How to cook perfect rice in the microwave

Microwave Rice RecipeHow to cook rice in the microwave, perfect every time.

We used to live in planned community before we moved out here on our homestead. It was one of those neighborhoods where you signed a contract stating that your mulch will never be less than 6″ deep. We got a letter once that we were in violation of contract. someone actually TOOK A RULER TO OUR MULCH. Who has that much time, really!?

When we designed that house, we were given a palette to choose from for our paint colors, inside and out, carpet colors, countertop colors and cabinet colors. We had flown in to do the design session, so we only had a few hours to plan the entire house. Such pressure. I was just newly pregnant at the time, so my patience, mental state and synapsing were at lowest levels.

That’s how we ended up with a $1,300 microwave.

For the 9 years that we lived in that house, we used the microwave to heat up leftovers and to make popcorn.

It wasn’t until we moved here at our current home that I started playing with the microwave. We’ve still have yet to tear up this kitchen to remodel (waiting for my editor to give me a-ok on all edits of my manuscript before I render myself kitchenless for 6 weeks.)

My kitchen is smaller, the stovetop uneven, the hood sucks (haha) — so I’ve been looking for ways to be a little more efficient with the microwave, which is just a regular ol’ microwave, not a fancy $1,300 unit.

I bought this Nordicware Microwave Rice Cooker on a whim (hey, it was only $11!!!) just to test it out – totally expecting rice failure. You see, I’m a rice snob. I invested in a $300 Zojirushi, the mother of all rice cookers.

Perfect Microwaved Rice Recipe

Boy was I wrong. Fluffy, perfectly evenly cooked rice from the microwave. Side by side, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between $300 rice cooker or $11 rice cooker. Just don’t tell my husband that, okay? He’ll never let me shop for expensive cookware again.

  • Microwaved rice looks the same
  • Microwaved rice tastes the same
  • Microwaved rice smells the same
  • Microwaved rice fluffs the same

btw, this is regular raw rice – not that tasteless parboiled Uncle Ben’s stuff.

The secret to microwaving rice is to add the right amount of water. Too much water = soggy rice. Too little water = dry rice. Just right water = just right rice.

Evenly Cooked Microwaved Rice Recipe


How to cook rice in the microwave

Start with regular white rice (not the half-cooked, parboiled kind) – you can use basmati, jasmine, sushi rice.
*I’ll have to write separate post on how to microwave brown rice and wild rice next time – different water + timing instructions

For 4 people, add 1 1/2 cups of rice. This will make about 3 cups of cooked rice.

Measure Uncooked Rice

Pour in some cool water and swish the rice around to wash it.  Carefully pour out the water, keeping the rice in the pot. Just tilt the pot – the water will pour out and the rice will stay at bottom. You can even use your hands to cup the rice to prevent it from spilling out as you pour the water out. Repeat this 3 times more. Your water will be less cloudy each time. Note – the water will never be completely clear – rice is a starch, starch will cloud the water a bit!

The purpose of this is to wash the rice, getting rid of any dirt, dust and extra starch that coats the rice. Extra starch on rice makes the rice very sticky and gummy. When you wash it away, you’ll notice a big difference in the quality of the cooked rice.

Washing Rice

Once you’re done with the washing, pour the water out again.

How to microwave rice recipe wash rice

Now we’re going to add the cooking water. Add enough water so that it covers the rice by 1″. Sure, you can break out your ruler and do this, or you can do what my Dad taught me, use your finger to measure. It’s an Ancient Chinese Secret (okay, perhaps back then they didn’t have measuring cups.)

Put your clean finger in the pot so that the tip of your finger touches the top of the rice (don’t go all the way to the bottom – we are measuring from top of rice.) For most ladies (and men with small hands) 1″ is where your first knuckle is. DONE.

For men or ladies with large hands, just add enough water to go below the knuckle (or use your pinky finger.)

How to microwave rice recipe measure water


Okay, let me show you again, this time with my mad Photoshop skillz.

How to microwave rice recipe measure water step 1

How to microwave rice recipe measure water step 2

How to microwave rice recipe measure water step 3
*Thanks free clip art! (though originally he was holding a cell phone)

How to microwave rice recipe measure water step 4


Why is this method superior to measuring cups?

