Rice is a staple in many cuisines. It’s highly adaptable, delicious, and easy to prepare. But nothing is more frustrating than when it boils over on your cooktop. It’s messy and sometimes hard to clean.
I tried 8 different methods and there is a clear way to stop this from happening. Want to learn how to stop rice from boiling over?
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
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Why Does Rice Boil Over?
When cooking, starch from the rice comes out, causing foam. This extra volume leads to boiling over.
Fine Cooking has a more in-depth explanation. Heat makes rice exude starch, some kinds more than others. When you heat starch in a liquid, the starch and the liquid molecules move faster, and water seeps into the granules. As the temperature rises, more water gets in and the granules swell. Somewhere near the boiling point of water, some of the swollen granules pop, and starch rushes out into the liquid.
Which Types of Rice Have Less Starch?
If starch causes boiling over, it’s best to use rice that contains less.
Long Grain rice has less starch than short grain. Since short-grain rice exudes more starch, it becomes stickier and works well in sushi for that reason. When long grain is finished cooking the grains are separate due to the small starch content. It’s excellent for rice pilaf. Medium grains are in the middle as far as starch count.
Types of Long Grain Rice
Carolina, basmati, jasmine
Types of Short Grain Rice
Sushi, Spanish, pearl
Types of Medium Grain Rice
Arborio, black japonica
What Is The Proper Ratio of Rice to Water
Before we can get into how to fix rice from boiling over, we need to remove all variables. Luckily with rice, there are very few. Let’s make sure our ratio of rice to water is correct. There should always be two parts water to one part rice. One cup of rice is recommended for 3-4 people and cooked in two cups of water.
Basics On How to Cook Rice
- Combine Rice and Water in a Large Pot (1:2 ratio)
- Bring To A Boil
- Lower the temp and cover
- Cook For As Long As Directed
- Fluff With a Fork
The Food Network has a great tutorial.
Methods To Stop Rice From Boiling Over
Now that we know why the rice boils over, let’s see how we can stop it from happening.
Put Oil In The Water
In theory, this method works because the oil creates a barrier on the water that would stop the foam from breaking the water’s surface. It didn’t work for me, and it adds fat and calories. It is not a lot by any means, but if you are on a special diet, this may not work for you. If you are interested in learning which oil to use, we’ve gone through the basics of cooking oils.
Put A Bamboo Spoon In Boiling Water
This method works but doesn’t stop the rice from boiling over every time. The introduction of the spoon forces the energy from the boiling water to move to try to heat the bamboo. It’s not ideal because you need to be there just as it boils to prevent it from overflowing. It has to be wood since plastic will melt and any metal will get hot.
Wooden Spoon Across The Pot
This method also works somewhat. I had a little bit of overflow. If you use a large enough pot and lay the wooden spoon across the pan, it will stop the water most of the time. But if you have especially starchy rice, it may overflow every once and a while.
Use A Rice Cooker
You could certainly use a rice cooker or even your Instapot for cooking rice. But then you need to buy another appliance. I’m not a fan of what Alton Brown calls “unitaskers,” or items for the kitchen that only serve one purpose. If something is going to take up precious space in my kitchen, it will be handy.
I learned this trick from one of my favorite chefs, Sohla El-Wally. Soak the rice before cooking. Place the rice in water and swish it around. It will take several water changes, but you are looking for water that you can see through. Since the starch causes the rice’s foam, getting rid of it will prevent the foam from forming.
Use A Gentle Simmer
I have been very guilty of this. Lowering the temperature but not enough. When you reduce the heat after bringing it to a boil, go very low. I’ve found that putting the heat below two on my electric stove works.
Boil One Minute
To prevent boiling over, make sure you don’t put the lid on right away. A tight lid will make the situation worse. Give the rice a minute or two to settle down before putting the top on.
Since boiling over is caused by the release of starch and more foam entering the pot, a larger one will help hold everything. You don’t need a massive pasta pot, but a larger saucepan will do the tricks.
Leave The Lid Off
This method didn’t work for me, plus the rice didn’t benefit from the steam created during the cooking process. The moisture from the pot dissipated since the lid was off.
Best Method To Stop Rice From Boiling Over
So what does all of this mean? How do you stop rice from boiling over? Here’s the best method.
- Rinse your rice in several changes of water to remove excess starch.
- Place the rice in a larger pot than you would think you need.
- After boiling, turn the heat down to very low. I use below two on my electric range.
- Give the rice a minute to come down to heat before putting the lid on.
What Do You Think?
Do you know how to stop rice from boiling over? If you have any tips or techniques, comment below, I’d love to try them.
Happy Rice Cooking!
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