FWIW Here is how I cook white rice (generally short grain, usually Hokkaido rice FWIW).

  1. clean/rinse the (already generally clean) pot (just a stainless steel pot) with my hands a very very lot under cold running water

  2. put in rice (any amount, but say a cup or two)

  3. with my hands, gently clean the rice (pour in cold clean water, wash with hands, pour out dirty water) say 7 or 8 times until the water is pretty clear (I'm too lazy to get it really clear)

  4. turn on range fairly hot but not extreme

  5. put water in the rice. about twice the height of the rice.

  6. I do usually add a SMALL knob of butter (or, if none is to hand, a very small splash of say peanut OIL); I guess my reasoning is to avoid it sticking to the bottom. I also do add some salt at this stage, not too much.

  7. get it boiling fairly hard - not extreme hard. generally no lid. stir only once or twice basically to avoid sticking to bottom

  8. "at some point" - basically when most of the water is gone - turn the heat off (though I usually leave the pot on the same still-hot element), put on a lid, put something heavy on top to press down the lid

  9. leave it alone. once only (say, "half way" through the time), dash the lid of, quickly life/stir the rice around around [use only a wooden spoon throughout] and replace weighted lid

  10. after some time (15, 20 mins? no rush) it's ready (and still very hot).

I just did this and the rice comes out STICKY. Occasionally it "magically" as it were comes out fluffy. Generally it comes out sticky.

I like both sticky and fluffy:

however, would it be possible, given the process I describe, for someone to explain to me how to get fluffy consistently?

What is the variable, secret or technique? What are the principles involved? TY

PS typical rice used:

enter image description here

  • 5
    Personally I’m a fan of a dedicated rice cooker - while it won’t inherently make your rice how you want it, the consistency is key, since it will let you dial in the variables to get your desired consistency of rice. Commented May 7 at 20:58
  • 3
    Choosing rice that does not do "fluffy" well is really the key issue, as already answered. I like short grain, I cook a lot of it. If I want "fluffy" it's not what I grab - that's what long grain is good at. I don't try to make sushi with basmati rice, either...
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 8 at 1:48
  • 1
    It’s your prerogative to dislike rice cookers, but they are also (IMO) the easiest way to repeatably make rice with minimal effort and variation, the latter of which seems to be an issue in your case Commented May 8 at 18:41
  • 1
    @Idran you're 1000% correct, I agree. I didn't want to waste more space, but, yes, .. there are very few things I truly hate. At the top of the list I hate haters, which is kind of self-referential. Then there's only one thing in the universe I truly hate, obviously that is Heathrow Airport, which goes without saying. Then there's a short list of things I actually hate: microwave ovens, swing tag plastic loop attachments on the price tags of consumer goods, and so on. With rice cookers, I merely dislike them ambiguously; they're "not really in the slow food camp"; I feel sorry for them
    – Fattie
    Commented May 9 at 13:36
  • 1
    but I can't really support them. It's sort of like in a war, a country that's not really your enemy, nor are they truly neutral, but they won't sort of get on board with your side, hence you feel kind of ambiguous dislike towards them. It's tough.
    – Fattie
    Commented May 9 at 13:37

7 Answers 7


There are a few variables here:

Shorter grain rices tend to be more sticky than longer grain rices, so using a medium grain (my personal choice for the balance) or long grain rice will give you fluffier rather than sticky.

Washing is very important. The clearer that water is, the less sticky your rice will tend to be. You can also soak the rice for short periods (say 20 min) hydrate more of the external starches and allow you to wash them off better. Be aware that the longer you soak, the more likely that the rice will end up as a mush when you cook. This is one of the steps in making Juk/Congee, where you soak the rice and then cook gently giving you a nice silky porridge.

Water - too much water will result in the rice being stickier than otherwise. The general rule is to cover with water to the first joint of your finger (roughly 2 cm or 3/4 inch). If you have to drain water off at the end you are doing it wrong.

