Every time I cook brown rice (in a traditional pot, or in my new rice cooker), large bubbles form and spill over the sides. How can I prevent this?

I found this question, but wasn't able to draw useful advice from the answers.

As a side note, I don't think I used too much water - the rice was cooked exactly how I like it in the rice cooker, and there was no water left over. Also, the brown rice was purchased in bulk from a health food store, and was not soaked or rinsed ahead of time.

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    I've never had my rice boil over when using my rice cooker -- are you sure you're using the right amounts of rice and water? (2:1 for water:rice usually) – Daenyth Oct 28 '10 at 19:49
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    Start rinsing your brown rice. I rinse 3X. The dust that forms when rice is milled, or rubbed in bags during shipping, stabilizes the bubbles from boiling. Get rid of the dust, and the foam goes away in a timely, and less messy fashion. – Wayfaring Stranger Oct 12 '14 at 1:54
  • For those that do wash their rice, there are other techniques to try, too. See cooking.stackexchange.com/q/9857/67 – Joe Jan 29 '19 at 9:54

17 Answers 17


You've stated that you're not washing the rice. That's the reason this is happening.

Water boils over because of starch. Many types of rice (brown rice included) can be very starchy, and this could conceivably cause the water to boil over depending on the amount of rice/water and the size of the pan (or rice cooker).

Washing the rice also helps to prevent the grains from sticking together, so you would want to do this anyway (unless you are actually trying to make sticky rice).

It's very simple to wash the rice; just keep adding and straining out cold water until the water runs clear. You'll probably be surprised at how much starch actually washes off. If you do this, your water should stop boiling over - regardless of temperature.

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    What is the nutritional impact of doing this, though? I hadn't been washing the rice so as to keep all its nutrients intact. – Dov Oct 28 '10 at 16:19
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    @Dov: Not much? It's just loose starch. The bulk of the starch is still inside the grain and besides, starch is not known as one of the most nutritious things to eat. I really would not worry about the nutritional impact; presumably if you're eating rice, most of your nutrition is already coming from whatever the rice is served with. – Aaronut Oct 28 '10 at 16:32
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    @Dov the other impact of not washing your rice before cooking it is that often, rice is dirty. Dried-on-the-side-of-the-highway dirty. – Dan Davies Brackett Oct 28 '10 at 18:55
  • @DDaviesBrackett: Ah, never thought of that... – Dov Oct 28 '10 at 19:04
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    @Dov, my understanding is that white rice (which I haven't made personally in 10 years or so) in the US tends to be fortified with a vitamin powder, and that rinsing before cooking washes all that away. I believe that unpolished / brown rice is not fortified and can be rinsed without losing anything. – anthonyeleven Jul 10 '13 at 18:50

Use a bigger pan, less water and turn the heat down a little.

Use one rice to two water, boil until the bubbles are on the top of the rice, put on a lid, turn off the heat and leave for ten minutes.

After ten minutes, fluff it with a fork and you'll have perfect rice.


the reason why it's boiling over is because it's getting too hot.

either tilt the lid of the pot a little bit so that some of the steam can escape (reducing the pressure, and thereby reducing the temperature) or (as another suggested) turning the heat down a little bit.

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    Won't that cause the rice to cook at a different rate, though? I thought it's the pressure that really cooks it. Also, with the rice cooker, which I'm fond of using, I can't turn the heat down. – Dov Oct 28 '10 at 14:42
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    No, it's heat that's cooking it - and contact with water that's hydrating it. Unless you use a pressure cooker, it won't get hotter than 100°C. Bubbling is just a waste of heat. – slim Jul 1 '13 at 15:02

I reckon this problem can be down to various things, but I thought the solution that worked for me might be worth sharing.

I was using a cheap rice cooker, was washing the rice first, using the correct rice/water ratio, and wasn't over-filling or under-filling the cooker, but still it made a mess of the counter.

What I observed was the mess wasn't coming from the vent hole, but that the steam was lifting the lid, and starchy water would coat the rim of the cooker, when the lid dropped, it spattered the water - a tiny spray, but happening constantly, causing the mess.

I figured the rice-cooker lid wasn't heavy enough, so I tried a cook with a large heavy mug inverted over the handle, to weigh it down. Immediately I got a good strong jet of (clean) steam out of the vent, which I wasn't getting before. The lid no longer rattled, and there was no mess at all, not a drop.

I've since done the same a few times, and haven't had a mess.

Of course, it depends on exactly how your cooker is making a mess, but this worked for me, so it might be worth a try; especially if you are aware that your lid is rattling all through the cook.


Is it not possible to turn the gas down a notch when it starts overflowing?

As another option, you can use a pot with higher sides.

