Brown Rice Help?

I’ve never failed at cooking white rice on the stove, not even as a BlueJoey. And I really generally am a bad cook.

However, I’m getting better and branching out. I’ve decided that I want to try to eat brown rice instead of white rice. And I’ve not been able to successfully make it yet.

My technique with white rice is pretty simple. Two parts water to one part rice, toss it on the stove, bring the water to a boil, put a lid on the pan, drop the temp to a simmer, then simmer for 20 minutes. Perfect rice every time, no fuss.

The directions on the brown rice pack are similar, but longer. Two parts water to one part rice, stir once, bring the water to a boil, put a lid on it, simmer for 50 minutes.

I get burned rice every time. The first time I made it, I followed the directions perfectly. No edible rice. Last night, I started to follow the directions, but pulled the rice off when I started smelling burny badness. That was at 40min cooking (roughly). I managed to salvage about half the rice. But again, burny badness, and my pan is sad. I am sad too, for having to clean that shit off.

I have another friend that I complained about this to last night. She says she also fails at brown rice, but the other way. Apparently, “brown rice is crunchy in [her] world”. So I’m a little hesitent to just keep dropping the time.

Maybe I need more water? Maybe I need a little dance to the rice gods?

And, then, I know I need more recipes to eat my yummy rice with. But that’s because I think recipes are cool.

Soaking the rice first seems to help. I usually do it overnight, but now I use my sensor$$$ rice cooker. :smiley:

Huh–I’ve never had that problem with brown rice. Are you salting the water? Are you maybe not turning it down low enough? I can imagine that a temperature that works for white rice might burn brown rice during its longer cooking time.

I generally use a short-grain brown rice, so it comes out kinda mushy, closer to oatmeal in texture than to Uncle Ben’s. Long-grain might work differently.


Brown rice can be a pain to cook on the stovetop. I’ve had success using Alton Brown’s technique, which is to bake the rice. You can find his recipe here.

On preview, I see Left Hand of Dorkness mentions turning it down low enough too. I have to use the simmer burner on my stove to cook it on the stovetop - even the lowest setting on the other burners is too high.

I suspect this is your problem. You must put it on the lowest simmer possible.

Here’s a good recipe for making yummy brown rice with traditional cooking methods:

I’ve been microwaving all my rice for quite a number of years now - it always comes out perfect.


I’ve made one round of the rice on a gas stove, and this most recent attempt on an electric (rentals). I hate electric stoves, because I’m no good at sensing the temperature. Still, I didn’t realize that I could be just not turning it down low enough.

What’s a simmer burner?

Oh, and I don’t salt the water. I wasn’t taught that with white rice, and the brown rice bag doesn’t say to.

The detox link above calls for just under a 2:1 ratio, so I guess it’s not too little water.

First of all, I always buy Mahatma brand brown rice. One would think that brown rice is brown rice no matter what brand it is. It isn’t.

I pour uncooked rice into a saucepan with a tablespoon of heated olive oil. I saute the rice in the oil until it’s all coated. Then I add the water. One part rice, two parts water. I leave the lid off while I bring it to a boil. Once it boils (even slightly) I lower the temperature to the lowest setting on my electric stove above “warm.” I cover the pan.

I simmer the rice for 40 minutes. After the timer goes off, I pull it off the burner, leaving the lid on the pan. After about 10 more minutes, when the rest of the dinner is ready to be served, I lift the lid, fluff it with a fork. It comes out perfect every time.
What I’ve been experimenting with lately is adding different herbs, garlic, spice concoctions to the olive oil to try and flavor the rice a little. Brown rice is a bit too bland for me, but it’s healthy and my kids like it better…

Some fancier stoves have a burner that’s meant to be used for items that are to be cooked over low heat for a long time. It’s a lower BTU than the other burners.

Okay. I just tried cruel butteryfly’s recipe, and still got a lot of burned rice. I admit I used the rice I have and not Mahatma brand, so I suppose if brand really does make that big a difference, I’ll have burned brown rice for awhile.

I like the look of the baked rice, but I don’t really want to turn on the oven during the summer. I guess my next try will be the recipe in romansperson’slink.

And thanks for letting me know what a simmer burner is, romansperson. I may want one of those, but I don’t have one!

