Rice is a dietary staple for nearly half the world’s population. Getting perfectly cooked rice on the table quickly is a valuable skill. Stovetop methods can be finicky and rice cookers take up space. Using a microwave rice cooker is the ideal solution for fast, foolproof rice every time.
Microwave rice cookers provide a convenient, affordable, and easy way to cook delicious rice rivaling stovetop or dedicated rice cooker results. The enclosed container allows the rice to steam perfectly in your microwave oven.
With the right rice-to-water ratios and microwaving technique, you can enjoy restaurant-quality rice on your dinner table in less than 20 minutes. Microwave rice cookers take up minimal counter space and can be stored compactly when not in use.
Cooking rice does require paying close attention to water measurements though. The correct amounts of water and rice are crucial for properly prepared grains without any dryness, stickiness, or mushiness.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn:
- Precise water-to-rice ratios for microwave cookers
- Step-by-step instructions for washing, preparing, and cooking rice
- Adjustments to cooking times based on microwave wattage
- Tips for seasoning, flavoring, and getting consistent results
- Common troubleshooting questions answered
Follow these steps and pointers for microwave rice success. You’ll be able to enjoy fluffy, restaurant-worthy rice easily at home.
What is the Water Ratio for Cooking Rice in a Microwave?
The basic ratio of uncooked regular long-grain white rice to water is:
- 1 cup rice
- 2 cups water
However, there are some variations based on your preferences:
- For firmer, less sticky rice, use a bit less water – 1 cup rice to 13⁄4 cup water. The rice will be more defined and separated.
- For brown rice or mixed whole grains, increase the water to 21⁄4 cups per 1 cup of rice. The extra bran in whole grains absorbs more moisture.
- For aromatic rice like basmati, jasmine, or Texmati, use 1 1⁄3 cups water per 1 cup of rice. Their fragrance comes through more with less water.
- For sticky or glutinous rice often used in Asian desserts, increase water to 22⁄3 cups per cup of rice for fully softened results.
When cooking more than 1 cup of rice, keep the same ratios but adjust the amounts accordingly.
|Amount of Rice||Water Needed|
|1 cup||2 cups|
|11⁄2 cups||3 cups|
|2 cups||4 cups|
|3 cups||6 cups|
|4 cups||8 cups|
Since a greater quantity of rice absorbs more moisture, you may be able to reduce the water slightly for larger batches. Watch carefully the first time and adjust as needed.
For example, cooking 21⁄2 cups of rice may only require 51⁄4 cups of water, not the full 5 cups the ratio suggests. But it’s better to have a tiny bit of extra liquid than dry, undercooked rice.
How Does a Microwave Rice Cooker Work?
Microwave rice cookers provide a sealed vessel to cook rice by steaming. The core components are:
- Microwave-safe bowl – Usually made of lightweight, shatterproof materials like plastic or silicone. Borosilicate glass bowls can also be used.
- Vented glass or plastic lid – The vent or hole allows excess steam to be released while containing the contents. A clear lid lets you monitor rice.
- Measuring cup – For accurately portioning rice and water before cooking. Often doubles as a rice paddle for fluffing.
Microwave rice cookers work by:
- Absorbing microwave energy into the water molecules, exciting them into steam
- Trapping the steam around the rice to cook the grains evenly
- Venting excess steam while keeping contents contained
- Allowing rice to finish steaming absorbed moisture after microwaving
The rice is gently cooked through this steaming process without being stirred or agitated. Pre-washing the rice is important to remove excess starches for fluffy results.
Step-by-Step Guide for Cooking Rice
Follow these steps for perfect rice every time:
- 1. Rinse rice – Place dry rice in a mesh strainer and rinse under running water, stirring gently, until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch.
- 2. Add rice and water – Measure out the desired amount of rice and the appropriate amount of water based on the ratios above. Pour into microwave rice cooker bowl.
- 3. Cover – Close the vented lid securely to allow steam to build up inside the cooker. Make sure the vent is not blocked.