  • It doesn’t matter how much rice you start with (you measure from the top of the rice, so if you have more rice in the pot, you’ll end up adding more water to get it up to 1″)
  • You don’t have to memorize measurements or ratios
  • It doesn’t matter what kind of pot you use
  • It doesn’t matter how you cook the rice (microwave or stovetop)
  • It doesn’t matter how well you’ve drained the rice after washing (if you don’t drain all of the water, you could end up with too much water in the pot)

The method is the same.

See? Ancient Chinese secret.

Put the lid on. Notice this rice cooker has air vents – this allows the steam to escape during cooking, which is good. If you use a microwave pot that has a very tight fitting lid, your lid will explode off. If you are using a any other microwave vessel (even a Pyrex!), put the lid on but just set it on top. Corningware glass lids will work fine – the steam will escape between the glass and pot.

How to microwave rice recipe covering the pot

Microwave for 9 minutes on high. Let it sit for 3 minutes undisturbed to finish cooking. Then it’s done.

How to microwave rice recipe in 9 minutes

You’ve now cooked rice in less than half the time it takes, cheaper than my ahem, $300 machine, using less energy than a stove, and you don’t have to babysit the pot.

Easy  microwave rice recipe

Microwave cookware I recommend

How I microwave rice – Nordicware Microwave Rice Cooker $11 (

How I make soft and hardboiled eggs in the microwave – Nordicware Microwave Egg Boiler $11 (



How to cook rice in the microwave

Servings: 4 Prep Time: 1 minute Cook Time: 12 mintutes
How to Microwave Rice Recipe

To make perfect microwaved rice, follow these instructions.


1 1/2 cups white rice - basmati, jasmine, sushi rice

2 1/4 cups water


1. Scoop the rice into the microwave-safe container, pot or steamer. Fill the pot with water and swish the water and rice with your hands. Pour out the water, keeping the rice in the pot (just cup your hands around the rice to prevent it from pouring out). Repeat for 2-3 more times until the water is just barely cloudy.

2. Add enough water to cover the rice by about 1" - or place your finger straight down touching the top of the rice. The water should meet your first knuckle (ladies or men with small hands) and just under the first knuckle (men or ladies with big hands)

For 1 1/2 cups of rice, this is approximately 2 1/4 cups of water

3. Microwave on high for 9 minutes. Let rest covered for 3 minutes.

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Comments 190

  1. Valli

    This is a lovely write-up, and verifies my own experience. Thanks for the information in an easy-to-absorb (pun intended!) format.

  2. Murray Melander

    Will this method get your rice to a safe temp.? Using an 1100 watt microwave oven. Because I live at nearly 4000ft elevation and water boils at a lesser temp than 212 degrees.

  3. anneincolo

    Thank you! Nordicware doesn’t have instructions for using this on their website and I tossed the directions after I got used to using it for steaming veggies.

  4. Susan Furnish

    I googled it, and your website was what i was looking for!! I knew some Vietnamese people, at one time, and this is how THEY cooked it! We cooked it on stovetop, but I only have a microwave right now, in a motel! hahaha! Crazy! But, this is what I have to do right now…My crockpot is too slow to cook rice, the way i want it. I have pyrex & I have only paper plates or a nordicware plate to use as a lid. I’ll just set it on top & do it! ((I figured out how to cook pasta in the microwave too! It turns out great! )) THANKS SO MUCH!!!!

  5. gayle

    I tried this thanks to you I had the perfect rice for my dinner. I don’t think i will ever use the stove for rice again 🙂

    Thank you

  6. Tyni

    I was diagnosed with a stomach virus & told to be on the BRAT diet for the next 2-3 days. Bananas Rice Applesauce Toast diet. … currently my stove isn’t working so I Googled right into this gift from God. This rice came out better than any rice I’ve cooked on the stove. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Lord D

    Oh my God! You are a genius! It totally works. Inhave to admit I was skeptical at first, but it turned out sooo good. When do you recommend adding salt? In the water before cooking?

  8. Jackie

    I’ve always wondered about the 1″ measurement. Wouldn’t the diameter of the pot make a difference? For the same amount of rice, it seems like if the pot was wider and shallower 1″ would allow for more water, or if it was taller and narrower, then less water. Or not?

    1. Post

      Hi Jackie – since the inch is measured from the TOP of the rice grains, and not the bottom of the pot, it is a more accurate measure than size of pot. Measuring from the top of the rice grains takes into account the size of the pot, how much rice you’re using and the width of the pot as well.