My guess is that you aren't washing it enough and that you are using too much water.

Edited to add (as I didn't see the edited in pictures before answering):

Both rices are sushi-type rices, and as such will be quite sticky. See the chart here for the NanaTsuboshi variety (orange, near centre), to compare to some other types in the chart. The AyaNishiki type is from the JFC company, and is a koshihikari variety, which are sold world-wide and are rather sticky. The NanaTsuboshi rice is also a sticky variety, but less so, I think only grown in Japan.

My guess is that you want something in the upper or lower left quadrants of the chart linked above.

  • 2
    I've often wondered about the rule of thumb (rule of finger?) for the water since I first heard about it. I don't get why that should work. It means the water to rice ratio is dependent on the shape of the pot and amount of rice. Am I overthinking it or is there something about how rice cooks that I'm missing?
    – JimmyJames
    Commented May 8 at 17:14
  • 2
    @JimmyJames Kind of, it's a general rule for the absorption method. I think (i.e. no evidence) it came about because most rice cooking pots are about the same shape profile. It's not going to work well if you use a small amount of rice in a large pot, but most people aim to have a pot about 1/2 or more full after cooking, so it works with those volumes.
    – bob1
    Commented May 8 at 20:28
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    @JimmyJames the amount of water that is absorbed depends on the amount of rice, but the amount of water that evaporates does not, with the rate of evaporation being proportional to the surface area of the water. Assuming a pot with constant cross-sectional area (e.g. something like the cylinders commonly used) this means the amount of water lost to evaporation in a set cooking time is (roughly) constant
    – Tristan
    Commented May 9 at 13:14
  • 1
    The key thing is that it recognises the relationship between the amount of rice and the amount of water needed is a linear relationship (of the form W = aR + c where W is the amount of water and R the amount of rice) and not simply a proportional one (of the form W = aR where W is the amount of water and R the amount of rice)
    – Tristan
    Commented May 9 at 13:15
  • 1
    @Tristan This method of cooking rice is called the absorption method and is pretty standard across the rice eating communities around the world. The amount of water over the rice is mostly taken up by absorption into the rice, only a small fraction is lost to evaporation. You can also boil in an excess of water and then strain off the remaining liquid.
    – bob1
    Commented May 9 at 19:55

Here is a simple way to make white rice if you do not have a rice cooker. Measure a generous double the amount of water to rice. Pour in the rice, sprinkle a bit of salt in and stir. Then boil the water with the rice. After the water boils to a rolling boil, turn the heat down to medium low and cook about 13 minutes COVERED. Turn off the heat and leave it covered for 10 minutes. Rice should be perfectly fluffy and not sticky.

  • 3
    Fascinating - I think the point here is in "my" approach I boil it a lot. IE I "keep boiling it hard until the covered phase begins". Here we see "cook it only gently until the covered phase" .. I will try it
    – Fattie
    Commented May 8 at 11:03
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    I can confirm @suse's method- it simple and works almost every time.
    – Rsf
    Commented May 10 at 8:56
  • +1 for the overall method, in particular turning it down to lower heat once it’s reached an initial boil. (The explanation I’ve heard is that once the rice has started to cook, stirring or a rolling boil will release a lot more starches into the water, causing stickiness.) I’d add that the proportion of water needed varies depending on rice variety. For most white rice varieties I’ve used, “double” is a lot and would make it very sticky — I usually expect closer to one-and-a-half, plus just a little extra for evaporation if in a wider/shallower pan.
    – PLL
    Commented May 10 at 9:19
  • I also use just a little over 1.5 water to rice… but I think the critical issue is how tight your lid is. (If it looses a lot of steam, you might need more).
    – Joe
    Commented May 10 at 11:54

I usually like fluffy rice more and use the following method that comes out pretty consistently considering I don't have a rice cooker:

  • Use basmati or jasmin rice, i.e., long grained rice varieties
  • Rinse rice in cold water several times until water runs pretty clear
  • add about 1.25 times the amount of rice in water to the rinsed rice (so in total it might be close to 1.5 times amount of water to rice)
  • add some salt to rice
  • distribute rice evenly under water
  • bring rice to a boil and let cook for 2-3 minutes
  • turn off heat (when using an electric cooktop) or turn to very low (gas or induction) and immediately cover with a lid. If foam starts to develop, the rice wasn't washed properly enough, you can slightly lift the lid and blow on the foam to collapse it. Alternatively, place a clean kitchen towel over the pot, pulled taut, under the lid to prevent overflowing.
  • let the rice steam for 15-20 minutes undisturbed
  • once done, fluff it up with a fork to release steam

Occasionally it "magically" comes out fluffy. Generally it comes out sticky... would it be possible, given the process I describe, for someone to explain to me how to get fluffy consistently?

I know your post asks specifically about fluffiness, but to me the main issue here is the inconsistency.

As for cooking procedure, I'd do the following:

  1. Wash the rice until clear, then strain and set aside.
  2. Add the ratio-specified amount of water to a pot and set your stovetop to maximum temperature to reach a boil quickly. (Now is also a good time to add your salt and butter/oil/etc.)
  3. As soon as the water reaches a good boil, add the already-washed-and-strained rice. That should cool the liquid a bit; so give a quick stir to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom while waiting for the liquid to get back to boiling.
  4. As soon as the water reaches a boil again, reduce the stovetop temperature to a lower setting to and let the rice cook at a low simmer under a loose-fitting lid for ~20-25 minutes. (A tight-fitting lid propped up slightly by some folded-over paper-towel also works.)
  5. Check the done-ness of the rice more often as that ~20min mark approaches so that you can turn off the heat and not burn the rice. (Unless you are aiming to get more of that Okoge(Japan)/Tahdig(Iran)/etc. crispiness at the bottom of the pot.)
  6. Let rest for a few minutes, then fluff the rice with a paddle/fork/etc. and serve.

The above should improve your consistency (and hopefully your ability to get fluffy results) in a number of ways:

  1. Washing helps remove loose dry starch from the surface of the grains. Considering you are already doing a decent bit of washing, I'd consider "washing until absolutely-totally-crystal-clear" as a "diminishing returns" improvement area that is unlikely to be the issue. (But being a bit more thorough while troubleshooting/experimenting can't hurt.)
  1. Rice-to-water ratio is very important when using any "cook until the water is gone" procedures. Even ignoring the differing amount of water that gets absorbed by the rice, "excess water" will correspond to "excess cooking time" (in a "this is overdone and mushy" kind of way) and "too little water" will correspond to "too little cooking time" (in a "there's a difference between al dente and raw" kinda way). This is somewhat forgiving in that ratios (depending on variety) are typically given to a 2:1 or 3:4 level of precision as opposed to some NASA-like 1.996:1.000 specification, but enough care should be taken so as not to do something like 1.75:1 or 2.25:1 when 2:1 is called for.
  1. & 3. Starting with boiling and minimizing the bring-to-a-boil time is about reducing the amount of "soaking" and "bringing to temperature" time. More soak time can definitely change the cook times and water requirements of the items you are cooking. Starting from boiling is the easiest way to minimize that (and is why pasta-boxes tell you to toss the pasta into boiling water).
  1. Reducing temperature to a simmer and not stirring reduces the amount of agitation happening in the pot. Allowing the rice to basically cook and absorb in place rather than bounce around loosely means that the rice isn't sloughing off more and more outer starch as it gets softer and softer.

If you do the procedure above, I think you'll get those "magical" results consistently enough that you can learn where to "be lazy" and cut corners on a few of the less-important "diminishing returns" steps.

If I had to bet money, I'd guess that (4) will be the step that gives the largest gain in improvement over your outlined methods. Minimizing all of the agitation of the vigorous-boil and stirring should lead to less starches sloughing off the outer layers of your rice grains. (Think of it in reverse, you wouldn't add a rice-flour slurry to your pot to get "fluffy" rice, would you?)

