Water to rice ratio rice cooker

How To Cook Rice in a Rice Cooker

If you find that your rice is too dry and a little hard, you can add more water and leave the rice on warm for 5-10 minutes.

Here’s Our Guide on How to Make Rice in a Rice Cooker

This is the right water to rice ratio you should be using.

preview for How to Make Rice in a Rice Cooker

A rice cooker is your low-maintenance kitchen bestie. Dump in water and rice, press a button and walk away. (A pot on the stove could never!) This set-it-and-forget-it hero can be relied on to produce consistent results every time: no babysitting or playing with heat levels required. A good model can make a big batch of rice without scorching the bottom. The best rice cookers will even keep the grains warm until you’re ready to serve.

So go ahead and cook your rice with our foolproof recipe below (and keep reading for how to make basmati, jasmine, brown and short-grain varieties). These versatile, healthy grains are a great gluten-free starting point for weekly meal prep and customizable rice bowls. Rice is also the perfect, plush landing pad for saucy entrees, like Green Curry Shrimp and Sichuan Peppercorn and Chicken Stir-Fry. This essential starch can be a literal lifesaver to have on hand for emergencies because of its longevity in the pantry. With a rice cooker, all this is possible and super easy to achieve — it’s your dream machine.


White Rice


How to make rice in a rice cooker

  1. Step 1 Rinse your rice in a fine-mesh strainer or inside the rice cooker pot.
  2. Step 2 In the rice cooker pot, combine the rice with the water and salt; stir and spread the rice out in an even layer.
  3. Step 3 Close the rice cooker lid, press start and let it be until the rice cooker signals that it is finished cooking.
  4. Step 4 Let the rice sit undisturbed for 10 minutes, then fluff the rice with the rice paddle.

How do rice cookers work?

Add rice and water to the cooking pot, select the corresponding program (if available on your model), such as “white rice” and press the start button. It’s that simple! Pro tip: Before closing the lid, stir everything together and spread the rice so it’s level — this will help it cook more evenly. The machine will automatically stop cooking once all the water boils off and the temperature starts to inch above 212°F. Cooking times vary based on the type of rice and amount being made. We recommend letting the rice sit for 5 to 10 minutes after the program completes so it can gently finish cooking and let any excess liquid evaporate.

What is the perfect ratio of water to rice in a rice cooker?

The golden ratio in a rice cooker is 1:1. That means 1 cup rice to 1 cup water. During our testing, we found this ratio works best for long-grain white rice, including basmati and jasmine, as well as for short-grain white rice — but check the manufacturer’s instructions since specific ratios can vary based on the model. The general ratio for brown rice is 1 cup rice to 2 1/4 cups water.

While almost all rice cookers come with a measuring cup, some have markings on the cooking pot so you always know how much rice and water to add, no matter the type of rice and how much you start with. Keep in mind that rice cooker cups are typically smaller than your standard measuring cup. They usually measure 3/4 cup, which doesn’t make a difference when it comes to ratios, but should be taken into account when following a standard recipe.

How do I cook 2 cups of rice in a rice cooker?

Let the manufacturer’s instructions be your North star: Follow the ratios they suggest. Our general rec for long-grain white rice is a ratio of 1:1 so for 2 cups of rice, add 2 cups of water.

Following our ratio for brown rice (1:2 1/4), you would start with 2 cups of brown rice then add 4 ½ cups of water.

woman taking out and serving fresh boiled rice from the cooker

How do I make fluffy rice in a rice cooker?

The best way to make fluffy rice in a rice cooker is to let the cooked rice sit undisturbed in the cooking pot, with the lid on, for 10 minutes after cooking. Think of it as beauty rest that will let the rice gently absorb excess water without overcooking. It also gives the grains a chance to cool slightly and firm up a bit. After 10 minutes, fluff the rice, layer by layer, with a rice paddle — an essential tool for rice cooker pots that are nonstick. (Metal utensils can scratch the bottom or sides.) Some rice paddles are dimpled, which helps prevent the rice from sticking..

Why is my rice sticky?

Cooked rice can feel sticky for a couple of reasons: too much water may have been used and/or the rice may not have been rinsed before cooking.

Rinsing rice before cooking is a must to wash off excess starch. Otherwise, the cooked starch will create a sticky consistency, instead of the coveted fluffy, separate grains. For best results, rinse the rice under water until the water runs clear. You can rinse the rice in a fine-mesh sieve, gently swirling the grains under running water. Or skip the strainer and rinse the rice directly in the cooking pot before cooking: Simply place the rice in the cooking pot and fill it with enough water to cover. Gently swirl the grains and pour off the starchy water. Repeat until the water is clear, about three rinses should do the trick.

