Stumped as to how to cook perfect rice? Here is the new, definitive guide! Using just a 1-to-1 water-to-rice* ratio, and pressing a button will result in perfectly cooked rice of any variety every time. Easy to remember, easy to do.
*wet rice (read on to discover the scientific details, and how we came to this easy method for cooking perfect rice in the Instant Pot electric multi-cooker!)
Cooking rice can be tricky. A lot depends on personal and cultural preferences, and even if we could all agree on the “perfect rice”, the altitude of your location, the hardness of your water, and the age and dryness of the rice may all play a role in the results obtained.
Of course millions of people have been cooking rice for thousands of years and some “tried-and-true” techniques, as well as some myths have developed.
You may have wondered about the markings in the stainless steel liner in your Instant Pot. One of the features of your multi-functional Instant Pot is a rice cooker. Rice cookers have been very popular for cooking rice for many years. The cup lines come from that heritage, and serve as a rough guide for the amount of water for the number of *cups of rice (the small *cup that came with your Instant Pot).
Still, depending on the volume of rice you cook at any one time, your results may vary. One Instant Pot enthusiast, Deborah K., wrote us to share this account of her success using the Instant Pot to cook traditional Japanese rice (applies to all brands, e.g. Tamaki, Nishiki, Kokuho Rose, etc):
“The ratio of Rice to Water is 1:1.25 (same as brown rice). I rinsed rice; used rice button on Instant Pot; 10-minute natural pressure release. The rice was perfect – even better than when I use our Japanese electric rice cooker (and verified by my Japanese-born family members who did not realize that my “best rice ever” was cooked in your pressure cooker).”
Another Instant Pot user reported good results with the same ratio when cooking brown rice:
“I cook brown rice for 22 minutes – 1 cups of rice with 1 1/4 cups of water – and that was pretty much the most perfect rice I’ve ever cooked “
So we can be fairly confident that for cooking 1 cup of rice, 1.25 cups of water is a reasonably good amount, but what if you want to cook more rice at one time?
Jill Nussinow, “The Veggie Queen“ has long advocated a “sliding-scale” of water to rice, in her ever popular pressure cooking cookbook, “The New Fast Food”. She recently revealed in our new “Instant Pot® Community” Facebook group how she first became aware of this reality:
“My job was to acquire recipes to use, as well as helping direct the writing of the programs to get the software that would adjust for number of servings to work correctly. This is where the algorithms came in. I learned a lot and have passed it on to many people.”
A recent Cook’s Illustrated video is especially relevant to the Instant Pot – which is incredibly (and verifiably) water/moisture conserving, allowing for very little evaporation.
It turns out that the ideal water-to-rice ratio – in the sealed environment of the Instant Pot – is 1:1, with rinsed (wet) rice.
Different varieties of rice require various cooking times (pressure cooking is much shorter than mentioned in the video), but the water to rice ratio remains constant at 1 to 1, simplifying the “perfecting” process tremendously! Science and technology in the kitchen!
The video offers a good explanation of the physics and math involved in getting consistent and pleasing results when cooking rice. Keep in mind when watching that cooking pots differ as to evaporation rates, and it is worth pointing out that the Instant Pot provides a sealed environment, so evaporation is kept to a minimum, giving the most consistent results. Most cooking instructions assume lots of evaporation over time, so they call for more water along with the longer cooking times of some varieties of rice. Watch the Cook’s Illustrated video (and take notes if you are curious, or a skeptic!).
To read LifeHacker’s comments, click here.
After discussing this approach with Flo Lum, a favorite Instant Pot video creator, she observed:
“This is probably why the “Chinese” method actually makes sense now. There are two methods… One uses your full hand: when placed barely on top of the rice, the water should reach a certain point on the top of your hand. And the knuckle method: where you stick your middle finger tip into the water, barely touching the top of the rice, the water should reach the first knuckle. I never understood how it worked but now sort of makes sense. Ancient Chinese secrets.”
Considering all of this, we tested various water to rice ratios, and can confidently recommend this as a convenient starting point in your search for your “perfect rice”:
Cooking rice in the Instant Pot, the 1:1 water to rice ratio method:
- Measure dry rice, set aside. (about 1 “cup” minimum recommended, any “cup” you choose)
- Measure same amount of water, add to Instant Pot’s inner pot/liner.
- Rinse rice, add wet rice to the measured water in the inner pot.
- Lock on the lid, and set the steam release valve to “sealing” position.
- Select your pressure cooking time.
~The “Rice” button is timed for white or parboiled rice only.
~For other types of rice, set “Manual” to correct time (by pressing “-” to adjust the cooking time) for the type of rice you are cooking, in the case of brown rice, for example select 22-25 minutes depending on your preferences and any local issues, like high elevation.
~See abbreviated timing chart below, or use your preferred pressure cooking time for your variety of rice.
- Let the rice rest for about 10 minutes after cooking is finished before releasing any remaining pressure, and serve.
The foundation for this 1:1 recommendation is due to two things being true:
1. The Instant Pot allows very little water evaporation due to Instant Pot’s superior sealing ability.
2. Rice absorbs its volume in water when cooked long enough.
Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, no more mushy rice, with a few stating the rice was cooked, though a bit too “al dente” for their preferences, (these individuals where happier when using a small amount of additional water). Consider this your starting point, record any adjustments you may make, and soon you will have your personal recipe for perfect rice in the Instant Pot!
Pressure cooking times (in minutes) for some common varieties of rice:
White rice: 3-8
Basmati (white) rice: 4-8
Brown rice (long/short): 22-28
Wild rice mix: 25-30