Very simple question: as a general rule of thumb, is it better to

A) put the rice into cold water and then bring to a boil together or

B) bring the water to a boil, then add rice and then cook until the rice is done?

Or does it depend on the type of rice and/or desired texture?

  • Are you boiling in excess water then draining? Or boiling/steaming in a pot with all the water ultimately getting absorbed?
    – Cascabel
    Nov 18, 2014 at 1:00
  • boiling/steaming in a pot with all the water ultimately getting absorbed
    – amphibient
    Nov 18, 2014 at 1:00
  • The important point that all answers are missing, is the "why". I want to know why the water needs to reach boiling point before adding rice. Why is it different from pre-soaking rice for 30min or why is it different from putting it in cold water and boiling. We could consider one variety of rice as a baseline.
    – Nav
    May 16, 2021 at 11:45

4 Answers 4


In his section on cooking rice, Wayne Gisslen makes a couple of frank statements which deserve to be restated here (Essentials of Professional Cooking).


There seems to be very little agreement among chefs regarding the best ways to cook rice.

And second,

Everyone agrees that the key to properly cooked rice is correct proportions of rice to water and correct cooking times. Unfortunately, no one agrees on what those proportions and times should be.

So the expert is telling us that, no, there is no rule of thumb. We are wise to acknowledge that there exists so wide a variety of opinions on this subject that neither here nor really anywhere is anyone likely to give/find an assessment capable of bridging those several gulfs, capable of laying down that which is definitive. Each of many answers at variance with one another can still class as a right answer.

I personally never obtain anything other than perfect results by bringing an oversupply of water to a boil, briskly stirring in the rice, pouring off what my eyes deem to be just the right amount of water at just the right stage of cooking, reducing the heat for a few more minutes of cook time, and then removing and covering to allow the residual heat to finish the job. But as my results do not seem in any way superior to anyone else's using alternate or more traditional methods, I do not attempt to claim them anything but more convenient to achieve.

  • 4
    Oh my goodness :) You make me think of my favorite author, Victor Hugo. Did you know that he and Dickens both got paid by the word? That would probably explain why an unabridged, hardcover edition of Les Miserables weighs more than my first car. You could just say it probably doesn't make all that much difference whether or not you boil the water before you add the rice. +1 just for making me laugh.
    – Jolenealaska
    Nov 18, 2014 at 3:38
  • 1
    Just as my dear sister would say and intend, appropriately, as a compliment. Thanks @Jolenealsaka! Turns of phrase like the final sentence in the penultimate paragraph don't come easy;), but neither does a sense for what ought be said. Nov 18, 2014 at 4:46
  • I'm all for enjoying writing here. Just try to also keep in mind that we also get a lot of visitors coming from Google looking for an direct answer to their question, and a lot of them (and our regular users, for that matter) speak English as a second language.
    – Cascabel
    Nov 18, 2014 at 17:09

Bring the water to a boil with salt (and butter if desired). Stir in rice, bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly just as the boiling slows to a simmer. That works for all types of rice, whether or not you've rinsed or soaked it.

  • interestingly, that is how i get near perfect basmati. but a sushi rice recipe i recently followed called for the rice to be put into water and then brought to a boil together. the sushi rice came out really good that way
    – amphibient
    Nov 18, 2014 at 2:10
  • 2
    @amphibient I have done that also for sushi rice because the recipe said so. I've also made sushi rice as above, but with soaked rice. Both worked fine.
    – Jolenealaska
    Nov 18, 2014 at 2:19

Being an Indian, rice has been important part of my meal since childhood. The only best way which I have seen my grandmom, mom, etc. following is:

  1. Soak the cleaned rice first for few minutes, even as less as 15 minutes will do.
  2. Then put it in a pot along with cold water and let it boil on a low flame until the water disappears and holes are formed in the rice.

The amount of water depends on the type of rice being used. Basmati generally cooks in less water around 1:2 proportion where for one bowl of rice 2 bowls of water shall be used. And sushi rice and other varieties may take 3 bowls of water for the same amount.

The reason why I consider this method to be the best is it helps in saving energy as you cook everything together. Believe me this way you will definitely save time too.


My wife taught me to cook rice the way her family does it in Punjab.

As mentioned in other answers, rinse the rice in cold water, GENTLY stirring it so as not to break it up. I tend to drain the water and re-rinse it 4 or 5 times until the water is running clear.

  • Then, in a pan heat up a small amount of oil while getting the kettle on the boil.
  • Put the rice in and gently fold over in the oil, then immediately add exactly two times as much water as you did rice. E.g. 2 cups if you have 1 cup of rice.
  • Now make sure no rice has stuck to the bottom, bring back to the boil until the water is level with the rice. Now cover with a lid, turn the heat right down to the lowest setting and leave for 10 minutes.

** DO NOT STIR. **

After 10 minutes, turn off the heat, leave fur a further 5 minutes.

That's it! I've made great perfect rice so many times since then, no more sticky gloopy rice.

Tip: For a bit of extra flavour fry some cumin seeds and frozen peas in the oil before adding the rice!

  • Hi! I am sure your rice tastes good, but I don't see how a recipe for a specific type of rice cooking answers the question. The OP wanted to know the difference between starting the rice in cold and warm water (and, between the lines, you can also see that it assumes a non-pilaf method).
    – rumtscho
    Nov 18, 2014 at 11:01
  • Hello again. After a discussion with other users, I agreed with them that your answer technically fits the guidelines. So I'm undeleting. Still, I think it could be improved a lot if it addressed the question directly instead of just offering a random recipe.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 18, 2014 at 16:34
  • Thanks rumtscho, apologies if I misread the question! I thought the original question was specifically asking 'which is better' rather than asking for the pros and cons of each... I've used the above method for all kinds of rice (with great results) and was under the impression that this was just a way of cooking rice rather than a particular recipe. I thought pilaf rice (the recipe) was specifically cooking rice with other ingredients, I use the method I described to cook plain rice. But what I love about stackexchange is that my answer can quite rightly be downvoted if consensus agrees :-)
    – JLo
    Nov 19, 2014 at 13:52
  • p.s. why did i get +10 reputation for this answer? I don't mind if it's not the preferred answer, I just wanted to share the revelation I had when I was taught this method, but as it hasn't been upvoted I'm confused why I have +10 for it..
    – JLo
    Nov 19, 2014 at 13:53
  • It's somewhat of a grey zone. You are basically saying "this recipe/method makes good rice", and I saw it as quite far removed from a comparison of which is "better", as in your interpretation. But, with the others seeing it as good enough, I thought undeleting is the correct thing to do. As for the reputation, you have one upvote and zero downvotes on the answer. When you get more reputation you will also be able to see the distinct up- and downvotes, for now you can see the sum displayed on the top left part of the post between the arrows.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 19, 2014 at 15:53

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