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.

Comments 120

  1. Tabi

    Thanks so much for posting this! I found the same rice cooker at Kroger today and picked it up. It really did work perfectly! This was the first time I’ve cooked rice myself too, so I’m amazed that it actually came out right! lol

    1. Vik1

      Best rice cooking way seen so far! I tried with microwaveable (may be Pyrex) round glass one and put china plate on top. Came perfect and could see what is happening and texture of rice! Next time, I will put a paper towel on microwave glass for easy clean up.

    2. ibats

      White rice should never ever be washed, by law it has nutrients to compensate for the Germ being removed, (brown rice still retains this.)
      If you wash white rice to remove the nutrients and you are eating a food without any food value.
      To cook perfect rice measure the quantity in a container, add some salt, and use double the measure of water. ( 1 mug rice 2 mug water.) the water can be boiling from a kettle.
      Pan on stove bring the contents to the boil, stir once, if cooking on electric stove , cover with well fitting pan lid, turn off heat and leave 20 mins to half hour, or longer if desired.
      If using gas cover pan and reduce heat as low as possible, and continue as above.
      Little heat used and pan is quickly washed with a little cold water and brush, and left to dry, usually on the still warm ceramic plate on my stove.
      Your rice will be dry and fluffy, and nutritious. It never fails.

      1. Post

        If you don’t wash the rice, you’ll be eating nutrients from little bugs. Rice is a raw ingredient, meaning it’s not processed. Similar to beans, you want to wash and pick out anything that’s not rice. White rice has very little nutrients in the first place, not sure it’s worth the risk. Crack open any Asian cookbook, you’ll find that washing the rice is essential.

  2. EvaInNL

    Great stuff! I have the same cheap a$$ rice cooker and it makes great rice every time. I very much doubted it would but I simply cannot cook rice on an electric hob so I started looking for a solution. Lucky for me I started at the bottom of the price range.. :D

    Thanks for the tip about the inch of water on top of the rice, I’m sure that’s the info I need to get my rice up from pretty darn good to perfect!

    One pet peeve I have with microwave stuff though: when they just say ‘set to high’ and not to a specific number. ‘High’ on my old microwave was 800, my new one goes up to 900. And it does make a big difference. Have you found this too? Any thoughts to solutions?

  3. Pauline Linares

    I love your terrific tips & suggestions! My rice came out perfectly in just half the usual time. Great time saver :)

  4. Julia's Momma

    Hi there! Have you ever used or heard feedback on the Pampered Chef rice cooker? I ordered one and am waiting to try it…boy, won’t it be nice to be able to do it so quickly! Then I can dust off the steamer I registered for 9 years ago and never used because it actually took longer than it did just on the stove…

    Thanks for the great tutorial – and fancy-schmancy illustrations!

    1. LEN SMITH

      my old mw was 900 watts, my new mw is 1200 watts. there is a huge difference between those two. the approach to microwaving rice is a good one. it, my 1200 watt, puts out tremendous rice every time. the old 900 watt never got it right even though i fiddled with time. i think the biggest variable in how effective microwave cooking is is the quality of the microwave.


    *I’ll have to write separate post on how to microwave brown rice and wild rice next time – different water + timing instructions”…It’s August 5,2013, 12:39am…if you wrote the above post, where might we all find it? It would be greatly appreciated..


      1. Janice

        Hi there, I stumbled on this site just from a search on Google, and I am also waiting for when you get to the brown rice post ^_^ I hope it comes up in the search again when you do write it. Or, may I ask for an email when you finally have it up?

        Thanks again for the insight!

  6. Cherry Sferro

    Wow, this is amazing! It’s just like straight out of the rice cooker – and much better than oven cooked rice. And easier and faster! Thank you!

  7. cindy

    What market is SK??
    I need to get me a rice cooker 4 my microwave.
    I live in So Calif. Los Angeles area. Any ideas on a inexpensive one? Thanks

    1. LEN SMITH

      take a 2 qt covered microwavable bowl, make about 6 small holes in the top for steam to escape and follow the approach noted above. it will cost you about 3$.

  8. Kris

    Wal-mart has a general purpose microwave pot with a handle and a vented lid that doubles as a strainer. A very useful size for lots of things too.

