How to Cook Brown Rice

By Harper Wayne
Updated on 05. May. 2021

Brown rice is the perfect weeknight staple: nutritious, delicious and easy to prepare. Below, we break down how to cook perfect rice every time, from the stove to the microwave.

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Brown rice can easily be substituted in any dish for white rice. It has a unique, nutty flavor all its own and a slew of nutrients including phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, and has more fiber than white rice. Brown rice is a great source of carbohydrates and some protein, with often no fat or sugar. Its qualities make it a perfect side dish to your dinner or great incorporation to a healthy veggie bowl.

Table of contents

  1. Brown Rice Nutrients
  2. Why Brown Rice over White Rice?
  3. How to Prepare Your Rice
    1. Rinse your Rice
    2. Season Your Water
  4. How to Cook Brown Rice on the Stove
  5. How to Cook Brown Rice in the Microwave

Brown Rice Nutrients

Rice might be seen as a heavy starch, but brown rice has amazing nutrients and can become a vital side to any dish during your health journey.

The main carbohydrate in brown rice is starch but it also has a decent amount of dietary fiber as well. If you want to make sure your brown rice is giving you the most nutrients, make sure to buy unhulled brown rice because fiber, vitamins B1, and B6 are found in the majority of the outer layers. 

A usual serving of cooked brown rice is around ½ cup or 1 ounce of it dry. While cooking brown rice, it might not seem like you are making a lot until it has absorbed the water. 

Why Brown Rice over White Rice?

Fun fact: all white rice starts as brown rice. Brown rice goes through a milling process through which it becomes white rice. The milling process is to remove the husk and bran layers of the rice which helps produce the white rice kernel that is milled and free of impurities. Usually, the rice has a minimum number of broken kernels in their milling process. 

Both kinds of rice are high in carbohydrates while brown rice is considered a more whole grain with greater overall nutrients. Always make sure to compare labels when buying your rice while at the store. 

Their big overall differences are their fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and folate. 

Brown rice has higher fiber content than white rice. This is beneficial because it leaves you fuller for longer, can help lower cholesterol levels, and nourishes your gut bacteria. Brown rice is a great source of this while white rice is not as beneficial. Selenium helps with thyroid hormone production, antioxidant protection, and immune function as well as helps protect your cells from cancer through Vitamin E. Brown rice is a good source of selenium. 

Magnesium helps with bone development, cellular production, and muscle contraction. Brown rice is usually a good source of magnesium and white rice is not. Magnesium is important to diets of people who are working their muscles and need extra nutrients to recover.  Folate helps your body make genetic material and supports cell division. It is also most vital to pregnant women. 

How to Prepare Your Rice

Rinse your Rice

Before you cook your rice, always make sure to rinse it off in a strainer. This helps remove excess starch that has been left on the rice. The easiest method is just to pour your desired amount of rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it off in warm water while using your hands to make sure they all get strained evenly. When your water runs clear, you are done. 

Season Your Water

This might sound odd, but it helps so much with taste. Adding a pinch of salt to the water before the rice starts cooking, it’ll help balance the taste of the rice overall. Be warned though, placing the salt after the rice has started cooking will result in the grains of salt not being mixed in. 

This also affects boiling temperature, so be sure to watch your water to gauge the right time to add in your brown rice.

How to Cook Brown Rice on the Stove

Cooking rice on the stove might seem tricky but it honestly isn’t. Start your rice on the stove before you begin prepping dinner so it is hot and finished by the time the rest of the meal is!

Bell Peppers Stuffed with Brown Rice

- Rinse your rice!

- Make sure you have a good water to rice ratio. Usually, it is around for every 2 cups of water you use 1 cup of rice. 

- Bring your water to a boil, I like to add a dash of salt here.

- Reduce the heat and add in your brown rice. Here, you can add in a teaspoon of olive oil or tablespoon butter for extra flavor.

- Let the rice simmer for around 35-45 minutes until all the water is absorbed. 

- Let the rice rest for around ten minutes with the heat turned off. If I am adding liquid aminos or other seasonings to the rice I also add those in while it sits! Adding soy sauce can also make a “healthier” version of fried rice and you can add in some veggies too. 

- Serve and enjoy! 

How to Cook Brown Rice in the Microwave

Microwaved rice is incredibly easy, but make sure to use a big enough bowl, or else there will be a larger clean-up! This method is a little quicker, but not always producing as fluffy of rice. 

Vegetarian Chickpea Curry with Apricots

- Rinse the rice.

- Use a large heat-safe bowl or baking dish. The rice expands a decent amount while it cooks so keep that in mind.

- Use 2 parts of rice to 3 parts of water. Meaning: 1 cup of rice, 1 ½ cup water. 

- Microwave on high uncovered for around 10 minutes (for every 2 cups of rice). Do this until steam holes come up and you see water evaporating. 

- Microwave on medium-low covered by a moist paper towel. Do this until the liquid is completely absorbed, this can be for around 10-15 minutes for every 2 cups of rice. 

- Let sit for around 10 minutes. Season and enjoy!

How to Cook Brown Rice in a Rice Cooker

Rice cookers are amazing for multi-taskers and also for people who want the job done quickly without having to stir their rice while it cooks.

Sesame Rice Cakes

- Rinse your rice.

- Use a 1-to-1 water and rice ratio. 

- Then, the rice cooker does the work for you. All you have to do is press “on” and the machine does the nitty-gritty. 

- Let the rice rest covered for around 5 minutes to get fluffy.

Brown rice is incredibely nutritious, easy to prepare and versatile in the kitchen. With our step-by-step recipes, you can't go wrong. Want to know how to cook brown rice another way, or have a suggestion for the next installment of our How To series? We'd love to hear from you! Shoot us an e-mail at

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