    2. richard graham

      The dimension does matter 1″ is the volume above the rice (that means the rice could be in a swimming pool for that matter).

      1. Al

        Use it as guide, I always have t adjust a little for different pots and cookers. Nobody will obviously cook the rice in a swimming pool, use sensible sized pot.

        However if cooking small amount of rice like half a cup for a single person then 1″ rule may produce soggy rice. Little experimentation will produce perfect rice

  9. Ray

    I have never been able to cook clump-free rice. Always wondered how the restaurants did it. Now I know. Excellent directions. Highly recommended. This recipe has been added to my cookbook. Many thanks!!

  10. Julie

    The EASIEST, BEST way to cook rice is the Yogi way. Bring water or stock to a boil, toss in rice, stir once. Cook like pasta. Taste test after a few minutes until rice is done. Strain. PERFECT FLUFFY RICE every time.

  11. Steve Moore

    Thank You ! I make my dog Rice with meat all the time and i was making the rice in the microwave but it just wasn’t right . Tonight my lucky dog is having hamburger and some very nice rice thanks to you . Weeeeeeeee

  12. Ken Keicher

    What a fantastic recipe this is for cooking rice. I have to admit that I didn’t think that it would work, because I’m a single male and I don’t want to cook more rice than I can eat, which 1.5 cups of rice would be way too much for me. So I put in a half cup of rice and cleaned it (I bought the cheapest grocery store brand of white rice). It took 4 washes for me to get most of the cloudiness out of it.

    I live on a limited income, so I just used an ordinary microwave safe storage container without a vented top and because of that, even though I just rested the lid on the top of the container, it kept foaming up and I had to stop the microwave on several occasions to let it settle so that it didn’t make a big mess.

    After cooking it for 9 minutes and letting it sit for 3 additional minutes, I checked the rice and it still had some water in it and was still a bit firm. I managed to find a vented lid from another container and set that on top of the rice container, microwaving it for an additional minute and it came out as perfect as I have ever seen.

    I will be using this recipe over and over again. Thanks so much for such a great rice cooking idea!

    1. Ken Keicher

      I have just tried this recipe again and discovered that the cooking container doesn’t need to be covered since you aren’t simmering it like you would on the stove. In fact if you watch the cooking process, just let it cook until there are no more bubbles coming up and then it’s done.

  13. Michele J.

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been pretty good (in my own opinion, anyway, haha) at cooking rice for many years, although I would on occasion end up with too much water or burnt grains on the bottom of the pot when I wasn’t paying attention or bothering to draw on my previous knowledge, LOL.

    I was on the lookout for a faster (and more importantly) easier way of cooking rice. (I suspect that one of these days, if I research it enough, I’ll be able to just look at food, and it’ll cook itself. 🙂 I came upon this recipe and gave it a try.

    I don’t think I’d ever heard of washing rice to get the excess starch off or of the “Ancient Chinese Secret” of measuring the water with one’s finger. I tried both this time.

    To my dismay, the rice wasn’t completely cooked and there was a lot of water left over from nine minutes in the microwave. Then my brain started working again, and I decided that since I was cooking mixed rice (Texmati, brown, wild, black, and red), I should try another 4 1/2 minutes in the big glowing box. Ta-da! That did it. Thank you very much for making it possible for me to be even lazier in my cooking, LOL. 🙂

  14. Janet Whitlock Holt

    I understand to measure rice and water with finger it does not matter the amount but what about cooking time…I am sure it needs to cook longer and what about brown rice? Cook longer??

    1. Post
  15. Ram

    Is the nordic ware microwave rice cooker made of ceramic parts? I’m kind of paranoid about plastic microwave parts.

    1. Post
  16. ET Spice

    My ultra small apt only has a microwave & very small refrig so this recipe for cooking rice in a microwave came in very handy (esp. since I love Chinese & Thai food.) I followed these great instructions to the letter & was rewarded with fluffy steamed rice without having to “wait” as I used too when using my rice cooker.

    P.S. I cooked my rice in a glass container & don’t know if this made a difference but when cooking the rice I set the microwave for 5 mins. then, stirred the rice so it would have a chance of being evenly cooked; then continued to cook the rice for 4 more mins.. Then, I covered the rice for 3-4 mins. When I removed the glass bowl (of course I used heatproof mittens) the rice was so fluffy & I was more than pleasantly surprised. I’m sharing this w/all my friend who also love “rice” but don’t like having to “wait” for it to cook properly…now they can have the rice in about 15 mins. from start to finish. AMAZING!!! Thank you!!!

