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How To Fix Overcooked Rice

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Cooking rice isn’t rocket science, but sometimes life gets in the way. As soon as you turn your back for a second, disaster strikes.

You look into your pot to find one big lump of mush. You only have 5 minutes before your guests arrive, but don’t have any more rice!

Can you fix overcooked rice? Yes, there are a few quick and easy ways to fix and prevent overcooked rice, whether it is mushy, burnt, crunchy, clumpy, or soggy. Depending on what the problem is, each has its solution, ranging from straining the rice to adding butter or oils.

In this article, we will have a look at different problems you can run into when preparing rice and look at the best solutions to solve them.

How to Cook Rice

First, let’s take a look at how to cook rice. There are many different kinds of rice, from white rice and brown rice to basmati and jasmine. You will always want to follow the specific instructions for your particular type of rice.

But this is just a general list of common directions to help you to better understand the problems you might run into and how to solve them.

You will also then know how to prevent them from happening again in the future.

Here’s how to cook rice:

  1. Rinse the Rice – By rinsing it, you get rid of all the dusty starch that sits on the surface. This starch can alter the structure of your rice during cooking, not to mention that it leaves an unpleasant mouth-feel.
  2. Add Water to Pot– The golden ratio is 1:2. That means 1 cup rice to 2 cups water. Remember to check on your rice packet for specific ratios and cooking instructions as some products do differ.
  3. Bring Your Water to a Boil – Add salt (we recommend 1 teaspoon to 1 cup rice). You can add a dollop of butter if you like.
  4. Add the Rice – Cover the pot with a lid. Allow the rice to gently simmer and not boil.
  5. Check the Rice – at 15 minutes to see if it is fully cooked. Do not use the amount of water left as an indicator as to how cooked your rice is. Again, check the package instructions on cooking times for different rice.
  6. Remove the Pot From Heat – Keep the lid on and allow the rice to rest for a few minutes.
  7. Separate The Rice – Using a fork, gently fluff the rice to loosen all the cooked grains.

Problems and Solutions

Unfortunately, overcooked rice is part of life. Luckily, we also have a few solutions to some of the problems.

Mushy Rice

This is the biggest problem everyone runs into. In the event that rice is overcooked into a mush – all that excess starch isn’t your friend. It will make the rice mixture even slimier and gummier when cooked and nearly impossible to separate.

Fortunately, there are solutions to both prevent this mess before it happens and fix it if it has already happened.

Here are five ways to do just that:

  • Rinse the Rice – Rinsing your raw rice before cooking is a crucial step when preparing rice. It might seem annoying but it only takes 30 seconds and you will be glad you did it later. Rinsing it will give it a better and more even texture during cooking and will prevent the rice from cooking unevenly.
  • Microwave the Rice – Even if you rinse the rice before you cook it, it can still turn out mushy if cooked for too long. Spread the rice over a piece of baking paper. Place the paper onto a microwave-safe plate and place the plate into the microwave. On the lowest setting, microwave the rice for 1-2 minutes. 
  • Drain and Cook – Simply drain the excess liquid from the rice, return it to the pot without a lid, and cook it on low so all the excess water evaporates.
  • Refrigerate – Spread the mushy rice onto a piece of baking paper in the thinnest layer possible. Cover it with another sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate for about an hour. The cold air in the refrigerator dries out the excess moisture in the rice. When it is fully dried out, reheat it in the microwave and serve.
  • Oven-Dry – This method works the same as the microwave method. Spread the rice on baking paper and place it in the oven at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) for a few minutes. Check the rice every couple of minutes. When it is dried out enough, turn off the oven and allow the rice to sit for another couple of minutes before serving.

Burnt Rice

Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to un-burn rice. You can, however, salvage what’s left.

Burnt rice can occur when the heat is too hot during cooking or the rice was left on the heat for too long, causing all the water to evaporate and the rice to start burning.

The best way to salvage burnt rice is to immediately transfer the burnt pot onto a larger pot filled with cold water. This will immediately stop the cooking process.

Do not stir the rice. If the rice on top is not fully cooked yet, transfer it to a new pan, add some water, and cook it for a few minutes.

If all the rice in the pot has fully cooked, carefully transfer the unburnt rice to a new pot or bowl without incorporating any burnt bits.

To get rid of the burnt smell, after transferring the rice to a new pot, add a slice of bread and place the lid on the pot. Allow the pot to sit for 5-10 minutes. The bread should absorb any odors and flavors.

Also, make sure to get rid of any odors in the house. When you taste the food, it is directly translated from the smell. So if your guests can’t smell any burnt food, they aren’t as likely to taste it.

Crunchy Rice

Crunchy rice is easy to fix. If all of the rice is still a bit crunchy, your rice is undercooked and needs to cook a bit longer. If you have run out of water, simply add a ½ cup and cook for another few minutes.

If the rice is then cooked perfectly but there is still too much water, simply follow the instructions under “Soggy Rice.”

If only some of the rice is crunchy and some not, it means the rice cooked unevenly. A reason for this could be that the rice wasn’t properly rinsed, if at all.

Rinsing rice removes excess starch, helping the rice to cook evenly and preventing different textures in the final product.

Soaking your rice in water before cooking will also help prevent uneven cooking. The cooking time thereafter will be much shorter as the rice has already been softened.

You can also allow the rice to rest for a few minutes in a covered pot once it finished cooking. This might just be what it needed as it gets an additional few minutes to cook in the residual heat.

Clumpy Rice

Clumpy white rice is not the same as mushy rice. This is when the rice is perfectly cooked, but small amounts stick together and form clumps.

This is also caused by excess starch which becomes sticky when it comes into contact with water.

You can prevent this problem by rinsing your rice before cooking it.

You can also add some oil or a dollop of butter to the pot to further prevent the rice from sticking to each other.

Soggy Rice

When there is still a lot of water left in the pot, do not continue cooking the rice if the timer has run out. Test the rice to see if it needs further cooking.

If it doesn’t, drain the rice and dry it out on a baking sheet in the oven at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) for a couple of minutes.

Alternative Dishes to Make Using Overcooked Rice

If you don’t feel like saving the rice and rather want to take on a culinary challenge, here are a few alternative dishes you can make.

Mushy Rice

  • Rice pudding – Rice pudding is a delicious cinnamon-flavored dessert. Mushy rice is okay to use for rice pudding because it will be soaking up the moisture of the pudding anyway.
  • Arancini or rice balls – These are cheesy rice balls. If your rice is mushy but still has structure, arancini balls are perfect to make, as they require workable rice.
  • Soup – You can place mushy rice in any chunky soup. The consistency of the soup will hide the texture, and any rice the recipe calls for would have soaked up the moisture from the soup anyway.
  • Rice Pancakes – You can easily incorporate rice into a pancake batter to make rice pancakes. The rice in the pancakes will act as a binding agent and can be easily mixed with just flour and sugar to make a delicious pancake.

Burnt Rice

  • Curry or Chili – You can make any curry or chili with strong spices. Mix the rice in so it cannot be consumed separately. Using strong spices such as curry powder, chili, and tomato paste will mask the burnt flavor to an extent. If your guests also don’t smell any burnt food, they won’t taste it.
  • Socorrat – This is the crispy, burnt bottom of Spanish paella rice. This dish can be prepared without using the burnt rice, making it perfect for you to add yours.

Up Next: The 5 Best Oils For Fried Rice

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