There's been a number of news reports recently about possible high concentrations of inorganic arsenic in rice. I heard that Consumer Reports says to cook 1 part rice in 6 parts water to minimise risk:

"We say to use about 6 parts water to 1 part rice," says Michael Hansen, a senior staff scientist at Consumer Reports. "And then drain off the water after it's done."

What!?!? Are they cooking rice soup? The only way I see that helping to reduce arsenic consumption would be to make the worst tasting rice ever so you don't want to eat it!

For years I have always thoroughly rinsed my rice and let it dry for about 10-15 minutes, brought water to a boil in a small saucepan (just under 2 parts water for 1 part rice) and then added the rice, covered, and cooked on low heat for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes I don't drain anything, I just server the rice. It's always perfectly cooked.

Is Consumer Reports really correct about 6 parts water to 1 part rice!? Would the rice be any good cooked with that much water? If so, would I need to do anything differently?

  • 2
    We tend to avoid "health" related issues around here, but to comment on the actual rice cooking part, I suspect you could cook rice with that much water. As long as you drain it before it gets too soft, it would be cooked properly, and the water would in theory leech away any impurities. What will change, is you'll probably also leech away much of the starch, and result in less sticky rice. I'm putting all this as a comment, as I'm merely speculating here...
    – talon8
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 16:46
  • OK, Sorry @talon8! I'm not new to Stack Exchange but am new to this site. (New as in, haven't been able to think of questions and don't know enough to answer any :-) If this is OT I will gladly delete. It's not specifically a health topic, but it is somewhat.
    – Josh
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 16:56
  • I've only seen British people do this boil and drain method, and I can say the taste was not what I would hope for or expect in rice. I prefer the boil-to-steaming method that you use.
    – JasonTrue
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 17:01
  • 1
    I think your question focusing on the cooking method recommended is perfectly fine and on topic, I was merely stating that I was going to just bypass the arsenic part, sorry for the confusion!
    – talon8
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 17:41
  • There's also the 'boil in bag' type minute rice, where you effectively do the boil-and-drain thing, so it's not just a British thing.
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 18:21

1 Answer 1


I am accustomed to the boil-and-drain method of cooking rice. If you like your rice very soft/mushy, you can even cook rice 3.5:1 and wait until all water has evaporated on moderate-to-low heat (this is how my grandma always does it). The texture is different from the aldente 2:1 rice common in the USA, but I think the preference is a matter of habit.

It is perfectly possible to boil and then drain rice, although 6:1 is an uncommonly high ratio of water to rice. Obviously, Consumer Reports are more concerned with leeching contaminants out of the rice than with culinary aspects such as convenience and taste. Still, the rice cooking method exists, and there is no culinary objection against it except that some people don't like the resulting soft texture.

The boil-and-drain method (actually simmer-and-drain) is often combined with first frying the rice in oil until translucent, as for pilaf, but it is not technically required. You can just simmer in salted water until it has reached the desired consistency (depending on the type of rice you used, it will be somewhere on the spectrum between soft separate grains and a sticky soft mass where you have trouble separating the grains), then remove from the heat and drain. Add your aroma after the draining, as you don't want to throw it out with the water.

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