  9. Cheryl

    Brilliant instructions!! You didn’t say the power of your microwave though and I had to add a few minutes … I did 3 different kinds of rice for a salad and this was by far the easiest method I’ve ever used!

  10. Wendy Albrecht

    Washing the rice in a strainer, using the sprayer on your tap if you have one, or the tap, removes the excess starch very well and I find quick and simple.

  11. Jim M

    Well, I have cooked both Jasmine and short grain your way , the results are ok but not great. Firstly, the water boils out of the microwave container and spills over the tray. Pain in the arse. You have to clean up the milky rice water that goes everywhere. Use a sponge to do that. After letting it sit I find the rice is dry and a bit undercooked at the top, and too wet at the bottom. So, I stir it around and then microwave again for a minute and let it sit again and it is better. But this is nowhere near the perfection you can attain by cooking rice on the stove top in a heavy bottomed pan with a good lid.

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  13. Ruby

    Have you ever made black rice before? I love the taste but everytime I make it, it’s either undercooked or overcooked. I’ve never managed to get it nice and fluffy in my microwave and I don’t like cooking rice on the stove. Any ideas?

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Hi Ruby – black rice and wild rice are both a little tricky :-) I haven’t tried cooking either in the microwave – but I have had great success over stovetop or in a rice cooker. I’ll have to put that on my list of things to create a video tutorial about.

  14. Mrsmlbj

    I just made rice like this earlier today for rice pudding. This is the easiest way to make perfect rice every time. After i get my rice, I add the milk and sugar and sprinkle on the cinnamon for yummy rice pudding. My dad used to like to mix in some raisins, too. We just have a plain old $88 Walmart microwave with no fancy buttons so i just hit the on button.Still works.

    Hope everyone else enjoys it.

  15. Stacy

    This was very disappointing. I followed your method to a “t” in a 2 quart casserole dish. The water boiled over and made a huge mess in the microwave as a previous poster stated. Even after the sitting time I pulled the rice out to find a pool of water still over top of it! :/ I had to scoop out most of the excess water and zap it another 3 1/2 minutes to make it edible – yet no where near perfect. The tip about rinsing the rice is a good one, the rest of the recipe didn’t work for me at all.

    1. Jodie-Anne

      What a shame this didn’t work for you Stacy. I have used this method over a dozen times since reading the procedure on line and find it faultless. I do put my microwave container inside a shallow pie dish to catch the overflow, but I had to do that with the microwave rice cooker as well. I can only think that your wattage on your microwave is lower than 1000watt i.e. 850watt and therefore you would need to increase your cooking time by a couple of minutes. I think it would be worth trying again if you can be bothered, cheerio and kind regards Jodie-Anne

    2. Restless_Reader

      Hi Stacy,
      The pot used to cook rice in the microwave should be deep DEEP D E E P. The microwave steamer/rice cooker is approximately 6 inches deep. I was a stickler for measuring until I found Jayden’s easy instruction. Perfect rice every time.

  16. gloria

    Jaden, I prefer the microwave method in the summer, but my favorite way to cook rice is in the oven. My mexican mammacita taught me this simple no hassle method:
    Preheat the oven to 375F.
    Rinse and drain 2 cups rice well and put into an 8×8 Pyrex dish.
    Bring 2 cups water to a boil.
    Pour boiling water over rice and cover the Pyrex dish tightly with foil.
    Place in the middle of the preheated oven for 20 min. then wait 20 min before serving.

  17. DIANA





    1. SteamyKitchen


  18. DIANA


  19. Cathy

    Sorry to hear about your Shari.

    Have you had the time to figure out the instructions to microwave brown rice?

    Thank you.

  20. Jim

    No mention of Microwave power! For this to turn out perfect what is the Microwave Watts? I have a 1300 watt Microwave and don’t want to burn the rice!

  21. Afa

    hi…I have a specific problem and would be grateful if u could help me out?
    When i cook Dum Aloo Biriyani the very top layer of rice dries, its too crispy,and quite frankly hurts the teeth.
    Any ideas how to prevent this?I have a tight fitting lid on my cooking vessel but is it tight enough?
    Just under the surface rice its just perfect,but alas the top is letting the side down.

    plzzz help me

  22. CalmGirl

    I’ve been trying to find a good microwave-rice recipe (I just bought a microwave rice cooker from Pampered Chef) and yours looks the easiest to understand and manage. Big thanks!

