5 Common Mistakes People Make While Cooking Rice

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By Ashley Woodward • Last Updated: February 16, 2023

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Common Mistakes People Make While Cooking Rice

Cooking rice should not be a mystery. Learn from these 5 common mistakes people make while cooking rice and become a kitchen expert!

Rice Up!

Growing up in an Asian household taught me to cook rice using the knuckle method and a cooking pot. It was a lovely childhood that exposed me to the culinary world.

When rice is too dry, just add little water and a pinch of rock salt on top of the pot and let it steam on lowest heat for 10 minutes.

I never learned the scientific explanation of this trick, it was passed on from generations and it works; like all the time. It was a pretty old-school trick and quite scary but yes, it made me a rice expert though! 😛

Years later, I got my very first rice cooker when I started working and that was when my life became easier. It was just a conventional type but we had been together through a lot of milestones.

This was when I thought about writing this post. I know a lot of friends who still prepare a hit or miss rice at home. And so, I decided to list down the 5 common mistakes people make while cooking rice.

5 Common Mistakes People Make While Cooking Rice

Cooking rice is very intimidating for beginners since there are so many things to learn. But, as you go along and better understand rice and its varieties, you’ll surely get the hang of it.

You don’t have to memorize all the rice variants to become an expert, you only need to be familiar with each kind and off you go!

To help you start off better, read this post to learn more.

5. Rinsing or Soaking Rice

Rinsing or Soaking Rice

Rice experts say that rinsing the rice before cooking helps remove all the milling by-products such as talc, dust, and dirt.

Washing helps eliminate excess starch and any unwanted leftovers, especially from imported brands.

Locally grown rice may have less talc but those varieties such as basmati may have been processed with it to preserve the grains.

Many people do not rinse rice properly. Proper rice rinsing prevents the rice grains from sticking after cooking. This is especially bothersome when you leave rice in a pot for some time after cooking.

How to Wash Rice

  1. Measure rice according to how much you desire to cook
  2. Place it in a large bowl and wash it under running water
  3. Keep washing and rinsing until the water becomes clear

Some say that washing rice three times is enough, so you’ll still get adequate nutrients especially when using white rice. NEVER rinse risotto rice because this variety highly depends on the starch of the grain that gives it extra creamy when cooked.

Soaking Rice

Aromatic rice varieties such as basmati and jasmine are best cooked when pre-soaked. Soaking helps release the oils that hold their aroma.

Apart from releasing aroma, soaking also helps reduce cooking time for these varieties.

When using basmati rice, soak it for a minimum of an hour to a maximum of 24 hours for the best quality.

NEVER soak sushi rice in water as most recipes say, authentic Japanese sushi masters advice that you should only drain sushi rice in a colander after rinsing and let it sit for an hour before cooking.

4. Water Ratio

rice to water ratio for rice cooker

When I was beginning to learn how to cook rice, I often have two choices: burnt rice or a mushy one. I didn’t know where I went wrong since I was only following a recipe.

As I went along with my rice-capades, I learned that the amount of water added on a certain rice variety is crucial.

So for you to avoid the same mistake, I made a list of the correct rice to water ratio per rice variety.

Remember that rice doubles its size when cooked so it needs a sufficient amount of water to cook the grains properly. The thicker the grains are, the more water is needed.

Rice Type and Water Ratios

  • Long-grain White Rice – 1 and 3/4 cups of water to every 1 cup of rice
  • Medium-grain, White Rice – 1 and a half cup of water to a cup of rice
  • Short-grain, White Rice – A cup and 1/4 of water to every cup of rice
  • Long-grain, Brown Rice – 2 and 1/4 cups of water to every cup of rice
  • Parboiled Rice – 2 cups of water to a cup of rice
  • Basmati and Jasmine Rices – Use the 1:1 ratio if you have soaked the rice prior. Otherwise, use a cup and 1/2 of water to every cup of basmati and jasmine rice.

