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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

How to Fix Undercooked Rice



Let’s face it – rice ends up overcooked more often than some of us would like to admit. There are a number of reasons why this happens, but the most common one is that you’re in a hurry and want to eat it right away.

Don’t worry – we won’t tell!

Instead, we’re going to take a little time today to tell you how to fix undercooked rice so that you can teach yourself some good habits to make that hard rice or chewy, crunchy rice a thing of the past. All it takes is a few simple techniques and a little patience on your part, so read on and we’ll tell you how it’s done!

Bottom Line Up Front

The biggest culprits in undercooked rice scenarios are the water ratio, improper heating, or simply not heating it long enough. Brown and wild rice, for instance, need more water and more time – with water, it’s 2 cups of water for every cup of medium or short-grained or 1 ¾ cup for each cup of long-grain, and the cooking time is 45 to 50 minutes.

It can be more complicated than that, however, so be sure to read on and we’ll paint you a more perfect picture!

Why is my rice always undercooked?

A square bowl of rice on a wooden surface
A square bowl of rice on a wooden surface.

If your rice always seems to come out undercooked, then you’ll want to go through a quick mental checklist. Before you can fix hard rice, here are some questions that you’ll need to ask yourself:

  • How much water are you adding?
  • How are you heating it?
  • Are you letting it steam for 10 minutes?
  • Is it undercooked and gooey?

How much water are you adding?

If you aren’t putting the correct amount of water in your rice, then you’re probably seeing that the pot has run out of water inside, and stopping the cook prematurely to avoid burning. This is a very common mistake, so let’s go over the proper amounts of water that you should be used per cup of various kinds of rice.

Type of RiceWater needed per 1 cup of rice
White rice (short grain)1 ¼ cup of water
White rice (long grain)2 cups of water
Jasmine rice1 ¾ cups of water
Basmati rice1 cup of water
Brown rice (medium and short grain)2 cups of water
Brown rice (long grain)1 ¾ cups of water
Wild rice2 cups of water

Starting off with the right amount of water is important, so be sure to try simply measuring out these amounts to see if this makes a difference in your next cook!

How are you heating it?

When you’re hungry, it’s tempting to just set the heat on high and try to boil up the rice as fast as you can, but this is not a good idea at all. When you are cooking your rice in the pot, what you need to do is to get the water to boiling, and after that, reduce the heat to a low simmer and then cover up the pot.

After that, just cook it for the amount of time on your package and let it sit afterward for a good 10 minutes (more on this shortly!). Rushing through your cook can mess with your water ratio, as it only takes about 5 minutes to reach boiling and after that, 20 minutes of boiling can evaporate an entire cup of water in an uncovered pot.

So, avoid this by simply bringing it to a boil and then reducing it to a covered simmer, followed by 10 minutes of sitting covered so that the heat and steam inside can finish the job.

Also, are you trying to use a pressure cooker, instant pot, crock pot, rice cooker, or just a pot? The cooker you are attempting to make the rice in will matter a lot as well since their heating abilities will be different.

Beyond this, the time that you are heating it is also a big factor.

Type of RiceHow long to cook
White rice (short grain)15 minutes
White rice (long grain)18 – 20 minutes
Jasmine rice15 – 20 minutes
Basmati rice18 – 20 minutes
Brown rice (medium and short grain)40 – 50 minutes
Brown rice (long grain)40 – 50 minutes
Wild rice45 – 50 minutes

Use these guidelines to make sure that you are applying the right amount of heat for the right amount of time and you should definitely get better results!

Are you letting it steam for 10 minutes?

Another hunger-based mistake is trying to eat your rice too early by skipping the final ‘steaming step’. After every cook, you want to let your rice sit for a good 10 minutes so that the remaining water may be absorbed by the rice, and the residual heat and steam will cook it to perfection.

While this can be difficult, it’s actually much better for your health – undercooked rice can give you food poisoning if you are very unlucky – so don’t skip this crucial step in making your rice.

Is it undercooked and gooey?

If your rice is coming out undercooked and also incredibly gooey, then you’ll want to move your rice to a colander so that you can give it a rinse in the sink. The gooey part has to do with starch in the rice and you’ll see it the most with white rice, where there are additional nutrients added and a lot of starch produced in the refining process.

