Instant Rice At Home: The trick and tutorial for making excellent instant rice at home. I like to use brown rice. Cook a big batch, store it correctly, and reheat it in minutes!
Pantry Staples

DIY Instant Brown Rice

I, along with millions of other Americans, grew up on instant rice. What’s not to love about it? It’s ready in seconds and can be used in a million different ways.

But, that speed and convenience obviously comes at a cost.

First, instant rice literally just costs more. A pound of instant white rice will run you $3-$4 in most grocery stores. Meanwhile a pound of normal rice is usually around $1. That’s a 300% markup!

Second, instant rice gets beat up during the processing. Most manufacturers, cook it, steam it, and dehydrate it so that all you have to do is pop it in some water and it’s done. Because they do this on such a massive scale, some quality and texture is lost in the process.

But, there’s good news! We can have our instant rice and eat it too! It’s actually pretty easy to make rice at home in large batches and if you freeze it correctly (as anyone who owns and uses Love Your Leftovers knows), you basically end up with instant rice!

Here’s my version for brown rice, but once you get the method down you can use any rice except risotto.

Instant Rice At Home: The trick and tutorial for making excellent instant rice at home. I like to use brown rice. Cook a big batch, store it correctly, and reheat it in minutes!

Instant Brown Rice

Just a moment please...

Yield
6-8 servings
Prep Time
Total Time

Knowing how to make instant rice from a sturdy rice is a great meal planning tip. It’s easy to make in bulk, is healthier than store-bought instant rice, and reheats perfectly!

Ingredients

1 pound brown rice
Plastic wrap
A freezer
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Directions

1) Add rice to a large pot and rinse with cold water a few times. Then fill pot with water and bring to a simmer over high heat (uncovered).

2) Let the rice simmer, stirring occasionally to separate the grains, until it is cooked through but has a small bite to it (al dente). This should take 15-20 minutes and you’ll only know it’s ready by tasting it.

3) When rice is done, strain rice through a metal mesh strainer and return immediately to the hot pot. Return pot to hot stove, but turn off heat immediately. Cover rice and let it steam for 5 minutes.

4) Fluff rice with a fork and then let it cool completely to room temperature.

5) Portion rice out in 3/4-1 cup servings and wrap portions tightly in plastic wrap. Then store these bundles in a large freezer safe bag. Press out as much air as possible from the bag and freeze.

TO REHEAT:
Unwrap a rice bundle and add to a bowl with a tablespoon of water and a pat of butter (optional). Microwave on high for 60-90 seconds until rice is steaming hot.

Why Go Through the Trouble?

Some of you might question this process, but I do think it’s worth it if you regularly eat rice. Processed instant rice gets mushy easily, but homemade instant rice tastes almost identical to rice cooked from scratch. It’s not as harsh of a process as what most brands use (I think it’s the dehydration that really saps the life out of the rice, but that’s just my theory).

If you eat rice regularly though, it is a pretty good way to trim some bucks off your grocery bill with very little extra effort. Basically just transition to only cooking rice in 1-2 pound batches and then use this method to store the leftovers!

How to Make Instant Rice

To make a sturdy rice like brown rice “instant”, you obviously need to cook it first.

I recommend rinsing the rice well in cold water first.

Instant rice rinsed

Rinse it off.

Then completely ignore any packaging instruction related to water amounts. Just fill the pot up with water and bring it to a boil.

Essentially, cook the rice like you would cook pasta.

Stir the rice to make sure the grains don’t stick together and simmer it for 15-20 minutes (for brown rice). If you’re using white rice, it’ll take less time, probably 5-10 minutes depending on grain.

Instant Rice bubbling

Bubble bubble

The Key to Good Rice

The key to this method is that there is no surefire way to know when the rice is done. The only way to know is to taste it occasionally. Scoop out a few grains every few minutes and taste them!

The grains should be mostly cooked, but have a very tiny bite to them. It should be similar to cooking al dente pasta.

How to make instant rice: tasting

Taste test.

When the rice reaches that point, strain it all using a colander or a wire mesh strainer. A strainer is best so grains can’t drain through the holes.

How to make instant rice.

Strained rice.

Work quickly now!

As soon as your rice is strained, return it to the hot pot, cover it, and let the rice steam for five minutes.

Now the rice is done!

How to make instant rice: steaming.

A quick steam.

At this point you could eat the rice just like this. It’s how I always cook rice now. But assuming you don’t need a pound or two of rice, let’s talk storage.

Freezing the Rice

There are a few keys to making this work. First, make sure the rice cools completely. You don’t need to dehydrate it, but make sure it’s cool so it doesn’t create condensation in the freezer.