I have had problems burning rice too. I think I have improved though. I check it often, and stir, and once the water boils, I keep it on the very lowest setting. If all the water cooks off, don’t be afraid to add more. That is the extent of my suggestions, but it’s what I’ve figured out after many sad pan burnings.

Next time you try, preheat a second burner at the lowest setting for a few minutes then switch the pan to this cooler burner for simmering. You can always adjust the temp up. Electric coils just don’t cool off fast enough IMHO.

(bolding mine)

That seems like a high ratio for white rice. Are you at a high altitude or something? I normally use a 1:1 ratio for white, even slightly less water, and my rice always comes out perfectly. Maybe if you are using an electric stove you need more water to make up for the longer time it takes for the heat to reduce? :confused: It’s been a while since I’ve made brown rice. I seem to remember the water-to-rice ratio has to be higher, but 2:1 still seems like a lot. I’ll have to try it again and see.

romansperson’s linked recipe sounds good, but dirtying two pans for one pot of rice? Bah. I think I’ll try this for my brown basmati rice:

  • rinse and briefly saute 1 part rice in a small amount of olive oil
  • add a scant 2 parts tap water & a pinch of salt, give it a quick stir
  • cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat to extremely low, and simmer
  • Do not remove the cover for at least 40 minutes. After that, a brief check is allowed to test for doneness.

Does anyone see any obvious red flags in this?

By the way, I use a non-stick saucepan. It makes a HUGE difference. If you overcook the rice, it still cleans up easily.

I use 2-1/2 cups water to 1 cup rice per directions. I’ve never needed more than 30-35 minutes for brown rice. It might help to check every 10 minutes or so until you see all the water is absorbed. I generally get good, slightly chewy results but have a slight bit of water left in the pot.

Just read through this thread because I’m trying to switch from white to brown rice for the health benefits. I’d never heard of sauting the rice first, so may try that, but I have found that you can use low sodium broth in place of some of the water to get more flavor in the rice. Er… beef broth if you’re serving it with beef or chicken with chicken; I’ve never checked but there’s probably a vegetarian broth available as well. Boullion cubes/packets will work too, but if you’ve got high blood pressure or are trying to avoid high sodium products, be sure to look for the low sodium versions - still have a bit of sodium, but it’s a lot less than in the regular product.

As many times as I’ve seen that commercial around Thanksgiving and Christmas about adding broth to the potatoes and stuffing for flavor, I never think of using it elsewhere. I’ll definitely try that. There is vegetable broth, and as I am considering lately to limit the amount of meat in my own diet, I’ll have to give it a go.

I did grow up (and learn to cook rice) at high altitude, though I don’t live there anymore. Still, when I make white rice with that ratio it comes out well.

I also don’t own any non-stick pans. I’m not really a fan.

I guess next time I’ll try checking for doneness earlier, as my problem isn’t crunchy-undercooked, it’s crunch-burned. Blech! I don’t like checking often, though, because I understand it’s the steam that cooks the rice.

I learned to make white rice here in Chicago, and it’s always been a 2:1 ratio, as well. That’s also what’s on the directions on the package. Maybe Darth Vader’s Little Pal is using instant or converted rice? (I don’t know if their directions are different, I’ve never used them.)

Have you tried an insulated heat diffuser? I think the most famous brand is Flame Tamer. I use it because when I turn down my gas stove too low, the flame goes out entirely. High enough to stay lit = burnt rice. (My stove is in a draft from the kitchen window, I don’t blame gas - I heart gas stoves!) The heat diffuser makes the heat from the flame spread out more evenly, so I don’t get burnt on spots.

However, if you’re burning the whole bottom of the pan, then it’s just a too high heat issue. Try the microwave or a crock-pot if you don’t want to turn on the oven.

Them’s fighting words, WhyNot. Nope, just plain white jasmine rice from the bulk bins at the co-op.

Maybe you all like stickier rice than me? But mine is far from crunchy.

Ah…jasmine. Are you rinsing it first? I rinse jasmine first and it holds onto enough water that it then needs less added in the pot. Plain ol’ cheap “long grain white rice” I don’t rinse first, and that gets the 2:1 treatment.

Sorry, didn’t mean to insult. Takes all kinds to make up a message board. Glad you’re not *that *kind! :smiley: