Brown rice is a fantastic addition to almost any meal. It’s got significantly more nutritional value and higher fiber than white rice, and even has a little more flavor.
Unfortunately, for people who are used to preparing white rice, brown rice can be rather difficult to prepare.
That’s why I wanted to put together this guide for how to make perfect brown rice, every time you make it.
Of course, if you want to make it even easier to make brown rice at home, you should consider investing in a great rice cooker. I even wrote an article, the Best Rice Cookers for Brown Rice, talking about rice cookers that do a good job with brown rice specifically.
Now, let’s get started.
Tips for Making the Perfect Brown Rice
Tip 1: Rinse Your Rice
One of the biggest mistakes people make, even with white rice, is not rinsing your rice before you boil it.
Rinsing rice is critical for removing some of the surface starches that hide on the outside of the grains. Those starches can make your rice mushy if you don’t rinse enough. Soaking your rice can also help remove those starches.
It’s especially important to rinse brown rice because of the longer cooking time brain rice requires.
Tip 2: Soak Your Brown Rice
Soaking brown rice before you cook it is an optional step, but it can help make your rice fluffier and improve the texture. Soaking overnight before cooking can also make your brown rice easier to digest.
Basically, soaking helps remove some of the natural phytic acid in the rice. Since phytic acid is hard to digest it can contribute to the heavy feeling and stomach upset some people get when they first switch to brown rice instead of white.
Soaking for at least half an hour will help with the starches on the rice but it takes hours to soak phytic acid out of the rice. If you decide to soak overnight you don’t need to rinse your rice as well, but just rinsing your rice doesn’t have the same effect as soaking.
Tip 3: Use a Lot More Water for Brown Rice
A lot of people try to use the same 2:1 ratio of water to rice for brown rice. Unfortunately that isn’t enough water to effectively cook brown rice. At minimum you should use a 6:1 water to rice ratio, and many people advocate a full 12:1 ratio.
Here’s the good news: you can add water to brown rice as it cooks without hurting the cooking process. Just add extra water in small amounts to make sure the pot starts boiling again pretty quickly.
That makes it a lot easier to find the right amount of water for your preferred brand of brown rice. You can start with 6 cups of boiling water to 1 cup of rice, and add extra water a quarter cup at a time while it cooks. Only add water while the heat is on, not while the rice steams in the pot without heat.
As long as you track how much water you add, you’ll know what the perfect ratio of water to rice is for your preferred brand.
The only problem is that you’ll likely need to repeat this process anytime you change rice brands.
Tip 4: Brown Rice Needs Two Cooking Phases, Heating and Steaming
Most people heat water to boiling, add their rice, and then cook for about 20 minutes (assuming they are cooking on a regular stovetop that is). That process is great, but it doesn’t quite work for brown rice.
For one thing, brown rice needs longer cooking times on average. Soaked brown rice should cook for 20 minutes and steam for 10. Brown rice that has only been rinsed should cook for 30 minutes, and steam for 10.
What’s the difference between cooking and steaming?
It’s simple. The cooking phase is when you have lots of water in the pot and it’s actively on the heat source to keep it boiling. Brown rice needs an extra step, where you leave the lid on the pot and let it sit off the heat for another ten minutes. The residual heat will help finish cooking while the water steams and the rice absorbs the last bit of water in the pot.
That’s it! Those four tricks will help you make perfect brown rice no matter what brand you’re working with.