All around the world, rice is basic food. It is simple to prepare, delicious, and versatile.
However, problems can arise when it boils over during cooking.
Not only is this frustrating, but spillage from the pot also is messy and can be difficult to clean.
How to stop rice from boiling over
Remove excess starch by rinsing the rice several times with water. Use a pot three or four times larger than the amount of rice being boiled. Turn the heat down low after bringing the rice to a boil. Once the heat is lowered, wait for the boiling to stop before putting a lid on the pot.
Why rice sometimes boils over
Some rice varieties are more sensitive to heat than others. Rice releases starch when it is boiled.
The escaped starch is replaced by water molecules that seep back into rice grains. This causes the rice grains to swell, displacing a lot of water.
Now that the water has risen due to the increased volume of rice, a further problem arises when the starch starts foaming at the boiling point.
The foam takes up far more volume than just water, so inevitably, the pot of boiling rice boils over.
It is the foam that causes rice to boil over, so it is always the foam that spills out of the pot.
Wash rice thoroughly before cooking
It is vital to wash rice before cooking it.
The simple act of washing rice helps prevent it from boiling over by getting rid of surplus starch.
Rice will also stick to the bottom and sides of the pot if excess starch isn’t removed.
Wash rice using cold water in a colander (best) or bowl (rinse often). While washing the rice, rub it gently between the fingers to help get the starch out.
Until only clear water runs from it, repeatedly wash the rice.
One little tip here is that rice that’s been washed well and left in warm water for half an hour or so cooks more quickly and turns out noticeably fluffy.
Experiment with different kinds of rice
Different rice varieties have different amounts of starch.
Short-grain rice, sticky rice, and brown rice all have higher starch levels than white rice, so for a start, to avoid rice from boiling over, use long-grain white rice such as Jasmine rice.
Kinds of long grain rice
Jasmine, Basmati, Carolina. These kinds of rice boil over less easily than other kinds.
Kinds of medium grain rice
Japonica, Black, Arborio. Boils over more easily than long-grain rice.
Kinds of short grain rice
Pear, Spanish, Sushi. The rice that most easily boils over.
The right ratio of water to rice
Using the correct water to rice ratio will help tremendously prevent the rice from boiling over.
Use two parts of water to one part of rice.
For example, boil one cup of rice cooked in two cups of water if cooking rice for three or four guests.
The correct way to cook rice to prevent it from boiling over
Once the rice has been brought to a boil, stir it once to separate the grains, then bring the pot of rice to a gentle simmer.
Once the rice is simmering, stir it occasionally to prevent clumps.
However, it is vital not to stir simmering rice too often as it will become mushy.
Generally speaking, it takes white rice about twenty minutes to cook properly. Brown rice takes around thirty minutes, and wild rice takes forty-five minutes.
Test the rice to ensure tenderness by biting into some grains.
Stop rice from boiling over with these methods
Place a bamboo spoon into the pot
The bamboo spoon absorbs some of the heat in the pot and gives me time to bring the pot to a simmer before the rice boils over.
However, if the cook is absent or distracted when the rice has begun to boil, the pot will still boil over.
Since plastic melts and metal gets hot, this method requires a spoon made of wood.
Lay a wooden spoon across the pot
This odd method does work more often than not.
Most of the time, if a wooden spoon is placed across a large pot, capillary action stops the rice from boiling over.
However, if the rice is particularly starchy, it might still boil over.
Use a rice cooker
Rice cookers are designed to solve the boiling-over problem, so they are a viable solution.
However, I am not a fan of having anything in my kitchen which only does one job.
For me, a one-task appliance takes up unnecessary space in my kitchen.
Soak the rice first before boiling it
Before cooking, soak the rice in a bowl of water and stir it. Change the water several times until it is clear.
This method, although time-consuming, it adequately removes starch from the rice.
Since the starch in the rice has been thoroughly removed, it doesn’t foam, and because the rice doesn’t foam, it doesn’t boil over.
Gently simmer the rice
Reduce the heat to very low after bringing it to a boil. Rice simmers nicely on my electric stove when I turn the burner down as low as “2”.
Use a larger pot
A larger pot will prevent the rice from boiling over simply because there’s no way for the foam to reach the top of the pot and spill over.
This might sound like a wonderful shortcut, but overboiled rice is mushy and yucky, and the excess starch makes it sticky like sushi rice.
Add oil or butter to the rice
The rice will not stick to the pot or pan if butter or oil is added to it while it is boiling.
This will not only keep the rice from sticking but will also help to push down the bubbles by creating a layer of butter or oil on top.
A nice tip is to use coconut oil for this purpose.
Using coconut oil adds a mild coconut flavor to the rice, which many folks like.
Coconut oil is particularly well-suited when cooking rice to accompany Asian-inspired dishes.
Olive oil is a good choice for health, giving rice a mild, distinctive flavor.
Butter is also an option if no one who will eat the rice has a problem with dairy products.
The idea of using oil is to get the oil acts to act as a barrier to foam forming.
To be honest, this strategy hasn’t been particularly successful for me, and I note that it adds some fat and calories to the rice.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Stop Rice from Boiling Over
How do I microwave rice and without it boiling over?
Rinse out as much starch from the rice as possible. Put the measured rice, water, and oil into a microwave-safe casserole dish. Cover everything up with a plastic wrap or a lid that allows steam to escape and microwave on high for 10 min.
Why does my rice always burn to the bottom?
This problem is usually caused by water in the pot being completely absorbed into the rice. When the rice has finished cooking, the pot of rice is completely dried out, and the heat from the burner does its job by burning the rice from the bottom up.
Afterword: How to stop rice boiling over
Always rinse the rice well and use the correct quantity of water to boil it.
Boil rice in a pot three or four times larger than the amount of rice being cooked, and be sure to lower the heat to a gentle simmer once the rice is boiling.