After the rinse, put your rice back into the pot and add ¾ of the water that you did before (to compensate for the already wet rice), and continue your cook. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, and then let it sit uncovered for 10 minutes.

How to fix undercooked rice

An orange bowl of rice on a green background
An orange bowl of rice on a green background.

Now that you have a little knowledge of the most common causes of consistently-undercooked rice, we’ve compiled a list of the most common methods for fixing it if you are still running into trouble. Be sure to learn each one – it never hurts to have a new trick up your sleeve, after all, and by experimentation, you’ll soon find a favorite, and undercooked rice will be a thing of the past!

Verify the water ratio and keep cooking

The easiest fix has to do with when you look in the pot and it’s run out of water, but the rice is still a little chewy in the middle (or ‘al dente’, if you want to be fancy).

In this scenario, you simply need to add ¼ cup of boiling water to the pot and then put your lid back on the rice. Let it cook for another 5 minutes, then allow it to sit for 10, and check your rice. Repeat as needed, but usually, if your cook is ‘close’ this will fix it in one go!

If you still have a little liquid already in the bottom of the pot, then you need to give it a chance to do its job, so you’ll want to let it simmer for 5 more minutes with the lid on. Let it sit for 10 minutes after that and then check it – sometimes this is all it takes!

Microwave your rice to avoid burning

If your rice is out of the water and still undercooked, and you are afraid that trying to continue the cook with your pot will result in burning, then you could always take advantage of your microwave for finishing the cook without that risk.

To do this, simply move that wet rice to a large, microwave-safe, and lidded container, put the lid on, and microwave it for about 2 minutes on normal heat. This works well, because the microwave works by heating the water molecules, which will turn into steam and should cook your rice perfectly.

Let it sit for a few minutes before you check it and if it’s still undercooked, then you can repeat the process. If it’s undercooked and seems very dry, then try adding 2 – 3 tablespoons of water per cup of rice and then heating it for 2 minutes this way.

With the lid on, all of the water will be used and absorbed, and as long as you don’t overdo the water volume then you should end up with some excellent, yummy rice.

Bake it in the oven

If you don’t have a microwave and you don’t want to use the pot, you can always finish your cook in the oven! To do this, start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and while it’s heating up, get a glass baking container and move your rice into it.

Using a plastic or wooden spoon. spread the rice so that it’s all one even layer, but don’t push down too much on it – we want it to be ‘loose’, rather than tightly compacted. After that, simply bake it uncovered for approximately 10 minutes and with a little luck, this will do the trick nicely.

This works best when your rice is still wet, but doesn’t have a lot of excess water, so if there is a little extra liquid then you might want to drain it a little before giving it a bake in the oven.

Fixing undercooked rice in your rice cooker

With a rice cooker, you can still fix undercooked rice, but it’s a little tricky. First, you need to check the water amount to make sure that there is still a little liquid inside and if there is, then you should continue the cook.

You’ll want to do this for just a few minutes at a time – rice can still burn in a rice cooker if the timed cook has started failing on you. Usually, rice cookers will have a preset that never fails, so you may want to consider getting a new one if it has started failing on you as of late.

While they typically last for many years, if the heating element is having issues or something else is wrong, then replacement of the rice cooker is usually the best policy. Check to see if your warranty is valid and if it’s not, then consider replacement you can cook for 3-5 minute intervals in the meantime in an attempt to compensate for the issue.

Fry your rice

If your rice is coming out undercooked in the pot, you could always finish the cook in the form of a wok stir-fry if you like! Give the rice a rinse in the colander first and after that, add a little oil to your wok and give it stir fry for a few minutes before reducing the heat, followed by adding a little broth or water, and covering up the wok like you’re making fried rice.

Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes and then check the consistency – if it’s cooked, then enjoy, but if it’s still a little chewy in the center, then just give it another 5 minutes simmering and everything should be golden!


Undercooked rice is definitely a pain, so to help ‘hedge your bets’ a little on salvaging your meal, we’ve gathered up some frequently asked questions that can help to seal the deal. These are questions that we get all of the time on the subject of undercooked rice and we’ve tried to include a nice range to help fill in the gaps that we might have missed along the way.