  23. G Andolina

    I usually put my raw rice in a small wire mesh strainer and under running water, shaking gently for a while. This washes out a lot of the starch and cuts down on all the rinsing. If I am busy I even skip the final rinse and go directly to the water. Also don’t forget to salt your rice.
    All those complaining about boilover need to remember you need quite a high casserole to prevent it. Same story with oatmeal. And cleanup is always a lot easier in the microwave if you keep a small glass pie plate in there just for that sort of thing. I use a flat glass casserole lid found at goodwill for a quarter

  24. Steph B

    Thanks for this post! I was looking for simple to remember quantities and timings and this is perfect!
    1 knuckle, 9 minutes. Both n words – alliteration works for me!

  25. Margaret

    Have you tried the microwave rice cooker from Tupperware? They have two sizes, the large one is about the same capacity as the Nordicware one that you mention, the small one works nicely for single serving.

  26. Jim Jozwiak

    I am also trying to learn how to cook rice in the microwave instead
    of the rice cooker. I get the boilover too, and I think the solution
    is to cut the power and proportionally increase the time. You know,
    when you cook spaghetti, if the heat is too high the whole thing
    boils over, but you don’t have to reduce the heat very much in order
    to get the pot to calm down. So maybe try 70% of the power and 143%
    of the time, or something like that.

  27. Wendy

    I use Pampered Chef brown plastic pot with lid with drain holes to cook perfect basmati rice for years. Place one cup of rinsed rice plus one and three quarter cups hot water in pot, cover with lid and microwave eight minutes at 60% power. Remove from microwave and let sit ten minutes covered. Do not uncover at any time before this. Now remove cover and fluff rice with fork. I use a 700W. microwave.

    A simple foolproof way to cook rice on top of the stove is to put rinsed rice in a pot, cover with cold water to one inch above rice (measure with thumb nuckle). Cook on high heat uncovered until holes appear and water is below surface of rice. Cover with lid and SIMMER for ten minutes. Turn off heat and let sit another ten minutes. Do not remove cover at any time until ready to serve.

  28. dena @ohyoucook

    Just tried your method. I did hedged my bet by starting up the rice well before hauling out all the ingredients for everything else I was making tonight in case something went horribly wrong so that I could go back to my usual stovetop method. Well, quite the opposite happened. Except for some water escaping out of the Pyrex, the rice cooked up great! Thank you so much for sharing your “ancient Chinese secret!”

  29. Tyler

    Dude you are cooking with plastic in the microwave?… Just watch the movie “Bag It”. Then report back to me.

  30. Sue

    I’ve had this same rice cooker for “YEARS”! I love it and I’m lost without it. Sure, you can cook the rice in a Corningware dish, but this works great and in less time. Mine also came with a straining basket which makes it easy to strain the water after washing. In the Corningware version you have to cook the rice for 20 minutes instead of 9 minutes. I couldn’t remember where I’d bought this little gem of a rice cooker or what it was even called, so thanks for letting me know where I can get another one for our cabin and one for my daughter. Also, Something else that makes the rice nice is to add a small pat of butter and a pinch of parsley before putting it in the microwave. Yummy!

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  32. Nikkkkki

    I have been microwaving rice for a few years now (a pretty standard recipe: 1 cup Uncle Ben’s converted rice, 2 cups water,1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. butter; combine in microwave-safe bowl, cover and cook on high for 8 minutes. Reduce power to 70% power for 15 more minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes until water is absorbed); but I would like to be able to cook a smaller quantity in a pinch and would have to decrease cooking times.

    Do you have a microwave recipe for 1/4 cup rice (again, it would be for Uncle Ben’s converted)? I have no idea how to calculate the reduced time that would be applicable in this case and your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  33. Bonnie N

    Thanks so much for these instructions. I’ll have to look for that cooker. I’ve been making my jasmine rice (not converted, I hate that stuff) on the stove top…..sometimes gummy, sometimes not. I do not know what is the SK store.

  34. Charlene

    Totally awesome with the knuckle thing.I’m originally from the Caribbean and I thought we were the only ones to do it. Nice!

