Do You Cover Rice When Cooking? (I Tested Both Methods)


I’ve been cooking rice for over 50 years. However, recently I’ve been trying a variety of different types of rice, including brown rice, wild rice, jasmine, and my personal favorite, basmati. Over the years, I’ve had many people ask me the right way to cook rice. The specific question most often asked is whether they should put the lid on or cook the rice unlidded.

According to rice companies, rice should be covered during the cooking process. However, rice can be cooked just as well uncovered by filling a saucepan three-fourths full of water, adding rice, and boiling until done. When the rice is done, pour it through a colander and let it drain well.

The type of rice also matters when it comes to which cooking method is best.

The uncovered method works well for white and brown rice, but the covered method works best for wild, jasmine, and basmati rice.

Since there are some differences in how the various types of rice are cooked, let’s take a look at the right way to cook each type.

How to Cook White Rice

Plate-of-Cooked-White-Rice
Rice I Made With the Covered Method

Cooking White Rice with the Covered Method

  1. Measure 1 cup of white rice and 2 cups of water into a 3-quart saucepan.
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir.
  3. Place the saucepan on a stovetop burner over high heat.
  4. When water comes to a full rolling boil, stir well, place the lid on the saucepan, and reduce heat to a low setting.
  5. Cook for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed without lifting the lid during the 20-minute cooking period.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat source and let it stand for 5 minutes.
  7. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Cooking White Rice with the Uncovered Method

  1. Fill a 3-quart saucepan to three-quarters full with water.
  2. Place the saucepan on a stovetop burner over high heat and bring to a full rolling boil.
  3. Add 1 to 1-1/2 cups of white rice and stir well.
  4. Bring the contents of the saucepan back to a full rolling boil.
  5. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil and stir often.
  6. Cook for 20 minutes.
  7. Place a colander into the sink.
  8. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the colander and rinse with hot tap water.
  9. Place the colander on top of the saucepan and set it aside to drain completely.
  10. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

The testing results: I can’t tell the difference between the rice that was cooked covered and the rice that was cooked uncovered.

Here is the video where I did the testing:

How to Cook Brown Rice

Cooking Brown Rice with the Covered Method

  1. Measure 1 cup of brown rice and 2 cups of water into a 3-quart saucepan.
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir.
  3. Place the saucepan on a stovetop burner over high heat.
  4. When water comes to a full rolling boil, stir well, place the lid on the saucepan, and reduce heat to the low setting.
  5. Cook for 40-45 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.
  6. Remove the saucepan from heat and let it stand for 5 minutes.
  7. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Cooking Brown Rice with the Uncovered Method

  1. Fill a 3-quart saucepan to three-quarters full with water.
  2. Place the saucepan on a stovetop burner over the high heat setting and bring to a full rolling boil.
  3. Add 1 to 1-1/2 cups of brown rice and stir well.
  4. Bring the contents of the saucepan back to a full rolling boil.
  5. Reduce heat to maintain a more gentle boil and stir often.
  6. Cook for 40-45 minutes.
  7. Place a colander into the sink.
  8. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the colander and rinse with hot tap water.
  9. Place the colander on top of the saucepan and set it aside to drain completely.
  10. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

How to Cook Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is an aromatic type of white rice most often associated with Chinese and Japanese cuisine. It is different from white rice in several respects and is better cooked by using the covered method. 

  1. It has a different cooking time than white rice because of its longer grains. Cook basmati rice for 12 minutes and let it stand for 10 minutes before opening the lid. 
  2. Basmati rice requires a different ratio of water to rice than white rice. 1 cup of rice and 1.5 cups of water is the perfect ratio for basmati. 
  3. A third difference is that basmati rice should not be rinsed before cooking. If you do rinse, adjustments must be made to the amount of water used in cooking the rice. Typically, that adjustment is to reduce the amount of water for rinsed rice by 2 tablespoons per cup of rice.

The perfect recipe for Basmati rice is as follows:

  1. Measure 1 cup of basmati rice and 1.5 cups of water into a 3-quart saucepan.
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir.
  3. Place the saucepan on a stovetop burner over high heat.
  4. When water comes to a full rolling boil, stir well, place the lid on the saucepan, and reduce heat to the lowest setting.
  5. Cook for 12 minutes and let stand for 10 minutes before lifting the lid.
  6. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

How to Cook Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice is a softer rice with a unique fragrance and is most often associated with Thai cooking. Like basmati rice, jasmine rice is better cooked by the covered method and has several cooking differences from white rice. 

  1. Jasmine rice requires a different cooking time because it is softer and should be cooked for 15 minutes and let stand for 10 minutes before removing the lid.
  2. Jasmine rice also requires a different rice to water ratio. Use 1 cup of rice and 1.25 cups of water for perfect results.
  3. There is conflicting information about whether Jasmine rice should be rinsed, but I have had better results by not rinsing. If you do rinse, there must be adjustments made to the amount of water used in cooking, and I have not had good results in making those adjustments.

