For those of us without rice cookers, conventional wisdom teaches us that the stove is our only real option (unless you’re microwaved edible rice, of course). However, if you only use the stove to cook rice from start to finish, you’re missing out the easiest way to make perfect rice every time.
First, let’s take a look at the traditional way of cooking rice on the stove.
You boil water and add your rice (maybe some butter and salt too), and when the water comes back to a boil, cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes for white rice or 45 minutes for brown, give or take. When the timer stops, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for about 1
But what usually happens when you lift the lid? Sure, you pop the rice with a fork, serve it up, and everything looks great. Until, of course, you reach the bottom of the pan where a layer of overcooked, hard rice rests, waiting for you to scrape it onto someone’s plate or straight into the trash. Delicious.
Fortunately, there is a way to avoid the simmering, resting, and crusty layer of gunk: use your ovenYes, your oven is the rice cooker you never knew you had.
My first experience cooking rice in the oven came from a Binging with Babish video. He casually mentions the technique when explaining how to make fried rice at home (which requires aged white rice, for your information). That’s why my instructions are based on his, but feel free to experiment with your own timing and temperature if you wish.
Although there is not much information about it why cooking rice in the oven is better than in the stove, it is easy to make a guess based on common logic. When cooking on the stove, all heat sources are directed to the bottom of the pan. As most of the pan cooks from the simmering and steam, the bottom layer of your rice will get that concerned heat kick, which will cause it to stick to the bottom of the pan and become coarse.
We don’t have that problem in the oven. While it is true that the heat source for some ovens is on the bottom of the appliance, it is not aimed directly at the bottom of your pan. Instead, the pan is heated all the way, allowing the oven-baked rice to cook slowly and evenly.
Oven Cooked Rice
Start to finish: 20 minutes to 1 hour
Step 1: Choose your rice
Let’s see what we’re working with here. If you’re anything like me, you make a lot of dishes with white or long grain rice, like jasmine. That’s the rice I used when I first discovered this technique. If you like brown rice, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example you do not need to rinse brown rice, but To do it has to cook much longer than white rice. We’ll get into that below.
Step 2: Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Easy enough. Just know that this is 375 F for a standard oven, not a fan oven. Did you also know that with some ovens you can use your smartphone to start the first preheating? GE, for example, has a few smart ovens that work with its SmartHQ apps for Android and iOS.
Step 3: Prepare and rinse your rice
I usually cook for two, so I usually measure out a cup of uncooked jasmine rice, which makes about three cups of cooked rice.
You not to have to rinse your white rice, but I like that. It washes away the excess starch that would otherwise make the rice very sticky. If you prefer that style, you can skip this step, but I like how rinsing the rice makes it fluffier.
For those of you using brown rice, you can skip the rinsing or do it very quickly to get rid of unwanted dirt. It is still a hotly debated topic. Brown rice still has its husk, so there’s less powdery residue to worry about. Sometimes brown rush rinsing can make it mushy, but some say it tastes better when rinsed and even increases flavor and nutritional value.
You can rinse your rice in a pan or use a strainer to avoid spilling the rice while draining. Either way, you’ll want to rinse the white rice until the water appears clear, or through about three times if you’re using the pot, but only rinse once for brown rice only.
Step 4: Boil water and add your rice
Now, one point of contention: do you boil your water before or after adding your rice? Some say the first; others say the latter. I personally add the rice to the cold water, thereafter cook it all together, but the choice is really yours.
The same goes for the amount of water you use. Some packages recommend using two parts water for each part of rice. I use 1 cup of rice in my example, which is the equivalent of about two cups of water in the pot. I prefer to use water about 1.5 times the amount of rice, which equates to 1.5 cups of water.
As with rinsing the rice, how much water you use determines how fluffy or sticky the rice will be. The more water you use, the stickier and creamier your rice will become.
If you want to add a small amount of butter for flavoring, add it now. Otherwise, turn on your stove, put the pan on and wait for the water and rice to boil. If you add the rice ahead of time, you will wait for it to cook for the first time. If you add rice to boiling water, wait for the water to boil again.
Add your salt, stir it, cover the pan and then it goes into the oven.
Step 5: Bake in the oven
Let your rice sit in the oven for 20-25 minutes. I think 20 is fine for cooking this amount of white jasmine rice, at least in my oven. For brown rice, try to let it sit for closer to an hour. This process basically combines the two steps of cooking rice on the stove (simmer and rest), so it stays in the oven longer than you would normally keep the burner on.
Step 6: Fluff It Up & Enjoy!
Of course, use oven mitts to take the pan out of the oven and then remove the lid. Once the steam cloud has cleared, stir the rice with a fork and serve. You should find the rice fluffier than you’ve ever seen it over the stove. If you went with glutinous rice, it should only stick to itself, not the jar. Any rice in the bottom of the pot should also resemble the rest of the batch – no mess or crunch in the mix. To enjoy!
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