Follow my tips for how to cook basmati rice perfectly every time! Tender, fluffy, and fragrant, this no-fail basmati rice recipe comes together in just 20 minutes. And it easy to make on the stovetop, but if you like, I included the rice cooker method as well.
What is basmati rice?
First, what is the difference between white rice and basmati rice? Basmati rice is a fragrant, delicious long-grain white rice. It is actually the longest grain of any rice! Basmati is traditionally grown in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. It is used a lot in South Asian cooking but it is also popular in parts of the Middle East.
When cooked properly, basmati rice is light, tender and fluffy - not sticky like other types of rice. This, combined with its fragrant taste, makes it a versatile rice to serve as a simple side that will go with virtually anything or as a bed to your favorite saucy dishes and stews.
You do not have to soak basmati rice before cooking, and it is easy to make on the stovetop in just 20 minutes! One of the easiest rice recipes you'll make!
What you'll need to make it
For the perfect basmati rice recipe, you only need four key ingredients--rice, extra virgin olive oil, water or broth, and Kosher salt. If you choose, you can add some additional flavors. Here are the ingredients I used in this recipe.
- Basmati rice - I have used both the Royal brand and Dunar brand with success, but you may find other options in your grocery store.
- Olive oil - While not a traditional ingredient, adding a splash of high-quality extra virgin olive oil is one of my secrets to making fragrant, tasty basmati rice.
- Water or Broth as your cooking liquid.
- Kosher salt - Salt is essential for flavoring the rice.
- Cardamom pods and dry bay leaf - optional for additional flavor
Let me share a few tips that will help you make tender, fluffy, perfect basmati rice every time...
Tips for no-fail basmati rice recipe
- Rinse basmati rice very well before cooking. Wash a few times (4 to 5) until the water runs clear. This will help remove starch from the surface of the grains. Starch is what makes cooked rice sticky and gummy, so for fluffy rice, it is important to remove the starch.
- Use the right amount of cooking liquid. The ratio of basmati rice to cooking liquid (water or broth) is 1 cup of rice to 1 ½ cups of liquid. Any more or less will affect the texture of the rice.
- Use a non-stick pot. To avoid any potential issues of rice sticking to the bottom of your pot, just use a non-stick pot.
- Toast the rice before adding water. I like to start by toasting the rice in extra virgin olive oil first, this is not traditional but a great way to elevate the flavor and play up the nuttiness of the rice.
- Add flavor. Season the rice well with Kosher salt. And if you like to add more flavor, try adding cardamom pods or bay leaf (this is completely optional).
- Allow the rice to rest before serving. Once the rice is fully cooked, let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. It is tempting to remove the lid and immediately serve, but I've found these few minutes of rest essential in cooking perfectly fluffy and tender rice (I do the same with my Lebanese rice with vermicelli)
Now, with these tips in mind, here are the steps for how to make basmati rice (the print-friendly recipe to follow).
How to make basmati rice
In this recipe, you will use 1 cup of basmati rice to 1 ½ cups of water, this ratio of rice to liquid is important. Here is how to make basmati rice on the stovetop:
- Rinse the rice. Rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Do not skip this step, it is crucial that you rinse the rice however many times it takes for the water to run clear.
- Toast with olive oil. In your cooking pot or saucepan, heat a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high and toss the rice to coat. This is a great way to amp up the flavor!
- Add water and seasoning. Add the water to the pot. If you're seasoning the rice with cardamom pods or bay leaves, add them now as well.
- Cook the rice. Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Cover the pot and do not remove the lid for 15 to 20 minutes. During this time the rice will cook through and absorb all the liquid.
- Let rest and serve. Turn the heat off but leave the rice covered and undisturbed for 5 more minutes. If you added cardamom pods or bay leaves, remove them before serving, then fluff the rice with a fork and enjoy!
How long to cook basmati rice?
If you follow my basmati rice recipe and tips, your rice should take 15 to 20 minutes to cook on the stovetop. Budget 5 minutes more to allow the rice to rest before serving.
Basmati in the rice cooker
If you prefer to cook make it a rice cooker, you can absolutely do that. I don't use a rice cooker, but I have been able to borrow one to try this recipe. You'll combine the rice and rest of the ingredients in your rice cooker. Cover your rice cooker and select the normal (regular/sushi) setting. (Be sure to review your rice cooker safety instructions).
In general, basmati rice is one of my go-to quick sides. You can pair it with anything from Mediterranean-Style Sauteed Zucchini and Shrimp or lamb kabobs, or use it as a bed for your saucy dishes like cilantro lime chicken, vegetable tagine, Moroccan fish, Dopiazeh Aloo (Persian Potato Curry), chicken stew...and more.
Since leftovers store well, it's easy to keep extra in the fridge or freezer for a quick side dish when you need it!
How to store leftover cooked basmati
Basmati rice will keep well for about 5 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Be sure to allow the rice to cool before placing it in the fridge.
You can easily reheat your rice in the microwave but I prefer to do so on the stovetop. Add a tiny bit of water, cover and reheat on low.
Can I freeze cooked rice?
You can also freeze your cook basmati rice. Allow it to cool completely - you can even leave it in the fridge overnight - then transfer to freezer bags or containers. Freezing rice in single servings is ideal as you'll always have just enough whenever you need it! It will last for up to 3 months in the freezer.
There's no need to defrost frozen rice before reheating - you can even reheat it in the microwave (covered). Just add a splash or two of water to avoid drying it out.
More rice recipes
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No-Fail Basmati Rice Recipe (two ways)
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cups water
- kosher salt
- 3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed, optional
- 2 dry bay leaves, optional
- Put the rice in a bowl and rinse with cold water 4 to 5 times or until the water runs clear.
Basmati Rice Stovetop Method
- In a medium cooking pot or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers a bit, add the rice. Toss for a bit until the rice is well coated with the oil. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt.
- Add the water, and if using, add the cardamom pods and bay leaves.
- Bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat to low and cover the pot and leave it alone for 15 to 20 minutes. The rice will cook through and absorb all the water.
- Turn the heat off. Leave the rice covered and undisturbed for 5 more minutes. Remove the cardamom pods and bay leaves before you fluff the rice up with a fork and serve it.
Basmati Rice- Rice Cooker Method
- Put the rice in your rice cooker. Season with kosher salt and add the oil and water. Stir to combine. (you can add the cardamom pods or bay leaves, if using).
- Cover the rice cooker with the lid securely. Follow the rice cooker use safety instructions. If your cooker has several settings, select the normal (regular/sushi) setting and turn it on.
- When the rice is ready, allow it to sit in the rice cooker undisturbed for a few minutes longer before you fluff and serve it.
- What brand of rice to use? I have used both the Royal brand and Dunar brand with success, but you may find other options in your grocery store.
- Rinse the rice very well before cooking. Do not skip rinsing the rice, it makes all the difference to the texture of the rice.
- For rice cooker: I do not own a rice cooker myself, but I have been able to borrow one to try this recipe. Your rice cooker will come with tips and instructions, be sure to review those for best results and for your safety.
- Leftovers & Storage: Let the rice cool completely and transfer any leftovers to a tight-lid glass container to store in the fridge. If stored properly, basmati rice will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
- Visit our shop for quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils and spices.