How to Boil Brown Rice {Like Pasta}

square In case you think you’re seeing triple, yes, we already have rice tutorials here and here. So yeah…maybe a little overkill. But not really, because, believe it or not, rice is tricky–your results can vary depending on lots of factors like the grain of the rice, they type of rice, your location, the humidity, the elevation, the cookware you’re using, the things you add to the water, and the type of stove you’re cooking on, just to name a few. It can be so unbelievably frustrating to try (and fail) again and again to make something that’s supposed to be so simple, but the truth is that rice can be tricky.

Sara’s brown rice method is awesome, but I really love this one, too, for a few reasons:

1) It takes just a little longer than steaming regular white rice.

2) The water factor; when steaming brown rice at low elevations, you need a little less water and in high elevations, you need more, and finding the sweet spot can be tricky. Here, it’s pretty much foolproof.

3) You don’t have to heat up your house in this crazy summer heat.

4) It cooks the rice super evenly–you’re not going to run into crunchy, burned, or soggy grains.

So what is this super magical method? I’ve heard rumblings about it and then found an article about it in the July/August issue of Cook’s Illustrated, so I had to try it. And it was pretty much as amazing as they promised. Basically, you’re boiling the rice in way more water than is used to steam rice, so you’re cooking it like pasta. And it’s amazing.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this may not be the answer to ALL your brown rice problems (if that’s a thing); if you’re looking for a stickier rice, this is not your method–the grains are very separate and are not sticky at all, so it’s perfect for things like stir fries, salads, and soups, but might not be the “comfort” rice you’re seeking out.

You’re going to need 1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice, 3 quarts of water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 teaspoons of vinegar or citrus juice.

boiled brown rice from Our Best Bites

Fill a large pot with the 3 quarts of water (not 3 cups–we’re living on the edge here)

boiled brown rice from Our Best Bites

and add the salt.

boiled brown rice from Our Best Bites

Bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

When the water is boiling, add the rice

boiled brown rice from Our Best Bites

and cook uncovered for 22-25 minutes (or until the rice is tender), stirring occasionally. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer and spread evenly over the prepared baking sheet (this step isn’t necessary if you’re eating the rice right away and you feel like you got all the water out, but for things like salads and stir-fries, you’ll definitely want to spread the rice on a baking sheet).

boiled brown rice from Our Best Bites

Drizzle with the citrus juice or vinegar and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving dish to serve or cover and store in the refrigerator for later use in recipes.

boiled brown rice from Our Best Bites



  1. Maybe I’m just not real picky about rice, but I’ve rarely had trouble cooking any kind of rice. I’m careful about measuring the amount of rice and water, and I check it about 5 minutes before I think it should be done: I turn the fire off, or add more water/time, or turn the fire off and add a little water and let it steam. I don’t get crusty bits or mush.

    But hey, if this works, go for it.

  2. Perfect timing — I’d forgotten to start my rice cooker for dinner tonight:) Took closer to a half an hour here this way, but the rice turned out perfect, served right out of the strainer!! Another win thanks to the OBB girls:)

  3. I make basmati rice like this all the time, but never thought to do this for brown rice! My husband is Iranian and this is the way we do it. You can tell the rice is done by taking a grain or two and squeezing it between your finger. If it’s soft, it’s done.

  4. I am excited to try this. I haven’t eaten brown rice in forever because I just don’t know how to cook and use it. Thanks!

  5. How would this work with short grain brown rice? (And really, what exactly is the difference between long and short grain brown rice?)

  6. Ditto Tammy’s comment. Do you have to leave it on the parchment paper for a while, to absorb excess moisture? Then, how do you get it warm again without drying it out?

    I have resorted to pretty much exclusively cooking boil-in-the-bag brown rice, because I fail every time I try to cook the real stuff. Would love to try another method!

    1. You definitely want to spread it out for the recipe I’m posting tomorrow, but just for eating, if you feel like you can get all the water out with the strainer, you don’t have to spread the rice out. Hope that helps!

  7. And is the vinegar/ citrus only to keep it from sticking for future use? If I were to use it immediately, would I still need the vinegar/ citrus?

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