How to Cook Basmati Rice Perfect Every Time

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Wondering how to cook basmati rice perfectly every time? The best method for cooking rice is found by looking back several generations to see how rice has traditionally been cooked. This includes rinsing and soaking the rice before it’s cooked. I’ll walk you through how to cook basmati rice in this post, but the general method works for any kind of rice.

how to cook basmati rice perfect every time

Traditional Rice Cooking Method

Respecting our elders and the generations that came before us isn’t the norm in western culture. In many (or most) cultures the oldest in the family are valued more than the youth. Their opinions are respected, and their traditions are passed down and cherished.

In western culture, youth is prized. New ideas are given the highest value. It’s counter cultural for us to put value on our elders and the ways of the past.

When it comes to food, there are constantly new products on the shelves, and marketers try to win your purchase by standing out in some way. New packaging, new phrasing, etc. While I think it’s important to find innovative solutions to problems, sometimes looking to the past can solve our problems, like how to cook perfect rice every time.

Best Method for Cooking Rice

For years I didn’t think twice about the best method for cooking rice. I just threw it in the pot with the required amount of water, heated it up, and ate it. Maybe it boiled, maybe it steamed. I really didn’t pay much attention. When it came time to eat it, sometimes it was mushy…and sometimes a little crunchy. Certainly not perfectly cooked, but good enough.

Things are different now. Now, I’m more intentional about how I cook food. I do my best to research the best methods for cooking food before I throw it on the stove or in the oven.

Are you supposed to rinse your rice?

Why do you rinse rice? Rinsing the rice is an important step because it lowers the starch content of the rice, and makes the rice easier for our bodies to digest. Another benefit of rinsing the rice is that it will remove anything the rice may have picked up from the processing facility (dirt, dust, talc, etc.).

To rinse the rice, pour it into a pot, and cover the rice with water. You’ll see the water turn cloudy. That is the excess starch that we don’t want to eat.

Starch will spike your blood sugar without giving you many nutrients. The excess starch is also what makes rice sticky and mushy. I usually rinse the rice four or five times until the water turns almost clear.

Rice in pot ready for first rinse. The water is pretty cloudy. We want it to get clear.
See the excess starch that turns the water cloudy? That’s why we rinse the rice.

Soaking Rice Before Cooking

After rinsing, you should soak your rice for about 30 minutes. This picture shows my rice ready to soak. You can see the water is much clearer after rinsing a few times.

You can soak it longer if you have the time. I’ve read some suggestions to soak overnight, but I usually don’t think that far ahead to cook my rice.

Why do you need to soak your rice? Soaking the rice makes it easier for our bodies to digest. If I’m short on time, I’ll soak it for only ten minutes. I figure a little bit of soaking is better than no soaking at all.

Drain the water after soaking. Now, your rice is ready to cook.

rice in pot after rinsing a few times. The water is much clearer than in the first rinse.
Rice is rinsed and ready to soak

Cooking Your Rice

I’m not a fan of filling your kitchen with any appliances you won’t use. Here are my minimalist kitchen essentials – basic tools list. In fact, if your counters are covered with appliances you don’t use, read this post on how to declutter your kitchen counters.

That being said, I don’t use a rice cooker to cook my rice (I’ve never had much luck with one). We cook our rice on the stove and it always turns out perfect.

To cook the rice, put the ingredients in a pot (see the recipe below), bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it sit without heat (or very low heat) until the rice is done. Once it’s cooked, you can fluff it with a fork, or use a rice paddle.

Depending on which type of rice you’re cooking (basmati, white, brown, short grain, long grain, etc.), the cooking time will vary slightly. We’ve been hooked on basmati rice for a while now, and it cooks pretty quickly – about 15 minutes with this method. Brown rice will take longer, and will also require slightly more water.

cooked rice in bowl, garnished with cilantro

My Best Tips for Cooking Perfect Rice

How much rice per person?

When you get ready to cook rice, there’s an important question that needs answered. How many cups of rice per person? Here’s a simple way to remember it – cook 1/2 cup of dried rice per person. So if you have 2 people, cook 1 cup dried rice. If you have 4 people, cook 2 cups dried rice. Also, if you’re wondering how much cooked rice you’ll end up with, one cup of rice + 2 cups of water yields 3 cups of cooked rice.

How long does rice last in the fridge?

Nobody wants to pull a moldy container of leftover rice out from the back of the fridge. Your rice should keep for about 3-5 days in the fridge. If you want to keep it longer, stick it in the freezer. It’ll be good frozen for about a month.

How to cook basmati rice?

The recipe card at the bottom of this post walks you step by step how to cook basmati rice. The directions for brown rice is similar, but with slightly different water to rice ratios. Here’s a recipe for how to cook brown rice.


Follow these steps to cook perfect rice every time. Rinse, soak, cook, eat. By taking a few extra steps in the preparation of your rice, your body will thank you, and the rice will be perfectly cooked.

Perfectly Cooked Rice

Perfectly Cooked Rice

Yield: 2.75 cups
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This recipe gives you perfectly cooked basmati rice on the stovetop.


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups water (not including water for rinsing and soaking)
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil, or butter (optional)
  • pinch of salt, optional


  1. Prepare your rice by rinsing 4-5 times until the water turns clear
  2. Soak your rice for at least 30 minutes
  3. Put the ingredients in a pot and bring water to a boil.
  4. When it reaches a boil, cover with a lid and turn the heat to low for five minutes. Don't take the lid off while it's cooking.
  5. Turn the heat off and let the pot sit with the lid on for ten more minutes.
  6. Take the lid off, fluff with a fork, serve.
Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

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how to make basmati rice - perfect every time

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