Rice is a versatile base for many meals. Fluffy, tender rice can be the perfect complement to curries, stir-fries, and more. However, cooking rice on the stovetop can be finicky. It requires close monitoring to ensure the rice doesn’t burn on the bottom or turn out undercooked.
This is where the microwave can help. With the right technique, you can make restaurant-quality rice easily in the microwave. It requires no constant watching or stirring. Just a few minutes of prep, pop it in the microwave, and let technology do the rest.
In this guide, we provide a tested method for cooking foolproof rice in the microwave. With the proper ratio of rice to water and optimal timing, you can achieve flawless grains every time. Discover how the microwave allows you to skip the hassles of stovetop or rice cooker models for rice that’s tender with a pleasant chew.
Benefits of Cooking Rice in the Microwave
Here are some of the biggest advantages of making this pantry staple in the microwave:
- Convenience – No need to watch a pot or fuss over temperature settings. Just input time, walk away, and come back to perfect rice.
- Speed – Microwaved rice cooks up faster than stove or dedicated cooker methods.
- Consistency – Takes the guesswork out for reliable results every time.
- Easy monitoring – Clear cookware lets you check progress.
- Minimal cleanup – No messy pans to scrub. Just the microwave-safe bowl and lid.
- Budget-friendly – Only need an inexpensive dish, not a fancy appliance.
- Taste – Grains turn out fluffy and flavorful, not mushy or burnt.
For rice on the fly, the microwave is ideal for making a quality side without constant monitoring or expensive equipment.
Cooking rice in the microwave is a breeze with minimal supplies:
- Microwave-safe bowl with lid
- Use glass or microwavable plastic (not metal)
- Large enough to allow rice to expand
- Lid prevents splatter and helps steam rice
- Measuring cups
- Fork for fluffing rice
Specialty microwave rice cookers are available, but a basic bowl setup works perfectly. Ensure the bowl and lid are both microwave-safe or use a glass lid.
To start, you will need just two ingredients:
- Raw rice
- Long grain white, jasmine, basmati, etc.
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice yields 3 cups cooked
- 2 1/4 cups water per 1 1/2 cups raw rice
- Subtract a bit of water for firmer rice
The ideal rice to water ratio is key for cooking in the microwave. Too much water makes soggy rice. Too little leaves it crunchy. We found 1 cup raw rice to 1 1/2 cups water is optimal.
Ideally, use filtered or bottled water for better flavored rice. Tap water may impart metallic or chemical flavors.
Washing the Rice
Before cooking, wash raw rice thoroughly to remove excess starch. This helps prevent grains from sticking together.
- Place rice in a sieve and rinse with cool water
- Gently swish rice grains with your hand
- Repeat 2-3 more times until water runs clear
Washing helps prevent gummy rice texture and makes fluffy grains. Now let’s get to cooking!
Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions
With the right technique, you can make restaurant-worthy rice from the convenience of your microwave.
1. Combine Rice and Water
Add washed rice and fresh water to microwave-safe bowl based on the ratio above. For 1 1/2 cups raw rice, use 2 1/4 cups water.
2. Cover and Cook
Cover bowl securely with microwave-safe lid. Microwave on full power for 5 minutes. Do not open lid yet.
3. Reduce Heat and Cook More
Remove bowl from microwave but keep covered. Let stand 2 minutes. Return to microwave and cook for 15 minutes at 50% power.
Lowering heat prevents moisture loss and helps rice cook evenly.
4. Rest and Fluff
After total 20 minutes (5 minutes high, 15 minutes half power), remove rice from microwave. Let stand covered for 5 minutes to complete cooking process.
Finally, uncover and fluff gently with fork. Enjoy hot microwaved rice!
Microwave Cook Times
Microwave wattages vary, so cooking times may need slight adjustment.
- 1000-watt microwave: Follow instructions as written
- 1100+ watts: Reduce time by 10-20 seconds per stage
- 800-900 watts: Add 10-20 seconds per stage
Check rice at minimum times and adjust as needed for your particular microwave power.
Tips for Perfect Results
Follow these tips for flawlessly cooked rice every time in the microwave:
- Use a wide, shallow bowl so rice can spread out. Narrow containers may undercook center.
- Allow rice to rest 5 minutes after cooking so moisture distributes evenly.
- Fluff gently with fork immediately after resting. Stirring too vigorously makes rice gummy.
- Add a bit less water if you prefer firmer grains.
- Spice it up! Stir in herbs, butter, or coconut milk after cooking.
- Reheat leftover rice with a damp paper towel over the bowl to restore moisture.
Recommended Microwave Rice Cookware
While most microwave-safe bowls will work, we suggest:
- Nordic Ware Microwave Rice Cooker – Available on Amazon for under $10, this plastic 2-quart cooker with vented lid is perfect for microwave rice cooking.