  17. Klayre

    That “ancient Chinese secret” isn’t that much of a secret, a lot of people in Asia use that method. It is not reliable. Use measuring cups for consistency.

    I’ve never really heard of someone mixing different types of rice since it is difficult to measure how much water you will really need since different types have different water needs.

    1. Daniel

      Actually, you could use this method
      with water or without water.
      For example, without water 1″,
      then with water 2″, you might get some kind of dry rice.

      But if you do without water 1″,
      with water 3″, then you get some kind of muddy rice.

      If you want to get rice soup, try without water 1″, with water 4″.

      Therefore, it is not about how much water you have but it is about the ratio.

      You just use your finger as a ruler.

  18. Mary

    I’ve been cooking rice in the microwave using a microwave pasta cooker. I use exactly double the amount of water to rice ratio. I add garlic and onion powder and a pinch of salt foe every cup of water. I also throw in a dash of olive oil. I let it sit for about a half hour then add a dab of butter and fluff. Super perfect rice!

  19. S

    Why waste any money on a microwave rice appliance? I have been cooking perfect rice using just a stoneware bowl for the last 2 years. In fact any bowl that is suitable for microwave cooking is fine.

  20. Robert

    I am puzzled. It is certain that the amount of water needed to cook a given quantity of rice will always need to be approximately the same. However your very convenient method ( the inch method) of measuring how much water to use must surely depend on the diameter of the cooking vessel and you do not give the diameter and possibly the shape of the cooking vessel. Am I right? If so perhaps you could tell us how much water to use by volume so that we can work out our own water depth method for our own cooking vessels. Thankyou

    1. Post

      Diameter of pot won’t matter – well, unless you use a massive pot with very little rice. That’s why this method works brilliantly. Measure water from the TOP of the rice. If you were measuring from the BOTTOM of the pot, then yes, you’d need measurements.

  21. Vixey

    Thanks for your wonderful tutorial.

    As an asian I can confirm this is the ancient technique for measuring the water for rice.

    The clever thing is, because rice and water settles evenly due to gravity, the displacement of the rice in the bowl will always be the same. That is why you need precisely enought water to cover the rice plus one inch of water.

    If you do want to measure out the water, it is 2 times the water to 1times the amount of rice.

    E.g. 1cup rice, 2 cups water.

    I found cooking it in 3min bursts, stiring and checking each time for 3 to 5 times, helps less bubbling over and is good if you are unsure of the power of your microwave.

  22. Kara

    I recently got a bento box and one of your cookbooks for Christmas and I’ve been struggling to make perfect rice for my dishes/bento because I don’t have a rice cooker. Now that I know that I don’t have to buy an expensive rice cooker to make perfect rice, I am extremely excited!!! Deff going to buy one of these magical devices (;; w ;; )

    1. Post
  23. Nelson

    I would certainly think size does matter. If you had a container that was one inch in diameter then over covering to one inch with water would yield dry rice and if you had a one foot diameter vessel, you’d end up with watery rice. I have the same type cooker and I’ll just keep using a 2 to one, water to rice measure.

    volume of a column = pi r^2 h -> one inch diameter column -> 3.14 * (.5 * 1)^2 * h=1″ is .7853 cubic inches of water above and beyond the amount of water required to just cover the rice

    for a 12 inch diameter column pi * 6^2 *1inch yields 113 cubic inches of water on top of the rice.
    for a 6 inch column, 28.27 cubic inches
    for 4 inch diameter 12.57 cubic inches

    1. Jay Weston

      I was going to try to prove you wrong, but in doing the math I found out that you are corrent…
      Lets say that you have 250 cubic inches of rice to cook and both a 12″ and a 6″ in bowl:

      For the 12″ bowl you would have the following ratio of rice to water:
      pi*6*2.2105 = 250 cubic inches rice
      pi*6*3.2105 = 363 cubic inches water

      For the 6″ bowl you would have the following ration of rice to water:
      pi*3*8.8419 = 250 cubic inches rice
      pi*3*9.8419 = 278 cubic inches water

      1. Post
  24. Joe Ruocco

    Thanks for the helpful info. I bought one of these same rice cookers but I only paid $1 at the local 99 cents only store.
    I just lost the directions. thanks and enjoy.

