How to Boil Brown Rice {Like Pasta}

 Brown rice can be a little tricky to cook, which is why we have several different methods to try, including in the pressure cooker, and in the oven. Results cooking brown rice 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. Trying a few methods might help you find one that’s fail-proof for you! This particular method involves boiling the rice like pasta, and results in perfect, tender, fluffy brown rice.

brown rice in a bowl

A few reasons why I like this method:

  1. It really takes just a bit longer than cooking 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.

How to Boil Brown Rice

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. If you want a stickier rice, I recommend the oven method.

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.

  1. Fill a large pot with the 3 quarts of water and bring to a boil
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. When the water comes to a boil, add salt and rice. Boil for 25-ish minutes until rice is tender to your liking, stirring occasionally.
  4. 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).
  5. Drizzle with the citrus juice or vinegar and toss to combine. Vinegar or citrus not only helps ensure the best texture and adds mild flavor to your finished dishes, but also is thought to lower the glycemic load during digestion.
  6. Transfer to a serving dish to serve or cover and store in the refrigerator for later use in recipes.
brown rice on baking sheet
brown rice in a bowl

How to Boil Brown Rice {Like Pasta}

An incredibly easy way to cook perfect brown rice, every time!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes
Servings4 cups rice

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice
  • 3 quarts 12 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar or citrus juice

Instructions

  • Fill a large pot with the 3 quarts of water and 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 salt and rice 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). Drizzle with the citrus juice or vinegar and toss to combine. Let sit for a few minutes for water to drain completely and then transfer to a serving dish to serve or cover and store in the refrigerator for later use in recipes.
Keyword: how to cook brown rice
Author: Method Perfected by Cook's Illustrated
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

Read More

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Questions & Reviews

  1. How much cooked rice does this recipe make? Does it double in volume like it does with steamed rice?

  2. I’ve never heard of this idea before and I love it. What kind of vinegar? Rice? White? Does it matter?

  3. Great post! I began cooking rice like this(except for the parchment paper part) when I was a new bride (half a century ago) and continued using that method until I acquired a rice cooker about ten years ago. One hint I found helpful re: brown rice is to soak it for several hours before preparing it.

  4. I tried it tonight with short grain rice, and it still came out separate and not sticky. Not quite as nice as the long grain, but still acceptable to toss in salads and other dishes where you want the grains separate.

  5. This is absolutely a no-fail way to cook brown rice. I used to use the same method as white (only for a longer amount of time), but had inconsistent results. This works every time. If eating warm, just drain and return to the same pot, cover with a lid, in 10 minutes, fluffly brown rice.

  6. 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.

  7. 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:)

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

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

  11. 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!

  12. 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?

    1. You spread it over the baking sheet to get all the water out, but you don’t absolutely have to.