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How to cook rice

Nutritious, tasty and oh so versatile, rice is a staple of many meals. However, there’s definitely a knack to cooking it successfully. We’ve put together our top tips and tricks for getting gorgeous grains every time, starting with a guide to the different types of rice.

Also, did you know Ocado have the largest range of rice compared to any other supermarket? Take a look for yourself by clicking here.


Long-grain rice is a handy group of grains that have a long, elegant shape, firm texture and separate well after cooking. The category includes white and brown long-grain rice (usually what’s meant by ‘white rice’ or ‘brown rice’), as well as basmati, jasmine and wholegrain red rice varieties. Long-grain rice is well suited to pilaf and biryani dishes – essentially, it’s ideal any time you want separated, non-sticky grains. Which variety you choose is down to personal preference. Brown is more nutritious than white; red has a nutty flavour; and basmati and jasmine are more aromatic.


Short-grain rice has a plump appearance and, when cooked, the grains cling to each other, creating a lovely chewy texture. It’s the higher level of starch in short-grain rice that adds a creamy finish to a risotto or rice pudding. As well as white and brown short-grain rice, this group includes arborio and carnaroli (ideal for risotto), Spanish calasparra (for paella), black, and sushi varieties.


Wild rice is the imposter of the family: actually the seed of American aquatic grass, it isn’t related to the ‘rice’ species directly. The seeds are long and thin, much like long-grain rice, and covered in coloured husks. It has a nutty flavour and firm texture, and is lower in calories than rice – perfect for using in salads or as a base for stuffing.


To wash or not to wash?

Washing rice is generally a good policy. A cleansing rinse will freshen up the grains, but more importantly it’ll get rid of the surface starch that causes the slimy texture you can sometimes get when cooking rice. However, there are a few times when you don’t need to rinse the grains: dishes such as risotto, paella and rice pudding all rely on the starch to help create their lovely creamy texture.

How to do it: Pop the rice into a pan, cover generously with cold water, then swirl around before carefully emptying the water and refilling. Wash in a few changes of water, until it runs pretty clear (it will never run crystal clear).

Super soaker: soak to separate those grains

After you’ve rinsed the rice, pre-soak it to help the grains cook a little more quickly and evenly, and to help the rice fluff up perfectly. It’s not strictly necessary, but if you care about having separated grains, this is the way to get there. With aromatic rice types, such as basmati and jasmine, the soaking also helps the rice retain more of its distinctive taste and smell.

How to do it: Soak white rice for about 15–30 minutes in a bowl of cold water before cooking. Brown rice will happily soak from one hour to several hours, even overnight. If you’re short on time, just soak for as long as it takes you to prepare your other ingredients.


There are two main ways to cook rice: by boiling and by absorption. In general, just choose the method you prefer, although it’s best to stick to boiling for brown rice. You’ll also find some recipes that make use of both methods. In a pilaf, for example, the rice is parboiled first, then finished in a lidded pot layered with spices, dried fruit and sticky onions. 

  1. The boiling method: In this easy, reliable method, simply add the rice to a large pot of boiling water seasoned with a pinch of salt, ensuring the grains are submerged. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until tender. Drain in a sieve, then pour over a kettle of boiling water to remove excess starch and help separate the grains. 
  2. The absorption method: Guessing measurements can lead to dry or soggy grains, so measure the rice, then rinse, soak and drain. For every 75g rice used (one portion), measure 95ml water; increase to 135ml if you skipped the soak step. Put the rice into a heavy, lidded saucepan, cover with the water and season with a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, put the lid on and reduce the heat as low as it goes. Check the rice after eight minutes – the grains should be tender and all the water absorbed. Pop the lid back on, turn the heat off and leave to steam for 5-8 minutes. When the rice is tender, remove the lid to prevent overcooking and use a fork to fluff up the grains.


Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya

Inspired by the classic Louisiana one-pot, this fuss-free, oven-baked rice dish is packed with African, French and Spanish flavours.

Get the recipe >

Roasted Vegetable and Wild Rice Buddha Bowl with Romesco Sauce

The rich, nutty-sweet sauce is a great match for roasted veg, and it also goes well with grilled meat and fish. A lovely barbecue accompaniment.

Get the recipe >

Sundried Tomato and Mozzarella Arancini with a Green Salad

This is a great recipe for using up leftover risotto. If you have some risotto, then pick up the instructions at step 3.

Get the recipe >

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