Without further ado, here are those questions and our answers!

What happens if I eat slightly undercooked rice?

Eating undercooked rice is a bad idea.

The problem has to do with spores that are often present in uncooked rice called ‘bacillus cereus’ and when rice is not fully cooked, they can quickly start multiplying. At room temperature, this is the fastest, as a Bacillus cereus colony can double itself in just 20 minutes!

This can result in a stomachache, diarrhea, or even severe food poisoning if you are very unlucky, so it’s definitely not worth the risk to eat undercooked rice. Take advantage of the tips that we’ve shared today and finish the cook!

Are there any fun ways to fix gummy, undercooked rice?

Gummy rice isn’t always a bad thing and if you are frustrated, one additional way to fix that gummy rice is to take advantage of it by whipping up a nice rice pudding. To do this, simply add a little milk, sugar, cinnamon, and a drop or two of vanilla extract, and then continue the cook for another 10 minutes.

Check the rice and if it’s soft in the center, then your delicious dessert is ready and the gumminess will actually be a plus!

How do you fix undercooked rice in jambalaya?

Undercooked rice is easy to fix in jambalaya. It’s just a matter of slowly adding more water or stock to the dried, undercooked rice, and continuing your cook on a simmer until the rice finally softens all the way through.

Be patient – don’t crank up the heat, or you’re liable to scorch it – just be patient with the cook and let it simmer, checking the rice every 5 minutes until it’s softened properly and you’re good to go!

Why is my brown rice always undercooked?

The biggest reason for consistently-undercooked brown rice is simply making the mistake of cooking it at the same time as you would with white, jasmine, or basmati. Brown rice takes 40 to 50 minutes to cook, as it’s got a hard bran shell to it and needs longer to soften up properly for consumption.

Make sure that you are using the right amount of water as well, 1 ¾ cups of water per 1 cup of long grain brown rice, and 2 cups of water per every cup of rice for medium and short-grained varieties.

Finally, always bring it to a boil and then IMMEDIATELY reduce the heat to a simmer, placing the lid on top when the 45 to 50 minutes have elapsed, then let it sit covered for 10 minutes and it should come out perfectly just about every time.

How do I stop undercooking rice in my microwave?

If you find that you are consistently undercooking your rice in the microwave and you’re tired of those ‘2-minute correction’ recipes that always follow, then you might want to consider investing in a microwave steamer like this one from Sistema. What you get is a large, lidded, plastic bowl that is designed to microwave your rice perfectly every time, and you can even steam veggies in it.

While it feels like ‘cheating’, these bowls are actually quite nice, as they provide a small, pressurized environment so that you can simply add your rice, add water, and then set your cooking time and it will steam your rice perfectly each and every time. It saves a lot of hassle, really, so if you keep getting undercooked rice then a microwave rice cooker is an inexpensive way to save yourself a whole lot of hassle.

Wrapping up on how to fix undercooked rice

Avoiding undercooked rice is mostly a matter of making an internal checklist for yourself. Ask first if you are using the right amount of water and cooking the rice for the recommended amount of time. After that, are you heating it to boiling and then immediately reducing it to a simmer?

Finally, are you letting it sit for 10 minutes after you are done? If you are doing all of these things and still having problems, then you might consider a microwave rice cooker, or you can simply use the tips that we’ve given you today to help correct the issue for now and to develop useful habits that will help you to avoid the problem in the future.

Just be patient with the process and don’t forget to have a little fun with it. We all have our own cooking strengths and weaknesses and you’d be surprised how often you’ll meet a cook that can whip up a perfect baklava but who occasionally still under or overcook their rice.

Practice makes perfect and with the techniques we’ve shared today it’s just a matter of time before you’re making perfect cooked rice every time – just be patient with the process and you’ll get there!

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: David McLemore

David learned to cook at an early age after his mother told him that he couldn't live on pizza forever, Dave uses his modest kitchen skills to recreate sorely-missed recipes from home and to occasionally make new favorite ones from places he is visiting.

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