How To Cook Rice In A Pot

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A lovely bowl of cooked rice

A lovely bowl of cooked rice

My family eats rice everyday and so knowing how to cook rice is important. I teach my children how to cook rice in a pot. It is very easy. I used to cook rice in a rice cooker but I have given up long ago. I know there are different ways of cooking rice but what is the best way? It is really personal choice.

I grew up cooking rice over firewood. I think that’s the best way to cook rice if you want great-tasting rice. Later, I learned to use the rice cooker. But I have given up on that quite long ago for 2 main reasons. Firstly, I wanted to cut down on the number of kitchen gadgets in my kitchen. The rice cooker does take up quite a big space on the counter top. Secondly, I want to avoid all aluminium cooking utensils for health reasons.

Cooking rice with a pot is very easy. I’ll show you here. Firstly, you need a good stainless steel pot with a thicker base. Measure the amount of rice you want to cook. Wash it a few times with clean water until the water runs clear.

Unwashed rice

Unwashed rice

The easiest way to measure the correct amount of water to cook the rice is to dip your pointer finger into the water until it touches the rice. The water must come to the first section of your finger. The texture of the rice would be just perfect. Of course you can put less or more depending on your preference. This method applies no matter how much rice you cook, whether it’s 1 cup or 5 cups, long fingers or short fingers. The first section of everyone’s pointer finger is about the same length. Just don’t use baby’s finger!

Use finger to measure

Use finger to measure

Put the pot of rice on the stove to boil under medium fire. When it starts boiling (about 10 minutes or less), use a spoon to stir it just to loosen the rice sticking to the bottom of the pot. You don’t have to stir again.

Use a spoon to stir

Use a spoon to stir

The water will soon dry up and you will see small holes on the surprise. Cover the pot and turn the fire to it’s lowest. Leave it for about 5-10 minutes and turn off the fire. The rice should be cooked.

Holes on the surface

Holes on the surface

I always cook the rest of the other dishes when I cook rice. By the time the rice is cooked the dishes are also cooked. Besides when I’m cooking other dishes, I’m also taking care of the rice so I don’t forget and it gets burnt. Even my children know how to cook rice this way. My children will put slightly less water because they like tougher rice while I would put more because I like it slightly softer. So, adjust the water after trying it out once.

There may be a little rice stuck to the bottom of the pot but it’s easy to scoop it up. It’s great for making rice porridge the next day.

Thai jasmine rice is my family favourite.

Do you eat rice everyday? How do you cook rice? What type of rice do you use? Please share, add and comment in the comment box below.

Quote of the day……

“Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes.”

Chinese Proverb

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Viviane, Taste-Buds  on January 9th, 2010

I love this post. Rice is tricky to cook really although it seems easy, because it can easily become a shapeless mush. I got to master the technique a little while ago.
We do eat rice quite often in Lebanon, especially to accompany stews. At home we mostly use short grained Egyptian rice or long grain American rice depending on dish. We cook it in a pot same way as you do. I attempted steaming a couple of times too.
It is a quick meal fix at times since we have a common way to eat it here: cooked rice with plain yogurt.

Sook  on January 9th, 2010

Nice, Mary! Everyone needs to know how to cook rice. :)

Angie@Angie's Recipes  on January 9th, 2010

Modern days young people don’t know how to cook rice in a traditional way any more. This is a very helpful post.

kate the bake  on January 9th, 2010

Hi Mary
We eat rice most days too. Your cookng method is the one that my mum taught me too.
At present I use a measuring method as my daughter found it easier to use. Our favourite rices are Thai Jasmine and Kukuho Rose or Nishiki Sushi rice. We do eat quite a lot of brown short grain rice to.
Cooking measurements?
Jasmine = 1 cup to 1.4 cups cold water
Sushi = 1 cup to 1.2 cups cold water
Basmati = 1 cup to 1 cup cold water
Shortgrain brown = 1 cup to 1.5 cups cold water
In all cases except brown rice, we bring to the boil, lid off. Stir once boiling. Lid on. Heat off and leave to steam for 15 minutes.
Delicious and perfect for a snowy day like today.
Onigiri for breakfast again, i think!
Thanks for your tips.

penny aka jeroxie  on January 9th, 2010

I love a good bowl of rice. I love the aroma. Also very homey :)

The Cooking Ninja  on January 9th, 2010

That’s also same way my mom taught us how to cook rice using our finger to measure the water and it’s never wrong. :) The other method I learnt is 1 cup of rice = 1 cup of water - once rice boils, cover simmer for 10-12 minutes, then turn it off leaving it to steam covered. This never fails too. :)

pigpigscorner  on January 9th, 2010

I’m always worried that the rice will stick to the pot =P too spoilt by rice cooker.