  • Often it's hard to patiently watch it and catch it right when it starts boiling - you could either use a timer to remind yourself, or turn the heat partway down when it's partway to boiling. – Cascabel Oct 28 '10 at 13:24
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    I actually add boiling water from the kettle. So no watching and waiting. – Carmi Oct 28 '10 at 15:19

That used to happen to me, also, using my Aroma 14 cup rice cooker, brown rice setting, and the recommended double the water for each 1/4 cup serving of rice. I agree, there was nothing wrong with the rice - it tasted great and still does. What I did was started lining the bottom and the sides of the pan with cooking spray before beginning. No need to overdo it - a few short sprays will do. I unexpectedly solved that problem, in addition to making the pan easier to clean, which is the problem that I was trying to solved.


I cook a lot of rice and whether I'm doing brown rice or white rice, the formula is basically the same. I don't have a rice cooker, so I have to do everything on the stove. For whatever amount of rice, I put just enough water in so my pointer finger is touching the top of the rice and the water is at my first knuckle. I boil the water on high and then as soon as it starts to boil, I turn the stove down to low. I have an electric stove where the element is a solid, so it retains heat frustratingly well. My solution for that is to move the pot partially off the element, so it's not getting as much of an intense heat when it should be on low.

The pot I use also has a hole for steam to escape, so you can simulate that with a skewer or chopstick propping it open. White rice is generally done in about 10-15 minutes, brown rice a fair bit longer.

Essentially the main key is to lower the temperature of the stove sooner/quicker.


Rice has been a staple in my family as long as I can remember so I've had a lot of experience cooking it on the stove and with various cookers. Basically (if you know your water:rice ratio is correct) the only way to keep rice from boiling over is to either reduce the heat or tip the lid open crack.

Recently my daughter bought a Tatung Mini rice cooker and was frustrated because it boiled over every time no matter what she did, so I "borrowed" it for some experimenting and discovered that this cooker is just extremely HOT! With no way to reduce the heat, I cracked open the lid which cured the boiling over problem. After boiling, the rice is supposed to stand on the warm setting for about 15 minutes to finish, but this cooker is so hot the warm setting burns it on the bottom. My solution is to unplug it as soon as it switches to warm, then let it stand while the rice finishes. Doing this we get beautiful rice every time.


If using a rice maker, you can also spritz with some cooking spray once it is foaming.

I usually rinse well, and with white rice rinsing is often enough. However, I was cooking barley in my rice cooker and it kept foaming over. After reading this thread I sprayed the top with a bit of canola oil and it stopped right away. Yay!


This could be caused by your water quality. My experience is that water direct from a water softener causes the biggest amount of foaming. Using hard water, bottled water, or water from a reverse-osmosis filtered water solved my problems. If you like to wash your rice before cooking, you should also wash only it only in these types of water. Don't let the rice touch the water from the softener.

It is the same reason that it is hard to remove the soap residue from your hands when washing them in softened water.


I usually cook my rice in a microwave safe bowl which I place inside a wider glass bowl. That way when the water inevitably overflows it is caught in the glass bowl, and doesn't make a mess.

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    I really like the convenience of the rice cooker, though, and would rather avoid the mess in the first place than making it easier to clean up. – Dov Oct 28 '10 at 12:44

For a pot put a wooden spoon across the top of it Itll stop it from boiling over well anything from boiling over actually its very simple and easy try it you'll be amazed


Try dipping the edge of the pan with butter.

  • The common version of this is just adding a bit of butter or oil to the liquid. – Cascabel Apr 17 '14 at 2:27

I just watched a YouTube video where it said to brush or spray a line of oil above the water level and it won't boil over. I have a Black and Decker Rice cooker, and there are more complaints about this cooker foaming up through the vent hole and then spraying starchy junk all over the counter and floor...so I'm sure not all rice cookers are created equal. I've also tried just drizzling in a little olive oil when the rice starts to do this in my cooker and it helps...not always but quite a bit.

And it can be helpful to slightly reduce the water, slightly reduce the cooking temp after it reaches a boil, and increase the size of your pot if you are using the stovetop method.


How to keep a rice cooker from boiling over https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsRmzEy8Kdk or keep a wet paper towel over the vent or place a wooden stick or string of rope across the container enter image description here


Well , after few trials I came to the conclusion that u cant do away with the bubbles. But there is a work around. Use a perforated plate on top of the vessel. cook in two stages, i.e. first 5 mins at full power and next 15 mins with half power. I could feed this data at once in my microwave and thats it. Rice cooked fine un attended. Ofcourse using a deep vessel and washing rice nicely also help.


Add a little vinegar to keep rice from foaming over.

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