Knuckle Method

measure rice water by knuckle method

In another part of the globe, a lot of people are using a unique way of leveling the rice and water.

This is an old and useful method when you have nothing to measure the right amount of rice and water.

If you grew up in an Asian household, I bet you are well-familiar with the knuckle method.

Our great grandmothers have cooking tricks which are actually amazing and work with almost all rice variants. I found this YouTube tutorial helpful in showing the knuckle method.

How to Do the Knuckle Method

There are several variants of this method. In the video above you have an example of using your index finger and thumb, below I described a little different but also effective. When you get some practice using one of these methods, you will use it every time.

Put your index finger vertically to the bottom of empty pot. Level your rice onto the pot until it covers the first joint of your finger. Remember that rice should be heap evenly in the pot.

Then add enough water to reach next joint of your finger. Make sure your finger gently touches the bottom of the pot, don’t bend your finger.

Brown rice and other colored rice need more water, you can use your middle finger to measure the water. It should be somewhere in between the first and second knuckle of your finger.

3. Stirring and Opening the Lid while Cooking

Never stir the rice when it’s cooking unless you are making risotto.

Stirring will break the rice and will release more starch leaving you with a bowl of sticky cooked rice.

Opening the lid from time to time also affects cooking consistency.

Lifting the lid will let the steam out and may not evenly cook the rice.

As long as you have used the correct rice type and water ratio, let the rice do its job.

2. Wrong Heat

Another common mistake we make is cooking the rice at a high temperature. I’m actually guilty of this because I wanted the rice to cook quickly and not thinking about the quality.

The best way to achieve perfect, fluffy rice is to let it boil under medium heat and reduce the flame to its lowest temperature until all water is absorbed.

Cooking it at high temperatures will result in uneven rice, the outside might be cooked but the middle part is still raw and hard.

1. Fluff and Let it Rest

The biggest mistake people make when cooking rice is not fluffing it. We often just leave the rice inside the cooker or the pot after it has been cooked.

I was really confused when I first made my rice and it was dry on top and a little moist in the middle. I wondered what went wrong when I followed all the instructions.

That was then I realized that I did not fluff the rice. Fluffing helps the excess steam trapped in the rice to spread out to ensure that all parts of the pot are well-distributed.

How to Fluff Rice

  1. When all the water is absorbed and the rice is almost done, turn off the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Halfway through resting, get a fork and carefully move it around the rice and going in the middle.
  3. Cover the lid back and let it sit for another 7-8 minutes
  4. Serve!

Using a fork for fluffing is better than using rice spatula because a fork goes through the grains easily without crushing or breaking them.

The best Method for Cooking Rice

I bet that once or twice, you were also a victim of wrong impressions about rice cooking. I was also intimidated at the beginning, but when you get to learn more about it, you will soon realize that cooking rice is a fun process after all!

These 5 common mistakes are easily avoided when you found the perfect kitchen partner. Basically, you can cook rice in any convenient way for you.

However, there is an ongoing battle against the stovetop method vs. rice cooker when it comes to rice cooking, especially in Asian countries.

For me, cooking in rice cooker is much more convenient, besides rice is excellent every time. Below I described both ways to cook great rice.

How to cook rice on a stovetop

There are many types of rice, each of them cooks a little differently. The most common rice is white rice, which is why I decided to describe how to cook this rice.

  • Measure the desired cup of rice to cook
  • Wash and rinse your rice. Remember that some rice species should not be washed too many times like jasmine rice!
  • Put rice in a saucepan, add your optional seasoning/ingredients and add the correct water ratio.
  • Cover the pan and let it boil for about 15-20 minutes or until all water is absorbed. It all depends on the cooking method and rice species.
  • Turn the heat to its lowest and leave it covered for another 5-10 minutes
  • Fluff the rice with a fork and turn off the heat. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving

Introducing the Neuro-Fuzzy Logic Technology

advantages of using neuro-fuzzy logic rice cooker

We live in a world where time is at a premium and everyone has many responsibilities to do. No wonder so many people want to use their time in the most effective way possible.