- 4. Microwave – Cook on high heat based on the time ranges given below. Do not open the lid or stir during cooking.
- 5. Rest – Once done, remove from microwave and let steam undisturbed for 5 minutes.
- 6. Fluff and serve – Carefully open the lid, fluff rice with a fork or paddle, and add any stir-ins if desired. Close the lid again to keep warm until serving.
Microwave Rice Cooking Times
Microwave ovens vary in wattage, so cooking times need to be adjusted. Higher-watt microwaves will cook faster than lower-watt.
|Microwave Wattage||Cook Time Range|
- For 1 cup of white rice, start with 12-14 minutes in a 1000W microwave and go from there.
- Stick to the low end of the time range for firmer rice or brown rice.
- Aim for the higher end of sticky, soft rice.
For multiple servings, microwave in batches using staggered cooking times. Below is a sample schedule for cooking 3 cups of rice in a 1000W microwave:
- Microwave 1 cup rice for 13 minutes
- After 5 minutes, microwave the second cup for 13 minutes
- After 10 minutes, microwave the third cup for 13 minutes
This ensures all 3 servings finish cooking at the same time. Adjust times as needed based on your microwave.
Tips for Perfect Microwave Rice
Follow these simple tips for flawless rice cooking every time:
- Rinse thoroughly – Washing removes excess starches that make rice gummy. Rinse until the water runs clear.
- Use a measuring cup – Precise rice-to-water ratios prevent under or overcooked rice.
- Ensure lid vents – Proper venting releases steam instead of bursting open.
- Don’t stir – Opening the cooker disrupts even cooking.
- Rest before opening – Remaining steam finishes cooking the rice.
- Fluff with a fork – Gently fluff and separate grains after cooking.
- Add stir-ins after – Mix in herbs, meats, or vegetables after the rice is cooked.
- Use cook times wisely – Begin with lower cook time ranges and adjust as needed.
Rice Varieties Ideal for Microwaves
You can cook most types of rice in a microwave cooker. Here are some of the best options:
- Long grain white – The least sticky and most separate. Basmati or jasmine are flavorful choices.
- Short grain white – Plumper, moister kernels. Ideal for Asian dishes.
- Brown rice – Nutty flavor and chewy texture. Requires more water.
- Wild rice – Bold, earthy taste. Mix with white rice.
- Black rice – Striking purple-black color. Nutrient-rich.
- Red rice – Subtle hue. More fiber than brown rice.
- Forbidden black rice – Chinese black heirloom grain. Can be expensive.
Stay away from quick-cooking or minute rice varieties. They can become gummy in the microwave. Stick to regular rice for best results.
Flavoring Ideas for Delicious Rice
Once cooked, rice can be flavored sweet or savory. Mix in your choice of herbs, spices, sauces, or other ingredients.
- – Diced cooked meat or veggies
- – Grated cheese or crumbled feta
- – Diced tomatoes, onions, peppers
- – Sautéed mushrooms, spinach, zucchini
- – Curry powder, taco seasoning, Cajun spice
- – Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce
- – Salsa, marinara sauce, tahini sauce
- – Olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts
- – Scallions, parsley, cilantro, basil
- – Toasted nuts or seeds like almonds, walnuts or sesame
- – Dried or fresh fruits like mango, berries, raisins, cranberries
- – Maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, coconut sugar
- – Vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg
- – Toasted coconut flakes
- – Chopped dark chocolate or cacao nibs
Get creative with mix-ins! Rice is the perfect canvas for endless flavor possibilities.
Can You Cook Rice in a Microwave Steamer?
While microwave rice cookers provide the ideal sealed environment, you can steam rice in a basic microwave steaming vessel or bowl covered with plastic wrap.
Follow the same steps of rinsing, measuring water, covering, and microwaving. Poke a small vent hole in the plastic wrap instead of using a vented lid. Glass or ceramic bowls retain more heat to create steam.
Microwave steamers don’t have precise water measurements, so it may take some trial and error to get the moisture right. But in a pinch, plain bowls and plastic wrap will steam rice.
