How to cook rice in the microwave, perfect every time
Cooking rice in the microwave is cheaper and more convenient than having a rice cooker. We’ll show you how to cook rice in the microwave, with perfect results, every time.
Ingredients for cooking rice in the microwave
- Raw rice (jasmine, basmati, regular long grain, short grain (like Korean rice or Japanese sushi rice)
- Microwave safe bowl with lid (big bowl, Pyrex, CorningWare, plastic microwave-safe pot)
How to cook rice in the microwave
- After testing 6 different methods, the best results came from Cooks Illustrated test kitchen.
- Use ratio of 1-1/2 cups rice: 2-1/4 cup water
- Microwave 5 minutes on full power, 15 minutes at 50% power, 5 minute rest
Why cook rice in the microwave?
Cooking rice in the microwave is cheaper.
There’s no need for a stand-alone rice cooker appliance to clutter your pantry. Years ago, I invested in a $300 Zojirushi, the mother of all rice cookers. These days, I only bring out that appliance when I’m cooking rice for a large group of people.
For family cooking, I use a $16 Nordicware Microwave Rice Cooker or an a CorningWare/Pyrex dish with glass lid.
Cooking rice in the microwave means less cleanup.
Cookers designed for cooking rice in microwave are usually 2-parts: a lid and a base. Both are dishwasher safe.
My rice cooker has a lid, a plastic gasket ring, a little cup for excess water, and the base. Plus, I have to clean in the narrow crevices of the cooker.
Cooking rice in the microwave means less babysitting.
If you’re cooking rice on the stovetop, you’ll need to watch the pot until the water boils, lower the heat, cover the pot, then set the timer. Once timer goes off, you’ll have to immediately turn off heat. There’s very little wiggle room with timing when cooking on stovetop. The intense heat under the pot will overcook the rice or create burnt, stuck-in-pot rice that difficult to scrape out.
Cooking rice in the microwave tastes exactly the same.
At first, I was really skeptical that microwaved rice would be able to compete with my rice cooker.
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 $16 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
Secret to cooking rice in the microwave
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. The ratio:
1-1/2 cups raw rice: 2-1/4 cups water
How to cook rice in the microwave
To cook rice in the microwave, you’ll start with a microwave-safe container, raw rice (like basmati, jasmine, or sushi rice). For 4 people, you’ll need 1 1/2 cups of raw rice. Rinse the rice. Dump out all the water. Add 2-1/4 cups water. Microwave 5 minutes high/15 minutes at 50% of power/rest 5 minutes.
This will make about 3 cups of cooked rice.
Note: brown rice and wild rice have different cooking methods. Learn how to cook brown rice in the microwave here.
Let’s break it down:
Add the raw rice to your microwave safe container. 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, itty bitty buggies 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.
Are you washing away nutrients in the rice? No.
If you are buying “fortified rice” which is a fortified food product. Some companies, like Uncle Ben’s Rice, spray the rice with vitamins during processing. Don’t buy this type of rice…it tastes nasty. Get your nutrients from vegetables and protein, not from a spray. Wash raw rice because it’s dusty, dirty and could have small bugs.
Once you’re done with the washing, pour the water out again.
You’ll still have a bit of water in the pot…that’s ok. Just pour out as much as you can.
Measure in 2 1/4 cups of water.
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.
CorningWare/Pyrex glass lids will work fine.
Microwave for 5 minutes on high. Then microwave 15 minutes at 50% power. Let rest (don’t open the lid) for 5 minutes.
You’ve now got perfectly cooked rice.
Microwave cookware I recommend
How I microwave rice – in the photos above, I used the Nordicware microwave rice cooker, but it is no longer in stock, and the quality isn’t that great. I also really like the Progressive International microwave rice cooker, and it’s actually cheaper, at around $10 on Amazon. Get it here.
I also like this Prep Solutions Microwave Rice Cooker (includes strainer, measuring cups too) for $16
How I make soft and hardboiled eggs in the microwave – Nordicware Microwave Egg Boiler $11 (Amazon.com)
Use a microwave safe dish that is meant for cooking pasta/rice or steaming vegetables. The lid should have a vent. If it doesn't, just lay the lid on top of the cooking dish (without snapping it in place) to allow steam to escape. Place a dishtowel UNDER the cooking pot in case the starchy steamy water bubbles up and over.
- 1-1/2 cups rice jasmine, basmati, white rice or sushi rice
- 2-1/4 cups water
Scoop the rice into the microwave-safe container or pot. 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. The last time, make sure you pour as AS MUCH WATER AS POSSIBLE (without losing any rice grains down the drain!) If there is too much water in the pot, the next step's water measurement will be off.
Add 2 1/4 cups water. Cover with lid.
Microwave on high for 5 minutes at full power. Microwave 15 minutes at 50% power. Let rest covered (no peeking!) for 5 minutes before fluffing. Give the rice a quick taste. Does it need more time? If so, cover and cook for an additional 1 minute on high.