Lauren @ CoffeeMuffins  on January 9th, 2010

Until a couple of years ago, I wasn’t a big rice fan. Living with my fiancee changed that, he loves rice! We probably cook it around 3-4 times a week, I have to say that I cheat and use easy cook rice. Cook for 18 minutes, with far too much water by the looks of it, then drain.

Maybe I’ll have to try this method too!

Divina  on January 9th, 2010

I eat white rice everyday even if there’s brown rice. :D Thanks for showing us the method. I’m still confused by it. I love basmati and jasmine rice.

Impromptu Diva  on January 9th, 2010

We eat rice daily too Mary and my daughter had perfected cooking it. She uses the same “finger measurements” that you do too hahaha! Great post as always!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake  on January 9th, 2010

I use a similar quantity of water over the rice but am lazy and do not wash mine. I hate it sticking to the sieve. I bring mine up to the boil without lid and then turn it down to lowest setting with lid on for 8 mins then check. Then I usually give it another 4 minutes by which time all the water has been absorbed. If it has started to stick, I find leaving the lid on for few minutes after the heat has been turned off releases it from base of pan as it steams it off the bottom and then it comes away easily. I weigh my portions of rice so rarely have any left over!

Sanjana  on January 9th, 2010

Oh SNAP! :) Mary I just did a post on how to cook Basmati rice :) We must be thinking the same things.. hehe. It’s so fascinating to read how people swear by certain ways of cooking rice. It’s almost a religious practice where people stick to a certain method. I cook my rice totally different to you do you (however when I make khichdi I use your method). I suppose it really depends on the food you will be eating with the rice, too. Thank you for this :)

Jeannie  on January 9th, 2010

I remembered cooking rice over the firewood too! I also remembered the difficulties of scrapping up the rice that is stuck at the bottom and then having to feed them to the chickens. This post sure brings back some old memories :)

Sushma Mallya  on January 9th, 2010

Very useful post…v eat rice daily and i use basmathi rice…

TasteHongKong  on January 9th, 2010

I’d love to try to cook over firewoods cause I have heard from the older generation that rice cooked over firewood are the most fragrant.

Mary  on January 9th, 2010

@Viviane, Taste-Buds - Thanks very much for sharing. I’m learning more things about Lebanon each day. We generally eat only 2 types of rice. We eat Thai jasmine rice everyday and then we also eat glutinous rice sometimes on occasions for savouries or desserts. If I cook the glutinous rice, then I usually steam it. It is tricky like you said but practice makes perfect :) Eating cooked rice with youghurt sounds interesting. I would love to try that. I remember eating rice with cheese…delicious!

@Sook - Yes, it’s true. I’m glad my hubby and children know how to cook rice now….a big relief :D

@Angie@Angie’s Recipes - After I posted this, a young friend of mine told me he is keeping this post for his survival guide! I hope this post helps more young people how to cook rice if they are still not sure.

@Kate the bake - Thanks very much for sharing the list of cooking measurements. That’s very helpful indeed for those who are still not sure how to cook rice.

@Penny aka jeroxie - We share similar heritage….need rice :D I don’t think I can survive a day without rice. I’ll probably be very grumpy :D

@The Cooking Ninja - Your other method sounds very good too but do you wash the rice?

@pigpigscorner - It’s actually amazing that the rice doesn’t really stick to the pot….provided you use a good pot.

@Lauren @ CoffeeMuffins - I know of a few friends who boil the rice until it’s cooked and then drain off the water like you do. It works too.

@Divina - Oh dear, my poor instructions. Now I wonder which step are you confused. Wonder how you cook your rice. I guess it’s your maid who cooks it.

@Impromptu Diva - Well done…your daughter perfected cooking rice! We are in the same boat :D

@Sarah, Maison Cupcake - What a way to cook your rice! But my mom would never allow us to cook rice without washing it first. Thanks for sharing.

