Can You Eat Undercooked Rice? (And how to fix it)

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Rice is an incredibly versatile staple ingredient that many have in the house. But cooking rice is not always as easy as people think. More often than not, rice comes out either overcooked or undercooked.

But can you eat undercooked rice? The answer is no, you should never eat undercooked or raw rice because of the risk of food poisoning. Rice can harbor harmful bacteria and needs to be properly cooked in order to kill these bacteria.

Rice also contains lectin, a protein that humans cannot digest. By cooking the rice completely, you are reducing the effects it has on your body.

Today, we will look at the risks of eating undercooked rice. We will also help you easily determine when your rice has been undercooked and have provided two foolproof techniques for fixing it.

Can You Eat Undercooked Rice?

Today, we get right to business. Can you eat undercooked rice?

The short answer is no. And there are no exceptions to this rule! Rice carries some pretty big risks if you don’t cook it properly and completely. The same goes for how you store the cooked rice. 

Many different types of very dangerous bacteria live on rice. They can cause severe food poisoning and, in extreme cases, even death.

So again, under no circumstances should you eat undercooked or raw, soaked rice. And besides, we doubt it would even be appetizing!

So, let’s first look at signs that can tell you when rice is undercooked, then go into the risks involved in eating it.

How To Tell If Rice Is Undercooked

The easiest way to tell if your rice has been undercooked is to do a touch test. This test involved rubbing a grain of “cooked” rice between your fingers.

If the outside rubs off easily or is mushy, but the inside is still hard, it means that the rice isn’t completely cooked. This is what we refer to as partially-cooked rice. It is undercooked, but not to an extreme degree.

If you do a touch test with a grain of rice and it is just completely hard and crusty, it is completely undercooked. It can basically be considered as still raw!

When Is Rice Perfectly Cooked?

Perfectly cooked rice should be fluffy, soft, and cooked through. If you do a touch test or bite down on a grain of rice, there shouldn’t be any gritty pieces or a hard center.

Now, this doesn’t mean the rice should be mushy. If it is, you unfortunately just overcooked the rice. Sure, you won’t get food poisoning from overcooked rice. But it’s not nearly as good or appetizing as rice should be.

When your rice has been perfectly cooked, it means that you used the perfect ratio of water to raw uncooked rice grains.

Once cooked, you also used the perfect temperature and cooked the rice for the perfect amount of time.

These factors vary depending on the type of rice you are making. For example, brown rice usually requires more water and a longer cooking time than basmati white rice.

So, always make sure you know what type of rice you are working with and that it is cooked correctly.

Undercooked Versus Al Dente Rice – What’s The Difference?

Al dente rice is a little bit harder (firmer) than what we refer to as “perfectly cooked rice.”

Think about pasta: most pasta is cooked al dente. That means that it is still slightly chewy and a little bit tough, but it has been completely cooked. It’s the same with rice, minus the chewy part.

Al dente rice is completely safe to eat because it has been cooked properly. But, unlike “perfectly cooked rice,” it was removed before it could soften completely.

Risks Of Eating Undercooked Rice

There are absolutely risks of eating undercooked rice, with the largest risk being the ingestion of harmful bacteria that can make you sick.

But that should be something that helps deter you from undercooking rice (which usually happens because people are too lazy or rushed to fix it).

Bacillus Cereus

This is the biggest risk you take on when eating undercooked rice. You may recognize the name because this bacteria is actually one of the most common causes of food poisoning.

It is found in soil, which is where virtually every plant-based edible ingredient comes from. The exceptions are aqua-phonic ingredients of course.

Now, not all rice is contaminated with bacillus cereus. And that’s where the risk lies. You don’t know when you are at risk of consuming it.

On top of that, it is a relatively heat-resistant bacteria that can survive low cooking temperatures. That’s why it is crucial that you properly cook the rice, cool it, and store it safely.

This bacteria can cause mild to severe symptoms including; nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and, ultimately, dehydration.


Lectin is a type of found in rice. It’s also common in many other whole grains.

This protein is found in many plants and helps protect them from predators. The effects it has on some animals are the same as on some people.

Lectins cannot be processed by the human body. They can cause some serious damage to your digestive tract and even cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Even worse is that lectins can prevent your body from digesting essential vitamins and minerals.

The only way to reduce your intake of lectin is by properly rinsing the rice before cooking it and not eating it undercooked.

How To Fix Undercooked Rice

Luckily, salvaging undercooked rice is extremely easy! As we’ve said, most people eat undercooked rice because they are in a rush or too lazy to fix it.

Luckily, it’s super easy! And depending on how undercooked the rice is, it won’t even take that long.

If you are still busy cooking the rice while you did the test, it’s as easy as leaving the rice on the heat and continuing to cook it.

If the rice is getting too dry, add some water. Do not mix it with the rice because that will make it mushy. Instead, you can just gently pour it over. It will sink to the bottom.

If you see too much water in your pot, don’t remove any. Just leave the rice to continue cooking You can drain the rice afterward.

Fixing Cooled Undercooked Rice

If you cooled the rice before testing its doneness, it will be a little harder to fix. But it’s still possible!

There are two ways you can fix undercooked cooled rice. The first is on a stove, and the second is in a microwave.

Using a microwave is quick and very easy. But you risk overcooking the rice because you cannot accurately monitor the progress or control the temperature.

Fixing undercooked rice on the stovetop is the best method to use. It will take slightly longer, but trust us, it’s worth the effort.

