. Not as starchy as a short-grain variety, its texture can absorb tons of flavor and add body, without sticking together like the average short-grain rice.
Asian Cuisines: Jasmine or Short-Grain
Asia is the mecca of rice recipes. So, if you’re going Southeast Asian, there are a few options to choose from. A long-grain rice variety is a way to go for most fried rice and curry recipes. Jasmine rice is perfect for everything from curries to desserts, slightly sticky and fluffy, it’s the ideal rice for Thai, Indonesian and Indian cuisines.
Salad Preps: Ready to Serve Rice & Jasmine Blends
If you’re lunch prepping, chances are you’re also on a time crunch. That’s where our Ready to Serve rice comes in handy. Cooked up in just 90 seconds, you can choose from Garlic and Olive Oil, White Jasmine, and Cilantro Limón.
The second option is one of these tasty jasmine rice and grain blends, which are perfect for adding more nutty flavors to your recipe. Jasmine with Red and Wild Rice brings a chewy and crunchy texture, while Jasmine with Quinoa adds a hearty and satisfying superfood to your meal.
Aside from their flavorful characteristics, both are made with long grains. This means they don’t cling together when cooked, making mixing up your salad a breeze.
Don’t Sweat the Technique
Now that you have your recipe and the type of rice needed, it all comes down to the technique. Each recipe benefits from a certain cooking style and, as rice is cooked differently throughout the world, there are unlimited options to choose from.
We’ve narrowed down the most popular methods and recipes for cooking rice to bring you a short guide to the kinds of tricks and trades you’ll need for your next creation.
Simply Brown Rice
Don’t stress over cooking brown rice, it’s virtually the same as cooking plain white. However, you’re going to have to spend a bit of time waiting, about 45 minutes or more. Our solution is to prep the rest of your recipe while you wait for your delicious whole grains to cook up.
For making our brown rice, use a large amount of salted water, bring it to a boil, add the rice, and drain any excess towards the end. Then simply simmer until any residual water is evaporated. After, let it sit while keeping it covered.
Tip: We recommend a ratio of 1 cup of brown rice to 1 ½ cups of water. This can change depending on whether your rice is short-grain or long-grain. Click on the link and see our instructions for Carolina® Brown Rice.
How To Cook Paella
As mentioned earlier, a good recipe starts with the right rice. Our medium-grain parboiled variety helps ensure that your paella is as authentic as it can be. The rest is up to you. To cook up your medium-grain rice correctly, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Fry up the veggies and any other ingredients that can bring added flavor to your paella.
- Add your rice and stir until slightly fried. This will help to avoid excessive stickiness in your paella.
- Add a hot broth and boil for three minutes, continuing to stir the rice and rotating the pan occasionally. Add all reserved ingredients (like meat and seafood).
- Lower the heat and continue to simmer until the rice absorbs the liquid, about 14 minutes. Add extra liquid, if necessary.
Cooking Rice in Soup
For adding uncooked rice to any stews or soups, we recommend you first sautée the rice with the recipe’s main ingredients in a large skillet. This helps bring out the flavor of the veggies, meats, and any other ingredients added to the recipe.
Once your ingredients are at the desired texture, boil this mixture in four times the ratio of water/broth to rice and reduce to a simmer. As the rice will be cooked for an extended period, adding extra liquid may be required.
Reminder: whole grains take longer to cook, so if you substitute for white rice, be careful not to overcook them as this can create a mushy texture.
Risotto & Creamy Recipes
Whether it’s a standard risotto or a tasty rice pudding, there’s nothing like a bowl of thick and creamy rice. The secret to bringing out this rich texture all comes down to the simplest of cooking techniques, stirring.
Frequent stirring aids to the release of starch from your short- to medium-grain rice, giving your recipe the velvety texture it desires. Always continue stirring and adding stock until the rice is cooked through. When the rice is done, fold in the ingredients and enjoy!
Toast It: Sauteé the rice in a bit of fat before adding the stock. This helps the rice maintain a bit of separation and avoid it from becoming too mushy.
Rice in the Oven
One of the most convenient ways to cook rice, aside from using a rice cooker, is in the oven. A practical alternative to a stovetop method, it’s easy cleanup and way easier to prep. The hard part–you ask? Knowing how long to cook your rice and at what temperature.
Here’s our shortlist for rice cooked at 350°F:
- Parboiled, or precooked: About 30 to 40 minutes.
- White Rice: About 45 to 60 minutes.
- Brown Rice: Over an hour.
- Wild Rice: Over an hour.
If you’re baking a rice casserole, it’s important to add enough moisture for the rice to cook evenly. Like stovetop, you’ll want to follow the two to one, water to rice, ratio. This works for a majority of rice varieties.
For brown rice, you’ll want to use a bit more, about 1 ¼ to 1 ½. If you’re worried that the liquid won’t be enough to keep your casserole moist, cover it with some aluminum foil to keep it from losing to much water.
How to Make Fried Rice
Fried rice is simpler than you might think. Half of the challenge is using the right rice, we recommend Jasmine for Chinese fried rice and short-grain for a Japanese take, while the other is using high heat and a good amount of tasty veggies. The ideal fried rice will result in separated rice granules that are cooked al dente.
Tip: Before frying up your ingredients spread the cooked rice out on a tray and let it sit for a few minutes. This process helps evaporate some of the excess surface moisture, which makes for a better quality fried rice.
Add Rice to Your Salad
Rice salads are a whole other ballgame. As they are pre-cooked, you’ll have more control over the taste and texture of your rice before adding it to your salad. For some recipes, you’ll need to do a bit more than just pre-cook your rice.
For some rice salads, we recommend you rinse the rice first, boil until al dente and then rinse it once again when finished. This process removes any surface starch which, when boiled, can cause the grains to clump together, making it difficult to mix your salad evenly.
Make a Rice Pilaf
Originally from the Middle East, a classic Rice Pilaf is a dish that has been replicated in countless traditional recipes. Without even knowing it, we guarantee you’ve made some kind of variation of rice pilaf. From Romania to the Caribbean, almost every country has their own version of this dish.
With so many nations taking on this dish, it’s important to stay true to the cooking process and techniques which make a pilaf a pilaf. Simply put, this recipe includes basmati rice to sautéed with onion and garlic before adding broth. Sound familiar? It’s pretty much the same process we use for paella and risotto, but with long-grain rice and the addition of rinsing or soaking your rice beforehand.
Tip: Cooking methods for rice pilaf can deviate, especially when it comes to pre-soaking the rice. To ensure the best possible quality, follow rice package instructions and then use your best judgment. If you want to reduce the risk of a starchy pilaf, rinse the rice beforehand.
Rice for Dessert?
Our top tip for making this sweet rice pudding recipe is to cook your short-grain rice at a low temperature for an extended amount of time, about 30 minutes, depending on the recipe. The amount of time you let your rice cook up will offer up that oh, so, creamy texture when finished. But, much like risotto, be careful not to overcook your rice.