How to Cook Rice in a Pot

Mastering the Simple: Rice Edition

Rice puts the "deceptive" in deceptively simple. How hard could it be, right? Boil the water; add the rice; cover and wait. That is, until you get called away for the kid crisis of the day or toddler tantrum of the hour and return to find the rice has melded with the bottom of the pan, or, even worse, taken on the consistency of wallpaper glue. It's not that you have to babysit rice for it to turn out well, but you must follow the steps exactly, no matter how minor they might seem.

Total Time: 22 minutes | Prep Time: 22 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6


  • 2 cups medium or long-grain rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil, optional


  1. Add the rice to a bowl, and cover it with a few inches of water. Swish the rice in the water until cloudy; drain it, and repeat until the water stays clear. Set the rice aside.
  2.  Add 4 cups of water to a heavy-bottomed pot and season it to taste with kosher salt. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add the rice and butter, if using, and stir one time. Wait for the water to start simmering, and cover the pot with the lid. If the lid doesn't fit tightly, cover the pot with a folded tea towel and set the lid into it firmly.
  4. Set the heat on the stove to low. Set the timer for 18 minutes.
  5. Check the rice for doneness when the timer goes off. The rice should have an al dente bite to it; firm but not hard.
  6. Take the pot off the stove, and let it stand for 2 minutes. Uncover the pot and fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains. You can also spread the rice out on a plate to make separating the grains easier.
  7. Let the rice "dry out," uncovered, for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately. Store leftover rice for up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

When cooking brown rice, use 2 1/2 cups of water and check it after 45 minutes. Look to see if any water remains in the bottom of the pot and, if so, cook for up to 10 more minutes.

White rice typically calls for a 1:2 ratio of rice to water. However, always check the package in case the proportions deviate.

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