Is It Safe to Cook Rice in the Microwave?
Cooking rice is completely safe in the microwave as long as some basic precautions are followed:
- Use microwave-safe cookware. Never use metal bowls or containers.
- Make sure the lid or plastic covering has a steam outlet.
- Cook in short duration, checking periodically.
- Remove immediately if smoke or burning smells occur.
- Allow to stand before opening to avoid steam burns.
As long as a vented vessel is used, the microwave cooks rice gently without burning or becoming dangerous. Never use the microwave with closed, sealed containers.
Steaming Vegetables, Fish, and More
In addition to rice, microwave steamers can cook a variety of healthy foods:
- Vegetables – Fresh or frozen vegetables only need 2-3 minutes to become tender-crisp. Cook green beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, squash and more.
- Fish – Delicate fish fillets like tilapia, cod, and halibut steam perfectly in about 6-8 minutes. Can add seasonings or lemon.
- Eggs – Steam 2-4 eggs for 14-16 minutes for easy boiled eggs. No stovetop is needed.
- Oatmeal – Cook steel-cut or rolled oats in water for a convenient breakfast.
- Tamales – These savory stuffed corn dough parcels can be steamed in 8-10 minutes.
- Dumplings – Asian-style dumplings become light and fluffy when steamed.
- Sweet potatoes – Whole scrubbed potatoes will soften completely when steamed for 10-12 minutes.
- Artichokes – Trimmed artichokes cook to tender in 10-15 minutes.
Almost any food that can be poached, braised, or steamed on the stovetop can be adapted to the microwave cooker. It offers a healthy cooking method.
Common Questions About Microwave Rice
Here are some common troubleshooting questions about cooking rice in the microwave:
Is the rice too wet and soggy?
- Use less water next time based on the absorption of rice. Or cook for an extra 2-3 minutes before standing time to evaporate moisture.
Is the rice undercooked or hard?
- Rice may need more water or more cooking time. Also, ensure the vent is not blocked.
Is the rice burnt or crunchy?
- Reduce microwave time and use the lower end of the time range. Do not overcook the rice.
Is the rice gummy or sticky?
- Make sure to rinse rice before cooking to remove excess starch.
Is the rice bland or lacking flavor?
- Season cooked rice with herbs, spices, sauces, and stir-ins for flavor.
Can I cook brown rice?
- Yes, just increase water to 2 1/4 cups per 1 cup rice and microwave for a bit longer.
Can I cook basmati, wild, or other rice varieties?
- Most types of rice can be cooked in the microwave with adjusted water amounts.
How do I reheat leftover rice?
- Add 2-3 tablespoons water to freshen up the rice, cover, and microwave until hot.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and adjust water or cooking times until you achieve your desired rice texture. Perfect fluffy grains are easily achievable with some practice.
Where to Buy a Microwave Rice Cooker
Microwave rice cookers are inexpensive and available at most major retailers as well as online. When selecting one, look for:
- Dishwasher-safe, BPA-free plastic for durability and safety
- Glass lid to view rice while cooking
- Vented top for proper steam release
- A rice paddle or spoon included for fluffing
- Dishwasher safe for easy cleaning
- Compact size that fits most microwaves
Top-rated microwave rice cooker brands include:
- Miracle Rice Cooker
- Prep Solutions by Progressive
- Nordic Ware Microwave Rice Cooker
- Oster Rice Cooker
- Aroma Housewares – Rice Cookers
Expect to spend $10-15 for a basic microwave rice cooker or up to $30 for higher-end models. The convenience and simplicity make them worthwhile!
Enjoying Perfect Rice From Your Microwave
Microwave rice cookers offer a fast, foolproof method for cooking fluffy, restaurant-quality rice at home. Follow the rice-to-water ratios, microwave wattage cook times, and tips in this guide for perfect results every time.
With minimal effort, you can quickly prepare healthy rice dishes to complement proteins and vegetables for well-balanced meals. Master your microwave rice technique using a microwave rice cooker. Enjoy convenient rice cooking from the comfort of your kitchen.