  25. Sigit

    What is the cooking pot that you use? Any specific brand? Can we use normal caserole but uncovered?

    1. Post
  26. Sue Morgan

    Sorry if someone has already asked this question,

    Can you tell me how much rice would be right for one ? And how long would you microwave it for ? As for water the ancient Chinese method would be the same ?

    Many thanks for your help and advice

    1. Post

      The least amount of rice I’ve cooked is 3/4 cup. That will make enough rice for 1. Yes, the method is the same, but use a small diameter pot.

  27. Gabriela

    Thank you for this!!
    I´ve been looking for this instructions for a while.
    Could you do one article like this for cooking quinoa in the microwave?

  28. Clara

    My Mom used an electric rice cooker, my MIL uses the pressure cooker, and I used the Lekue Microwave rice cooker that my sister gave me. But we all use the finger method. It IS an ancient Chinese secret!! haha!

  29. Roz

    Wow ! ! ! I’ve been cooking rice for years..never ever getting it right…not even in rice cooker !
    I’ve got microwave cooker so I took plunge and followed your recipe right down to using water level using finger knuckle to check water level….omg..
    unreal..rice cooked it also tastes really yummy. I’ve given your recipe to Indonesian friends they too very happy.
    MaNY thanks for sharing..luv it to pieces 🙂

    1. Post
  30. Kelly

    Thank you so much for sharing this ‘secret’ method. I was cooking pasta dinner (tonight) for the fam, every burner in use on the stove but I wanted rice! Found your instructions, whipped out my microwave vegetable cooker and voila – perfectly cooked rice that was done at the same time as the rest of the family meal. Yea!

  31. Maria

    Thank you so much for this. I have attempted and failed so many times at making rice in the microwave that I reverted back to the saucepan and hob. No more! Yummy rice in far less time.

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  32. Tim

    I learned the finger method from a friend of mine that was a chef at an Indian restaurant in NYC’s Little India about 30 years ago. It seems counter intuitive that it doesn’t matter what size or shape cooking pot you use, but it doesan’t make any difference. I have used this measure for years, using a stovetop pot, too.

  33. James

    I think you are confusing instant rice with Uncle Ben’s par boiled rice. Par boiled rice actually has twice the flavor, texture and health benefits of the rice you are recommending.

  34. sally

    Can I double the recipe & use your finger technique for the water?
    Do I need to cook it longer than 12 minutes?

    1. Post
  35. Scolii

    Hello love.
    Thanks for for sharing this,actually i didn’t know abt the finger technique… Its amazing, anyway i would like to know if its a must to cover the rice while cooking it. Thanks

  36. Noki

    Hi Jaden,
    What about new crop jasmin rice? i hate rinsing out the rice to get rid of that ” cloudy water” cuz it make the rice taste better and stickier to me. So please could you tell me how to cook the new crop jasmin without washing it first.


    1. Post
  37. Mojan

    I loved the fact that you wash your rice! I’m Persian and making rice is a must know for all of us! However we take additional steps
    Just like u my grandma always measured the water for Kate which is a softer rice we make for everyday meals! If we are to make a presentable dish Ed make sure to take the extra steps so our rice does not stick to each other this is called Chelo
    We measure 1 cup of rice for about 2 people I’m going to cook for 4
    2 cups Good grade Basmati rice put the bowl of rice after you rinse well full of water and allow it to soak and get ready for the salt and oiled water
    6 cups of fresh boiled water with 1 teaspoon salt and one reg spoon olive oil when your pot is boiling add the rice that had been soaking in cool water for at least a hour
    Let the rice simmer in the microwave for 7 minutes gently and watch each grain turn to double its size! After rice is Al dente rinse the rice and set it aside bring the pot add a Little cooking oil then spoon the rice in if. Cover the rice with a lid that is microwave safe And steam for 5 minutes You will have perfect rice! At this time you can add butter and saffron as a extra special treat

    1. Post

      If you have a lid that seals very well (think Tupperware containers) then you can’t close tightly – the force of the steam might pop the lid. Just set the lid on the pot, so that some steam can escape.

  38. Ronnie

    Thank you for the wonderful and simple instructions! Your article enabled me to finally make perfect rice in my microwave!

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