How to Toast Rice: A Simple Trick to Improve Its Taste and Texture

Published on:
Rcie with bay leaf and garlic on top with a text "how to toast rice before cooking"

Since I was a kid, I never liked plain rice because it often tasted bland.

So, my parents used to toast rice with many aromatic spices before cooking it, especially in dishes like pilaf (Middle Eastern) or pulav (Indian subcontinent). This gave the rice a whole new twist!

If you also want to turn simple rice into a delicious dish, toasting the grains is the way to go. 

Toasting involves sautéing the raw rice grains in butter or oil first, along with many herbs and spices, instead of directly cooking the rice in water. Once the grains are toasted to perfection, they are then cooked like regular rice.

Benefits of Toasting Your Rice Before Cooking

Toasted rice in a printed plate with bay leaf.

If you ask me, toasting is one of the simplest yet best ways to elevate basic rice into a feast-worthy dish! Listed below are some of the reasons why.

1. Non-sticky and Fluffy Texture 

Basmati rice in a bowl with coriander leaf on top and wooden spoon.

Toasting your rice is the easiest way to achieve the fluffy, well-separated texture that most chefs strive for.

The reason behind this is that coating each grain in oil or butter helps them stay separate and prevents clumping during cooking. This simple step ensures your rice turns out perfectly fluffy and non-sticky every time!

2. Infuse More Flavors 

Colourful various herbs and spices in spoons.

If you like to spice up your life and your rice, toasting can do wonders.

Trust me, adding more flavors while your rice is cooking, rather than after it’s done, elevates the taste.

When you toast the rice in oil or butter, along with other herbs and spices, their flavors get infused into the grains. Hence, after you cook the rice, it develops a delicious and complex flavor profile. 

3. Lovely Aroma 

Aside from the texture and taste, the aroma of toasted rice will make you bolt to the kitchen! 

It’s all because of the nutty scent of the rice and the fragrance of the toasted herbs or spices.

Steps to Toast Your Rice 

Toasted rice in a printed white plate.

Toasting your rice before cooking only takes a few extra minutes. However, the result you’ll achieve will make you never want to go back to regular rice!

So, here’s how you can prepare and cook toasted rice easily:

1. First, rinse your rice two or three times to remove the excess starch from the grains. You’ll notice that the water will turn cloudy because of the starch.

Rice soaked in water in a white bowl.

2. Continue rinsing and washing the rice until the water runs clear.

3. Then, drain the rice grains using a sieve.

Rice drained in a sieve.

4. Next, pour a tablespoon of oil or butter into the cooking pot. I prefer butter, as it makes everything taste better!

Oil in a cooking pot.

5. In this step, you can add spices or herbs to infuse more flavors into your rice. I generally use traditional pilaf ingredients like cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, and salt to taste. You can also add dried Italian herbs and fresh garlic.

Spices added to the cooking pot with oil.

6. Sauté all the ingredients and toast them for a few seconds on low-medium heat.

7. Add the rice grains into the cooking pot and sauté everything well for a minute or two.

Rice added to the mixture.

8. Once the rice gives off a lovely toasted aroma and turns slightly brown, pour water into the cooking pot. 

Water added to the mixture.

Use the following water-to-rice ratios:

  • Long-grain and medium-grain rice: 1 ½ cups of water for one cup of rice
  • Short-grain rice: 1 cup of water for one cup of rice
  • Brown rice: 2 cups of water for one cup of rice

9. Close the cooking pot with a lid, and cook the rice on low-medium heat for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the rice variety:

  • Long grain rice (Basmati/Jasmine): 20 minutes
  • Medium grain rice (Arborio/Bomba): 25 minutes
  • Short grain rice (Sushi rice): 30 to 35 minutes

10. Check on the rice after 15 minutes, and add additional water if the rice has soaked all of it and is still undercooked.

11. Once your rice has a soft yet firm texture, turn off the stove and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Cooked rice with spices.

12. Transfer the cooked rice to your bowl, and your toasted rice is ready!

What Spices or Herbs to Add While Toasting Your Rice?

Raw rice in a printed plate, water in a blue bowl and spices on the side.

If you’re an indecisive person like me, finding different combinations of spices for toasting rice is a real headache. But, don’t worry, I have got your back (and rice)!

Check out this table consisting of the different herbs and spices and their flavor profiles.

Cuisine TypeIngredientsFlavor Profile
IndianCardamom pods, Cinnamon sticks, Bay leaves, Cloves, Cumin seedsSpicy
ItalianDried Italian herbs (oregano, basil, thyme), Fresh rosemary, Fresh thymeHerby and Savory
AsianStar anise, Sichuan peppercorns, Sesame seedsBold and Spicy
Middle EasternTurmeric, Cumin, Coriander, Cardamom Warm and Aromatic
Mexican Cumin, Coriander, Paprika, Lemon, and CilantroBold and Tangy

Final Thoughts

Toasting rice might require an additional step, but even from a lazy person’s perspective, it’s certainly worth the effort.

All you need to do is toast the grains in butter or oil and then cook them. Once done, you’ll realize how fluffy and flavorful toasted rice is compared to plain rice!

Saniya Baxi Avatar


Leave a Comment