Learn how to cook long-grain rice like pasta. It's perfect every time and ready in less than 20 minutes! You'll love this al dente rice!
It's come to my attention that most people don't cook rice the way Italians do. And that's okay.
But if you've found yourself disappointed by mushy, clumpy, crunchy or watery rice, read on. I'm going to explain how to cook long-grain rice like pasta, with a little shortcut.
I'm talking about perfect, al dente rice, which is firm but easy to chew. (Al dente means "to the tooth.")
And each grain of rice stays separate from the rest. No clumps!
Plus, there's no need for precise measuring or fancy equipment.
If you've got a pot, a stove, a slotted spoon and a colander (affiliate link), you're good. (But it helps to measure your rice so you know you'll have enough.)
Let's talk about how to cook white rice on the stove.
Rice: Use white, long-grain rice, such as Uncle Ben's Original. Don't substitute instant rice.
I haven't tested cooking times and water amounts for other types of rice, so don't substitute brown rice here.
Salt: A little bit adds essential flavor. No bland rice allowed!
Butter: The butter is optional but adds moisture and flavor. You can substitute olive oil for a vegan option, or decide to skip the fat altogether.
Water: Of course, you'll need water for boiling the rice!
How to cook rice like pasta
(See the recipe card at the end of this post for full instructions, but here's an overview.)
- Pour the rice into your pot. (This is a little shortcut, instead of starting with a pot of water.)
2. Cover the rice with hot water, until the water is two inches above the grains.
Wait, do you see the map of Italy?! I swear, that was an accident! It's totally okay if your floating rice doesn't form the shape of a country.
3. Place your pot on the stove over high heat.
4. Add salt to the pot and stir it in.
5. Cover the pot and let it come to a boil. (Mine takes eight minutes.)
6. When the water is boiling, remove the lid and lower the heat until the pot is simmering.
7. Cook the rice, stirring occasionally, until it's al dente. (Mine takes another eight minutes.)
8. When the rice is done, drain the water in a colander in your sink.
9. Return the rice to your pot and stir in some butter.
Finito! (Finished!) Now you know how to cook rice like an Italian.
Tips for perfect long grain rice
- Ignore the directions on the package of rice and use this method instead.
- Add hot tap water to the pot instead of cold, to allow the water to come to a boil faster.
- Adding enough water to cover the rice by two inches ensures there's plenty of water to cook the rice and enough to have extra to drain. This prevents watery, soft rice.
What to do with cooked rice
This rice goes well with so many dishes! Try it with:
- Parmesan Chicken Drumsticks with Garlic Butter
- Parmesan Baked Cod with Garlic Butter
- Pork Scallopini with Mushrooms and Apple Juice
- Turkey Chili with Black Beans
- Shrimp Stew with Bacon
You can even make fried rice with it. Check out Jessica Gavin's fried rice.
Frequently asked questions
Yes! I always cook extra rice so I can freeze the leftovers.
White, long-grain rice freezes very well compared to other varieties. Just place the rice in a plastic freezer bag, press it flat, and squeeze out the air before sealing the bag.
To thaw frozen rice, use a spoon to break up a section of the rice in the freezer bag and scoop out the amount you need. Place it in a microwave-safe dish, lightly cover it with wax paper, and thaw it in the microwave.
The most convenient way to reheat leftover rice is to use the microwave.
Place it in a microwave-safe dish and add a little butter or oil to it, if you wish, so it's not dry. You can even add a little water instead.
Lightly cover the rice with wax paper or plastic wrap and heat on high just until it's warm enough.
More rice dishes & grains
- Parmesan Risotto
- Baked Vegetable Risotto with Asparagus and Spinach
- Creamy Parmesan Polenta
- One-Pot Farro with Cauliflower
If you try this method for cooking long-grain rice like pasta, be sure to leave a comment and a rating!
How to Cook Long-Grain Rice Like Pasta
- 1 ½ cups long-grain white rice (Don't use instant rice.)
- hot water to cover the grains by two inches
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons salted butter (use olive oil for a vegan option)
- Add the rice to a medium pot. Add hot water to your pot, until the water is two inches higher than the grains.
- Place your pot on the stove over high heat. Add the salt to the water and stir it in with a slotted spoon. Cover the pot until it boils. (Mine takes 8 minutes.)
- When the water is boiling, remove the lid and lower the heat until the pot is simmering. Simmer the rice, stirring occasionally, until it's al dente (firm but easy to chew). Mine takes 8 minutes. Taste it to see if it's done to your liking. There will be excess water in your pot.
- When the rice is cooked, drain the water from the pot into a colander in your sink.
- Transfer the cooked rice back to your pot and stir in the butter.
- Serve immediately or store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You also can freeze the rice. Press it flat in a plastic freezer bag. When you're ready to use it, use a spoon to break up a section of the frozen rice and scoop out as much as you need. Thaw it in the microwave.
(Recipe Source: Adapted from my Mom's method. She lets the water boil first, then adds the rice.)