Microwave Method:

Always use medium-high heat when using the microwave. It’s high enough to let the rice cook but won’t instantly start drying it out.

Don’t use a temperature lower than this. The rice won’t cook or heat enough. And as we mentioned, bacillus cereus is to some degree heat resistant. So you have to heat the undercooked rice to the correct temperature.

1. Place the rice in a microwave-safe container. Make sure the layer of rice is level. A square or rectangular container works best. If the rice isn’t even, it won’t cook uniformly. Some areas will start overcooking while others remain undercooked.

2. Poke a couple of holes throughout the rice. Use chopsticks – they are easy to use and make perfect holes.

3. Pour some water over the rice. It should be enough to fill the holes and gaps and reach slightly above the rice.

4. Cover the container with a sheet of paper towel. Don’t worry, paper towels won’t burn or catch alight.

5. Place the rice inside the microwave and allow it to cook for 2-7 minutes. Again, the exact time depends on how undercooked it is. Check the progress after 2 minutes and decide the remaining time at that point.

Stove Top Method:

The stove-top method is pretty much the same as the microwave method. The biggest difference is the container you use and the cooking time.

1. Place the undercooked cooled rice in a pot. Again, make sure that it is level.

2. Poke a couple of holes throughout the layer of rice.

3. Cover the rice with water until it reaches just above it.

4. Add a lid to the pot and bring the rice to a simmer over medium heat.

5. Leave the rice to cook for about 5 minutes (after it starts simmering). Check the progress and leave it to continue cooking until it is finished. This may take as long as 20 minutes, depending on how raw the rice was.

How To Properly Cook Rice To Avoid Food Poisoning Risks

So, now that you know exactly when the rice has been undercooked, why you shouldn’t eat undercooked rice, and how to fix it in different scenarios, let’s look at how to properly avoid undercooking rice completely.

As we always say, it’s better to avoid a problem than to try to fix it later.

Let’s take a look at the steps in depth.

1. Rinse The Rice

Many people say you don’t have to rinse your rice. This is absolutely not true! You have to rinse your rice, no matter which type you are working with!

When you rinse your rice grains, you are removing the excess amount of starch that is on and in them. This helps the granules separate when they are cooking. Ultimately, it will help produce fluffier rice and not mushy or clumpy rice.

Now, the only time you may not need to rinse your rice specifically for making fluffy rice is if you are making rice cakes or Arancini balls (Italian fried rice balls). Something that you may need is stickier, clumpier rice.

But even then, there are some health benefits to rinsing rice. As we’ve mentioned, rinsing rice helps reduce the risk of ingesting lectin proteins. And according to the FDA, it can also help reduce the level of arsenic in the rice.

Furthermore, rinsing rice is just a good practice that helps remove dust and debris from the granules.

2. Use The Correct Water To Rice Ratio

Again, different kinds of rice require a different amount of rice and water.

* Basmati rice requires between 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water for every cup of rice.

* Jasmine rice can use one part rice to one part water.

* Sushi rice also uses a one-to-one ratio of water and rice.

* Wild rice uses 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.

* And brown rice needs 2 1/4 cups of water for every 1 cup of brown rice.

Always check your package for ratios specifically for your type of species of rice. As you saw, different types of Basmati rice even require different amounts of water.

3. Cook The Rice Correctly

Unfortunately, there is no one correct way to cook rice. Most of them you can simply mix and bring to a simmer. 

But some require you to boil the water first before stirring in the rice. Some rice types shouldn’t be stirred at all, while others need stirring every couple of minutes.

So again, make sure you know what you are working with and how you should cook it.

The instructions on the rice packaging are usually pretty accurate.

4. Cook The Rice For The Right Amount Of Time

We only use a rice cooker to cook rice. It doesn’t everything for you, including cooking the rice for the correct amount of time.

However, if you have a pot, you will need to manually check the progress of the cooking rice.

Again, different kinds of rice have different cooking times.

* Basmati rice takes about 10-15 minutes to cook (if it has been washed).

* Jasmine rice takes 15-20 minutes to cook.

* Sushi rice takes between 12-20 minutes, depending on the exact type you have.

* Wild rice takes 45 minutes to cook.

* Brown rice takes roughly 30-35 minutes to cook to perfection.

5. Serve The Rice Correctly

Once your rice is cooled, you should keep it warm and serve it immediately. Do not allow the rice to cool down before serving it.

Bacteria can multiply when rice is at lower temperatures. Ultimately, it increases your risk of getting food poisoning from bacteria that is possibly on the rice.

This is the main reason rice cookers have a “keep warm” setting.

How To Properly Store Rice

If you are planning on storing any leftovers, you should properly cool the rice first. The main rule here is to never store hot or warm rice. It should be completely cooled.

Now, you can speed up the cooling process by leaving the rice uncovered in the fridge. We know many people say this is blasphemy! But it’s really not. It’s a common trick chefs use.

Cover the warm rice with plastic and poke a few holes in the surface. This allows the steam to escape and the rice to cool.

But it also helps prevent the rice from drying out in the fridge.

Just keep the warm rice away from perishables in the fridge. And obviously don’t store piping hot rice. While cooling the rice, it can stay out for about 1-2 hours.

When you reheat the rice the next day, just make sure it heats enough to kill any bacteria that did multiply on its surface.

Related Articles:

How To Open a Bag of Rice
How Much Does Rice Expand?
How To Fix Salty Rice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *