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How to Cook Brown Rice Perfectly

When you learn how to cook brown rice, you’ll always have a quick and easy, healthy and gluten free side dish for dinner. It’s simple and delicious!

Brown Rice in a white ceramic serving bowl. Bowl is sitting on a wooden trivet that rests on a concrete counter top with salt and pepper shakers, greenery and turquoise crockery.
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Brown rice, truly cooked well, can be the foundation of scrumptious rice bowls, a delicious complement to your main dish or even the main attraction, as in fried rice.

When you know how to cook brown rice, properly, your meal planning possibilities grow exponentially. I’ll show you two methods that should suit any kitchen.

No special equipment is required. Just a sauce pan with a lid and your stove top.

Brown Rice in awhite ceramic serving bowl. Bowl is sitting on a wooden trivet that rests on a concrete counter top with a blue and whitee print fabric napkin.

You’ll be able to put nutty, slightly chewy and deeply flavorful brown rice on the table in minutes using my quick cook (instant method).

And, you can easily bulk cook and refrigerate or freeze the same flavorful rice using either the instant method or the traditional method for cooking long grain brown rice.

Long grain brown rice takes just about an hour to cook and I’ll show you how to maximize that time to prep rice you can warm in minutes on busy weeknights!

The Ingredients

Ingredients for How to Cook Brown Rice : brown rice, butter, water and seasoning

For Quick Cook Brown Rice

For Long Grain Brown Rice

Brown Rice vs White Rice

Brown Rice and White Rice in two piles on a chalkboard.  Brown Rice vs White Rice is written in chalk.

Did you know that brown rice and white rice are the exact same grain?

Brown rice is the whole grain. It still has the bran which is high in fiber, the nutrition-packed germ, and the carb-rich endosperm. Brown rice has a nutty flavor. And, that bran layer gives it a gorgeous chewy texture. But, it also creates the need for a longer cook time.

White rice is the exact same grain. It simply has had both the bran and the germ removed. It’s softer and cooks more quickly. But, since the most nutritious parts have been removed, it’s essentially a carb bomb with little nutritional value.

Is Brown Rice Healthy, Then?

Brown Rice in a white ceramic serving bowl with a large serving spoon lifting rice from the bowl. Bowl is sitting on a wooden trivet that rests on a concrete counter top with salt and pepper shakers, greenery and turquoise crockery.

Absolutely! In the context of a varied and balanced diet, brown rice can provide tons of nutrition and health benefits. It is still carb-dense, so balance is key.

Brown rice can provide essential fiber. It also contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Because it is high in magnesium and fiber, brown rice can have a positive effect on blood sugar levels.

Studies have also found indications that eating brown rice may help in the reduction of risk factors for heart disease and that it may contribute to helping control weight.

You may have heard or read information about phytic acid or arsenic in rice. Both are naturally occurring elements in many foods. You would need to eat quite a lot for the levels of either to affect health. Scientists have concluded that there is no danger from eating brown rice several times a week as part of a varied and balanced diet.

Of course, I’m no expert, scientist or doctor. So, don’t rely just on what I’m telling you. Do your own due diligence and research. If you have concerns check with your own health professionals. I have found these articles to be helpful: Brown vs White Rice; Brown Rice vs White Rice: Is Brown Really Better? and Brown Rice vs White Rice … Here’s What a Nutritionist Says.

FAQ’s About (Quick Cook) Instant Rice

Is Instant Rice (Quick Cooking Rice) good for you?

Yes. The debate over long cook or quick cooking (minute / instant) rice is one that’s settled for me. The consensus, after an independent study, is that there is no appreciable nutritional difference between long cooking brown rice and quick cooking brown rice. See more info here and here.

The same is true of white rice. Long cook or quick cook the nutritional value doesn’t change much.

What is Instant Rice (Quick Cook Rice) ?

Quick Cook/ Minute/ Instant Rice is regular rice that has been parboiled, meaning partially cooked. Then it is dehydrated again. This allows us to be able to complete the cook in about 1/4 of the normal time! The nutritional loss is negligible and the time gain is HUGE! That’s an easy decision for me.

grains of brown rice on a white counter top

Can I use long grain brown rice, basmati rice, quick cook white rice or long grain white rice, instead of instant brown rice, in this recipe?

Yes and no. You can use long grain brown rice in this recipe and separate cooking instructions have been provided for it.

However, both quick cook white rice and long grain white rice, as well as basmati rice, require different cooking methods and lengths of time, that are not provided in this post. Check out this Instant Pot Basmati Rice recipe for perfect basmati rice every time.

How to Season Brown Rice

Just like pasta, the liquid you cook brown rice in is KEY to the flavor your rice will have at serving time. Because the brown rice is dry and absorbs all the liquid as it cooks, any seasonings and herbs need to be in the liquid before and during cooking for the best flavor.

Brown Rice in a white ceramic serving bowl. Bowl is sitting on a wooden trivet that rests on a concrete counter top.

Choosing Seasoning

The seasoning you choose for your brown rice is often determined by how you will be using it. I seasoned this brown rice with my vegan homemade beef bouillon /umami seasoning and a little salt. My seasoning is mushroom, herb and veggie centric and adds great flavor for a stand-alone side dish that complements any main dish.

If you have a favorite seasoning blend, like Spike, Mrs. Dash or Dan-O’s, you can definitely use that in place of my seasoning. There are many on the market and everyone seems to have their own favorite.

When to Add Seasoning

Taste as you go. You want the liquid the brown rice is cooked in to be flavorful. Add your seasoning and take the time to begin warming the liquid so the flavors develop and you like the taste before the rice is added. You only need to do that once to establish your own perfect seasoning blend amount for cooking brown rice.

You can cook brown rice in stock, instead of water, too. I find that homemade vegetable stock or meat stock usually has stronger flavor than store-bought. But, adding chicken bouillon or beef bouillon to commercial stocks can definitely amp up the flavor.

Brown Rice in a white ceramic serving bowl. Bowl is sitting on a wooden trivet that rests on a concrete counter top with salt and pepper shakers, greenery and turquois crockery.

Think about the herbs and seasonings you have in your main dish and season brown rice with similar or complementary ones.

Aromatics like onions and garlic are excellent and flavorful ways to season the liquid for brown rice, as are veggies like carrots and peppers. In addition to herbs and spices, some dishes can benefit from the addition of acids like citrus juice and zest or vinegar, too.

Match the seasoning you choose for brown rice to fit the dishes you’re serving it with and the tastes of those you’re serving it to.

What to with Serve Brown Rice

Brown rice can simply be a flavorful side for a separate main dish or it can be integrated into the dish as a main component.

  • My easy 10-Minute Mexican Rice is a great example of a standalone side in which brown rice is cooked in a liquid seasoned with ingredients to complement the main dish of the meal.
  • Rice bowls, like my Pineapple Chicken Rice Bowl with Pineapple Salsa, my Korean BBQ Chicken Rice Bowl or even my Egg Roll Bowls use brown rice seasoned simply, with flavors that complement those dishes.
  • Lentils and Rice Casserole and Stuffed Pepper Soup are examples of brown rice being integrated directly into the dish as one of the main features, so it absorbs the flavors of the ingredients and seasonings it is cooked with.

How to Store and Reheat Brown Rice

I get it. Groceries are expensive and cost matters. It’s definitely cheaper to buy long grain brown rice than instant.

A great money saving hack is to purchase long grain brown rice and then bulk cook a large batch. It will reheat in minutes for quick and easy meals throughout the week. (For fried rice, you need to start with pre-cooked cold rice, anyway, so this is a perfect option to add it into your menu plan.)

Cooked brown rice will keep in the fridge up to 4 days. For storing 5 days or more, divide the batch into meal-size portions and freeze them. The frozen rice will last up to 6 months. Always make sure rice is completely cooled before refrigerating or freezing.

