Cooking Tips

How to Guarantee Perfect Rice When You Don't Have a Perfect Lid

This easy work-around seals up the pot so that every grain cooks up tender. Plus, other tips for making perfect rice.

Published Feb. 23, 2023.

I cook a lot of rice, the vast majority of it in my rice cooker because the machine is brilliantly engineered to get every grain perfect (and keep it that way for hours, if need be).

A big reason that it does such a good job: The lid locks tight. That’s crucial when you’re cooking via the absorption method, which means there is just enough liquid in the pot to hydrate and gel the rice’s starch.

So, when I want rice but don’t have access to a rice cooker, there’s nothing more disappointing than trying to cook it in a pot with a loose lid. Without a tight seal, too much moisture escapes and some of the grains cook up dry and hard.

Fortunately, we have an easy work-around to solve that problem, along with other tips for making a pot of perfectly plump, tender grains.

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How to Ensure Perfect Rice

If you don’t own a rice cooker, or your pot has an ill-fitting lid, here’s how to ensure perfect results using the absorption method for dishes like rice and pasta pilaf or this hearty beef and carrot plov.

  • Add a foil seal: To minimize moisture loss, seal the pot with aluminum foil by crimping a sheet over the vessel before topping it with the lid.   
  • Get the ratio right: In tests, we’ve found that rice absorbs water in a 1:1 ratio. But to account for some inevitable evaporation during cooking, it’s important to add extra water. The exact amount will vary, depending on the type of rice, but we recommend less water than the 2:1 water to rice ratio suggested in many recipes or on the back of the bag. A decent rule of thumb for white rice is 1½:1.  

Example: When cooking 1 cup of white rice, add 1½ cups water: 1 cup for the rice to absorb and ½ cup for evaporation.

  • Doubling the Rice? Don’t Double the Water: The catch to the aforementioned rice-to-water ratio: The amount of water that evaporates doesn’t double when the amount of rice is doubled.  

Example: When cooking 2 cups of rice, add 2½ cups of water: 2 cups for the rice to absorb and ½ cup for evaporation.       


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