More and more people want to cook quickly and comfortably while maintaining high quality cooked food. It is no different in the case of rice.

I’m a big fan of rice cookers, not only because you can cook great rice in them but also because they are a very universal devices. Rice cooker is able to cook thousands of other dishes in an extremely simple and convenient way.

There are many people on YouTube who treat their rice cookers as appliances that can be used to cook everything, such as soup, goulash, pasta, bread or even cake!

You can actually use a conventional type of rice cooker but if you want to eat really fluffy and aromatic rice, then choose a device equipped with modern technology like Neuro-fuzzy logic.

Neuro-fuzzy is an artificial intelligence (AI) system that is integrated with fuzzy logic technology. This system divides rice cooking process into several phases during which it adjusts the temperature and duration so that the rice is cooked perfectly. When your rice is cooked, it finishes the cooking process and goes into keep warm mode.

This mode maintains the temperature and humidity of the rice for several hours after the cooking process. Thanks to this, before you go to work, you can set the time when your rice cooker is supposed to cook dinner for you. Even if you are late, the rice cooker will be waiting for you with a hot meal.

Yup! Working on its own, meaning, this rice cooker is equipped with “brain” so it will cook your rice perfectly and whenever you want.

How to Use Rice Cooker

As I said, using this device is extremely easy.

  • Measure the right amount of rice with a special measuring cup
  • Wash and rinse
  • Place it in the rice cooker pot and add seasoning/ingredients
  • Add the correct amount of water (everything is in the attached user manual)
  • Turn on the option of cooking white rice
  • Leave

It’s so simple, just turn on your rice cooker and and enjoy your free time 🙂

Which rice cooker to choose

Based on my experience, I think Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 is the best rice cooker. Zojirushi is a trusted brand when it comes to kitchen equipment. One of their well-loved rice cookers is powered by Neuro-fuzzy logic technology.

Apart from the powerful cooking technology this brand is using, there are other outstanding features you will also love!

  • It has a multi-menu selection like Automatic Keep Warm, Extended Keep Warm and Reheat Cycle
  • Cooking Settings include Regular White rice or Sushi rice (Soft or Hard option), Sweet rice, Porridge, Musenmai rice or No-rinse and of course, brown rice.
  • Comes in 2 different sizes: 5.5 cups and the 10-cup capacities
  • Modern, sleek design with easy to carry handles
  • It has an LCD clock and timer display with retractable cord for easy transport

Recipes to Try on your Rice Cooker

As I wrote above, rice cookers can actually do so much more than just rice. At first, I thought I can only cook boiled eggs apart from rice.

I struggled juggling a lot of pans and pots in the kitchen until I came across cooking different recipes in the rice cooker.

Surprisingly, you can prepare a lot of your favorite dishes in the rice cooker. Here are some of the recipes we tried:

  • Different types of soups like my favorite pumpkin soup
  • Gumbo
  • Paella
  • Rice Pudding
  • Jambalaya
  • Risotto
  • Pasta, spaghetti
  • Cakes like cheesecake or chocolate cake
  • Bread, banana bread too 😉
  • And many more

Is it Worth Buying?

is it worth buying a rice cooker

Buying kitchen appliances is not the same as buying a new pair of shoes. You cannot just simply purchase a new one when you already have the same device at home. Unless of course, you need replacements.

My goal here is to help you gain more by choosing the right equipment that would make your life easier and more productive.

I’m too busy at work during the day and I don’t have much time preparing for some home-cooked meal for my family.

Rice cooker is not only an investment in great rice but also in your time and convenience. So, what I did was invest in having a quality rice cooker that I can depend on!

Imagine going home tired from work and still need to prepare dinner.

Having a rice cooker is a big help. I can just toss in the rice and set the correct setting, then I’m off with another task.

Assess your needs at home and then decide if buying a rice cooker will be worth it for you. If you want to share your thoughts or experiences with rice cookers then write in the comments.