100 Techniques

Technique #14: Bake Rice for Never Mushy or Scorched Results

Make your own rice cooker with a baking dish and foil.

Published Oct. 18, 2023.

This is Technique #14 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

Each technique is broken into three sections: why it works, key steps, and recipes that use it. Learn these recipe building blocks and you'll be set up for a lifetime of cooking success.

Jump to a Section

There are as many different ways to cook rice as there are different types of rice. Too often, however, the directions on the back of the bag or box result in either wet and mushy rice or scorched yet undercooked rice.

This has to do in large part with two factors: the heat levels of stovetops and the type of cookware you use.

Most stovetop recipes call for too much heat (which causes the bottom layer of rice to scorch); these recipes attempt to compensate by calling for more water (which causes the rice to swell up into a gelatinous mass). Lightweight cookware also contributes to scorched bottoms and uneven cooking. It’s easier to turn out properly cooked rice with heavyweight, high-end cookware—which works out if you’re lucky enough to own it.

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

Why Baking Rice Is Best

For a surefire rice-cooking method that works no matter the cook, no matter the equipment, and no matter what type of rice you are cooking, turn to the oven.

By using less water than is typically called for in stovetop recipes and taking advantage of the steady, even heat of the oven, you can turn out perfect rice every time. This is because the oven acts like a rice cooker.

700+ Recipes

The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

Whether you’re a committed vegetarian or simply want to eat more vegetables and grains, this collection of meatless dishes—which includes fast, gluten-free, and vegan recipes—will help you cook and eat well.
Save Now

How to DIY a Rice Cooker at Home

A homemade rice cooker created using a baking dish and aluminum foil approximates the controlled, indirect heat of a real rice cooker by providing even, encircling heat and temperature control that is more precise than the stovetop. Using boiling water instead of water straight from the tap jump-starts the process and reduces the overall baking time.

In a standard baking dish tightly covered with foil, white, brown, and wild rice all cook impressively well. No more fiddling with the heat level of your burner or trying to figure out the right pan to use—and no more scorched, crunchy, or mushy rice. Using this technique, you can serve properly cooked rice anytime.

Equipment Review

13 by 9-inch Broiler-Safe Baking Dishes

We love our winning rectangular glass and metal baking dishes, but they’re not broiler-safe. We set out to find a table-worthy baking dish that could handle the broiler’s heat and was easy to use.
Read Our Review

Step by Step: How to Bake Rice

Here are the key steps to making perfectly fluffy, never burned, hands-off rice.

Step 1: Rinse

Rinse and drain rice to remove excess starch, which otherwise would make rice gluey.

Step 2: Cook Aromatics and Boil Water

Cook aromatics, if using. Bring water or broth to boil in saucepan.

Step 3: Add Water to Rice

Pour boiling cooking liquid over rice in 8-inch square baking dish and add aromatics.

Step 4: Cover and Bake

Cover baking dish tightly with double layer of aluminum foil and bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Step 5: Fluff and Cover

Add any remaining mix-ins, fluff rice with fork, then cover and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Recipes That Use This Technique

Use your newfound rice-cooking knowledge with any of these recipes.


Foolproof Baked Rice

The oven is more dependable than the stovetop for cooking rice. But the method isn’t perfect—at least it wasn’t until we worked out the details.
Get the Recipe

Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice

Forget the instructions on the back of the bag, unless you want scorched or mushy rice.
Get the Recipe

Baked Wild Rice

For a rice side dish that steers clear of the stovetop and is simple to make, let the oven come to the rescue.
Get the Recipe

Ready to learn another technique? Choose from our list of 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

This is a members' feature.