How do I reduce the chance of rice cooker splatter and spill over?

Sometimes, rice cookers may splatter due to our old enemy: starch, which builds up in the machine. To prevent this, be sure to rinse the rice before cooking and stay within the maximum capacity guidelines for the rice cooker. Adding fat, like butter or oil, to the cooking pot with the rice also helps mitigate sputtering. Another way to prevent foam from spilling out of the vents is to cook less rice at a time.

How do I flavor my rice before and after cooking?

The easiest way to add flavor to rice is to swap out the water for the same amount of broth or stock. We recommend using unsalted versions to keep the sodium levels in check. You can also add herbs and spices to the cooking pot before cooking, as well as other aromatics, such as sautéed onions or garlic. If you’d like to season your rice with salt, start with a small amount before cooking then sprinkle with more to taste afterward to avoid going overboard.

When rice is cooked, feel free to zhush it up with spices or a touch of acid, like lemon juice. You could also stir in chopped fresh herbs or vegetables. For a sweet-savory take, try chopped fruit, like pineapple or mango.

What else can I use my rice cooker for?

Rice cookers can be used for all types of rice, including white, brown, long-grain, short-grain, jasmine, basmati — even wild rice. They can also cook different grains, like barley and oatmeal, as well as quinoa. Just be sure to adjust the water ratio accordingly, especially if your rice cooker doesn’t have multiple settings. Rice cookers are also clutch for all-in-one meals: layer chopped veggies or protein on top of the rice before cooking and dinner is done with the push of a button. Some even come with racks and/or baskets that allow for steaming .

How To Cook Rice in a Rice Cooker

Once you learn how to cook rice in a rice cooker, it will be dead simple to repeat for consistent, fluffy and delicious rice every time. Hands off too! Simply rinse the rice, use a 1:1 ratio of water to rice, start the machine and you’re good to go. For more details about the reasons ‘why’, read on!

I first learned to cook rice from my maternal grandmother many years ago. She’d have me go into the garage and take a few scoops out of those vertical rice bins that look like water coolers–y’all growing up in Asian households know what I’m talking about.

electric rice cooker on a table

Any meal without rice in that house was just NOT a complete meal, so you can bet everyone living there got a lot of practice making rice, and that I am now particular about how my rice is cooked!

Why use a rice cooker?

Using a rice cooker is an almost fool-proof method of cooking rice at home. It’s a convenient (and consistent) way of achieving those perfect fluffy and sticky grains that completes any meal. Yes, you can cook rice on the stovetop–but why add the extra hassle of watching rice cook, when you can just set it and forget it? It’s important to remember, you can even use a rice cooker to make quinoa too!

I use a relatively inexpensive rice cooker that was given by my mom but has used even cheaper (~$15 range) and super pricy ones at my family’s and friends’ houses. If you prefer not to buy a uni-tasker like a rice cooker, you can easily cook your rice in a microwave, on the stove, cook jasmine rice in an Instant Pot, Instant Pot basmati rice, or cook short-grain rice in an Instant Pot too.

But if you eat rice just about every day, a dedicated rice cooker with a simple interface and keep warm function should deserve some consideration. If you have an Aroma rice cooker, you should check out my Aroma Rice Cooker Instructions post.

Choose a type of rice

measuring rice

First things first, you need to choose the type of rice you want to eat. While there are plenty of different types of varieties of rice, there are 3 main sizes of rice grains and the type you choose can greatly affect the proportion of water you need to use:

  • Long grain: Four times longer than they are wide and have a lighter texture (ex: Jasmine rice)
  • Medium grain: Two times longer than their width and have a more tender and chewy bite (e.g.: Arborio or risotto rice)
  • Short grain: Almost as wide as it is long and have a plumper and stickier consistency (e.g.: sushi rice or rice for salmon poke bowls or TikTok salmon rice bowls)

At home, and for this recipe, we like to cook with medium grain sushi rice for its pleasant, slight stickiness and moisture.

Rinsing the rice

rinsing rice directly in the pot

Lightly rinse, swirl, then drain the water from the rice 1 to 2 times with cold water to get rid of extra starch build up from broken grains or other debris. You want to retain some of the starch so there’s a bit of stickiness, good for being able to pick up your rice with chopsticks.

