How to Cook Brown Rice

March 14th, 2007 by Steve Pavlina

Many people have trouble cooking brown rice and having it turn out decently, since it can be more temperamental than white rice.  There are also many different ways to prepare it.

Here’s the most efficient way I found to cook brown rice on a stove.  It takes about 35 minutes from when you start to when you’re eating (which is pretty good for brown rice).  This method works for both short grain and long grain brown rice.  I prefer long grain.  I’ve eaten hundreds of batches of brown rice using this method over the past 10 years.

Here are the instructions:

  1. Put brown rice and water together in a pot with a lid.  Use the ratio of 1.5 cups water to 1 cup rice.  I normally make 3c rice with 4.5c water for a single batch.
  2. Set the heat to maximum, and bring the rice/water to a boil uncovered.  Then put the lid on the pot, and reduce the heat to low/simmer.  If your lid has a steam valve, keep it closed.  Let the rice simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat, and let the rice sit in the covered pot for another 10 minutes.  It’s OK if you let the rice sit longer than 10 minutes (20 or 30 minutes is fine too), but don’t let it go any less.  I prefer my rice to be slightly chewy, not mushy, so I usually remove the lid after 10 minutes.
  4. Eat and enjoy.  Be careful when you remove the lid, since a lot of steam may escape when you do.

This works for white rice too.

After the rice is cooked, I normally scoop some into a bowl, and mix it with a little tamari and 1-2 tablespoons of sesame seeds.  The sesame seeds add a lot of flavor to the rice.  Sometimes I’ll eat it with steamed veggies and blackened tempeh, both of which can be prepared while the rice is cooking.

I put the leftover rice in a plastic container in the refrigerator, which keeps well for several days.  Since I don’t use a microwave, I usually just eat the leftovers cold.  But when I’m not in the mood for cold rice, here’s another tasty dish I make from the leftover rice:

  1. In a small pot, add 1 teaspoon of oil, and heat it for about 1 minute on medium heat.  I prefer dark sesame oil because it adds a lot of flavor.  Canola oil works well too.
  2. Add some chopped veggies to the pot, and sauté them in the oil for a few minutes.  My favorites are onions, green onions, and bell peppers (any color).
  3. Once the veggies are cooked, scoop in some of the leftover brown rice.  I like to use 2 parts rice to 1 part veggies.  Mix it well with the veggies.
  4. Reduce the heat slightly to medium-low, and cook the rice/veggies for 3-4 minutes until the rice is hot, stirring about once every minute.
  5. Pour in a little tamari to taste, and mix it with the rice.  Cook for another minute to sear in the flavor.
  6. Turn off the heat.  Mix in 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds.
  7. Eat and enjoy.

I hope you find these recipes helpful.  Brown rice became a staple of my diet after I studied macrobiotics during the mid-90s, and I eat it almost every week.  I find it a great food for endurance activities.

Update 4/16/2012 – For the sequel to this mega-popular post, be sure to read The Ultimate Rice Bowl.


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