Rice is a grain that, just like wheat, is a member of the grass family. The stalks grow anywhere from 60 to 180 cm (2 to 6 feet) tall, and bloom with flowers that produce the grain as its seed. In Europe, it is grown in Northern Italy, and in some parts of Spain. It is, of course, also grown throughout Asia.
Contrary to popular belief, rice doesn’t grow only in rice paddies — fields flooded with water. Some varieties of rice also grow on hills.
For the most part, rice is described based on the size of its grain, and the degree of processing it has had.
Whenever a recipe or someone refers to “rice”, unless they specify a type, what is meant is white rice.
The answer to the question of “how much rice to cook” starts with the debate about what constitutes a serving size. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans people are really skimpy in their allowance. Weight Watchers® is more generous. Still, both probably fall short of what constitutes a serving in real life in people’s minds. See the Equivalents section below for the guidelines.
See Equivalents section below for how much white rice to cook.
See also the entry on Brown Rice for how much brown rice to cook.
How to cook rice
Here are two standard methods for cooking rice:
Per cup ( 8 oz / 200 g) of uncooked rice, bring to a boil in a large saucepan 2 cups (16 oz / 500 ml) of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Don’t dump the rice in all at once; slowly pour it in (don’t stir while pouring.) Then stir lightly, then cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes
Heat 1 tablespoon of fat (such as oil or butter) in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Pour in 1 cup (8 oz / 200 g) of uncooked rice, stir around to coat, and cook until rice turns a bit transparent, about 5 minutes. (Optional: for a nuttier tasting rice, brown the kernels a bit by cooking them a bit longer until they just start to brown.) Slowly pour in 2 cups (16 oz / 500 ml) of already boiling water from the kettle, stir in 1 teaspoon of salt if desired, cover, and then cook for 15 minutes.
For either method:
- if all the water has gone but the rice is not yet tender, add a few tablespoons of boiling water, cover and cook a bit more;
- if water has remained but the rice is cooked, remove cover and cook a minute or two uncovered to allow water to evaporate until the water is gone.
Miscellaneous rice cooking tips
- Don’t stir rice while it is cooking, as stirring it will make it sticky. (Risotto is the exception: you want it sticky.)
- The wider the mouth on your pot, the better your rice will cook.
- If you have storage space for a rice steamer, they are inexpensive, and take all the stress out of cooking rice.
- When reheating leftover rice in a microwave, add 1 teaspoon of water per cup (150 g / 4 oz) of cooked, leftover rice.
- To make a soup thicker, throw in a few handfuls of leftover cooked rice towards the end.
Bulgur Wheat, various Grain Berries, Couscous.
Wholegrain and brown rice are the same grain of rice.
When the rice grain is husked, the rice is brown in colour. This is what is known as wholegrain or brown rice. Further refining to make the white rice removes the brown exterior.
Brown rices are more nutritious than white because the brown layer retains some of the nutrients found in the husk.
Rice has absolutely no gluten.
Rice measurements, equivalents and yields are very imprecise, being dependent on so many factors including even — literally — the weather. It just depends essentially if you want to err on the side of calorie-control, or generosity.
How much uncooked rice equals how much cooked rice
Just memorize that brown rice is times two, white rice is times three.
- Brown rice essentially doubles in both volume and weight after cooking. 1 cup of brown rice will yield 2 cups; 1 kg of brown rice will yield 2 kg.
- White rice essentially triples in both volume and weight after cooking. 1 cup of white rice will yield 3 cups; 1 kg of white rice will yield 3 kg.
How much white rice to cook for a single person
There are two different serving-size suggestions from the dietary professionals, one smaller and one a bit larger.
Smaller serving: To end up with a single serving of 75 g (1/2 cup / 2 oz in weight) of cooked white long-grain rice: start with 25 g (2.5 tablespoons / 1 oz ) of uncooked white long-grain rice.
Larger serving: To end up with a single serving of 150 g (1 cup / 4 oz in weight) of cooked white long-grain rice: start with 50 g (1/3 cup / 2 oz ) of uncooked white long-grain rice.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015 – 2020 edition, Appendix 3) suggests the first, smaller amount. The larger amount is offered up by Weight Watchers® and other dietary sources as of 2015, and while probably closer to the minimum that people are going to actually have, will likely still seem skimpy to many people.
How much white rice to cook for a crowd
The following is based on the serving amount of 150 g (1 cup / 4 oz ) for long-grain white rice. Even so, it does not allow for generous servings, second-helpings, or left-overs. To allow for that, or when cooking for larger numbers, it is probably advisable to plan for a few extra servings.
- 1 kilo rice uncooked = 2.2 pounds / 5 cups uncooked = 3 kg ( 25 cups / 6.5 lbs) cooked (Will serve 25 people).
- 100 g rice uncooked = 1/2 cup (3.5 oz in weight) uncooked = 300 g ( 2 1/2 cups / 10.5 oz in weight) cooked  (Will serve 2 people)
- 1 cup rice uncooked = 7 oz / 200 g = 600 g ( 5 cups / 21 oz in weight) cooked  (Will serve 5 people).
- 1 pound of rice = 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups uncooked = 11 cups cooked (Will serve 11 people).
See also the entry on Brown Rice for how much brown rice to cook.
Rice equivalency notes
- The weights of uncooked compared to weights of cooked are of course more accurate than when volume-style measurements get involved
- Cup volumes of cooked and uncooked will vary wildly depending on the type of rice (e.g. risotto rice), how forcefully it was packed down in the cup, the humidity of the given day even, etc. And weight / volume equivalencies of uncooked rice will also vary wildly as well, depending on the type of rice, whether it is short-grain or long-grain, brown or white, etc. Thus, the equivalencies below won’t always jive with each other, especially given whether rounding for kitchen usability for a particular instance was done up, or down. But sacrificing usability for extreme mathematical precision is impractical in a real-world kitchen.
- For kitchen purposes, rounding 1/2 cup of uncooked rice to 4 oz / 120 g in weight (1 cup uncooked to 8 oz / 250 g in weight) is usually fine. Feel free to round it down to 1/3 cup / 2 oz uncooked if you want less food on the plate!
You can freeze cooked rice for up to a year. Freeze it in meal size portions, rather than in one huge lump, so that you can haul it out of the freezer for adding to soups or casseroles, or even just to serve on the side.
Store any rice in a sealed container in a dry, cool place. With the exception of brown rice, rice will keep indefinitely.
Rice is probably native to both China and India.
Literature & Lore
“Three pound of sugar, five pound of currants, rice… what will this sister of mine do with Rice?” — Clown. The Winter’s Tale, Act IV, Scene 3. Shakespeare.
The Spanish word for rice, “arroz”, comes from the Arabic word for rice, “aruz.”