Other than that, if you really like being lazy about your rice, I'd heartily recommend a rice cooker.

The fancy-pants brand-name ones are all the rage, but even those one-switch $30 cost-of-a-basic-toaster models do a great job for soooooo little effort.

  • totally agreed on the Inconsistency ....
    – Fattie
    Commented May 8 at 20:47
  • i can bet money :) : )
    – Fattie
    Commented May 8 at 20:48
  • point (3) would be a HUGE change for me, good thinking. that is clealry a massive diff.
    – Fattie
    Commented May 8 at 20:48
  • @Fattie The "add rice to boiling water" step is a big difference in procedure... BUT the amount of difference it'll make (assuming you have a decent stove) won't be much different from using cold water versus warm water when filling the pot by your original method. It is a way to improve consistency/reproducibility, but I think it's going to be a much smaller factor than the "don't stir" plan from (4). You want individual grains, not a risotto, so don't stir all that starch loose like you would for a risotto.
    – DotCounter
    Commented May 9 at 16:00
  • hmm, actually you're probably right, it takes as little as a minute to go from tap temperature to boiling .. good call
    – Fattie
    Commented May 9 at 18:05

My method is rather different but it seems to work.

I use basmati rice. I usually soak it for around 10 minutes but am not sure if it makes much difference. Probably because I add the rice to a lot of boiling water, and a lot of salt - most of it is thrown away, perhaps three times the volume of the rice. And cook it for only six minutes, keeping it boiling, enough to keep the rice in suspension.

Drain through a collander or sieve for two or three minutes, washing with some warm water used to clear out the saucepan. I think it continues to cook. Then use a slotted spoon to transfer to the serving dish, or plate, dropping the rice from height to break it up and keep it fluffy.

Perhaps not so eco friendly because it does use a lot of boiling water.

  • I am definitely going to try this. I actually am VERY INTERESTED ion this method which I think of as the "just boil it like potatoes" method. ie, forget the absortion-at-the-end crap: just get a huge amount of boiling water, put it in for as long as needed, and then take it out. I experimented with this once or twice. This is a great thought.
    – Fattie
    Commented May 9 at 13:39
  • I've seen this method recommended on the back of some rice packets. It's like cooking pasta, and it definitely works. But why not fully cook the rice before draining?
    – Luciano
    Commented May 10 at 9:34
  • I made a careful chart of the various thoughts in the answers here, with a goal of at first extracting ONE method or focus to address the issue

  • Hence, a single factor, or one-factor-at-a-time approach

  • From this synthesis IMO the top three items were (i) "use less water" then (ii) measure everything scientifically and repeatably rather than a cavalier as-you-feel-it-on-the-day anti-rationalist approach then (iii) the 'even more washing' factor.

  • Hence proceeding only and solely with (i),

"Using less water."

I fully internalized "using less water" and did a number of experiments, IMO the results are "stunning". Taking the lid off this one blew my mind ...

enter image description here

Wow Just Wow.

Everyone on this page who answered or commented should not feel very smug and brilliant !!!

If you click to look at that in close-up, it's physical poetry, every grain "painted" in a just-right small amount of glossy stuff. Wow. What a web site!


Using a rice cooker or electric pressure cooker produces better results than other cooking methods, but you can do several things when cooking rice that will make your rice restaurant quality no matter the cooking method.

Always soak your rice and rinse until water runs clear. The white milky residue that comes off when doing this is starch, which makes rice super sticky and gummy.

Add a teaspoon or two of vinegar to the water you add to the rinsed rice.

Use a 1:1 rice to water ratio. Anything more will make your rice super gummy.

If you have time, cook the rice in a tablespoon of butter or oil before adding water to "toast" the rice. Don't do this more than a few minutes. It will smell similar to popcorn when it is ready for the water to be added.

  • vinegar! I will check it out
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 4 at 11:10

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