Then portion out 3/4-1 cup servings and wrap them up in plastic wrap.

Storing instant rice.

About a cup…

Wrap the rice really tightly in bundles to get out as much air as possible.

How to package instant rice.

Wrap it tight!

Then store those bundles together in a freezer safe plastic bag!

You should be able to get 6-8 bundles out of a pound of rice.

How to make instant rice: storing.

Stored!

These will freeze beautifully. If you reheat them correctly, it’s pretty impossible to tell reheated rice from just cooked rice.

Reheating the Rice

When you are ready to reheat the rice, just unwrap a bundle and stick it in a bowl with a tablespoon of water. You can also add a little butter if you want. Optional, but you know I do it.

How to reheat instant rice.

Step one to reheating.

Cover the bowl and microwave it on high for 60-90 seconds. Then fluff the rice with a fork and it’s ready to go!

Reheated instant rice.

Fluffed and delicious.

That’s all you need to know!

Make instant rice anytime using any rice! Ditch the boxed stuff!

Instant Rice At Home: The trick and tutorial for making excellent instant rice at home. I like to use brown rice. Cook a big batch, store it correctly, and reheat it in minutes!

21 comments on “DIY Instant Brown Rice

  1. Thanks for the tip! If nothing else, I think I’m going to start cooking my rice this way because I always have rice scorched to the bottom of the pan. Rice and biscuits are the two things I simply cannot get right!

    1. Well, biscuits is a whole different issue, but I really think this will fix your rice game. Dozens of people have emailed me over the years saying they only use this method now to cook any kind of rice and it always turns out great. One thing I shouldn’t noted in the post, but besides risotto, you can’t cook instant rice like this. I’m not sure why you would, but if you buy boxed instant rice and cook it like this it’ll turn to mush. ;) Good luck! Report back if you try it. :)

  2. I invested in a Food Saver to vacuum out air before freezing and it most definitely makes a huge difference in the longevity of my frozen food. For soft things, like biscuits and fruit, I freeze first on a cookie sheet then use the Food Saver. Makes cooking for one much easier as I don’t waste as much food as I used to.

  3. Is there anything special about the way you cook the rice that lends itself to freezing well? Or is that just your preferred method of cooking rice? I prefer cooking rice on a rice cooker (over years of practice I’ve perfected the proper amount of water and the proper amount of cooking), but I would like to optimize my time and cook in batches. So, I’m curious if it matters.

    1. Nothing specific about my method really. I think it just ensures that you don’t overcook the rice which is a common problem. If you have a method that works for you though, then go for it. Just make sure you cool the rice completely before wrapping/freezing it. Should work great!

      1. I basically followed your method of checking the rice every so often to avoid overcooking, so now I know the cooking times for my particular cooker. I never thought about freezing rice before, as I thought it would degrade the texture. Thanks for this post!

  4. You’ve just broken one of my freezing taboos!! I didn’t know rice could be frozen!!
    I must give it a try!!
    Thanks!!

  5. this is similar to how my mother used to cook her rice and it would be perfect almost every time. (There are always exceptions, yes? :) )

    1. Hey Annie! Absolutely. If you wanted, you could just reheat it in a small pot. Add a little water and place it over medium-high heat. Cover it and when it is steaming hot, remove it from the heat and let it steam until rice is thawed and fluffy. Good luck!

  6. Thanks for this recipe. My question is do you trough away lots of nutrients in the drained cooking water?

    1. I would think only the government-mandated fluff nutrients. Most of those are eliminated by the cold-rinse method anyhow. The other nutrients are in the grain of rice itself and do not come out in boiling.

    1. Hey Cindy! I’ve used my frozen rice after many months. I’d say they would be fine for at least 3 months. Good luck!

  7. I love the idea and am trying to adapt it to use for backpacking. How long do you think the rice would keep, when defrosted but not recooked? For example, if I took a package out of the freezer to pack for a backpacking trip, it would most definitely be unfrozen well before time to cook/eat it.

  8. Thank you Thank you for this recipe!!! I along with the rest who had a hard time making brown rice cannot, and will not try it any other way. This is how to do brown rice for dummies lol This method is a sure way to get a great pot of rice. Only change I made was to add a mix of kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder before putting lid back on to allow it to stead. Perfection!!

  9. Thank you so much for a great idea!
    How do you cool the rice? just leave it on stove to cool down or put it in the refrigerator?
    Thank you

  10. I don’t like using plastic or foil but I need to bring some with me when traveling. Any ideas what I could use? Thanks!

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