Almost every time I make rice, I make it for just me and my partner. We've found that the right amount for us is 1/2 a cup (125mL, a regular cup not a rice cooker cup) of uncooked basmati rice. I make it in the microwave, with 1 cup of cold water, uncovered, 10 min on high and 5 min rest, but it's never as good as when I make a whole cup. I've tried varying the cook and rest times, but it only seems to get worse (dryer).

What other ways could I cook such a small amount of rice?

  • 4
    One option, particularly if you eat rice quite a bit is to make as much as always turns out perfect and then freeze the leftovers as per this answer: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/41142/…
    – Jolenealaska
    Mar 7, 2016 at 2:19
  • 5
    There is no reason to believe that a microwave's power would be absolutely linear when cooking different amounts of food. Experiment with a lower power setting (e.g. 80% power) to allow heat to distribute better. Also if the rice is too dry you might need a bit more water. 1/2 cup rice to 1 and 1/8 cups of water for instance.
    – MaxW
    Mar 7, 2016 at 3:26
  • What exactly is wrong with how the rice turns out? It's hard to give accurate suggestions without knowing the problem.
    – verbose
    Jan 19, 2017 at 0:19
  • It's too dry, but it's absorbed all the water.
    – Cathy
    Jan 19, 2017 at 21:23

7 Answers 7


When you microwave on full power you are likely boiling off all the water before it can be absorbed by the rice. When you cook rice on a stove a common method is to bring it to a boil and then turn it down to low, cooking it until the rice is done. I prefer this method as I like the texture you get and once it's cooked you can eat it straight away without any extra process. I would suggest you mimic this method with your microwave by starting on high until it boils and then turning the power way down until it is cooked. On the stove this method requires you cover the pot, not a practical option in the microwave so you need to add some water to make up for the moisture loss.

Another way to cook rice on the stove is to add much more water than you need to cook the rice and boil it until the rice is done, then drain the rice while discarding the extra water. You could also try this method in the microwave very easily. The drawbacks to using this in the microwave is that if it boils over you will end up with a puddle of water on the bottom you have to clean up, and you still have to drain it.

So my advice for dorm room rice is the first method, you just need to experiment with water levels and power settings.

  • 3
    Another thing might be to let the rice pre-soak longer and then cook it. I think that this will help with the moisture content, and pre soaked rice needs less actual water to be cooked in. And this can be done in the microwave as well.
    – JG sd
    Mar 7, 2016 at 17:37

After much experimentation my partner found the answer:

  • ½ cup basmati rice
  • 1¼ cup water
  • 10 minutes on high

The extra 25% water means the rice is cooked through perfectly. I assume with such small quantities the steam vented out of the microwave is more critical and so extra water is needed.


In this case, do you have anything against a very small rice cooker? Most companies will make on that is ideally for 1-2 people. Just checked on amazon.com, and they have a 1 cup model for $35.00. This would be ideal as you only have to add the rice and a set amount of water, press the cook button. Voila you have fresh cooked rice and it will keep it warm. If you make rice at least 3 times a week, I think this would be a good option.

I have a travel rice cooker, which would cook this amount of rice, and even heat something else on top of it. I think it is called "takeru", or "takaru". It is meant to be a very small rice cooker that plugs into the wall. Makes great rice and it takes all of 15 minutes to have a fresh pot of rice. It was on sale at my local japanese market for $12.00, it was just something I had to have at the time.

If you must use the microwave, they actually make microwave rice cookers. It seems by your post that you don't have one that is custom built for the microwave. They too are on amazon.com for under $20.

  • I have something that was sold as a "microwave rice cooker", and leaving it uncovered is the recommendation of the microwave instructions. Is that 1 cup cooked or uncooked? 1 cup uncooked rice is too much. Also, Amazon will not ship to me :(
    – Cathy
    Mar 7, 2016 at 4:07
  • Oh, yes, I still think that a very small rice cooker would do well for you. Or you can do the pot method, but you would need a small and narrow pot. The problem would be it is stable enough on most ranges if you had gas, but probably not a problem on electric. Or as I read another poster is just to make the extra rice and store it in the freezer or something. When you need it you can use the reheat button on the rice cooker or use a steamer to reheat/constitute your rice again.
    – JG sd
    Mar 7, 2016 at 4:44

Your biggest challenge is the very small amount you're cooking, especially at full power.