- CorningWare or Pyrex Bowls with Glass Lids – The versatile glass bakeware allows monitoring rice as it cooks. Use glass lid to retain moisture (also read: Is Corningware Microwave-Safe?).
Both options are inexpensive investments for consistently delicious microwave rice.
Is Microwaved Rice Healthy?
Rice cooked in the microwave is just as healthy as rice prepared by other methods. The cooking method does not alter the nutritional composition. Brown or wild rice offer more fiber and nutrients than white varieties.
One caveat is microwaved rice is often served plain without added fat. Opt for healthy add-ins like herbs or spices over butter to boost flavor.
The Verdict on Microwave Rice
Forget standing over a stove or waiting on rice cookers. The microwave offers an easy path to tender, fluffy rice without hassle or supervision.
With the proper rice to water ratios and optimal timing for your microwave wattage, you can achieve restaurant-worthy results. Microwaving locks in moisture and allows for even cooking.
The benefits go beyond convenience. Microwave rice tastes just as delicious and fluffy as expensive rice cooker models. Once you try this simplified technique, you may never bother with stovetop rice again.
Say goodbye to checking constantly for doneness or burning on the bottom. Let your microwave do the work for perfectly steamed rice every time. Dinnertime just got simpler!
Frequently Asked Questions About Cooking Rice in the Microwave
Does the microwave kill nutrients in rice?
No, microwave cooking does not destroy nutrients in rice any more than conventional cooking. Studies show microwaved rice retains its nutritional value, including B vitamins, iron, and fiber. Avoid overcooking to prevent potential losses.
Can you use instant or pre-cooked rice?
It’s best to use raw, uncooked rice grains, not instant or precooked. The microwave method relies on absorbing water to properly cook regular rice. Instant rice is already parboiled and will turn mushy.
Does rice need to be soaked first?
Soaking is not required when cooking rice in the microwave. The direct heat quickly absorbs water into dry grains. Simply washing off starch is sufficient prep for microwave rice.
How do you prevent boiled over or soggy rice?
Use a large enough dish for rice to spread and increase in volume. Cook at 50% power after the initial 5 minutes to prevent moisture loss leading to boil overs. Always allow rice to rest afterward so moisture evenly distributes.
Can you use brown or wild rice in the microwave?
Yes, you can microwave all types of rice including brown, wild, basmati, jasmine, etc. Adjust water amounts and cook times as needed for firmer whole grains. White rice requires slightly less time than brown.
What if my microwave does not have a 50% power option?
If your microwave lacks a 50% power setting, after 5 minutes on high, continue cooking at 30 second intervals on high power. Check frequently to prevent overcooking. Another option is to transfer to a standard oven at 300°F after high power microwave time.
How long does cooked microwave rice last refrigerated?
Cooked rice will keep 3 to 5 days refrigerated in an airtight container. Freeze rice up to 6 months for longer storage. Always refrigerate within 1 hour of cooking. Reheat to 165°F before serving.
Can you use plastic wrap instead of a lid?
It’s best to use a microwave-safe lid to trap in steam and prevent splatters. If lacking a lid, use a plate or paper towel to cover the bowl rather than plastic wrap, which may melt from contact with high heat water.
What rice-to-water ratio should be used?
The ideal microwave rice ratio is 1 cup uncooked rice to 1 1/2 cups water. This allows for full absorption and fluffy rice. Adjust amounts as needed based on personal texture preferences and microwave power.
Tips for Serving Microwave Rice
Once you’ve mastered the simple process of cooking rice in the microwave, get creative with serving ideas:
- Stir in lemon juice and parsley just before serving for fresh flavor
- Mix in coconut milk and crushed pineapple for a Hawaiian twist
- Add chopped mushrooms, water chestnuts, and grated carrots for homemade fried rice
- Toss with buffalo sauce and grated cheddar for a rice bowl twist on buffalo chicken
- Top with teriyaki chicken or beef and sliced almonds for a protein-packed meal
- Mix in pesto and diced tomatoes for an easy vegetarian rice dish
- Stir in curry powder, raisins, and cashews for curried rice pilaf
With a little seasoning or mix-ins, basic microwave rice can become so much more. This hands-off cooking method gives you rice ready to get creative.
The next time you need rice on the table fast, don’t hesitate to place it in the microwave. In just 20 minutes, you’ll have light, fluffy grains ready to serve up with any meal. Ditch the rice cooker and stovetop hassles. The microwave is the modern shortcut for perfectly steamed rice.
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
- 2 1/4 cups water
- Rinse rice in a mesh strainer until water runs clear.
- Combine rice and 2 1⁄4 cups water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with lid.
- Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Do not lift lid.
- Let stand covered for 2 minutes.
- Return to microwave and cook 15 minutes more at 50% power.
- Let stand covered 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.