@Sanjana - LOL…we must be great rice eaters! It’s lovely to know more ways from you. Thanks for sharing. I’m sure learning more Indian food :)

@Jeannie - I really miss rice cooked over firewood. But totally agree with you that this post brings back a lot of my sweet childhood memories.

@Sushma Mallya - Thank you very much for comment.

@TasteHongKong - It’s really the best. We ate lots when we were young. Can never get that texture now :( Hope to try again some day.

pierre  on January 9th, 2010

Thanks for this
I trust you so I’ll do it newt time cheers from COoooold Paris

Drick  on January 9th, 2010

Funny how everyone cooks rice a bit different and somehow gets the same results….mother told me to remember these numbers when cooking rice - 2,1 and 20,10 - thats 2 cups water to 1 cup of rice, bring to a boil, reduce heat to lowest and simmer for 20 minutes covered, remove from heat and fluff after 10 minutes….

doggybloggy  on January 9th, 2010

I make rice in a pot and in a rice cooker it all depends on what result I want. I cook jasmine, basmati, sticky, sushi, wild and brown rice and plain old long grain white rice.

Divina  on January 10th, 2010

Haha. I don’t mean your instructions, I meant when I haven’t read your post. But now I’m cleared. The maid cooks the rice in the rice cooker. I cook rice, the brown rice in a pot. :D

Mary  on January 10th, 2010

@Pierre - Hope your rice turns out great. Enjoy cooking and eating :)

@Drick - Yes, that’s right. I think I’m enjoying myself reading all different ways of cooking rice. Hope to hear of more ways. When I was in Korea, my Korean friends soak the rivce in water for about 30 minutes before cooking it. It tasted fabulous.

@doggybloggy - Wow….that’s a lot of types of rice that you eat! I have yet to try the wild rice. Must go and look for it. Thanks for sharing.

@Divina - Phew…that’s a relief :D I have a few packets of brown rice in my pantry. Have to find a nice way to cook it otherwise I’ll be eating it alone.

cheah  on January 10th, 2010

I wouldn’t know how to cook rice this way. So used to using the rice cooker. Now the new rice cooker comes with stainless steel pot instead of the non-stick pot. This post of yours is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

Mary  on January 10th, 2010

@Cheah - I hope to get a stainless steel pot rice cooker if I can. Haven’t seen one here. It’s very handy when I have more guests over for a meal.

Zibi  on January 10th, 2010

Great post :) I will try the finger trick. I used to try to remember the ratio of water-to-rice for the different types of rice but this sounds easier. Thanks for sharing your secret.

Ellie  on January 10th, 2010

I depend on my rice cooker so much that I actually have no idea how to cook rice with a pot!! Thanks for sharing :)

Amber @ Native Food and Wine  on January 10th, 2010

Hi Mary,
I have never seen this method for cooking rice. I will have to give it a try. It is so different from how I was taught. Rice:Water 1:2 always. Boil water, add salt, add rice, stir, cover, simmer about 18 minutes, longer for brown rice.


Cookin' Canuck  on January 10th, 2010

I love this method! Thanks so much for the tips. I was delighted to see the bowl your rice was served in - my parents have exactly the same bowls. I believe they purchased them when they lived in Malaysia about 40 years ago.

Mary  on January 11th, 2010

@Zibi - Thank you very much for visiting and for comment. Hope you try out this finger method soon. It’s very easy. You can adjust after the first try.

@Ellie - You are most welcome. Hope you try out soon. Enjoy cooking rice!

@Amber @ Native Food and Wine - I hope you try out this method soon. It’s very simple and easy.

@Cookin’ Canuck - You are most welcome. Hope you give it a try soon. I actually thought it very interesting that I bought my Chinese bowls here in UK. We were brought up eating in plates using fork and spoon. I just thought I must remember my Chinese heritage so I bought them :)

pegasuslegend  on January 11th, 2010

Mary on the jasmine rice will that be sticky as well, I love that rice, and always order it out..have never tried to make it till I got the rice cooker, but this is much easier maintenance as you say it takes up so much room….my favorite rice is plain nothing on it….thanks for this info love it!