I've been trying to lessen my children's intake of rice, while not leaving their appetites disappointed. I also use basmati (or occasionally a higher quality dinorado) and to avoid them sneaking 'snacks' of rice, I simply don't cook more than 1/2 a cup at a time.

What I do is make a pilaf of sorts, with quinoa or sometimes couscous filling the other half a cup. I always use a good stock instead of water, preferably one that still has a tad bit of fat in it.

Rice, quinoa and couscous use approximately the same measure of liquid by volume to cook, what you have to watch out for is the cooking time. Quinoa and rice cook at pretty much the same time, couscous and risoni (orzo) require shorter and longer cooking times respectively.

So, this is what I recommend you do:

  • Turn down the power level on your microwave in favor of longer cooking time, even though you're cooking a full cup (even though it's only 1/2 rice). It's too little rice for too much power for too short of a time. Get some fat in there, even if it's just a smidge of butter.

  • Cook the stuff you want in your pilaf separately, first, at 50 - 60% power to figure out how long they actually take to get to the right doneness and consistency. Make notes.

  • Finally, you should have a pretty good idea of how to cook the pilaf

You don't have to make the pilaf, you could just go with plain basmati at a lower power / longer cook with a bit more liquid, but that's still an awfully small amount to cook using microwaves. The root of it is, you need a bit more substance in the dish for it to cook properly using that method.

I have a small 3 - 4 cup rice cooker that I normally use, but even it won't do 1/2 a cup very well, so I still use the microwave for such small amounts. I just put more into it, so it cooks properly and evenly.

  • 2
    "I've been trying to lessen my children's intake of rice" ... WHY? Jan 19, 2017 at 10:39

Despite all your 'good' advice received, it is quite easy to cook 1/2 cup of rice in the microwave. I cook for 1 so I only do 1/2 cup at a time.

in my microwave, which is 1,000 watts, its 4 minutes. I use only jasmine rice so its the only kind i have tried. I throw the rice in any handy bowl. Nothing fancy. add 1 C. water & cook 4 minutes. Leave sit a few mins for to absorb all liquid & finish up. I cover it loosely, you want the steam to escape.


One thing that may work is a small aluminum mug-like pot that are readily available in Asian groceries. They are sized 2 or 3 cups and have lid too, and costs around 7 bucks.

  • 1
    Can you say more about these mugs? I'm guessing it's not microwaveable if it's made from aluminium.
    – Joe
    May 16, 2016 at 2:26
  • 1
    I think they are stainless steel, looks like this: importfood.com/media/cwmk4501_2m.jpg here is a description importfood.com/mugwithlid.html They are not MW safe due to metal, so will not work if OP wants a microwave solution.
    – Ron
    May 16, 2016 at 17:04

I just put any rice in a long microwave plastic dish. I then put whatever seasoning I perfer on the rice. I add about 2 tablespoons of butter or cooking oil. I cover rice with water. I also cover microwave dish leaving a small gap and place in microwave for 20-25 minutes.

At 20-25 minute mark take top off fluff/mixed rice top to bottom and cook with lid off for a few more minutes.

I let rice set for a few minutes before serving my doggy and I. 🙄🐕

I Hate to be in the kitchen so i usually cook an entire or 3/4 filled small bag of rice with this method. You can add onions etc. in rice to cook along.

I used to use a rice cooker it was damaged and out of necessity I experimented cooking rice in the microwave. Some of my absolute best rice has been cooked in the microwave. I find the key to fantastic rice in the microwave is the oil and making sure to fluff rice when just about done.


  • I'm specifically looking to cook a very small quantity of rice, I can make great rice if I'm making 1 cup or more (I've never tried 3/4 of a bag!!).
    – Cathy
    Jan 18, 2017 at 22:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.