How to Cook Brown Rice

June 11, 2024
by HelloFresh Tips & tricks

    Brown rice (sometimes called whole grain rice) is identical to standard white rice, except that the germ and bran of the rice grain remain attached. While it might be known as a healthier option for white rice, many people are put off by brown rice, believing it to be too complex to cook. If you’ve ever wondered how to cook brown rice on the stove, how long it takes to cook brown rice, or what the best portion size is, read on and follow this step-by-step guide.

    Cooking brown rice

    Cooking brown rice takes patience, but the key is to use the correct rice-to-water ratio. The perfect brown rice ratio requires twice the amount of water to rice grains. Additionally, you must give the rice adequate time to absorb the water. Many brands of brown rice will advise you to boil it for longer than standard white rice, usually for around 30 to 35 minutes. The rice should be simmered for most of this time to get the best results. For the last five to 10 minutes, you should leave the rice well covered to absorb the water while off the heat. As a result, you should get light and perfectly tender grains every time. 

    Note: It’s important to always thoroughly rinse your brown rice before you begin any cooking method! 

    How to make brown rice

    As brown rice takes some time to cook, it’s always a smart move to get it started before you begin prepping the other parts of your meal, like the fish for this sweet-soy salmon poke bowl recipe. Check the rice periodically as you perform other cooking tasks. As a result, by the time your other ingredients are ready, you’ll find that your rice will be as well.

    A note on brown rice serving size 

    Approximately half a cup of brown rice per person should give everyone a perfect portion of brown rice. However, portion size also depends on appetite. You may want to add more brown rice to your meal plan for hungrier guests.

    Brown rice NZ varieties 

    While learning how to cook brown rice, always examine the rice you are using. It may be short-grain, medium-grain, sprouted, quick-cooking, converted, brown basmati or long-grain brown rice. While many of these types of rice will cook at similar times, some vary greatly. Therefore, if you’re cooking brown basmati rice, it may differ from cooking long-grain brown rice. 

    How to cook brown rice on stove tops 

    To ensure the perfect rice-to-water ratio, consider the pot size you’ll use. A medium saucepan is the best option when making between one and two cups of brown rice, like for this hearty potato and coconut curry with brown rice recipe. If the saucepan is too big, your rice may not steam correctly. It could boil over and make a sticky mess if it’s too small. Choose a pot with a lid that fits properly and doesn’t let too much steam escape. While cooking, try not to lift the lid too much to avoid steam being released.

    The amount of water to use for brown rice is dictated by whether you are boiling or steaming.

    Boiling brown rice 

    How to cook long-grain brown rice in a pot by boiling: 

    1. Place 250g of rice into a saucepan and pour in 500 ml water. 
    2. Bring the rice and water to a rolling boil before reducing the heat gently to a simmer. 
    3. Cook the rice for 30 minutes and then turn the heat off completely. 
    4. Swiftly cover the rice with a lid and then leave it tightly covered for five to 10 minutes longer to absorb any remaining water.

    Steaming brown rice

    How to steam brown rice: 

    1. Place 250g of brown rice in a dish with a cover. Pour in enough water to cover the rice and let it sit for two hours. 
    2. Drain the rice in a colander. 
    3. Fill the steamer with water up to the high mark, then place the basket on your steamer.
    4. Place the rice in a bowl with two and a half cups of clean water. 
    5. Cover the steamer and steam the rice for between 65 to 70 minutes. 
    6. Let the rice sit for 10 minutes and then serve immediately.

    All cooking appliances vary. These are guidelines only. Ensure the food is piping hot before serving. Do not reheat.

    How long to cook brown rice

    As mentioned above, different types of rice may require different cooking times. The cooking time is also impacted by how much brown rice you are making. For two cups of long-grain brown rice, a total of 40 minutes is required: 30 minutes boiling time and 10 minutes to complete the absorption method.

    What to serve with brown rice

    Due to its strong and nutty taste, brown rice is particularly well-suited to flavours and spices with plenty of kick, like this chipotle pork meatballs & brown rice recipe. Try serving brown rice with:

    • Fish 
    • Soy and peanut sauce
    • Citrus fruits such as lemon and lime
    • Ginger
    • Halloumi cheese

    Brown rice recipes

    Head of Culinary Development, Hannah Gilbert, loves cooking with brown rice and believes “the simplicity of brown rice has the power to enhance any dish and make it a filling, balanced meal”. Below are some of her favourite brown rice recipes. 

    If you’re looking for a delicious wholegrain rice recipe with vegetables, there are plenty to choose from below.


    All food products vary. The instructions printed on the food packaging always supersedes those printed in this article and must always be followed.
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