Mary  on January 11th, 2010

@Pegasuslegend - Jasmine rice is my family favourite. We don’t find it sticky unless you add too much water. We like it plain too unless it is to go with other dishes like when making chicken rice or coconut rice which is very popular in Malaysia.

joylicious  on January 13th, 2010

Thanks for posting this Mary!! I honestly havent made rice the past two weeks because my rice cooker broke :( and i wasn’t sure how to make rice correctly in a pot(sad isn’t it?). BUT now thanks to you, I do!

Mary  on January 13th, 2010

@Joylicious - You are most welcome. Looks like it’s still important to learn how to cook rice the traditional way :P I didn’t think of the rice cooker breaking down. For me it’s more of saving kitchen space. Now you can cook rice without the rice cooker…..use the finger trick….very easy!

Braised Lentils with Roasted Rutabagas, Spinach, Baby Corn and Shaved Radish served with Lemon Scented Brown Rice «  on January 14th, 2010

[...] If you have a rice cooker, you may use that.  But if not, please go to my friend, Mary Moh’s page for EXCELLENT instructions on how to cook rice properly in a pot.  She also features a lot of [...]

Zee  on January 14th, 2010

My mom has been cooking rice in a pot always. Since I started cooking, I thought it would be easy having watched her do it so many times. But alas, I am still getting the hang of it. Mine always comes out a little too mushy! I cant put my finger on it.

Great post!

Mary  on January 14th, 2010

@Zee - Try the finger method. It really works. Just dip your finger into the water until it touches the rice. The water should come up to the first section of your finger. This works for white rice. Try one time and the second time you can adjust the water a little bit depending on whether you like it softer or harder. Thanks very much for visiting and for sharing.

Debbie  on January 17th, 2010

Hi Mary! It was funny to read that you cook your rice the same way we do in my family, complete with the finger method :) Must be an Indonesian thing!
The only difference is that we measure the rice and then use the same measure to add water. So the more rice, the more water. Check out my post here Your photos are a great way to illustrate something we find to simple, yet hard to do for many.

Mary  on January 18th, 2010

@Debbie - I’m just thankful to someone who is such a genius to come out with this method of cooking rice :)I’m not sure where it came from but maybe you know best. Oh, I never use my finger to measure the rice. It just works all the time. I always wonder. But thanks very much for the link.

Llewelyn Andrews  on March 19th, 2010

Hi,,,i love your post… Rice could really be tricky at times….

Mary  on March 19th, 2010

@Llewelyn Andrews - It is tricky. Different rice has different texture and we eat quite a few types f rice. But for Thai Jasmine AAA, this method works perfect. Thanks for visiting and comment, Llewelyn :D

Leh Hong  on August 25th, 2010

I also using stainless steel pot to cook rice recently. I find it very easy

Mary  on August 25th, 2010

@Leh Hong - Lovely to know that. Thanks very much for visiting. Leh Hong! Hope you enjoy more cooking :D

EW  on October 26th, 2011

Thank you kindly for this great advice! I have had many rice disasters using a pot but am reluctant to go back to a rice cooker for the reasons you give. Cheers!

sbrichcreek  on April 11th, 2013

This is a great tip that is easy to remember, adaptable, and it WORKS! Thank you so much. I’m never measuring rice and water again!

Mary  on April 12th, 2013

@EW - You are most welcome. Hope you have not been burning your rice :D

@sbrichcreek - You are most welcome. So glad to know it works :D

Lina  on November 5th, 2014


I’ve recently started to cook rice in a stainless steel pan and am having trouble. It sticks and I can’t figure out why!
After much reading about this topic, I think I have to heat the pan, then pour oil, then start the rice? Currently, I boil the water first on medium to medium-high heat, then add the oil, seasonings and rice. I also bring the flame down to about medium-low. I let it cook uncovered about 10 minutes until there’s only a little water on the rice, then cover it and turn it on low heat for about 25 minutes. This method worked well when I used to use a non-stick pan, but I don’t use that anymore, and really want to get it right on SS!

Should I FIRST heat the pan, add oil, then add the water and rice? HELP!!

Mary  on December 22nd, 2014

Thanks for dropping by, Lina but so sorry for a late reply. No, I didn’t add any oil I think a thick base pot is important. I didn’t heat up the pot first either. Just wash the rice and put it in. It works well. Hope it turns out well the next time you cook.

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