The perfect recipe for jasmine rice is as follows:

  1. Measure 1 cup of jasmine rice and 1.25 cups of water into a 3-quart saucepan.
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir.
  3. Place the saucepan on a stovetop burner over high heat.
  4. When water comes to a full rolling boil, stir well, place the lid on the saucepan, and reduce heat to the lowest setting.
  5. Cook for 15 minutes and let stand for 10 minutes before lifting the lid.
  6. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

How to Cook Wild Rice

Wild rice is also different from other types of rice because it is actually a type of aquatic grass that grows primarily in the Great Lakes region of the United States and was a large part of the daily diet of Native Americans who lived in the area. Most of the wild rice today is grown either in Minnesota or California.

  1. Wild rice has a nutty, chewy texture and can be eaten on its own, but because of its strong earthy flavor is most often eaten with other foods such as either combined with brown rice or cooked in soups and casseroles.
  2. While many people eat wild rice because of its distinct taste, it is valuable in healthy diets because of its nutritious values. It is low in fat, naturally gluten-free, and is high in protein, fiber, and amino acids, specifically lysine.

Cooking Wild Rice

Wild rice takes between 45 minutes to an hour to cook and is best cooked by using the uncovered method. Here is my recipe for cooking wild rice.

  1. Fill a 3-quart saucepan to three-quarters full with water.
  2. Place the saucepan on a stovetop burner over high heat and bring to a full rolling boil.
  3. Add 1 cup of wild rice and stir well.
  4. Bring the contents of the saucepan back to a full rolling boil.
  5. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil and stir often.
  6. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, checking frequently after 45 minutes.
  7. Wild rice is done when it is still chewy and when it has split down the middle and turned a light brown or white color.
  8. Place a colander into the sink.
  9. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the colander and rinse with hot tap water.
  10. Place the colander on top of the saucepan and set it aside to drain completely.
  11. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

How to Fix Rice That Is Too Hard

Hard or Crunchy Looking Rice in a Bowl

Uncovered Method

The great thing about the uncovered method is that you never have to worry about not having enough water and the rice coming out too hard.

To avoid rice that is too hard using the uncovered method, start tasting the rice after cooking for about 35 minutes to see if it is done and pour it into the colander when it is just right. If it still isn’t done after cooking for 45 minutes, allow it to cook until it does pass the taste test.

Note: Differences in cooking temperatures will affect how fast the rice cooks.

Covered Method

  • If using the covered method and the water has not evaporated after the 20 minute cooking time, increase the flame on a gas stove or the temperature on an electric stove, put the lid back on the saucepan, and cook for about 5 more minutes, checking often to see if the water has been absorbed.
  • If using the covered method and the rice is dry and browning on the bottom, remove the saucepan from the burner and, without stirring, spoon the rice into another container, being careful not to scoop from the bottom until all the good rice has been removed from the pot. Then, you can scrape the browned or burned rice from the bottom without affecting the taste of the good rice. If you stir from the bottom into burned rice, it will permeate the entire pot of rice. If you do not stir from the bottom, you may be able to salvage most of the rice.
  • If using the covered method and the water is all absorbed, but the rice is still crunchy, add approximately ¼ cup of water to the saucepan and cook covered for about 5 more minutes.

Pro Tip: If the rice cooked by either method becomes overcooked or mushy, either incorporate it into dressing, make rice pudding, or simply toss it out and start over.

Can Cooked Rice Be Reheated?

Any kind of cooked rice can be reheated by one of two methods:

  1. By microwaving: Place the rice in a microwavable dish before reheating and only heat it until hot. Do not leave in the microwave for too long as over microwaving can affect the texture of the rice.
  2. By heating in a saucepan: Place rice to be heated in a saucepan and add a tablespoon or two of water to the rice before reheating. Place the saucepan over low or medium heat and constantly stir as it will stick and/or burn easily.

How Long Will Rice Stay Good in the Refrigerator?

Rice will keep in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 days. If you cook more than you can use within that 5 to 6 day period, I recommend that you go ahead and freeze it before it sits in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 days.

Can Cooked Rice Be Frozen?

Cooked rice can be frozen for use at a later time. When ready, thaw and then microwave the rice to heat it. The frozen and reheated rice will taste like it is freshly cooked.

In this video I talk briefly about freezing rice:

How Do You Freeze Cooked Rice?

To freeze cooked rice, just pour it into a freezer-safe container or even a zip-lock storage bag, label, and freeze. Ensure the rice is completely cool before freezing, preferably after being kept in the refrigerator overnight. 

Two-Bags-of-Rice-in-Ziplock-Bags

Rice I just made, ready for the freezer

How long it lasts: Frozen rice will be good in the freezer for at least 6 months. However, if appropriately packaged with a vacuum sealer, it will remain good indefinitely.

Best Saucepan For Cooking Rice

I’ve been using this type of saucepan (Please click to see on Amazon) for cooking rice for the past 35 years and have never found a better one to use.

But, if I had to replace my old faithful rice/grits pot, I would choose something like this one from Rachael Ray.

Final Thoughts

Rice Making Ingredients and Pot
My Tools of the Trade

Rice is one of those very versatile foods that can be used in many different ways. It can be used as a side dish served with many different kinds of main dishes like steak and gravy, as part of the main dish as an ingredient in casseroles, or even turned into a dessert-like rice pudding.

So, if you have not yet perfected your method of cooking rice, my suggestion is to try both the covered and the uncovered methods described above and find the one that you prefer and which seems to work best for your cooking style. I hope this helps, and thanks for stopping by!

For more, check out How Many Cups of Cooked Rice Are in a Pound of Uncooked Rice?.

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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