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  36. Noreen

    5 lbs of red rice on sale at my local Ralphs (Krogers) for $1.99! It took 20 mins in the microwave (not sure what wattage my apt microwave), but otherwise it turned out perfect and still took less time than boiling and simmering on the drive top! ;) thanks for this tip!

  37. barb duncan

    Wonderful. Thank you. Finally MY white rice turned out good. lol. people usually passed my rice because it was gummy. I tried it your way last night and not one grain was left and everyone was happy. Thanks again.

  38. Kirsty

    I’ve never seen anyone else give that advice on how to measure the water! I figured it out myself when I realized I could test to see where the water was coming up on my fingertip and just use that as a guide every time. :)

    Thanks for the microwaving-rice advice!

  39. ann

    This is great, I usually don’t know how much rice to cook, especially if my husband suddenly wants to eat more and the rice i cook is not enough.. then he’ll need to wait for the rice to cook :)) now i can cook rice even faster..

  40. Adella Gonzalez

    I, too, am a rice snob. I love rice so much I can eat it everyday. After this post I am definitely putting this on my Amazon Wishlist. Maybe one day I’ll get a Zojirushi…. :)
    And by the way, you have great photoshop skills! ;)

  41. Stan

    The author’s method of cooking rice in a microwave will work for everyone, but with EASY adjustments: (1) Measure your rice and water. (2) Make adjustments on cook time. (3) Use a plate to catch rice water that boils out.

    I will expand on those 3 things.

    There are 2 errors in the author’s cooking time advice. Her advice is dependent on (1) the microwave wattage, (2) the length of the perimeter of the bowl that you cook in, if you use her 1 inch of water method. The bigger the perimeter/circumference of the bowl the more water you would be adding, which would change the cooking time needed.

    So, if you cook rice this way and it does not turn out well, just change the cooking time and/or amount of water. Better than using the 1 inch method is to measure the water and rice. It is easy to remember to just use 50% more water than you did rice. So 1 cup rice and 1.5 cups water. 2 cups rice and 3 cups water, etc. Or you can use a different ratio if you would rather. A ratio of 1:2 would also work but require more cooking time. So choose your ratio of rice to water.

    Now to determine your microwave’s cook time, which will mostly depend on wattage, but could depend on other factors some. It will help if you use the same bowl or type of bowl every time that you cook rice like this. Also, the same cover or type of cover. But it is not mandatory. I personally avoid microwaving in any plastic container. The first time you cook the rice you will just have to guess at the cook time. You will figure out the cook time quickly, in just 2 or 3 attempts.

    Lastly, as several people found out, the rice will boil and come up out of the pot and over the edge and down on the microwave tray, making a mess in the microwave. This problem is easily solved by putting the pot on a microwave-safe plate that is wider than the bowl and has a little depth. Now the rice water that comes out of the pot will just pool on the plate. Just don’t spill it when you take it out of the microwave and everything will stay clean.

    After the rice is mostly done, let it sit for a few minutes in the microwave without taking the lid off. Stir as soon as you take the lid off.

  42. Mark Chappel

    I cook mostly brown rice now but in the past cooked white. I use a 2:1 water to rice ratio for brown rice. Now, to keep it from boiling over, it doesn’t matter what your oven wattage is, just remember cook it in 2 stages: stage 1 is cook it whatever time in necessary on FULL power to boil the water. Stage 2 is then immediately reduce your oven’s power to 20%-30% for the rest of the cook time, just whatever is required to simmer the rice, not make a big rolling boil that spills all over your oven making a mess. For organic brown rice, I use 2 cups water, 1 cup rice, and 5 minutes at full power to boil, then at 30% power for 45 minutes. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes when the oven shuts off, fluff, and eat. Perfect every time, no oven mess. If you let it sit longer than 5-10 minutes when done, no problem; it will stay hot a long time. This method is very forgiving, (would be “has a wide exposure latitude”, in photography). I’ve cooked rice in the microwave now for almost 20 years and wouldn’t do it any other way. My stovetop rice was always hit or miss but this solved my rice problem.

  43. Jwb


    Thought is would let you know I tried this method with organic quinoa and it worked perfect! I used a small ceramic crockpot and its lid to cook it and it was perfect. Thanks for the idea!

  44. Samantha

    This works great! My microwave is low-powered though, so it came out sliiightly undercooked but not too bad. I figure an extra three minutes in cook time and it will be perfect.

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