How to Cook Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is named after a word that means "fragrance" and as its name implies, it imparts a beautiful aroma around your kitchen as it cooks. Here's what you need to know about how to cook it.

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Rice may seem like a very basic ingredient, but it can strike fear into a new cook. There are many different varieties of rice and sometimes different varieties need slightly different preparations. Perfect basmati rice should be fluffy and cooked through, not soggy nor sticky. The best way to achieve this is to start with good quality rice. I really like Tilda rice because I get consistently good results and the grains cook evenly. Once you have a good quality rice, begin by rinsing the rice. This will help to remove some starch from the grains of rice and make them less likely to stick together. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.

I then like to soak the rice for at least 20 minutes in water. Allowing the rice to absorb water slowly like this helps the rice expand to its full length. You can soak it for longer than 20 minutes, but try not to soak it for less. Discard the soaking water and strain the rice as well as you can. Then add the same quantity of water to this rice in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cover tightly with a lid. If you don’t have a tight-fitting lid, wrap a piece of foil over the top of the pot and then place the lid back on. Simmer for 10 to 20 minutes and then let the rice rest. Resting helps to redistribute the steam and moisture in the pot of rice. Fluff the rice just before serving, seasoning with butter, salt, fresh herbs or any other flavoring ingredients that you like. 

For a complete recipe for making perfect basmati rice, click on the recipe below. 

Quick Notes:

  • Perfect rice is fluffy and cooked through, not soggy or sticky.
  • Pick your rice carefully. Not all brands are created equal and there is usually a price quality relationship.
  • Rinsing the rice helps remove the starch, which will help make the rice less sticky.
  • Soaking basmati rice helps the rice expand to its full length.
  • Make sure the water boils and then immediately turn it down – don’t let too much water evaporate.
  • Tight lid is important. Use foil if you don’t have a tight seal.
  • Resting is important to redistribute the steam and moisture.

How to Cook Basmati Rice

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Comments (8)Post a Reply

    1. Hi there. You can cook brown rice the same way, but instead of adding 1 cup of water to the rice when you go to cook it after soaking, add 1.5 cups. You will also cook it for 25 – 30 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

  1. I have used basmati rice for years, I rinsed it but never soaked it for 20 mins. I found soaking it really makes a difference, thanks for this tip.

  2. After soaking would I add 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice as instructions for Basmati rice recommends?

    1. If you’ve soaked the rice, then you should add only as much water as you have rice. So, for instance, if you have soaked 1 cup of rice for at least 20 minutes, drain the rice and then cook it with 1 cup of water – a 1:1 ratio after soaking.

  3. I love going to your site for recipes and tips. LOVE your easy techniques and the easy-to-understand instructions. You are the best. Thank you. Miss you on QVC! Hugs and blessings from CT, USA.

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