Brown Rice in a white ceramic serving bowl. Bowl is sitting on a wooden trivet that rests on a concrete counter top with salt and pepper shakers, greenery and turquois crockery.

Reheating in the Microwave

To reheat refrigerated or frozen brown rice, you can add a Tablespoon or two of water and the brown rice to a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate (or microwave-safe lid) and cook a couple minutes until the rice is hot. Time will be dependent on how much rice you’re cooking and the wattage of your microwave.

Reheating on the Stove Top

To reheat refrigerated or frozen brown rice on the stove top, place the rice and one or two Tablespoons of water into a shallow skillet. The wider the bottom of the pan, the more you can spread out the rice and the quicker it will reheat. Cover the skillet and heat the rice on low to medium heat until it is heated through. Stir once or twice as it heats to prevent sticking.

Add Directly to Soups, Stews and Broth

Refrigerated or frozen brown rice can be added directly to soups or stews you are making. The heat of the soup will thaw the rice and integrate it into the dish.

How to Make Brown Rice

(Video in Recipe Card)

adding rice to a saucepan

For Quick Cook Brown Rice (10 minute cook time)

  1. Add the rice, butter (or oil for dairy free), seasoning and water to a 2 qt. saucepan.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
  3. Once the brown rice is boiling, put a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook covered for 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
  4. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork and serve.

For Long Grain Brown Rice  (1 hour cook time)

  1. Quickly rinse your rice to remove any dust or particles.
  2. Add the rice, water, butter (or oil for dairy free) and seasoning to a 2 qt. sauce pan with a tight fitting lid.
  3. Bring the pot to a boil and cover with the lid.
  4. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the rice from the heat.  DON’T lift the lid.  allow it to sit, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Fluff with a fork and serve.

The Recipe

Print
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Brown Rice in awhite ceramic serving bowl. Bowl is sitting on a wooden trivet that rests on a concrete counter top with a blue and whitee print fabric napkin.

How to Cook Brown Rice


  • Author: Glenda Embree
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 6 cups 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Units Scale

For Quick Cook Brown Rice

  • 3 cups Instant Brown Rice
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (or avocado oil for dairy free)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3 to 5 teaspoons vegan homemade Beef Bouillon Powder / Umami Seasoning, to taste (or seasoning of your choice)
  • salt, to taste

For Long Grain Brown Rice

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 to 5 teaspoons vegan homemade Beef Bouillon Powder / Umami Seasoning, to taste (or seasoning of your choice)
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

For Quick Cook Brown Rice (10 minute cook time)

  1. Add the rice, butter, seasoning and water to a 2 qt. saucepan.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
  3. Once the brown rice is boiling, put a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook covered for 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
  4. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork and serve.

For Long Grain Brown Rice  (1 hour cook time)

  1. Quickly rinse your rice to remove any dust or particles.
  2. Add the rice, water, butter and seasoning to a 2 qt. sauce pan with a tight fitting lid.
  3. Bring the pot to a boil and cover with the lid.
  4. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the rice from the heat.  DON’T lift the lid.  Allow it to sit, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Fluff with a fork and serve.
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish, Rice
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American
glenda embree

About Glenda

I believe cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated and that YOU can do it. My simple recipes, tutorials, and cooking tips will help you get weeknight dinners on the table with less stress. Forget takeout or the drive-thru. Let me show you how to make homemade easy. Read more...

16 thoughts on “How to Cook Brown Rice Perfectly”

  1. Thanks Glenda for the excellent tips on how to cook brown rice perfectly. I already tried this several times and it never fails to amaze me. So tasty and satisfying!

    Reply
  2. This tasted so amazing! Thanks a lot for sharing this super easy to make recipe! Fam really loves it! Will surely have this again! Highly recommended!

    Reply
  3. Been cooking brown rice just on plain water and this makes something new and delicious. Loving this new way of cooking brown rice.

    Reply
  4. Never thought I’d say brown rice was flavorful! We eat a ton of brown rice, but the boost of flavor from that bouillon powder made this recipe something special and totally new to us. Delicious, thank you!

    Reply

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