You can wash the rice in the rice cooker pot directly and use your hand to move the rice grains around. Pour out the cloudy water from the pot and repeat once or twice if necessary–you don’t want or need the water to be completely clear.

It’s important to note that some white rice produced in the US is enriched with powdered nutrients (iron, folic acid, etc.), and washing your rice could potentially remove these added nutrients.

Adding the proper water to rice ratio

Measuring cup method (preferred!)

measuring rice to water ratio

If you care about consistency, accuracy, or being able to tweak this ratio for other kinds of rice, you should be using a measuring cup. Please note, I use the same measuring cup for BOTH rice and water in order for the ratios below to work.

For any type of grain size (short, medium, or long) you can follow a 1:1 ratio of water to rice. If you want to add more rice, you can adjust the recipe in a similar way, 2 cups of rice to 2 cups of water. This should produce fluffy, but slightly sticky grains of rice when cooked, and works well for up to 3 cups in our rice cooker.

This ratio gives me perfectly fluffy rice every time. You may need to tweak them a tiny bit to your taste and specific brands of rice, and possibly even your rice cooker (see adjusting section below).

Note that these ratios are different than when cooking rice on a stovetop or cooking white rice in the microwave. This recipe also differs from cooking brown rice in the microwave and brown rice in a rice cooker.

The knuckle measuring method

If you’ve made rice in an Asian household, you should know full well that the standard method of measuring an appropriate amount of water only requires the use of (anyone’s) first knuckle of your index finger.

The knuckle method can work, but my problem with it is that it’s not precise enough for repeatable results. If you use this method and your results come out different everytime, don’t come wagging your finger at me.

To clarify, this is how one would do the knuckle meausring method: rinse and drain your rice, then shake it a bit left and right so the rice is completely level in the pot. Put your index finger straight down into the rice so that only the tip barely touches the top surface of the rice. Then add water so the water level reaches your first knuckle, approximately 1″. I’m not going to post a picture of this because I don’t want you using this method.

While I grew up with this rule and it works well enough, I don’t use it anymore. I can’t in good conscience rely on this or much less teach people to use this less than scientific method since it has many variables: how level you get the rice, the length of whomever’s finger doing the measuring, cooking vessel size, etc.

If you’re trying to tweak a recipe for different kinds or volumes of rice, the variations and pseudo finger-length method measurements get out of hand, quickly.

Powering on the rice cooker

pressing start on a rice cooker

After filling your rice cooker pot with rice and water, place it back into the cooker and turn it on. Some rice cookers only have one power switch, and no options, so you’re all set. For fancier ones, it may have normal or quick cook settings, so read your manuals to make sure you know what it’s doing. The cooking typically takes from 20-30 minutes.

Once you press start, DO NOT open the lid! You don’t want to lose that precious water/steam essence you’ve got going on. Trust your machine and it’ll do the work for you. Most modern rice cookers will make a little sound or have an indicator light to let you know when it’s done. Our cooker has a “keep warm” setting after the rice is done cooking.

Let it rest, then fluff

fluffing up rice with a paddle

Let the rice sit in the cooker for about 5-10 minutes after the machine tells you it’s done. If you’re in a hurry you can eat it now, but waiting lets the moisture evaporate a bit, and along with the heat, distribute evenly through the grains.

Then open the lid, use a rice paddle to fluff it up a bit before serving. This is a Mickey rice paddle a friend got for us, but any other type will do too :). To learn how to properly eat rice with chopsticks, you can read my chopstick tutorial.

Adjusting your rice to water ratio for other rice types

Depending on the type of rice you’re using and the volume you want to cook, you may need to adjust your ratios. Longer grain rice will typically need more water, while shorter grain rice will need less.

I like to test any new type of rice I’m cooking with a 1:1 ratio, then adjust more or less water depending on the results. Once you’re within ballpark range, try adjusting the water by ¼ cup measurements and see how this changes your rice texture.

If you find that your rice is too dry and a little hard, you can add more water and leave the rice on warm for 5-10 minutes.

If your rice is too mushy, well that sucks because you’ll need to start over and decrease the amount of water. If you HATE wasting food (hello paternal grandmother with dozens of bite-sized portion leftovers in the fridge), additional options for saving the rice could be turning it into fried rice with Chinese sausages, Spam musubi, or rice pudding for dessert (extra yum!).

To learn how to make brown rice, you can learn how to cook brown rice in a microwave, brown rice in an Instant Pot, or brown rice in a rice cooker.