We’ve all got our tried-and-true techniques for cooking rice, whether it’s boiling it on the stove or zapping it in the microwave. But did you know that you can bake rice in the oven? While the oven isn’t your typical rice-cooking appliance, it surprisingly creates fluffy rice that you can serve right from the baking dish. Even better: This oven-baked rice technique is a lot simpler than standing over the stove waiting for a pot of rice to steam. Keep reading to learn how to make the best oven rice — it’s sure to become one of your go-to methods!
Why baking is the best way to cook rice
When comparing rice-cooking methods, ovens come out on top for consistently producing tasty rice. The reason? Ovens distribute heat more evenly compared to stoves and microwaves. This allows the rice grain to steam thoroughly and become super fluffy, not mushy, by the end of the cooking process. Also, this uniform heat distribution prevents any rice grains at the bottom of the baking dish from burning — saving you the elbow grease from needing to scrub and soak the pan afterwards.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of this hack is the fact that it doesn’t require stirring or constantly checking on the rice. This is thanks to the baking dish being covered with foil, which traps in the water so the rice can gradually absorb the liquid. Plus, since the baking dish provides enough room for the rice’s starch bubbles during cooking, it won’t spill over the foil and cause a big mess.
It’s clear that oven-baked rice is a hassle-free method of preparing this starchy side. But, doing an extra step beforehand can guarantee perfect results!
The key step for ensuring fluffy and flavorful rice
Before cooking rice, rinse it with water to get rid of any dirt and dust that might be on the grains. Otherwise, that unwanted dust could ruin the flavor of your rice. Plus, it gets rid of excess starch on the kernels, which can cause grains to clump together while they cook. Simply follow these three steps to wash rice with ease prior to cooking it in the oven.
- Place your desired amount of rice in a medium or large bowl in a sink.
- Fill the bowl enough cold water to cover the rice and swish the grains around to remove anything on the surface.
- Strain the rice in a colander or strainer and repeat this rinsing process about 5 times, or until the water is clear.
- Proceed with your desired recipe.
How to cook rice in the oven
This Oven-Baked Rice recipe from BBC Good Food produces yummy steamed rice in well under an hour — no stirring needed. Serve the cooked grains alongside roasted chicken, a hearty stew or pan-fried fish and enjoy!
- 1 cups white or brown basmati rice, rinsed
- 2 cups boiling water
- Pinch of salt
- Active: 10 mins
- Total time: 50 mins
- Yield: about 3 cups cooked rice
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Pour rice into rectangular baking dish in even layer. Carefully cover rice with water and salt before wrapping baking dish tightly with foil.
- Bake about 35 minutes, until rice has absorbed full amount of liquid. Remove from oven and allow rice to sit for 5 minutes, still covered.
- Take foil off of dish and fluffy grains with fork before serving.
4 delicious add-ins for oven rice
Although oven-baked rice is already delicious on its own, First for Women Test Kitchen Manager Susan Chiusano swears by these simple swaps and additions to take it to the next level.
- Swap water for other flavorful liquids. Replace half or the full amount of water with broth to add a more intense and rich taste to your rice. You can also replace half of the water with unsweetened coconut or almond milk for a nutty flavor and creamy texture.
- Add any herbs you have on hand. A few sprigs of herbs like fresh thyme, rosemary or oregano give the rice a pleasant earthy taste. Simply add the herb on top of the rice before baking, and allow the herby scent to infuse the rice as it cooks.
- Sprinkle in fragrant spices. For rice with subtle aromatic flavors, add a pinch of ground cinnamon, ginger or cumin to the rice prior to cooking. Saffron is another spice that provides rice with a floral taste and vibrant yellow hue, even when a small pinch is used.
- Make it creamy. A knob of butter or a tablespoon of olive oil will provide some creaminess to the rice — making it something extra special to enjoy with any meal. Just mix it into the piping hot rice after it comes out of the oven, and it’s ready to serve!
(Click through to learn a clever way to use up leftover rice by making crispy rice!)
Keep reading for more scrumptious savory sides to whip up for dinner!
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