Why Is My Brown Rice Sticky: How To Fix Sticky Brown Rice

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Brown rice in a wooden bowl with words: "Why Is My Brown Rice Sticky?"

Do you ever wonder, “why is my brown rice sticky?” While the Japanese favor sticky rice, others would call it an unfortunate accident. Read on for possible causes of sticky brown rice, plus, some tips and tricks for fixing the culinary mishap.

There are several reasons your brown rice kernels can cling together. First, check our article on why my brown rice is not cooking. Skipping rinsing and using an incorrect water-to-rice ratio can both cause sticky rice. Even rice quality and freshness play an essential role.

Now, let’s dive into some possibilities that concern solely our topic of today.  

Why Is My Brown Rice Sticky?

First of all, let’s cover the basics. 

The first step to delicious rice dishes is to make sure you’re using fresh, high-quality brown rice. Secondly, rinse the rice at least twice and then let it soak for a minimum of 30 minutes. And, by all means, use the correct rice-to-water ratio.

Brown rice typically requires ¼ to ½ cup more liquid per cup of rice than white rice, so go with a 1 cup rice to 1 ½ cup water ratio instead of the typical 1:1 ratio you use for white rice.

Brown rice on dish with fork and spoon.

Here are some additional reasons you might experience gooey brown rice:

Stirring the rice

Rice is very low maintenance. Once you put it on the stovetop, all you have to do is adjust the temperature once, then fluff it before serving, no stirring required.

Stirring the rice can cause the starch to separate from the bran layer and make your rice sticky, resulting in the luscious, creamy texture of risotto. Risotto is delicious, but if that isn’t what your dish calls for, you will not achieve your desired result.

Cooking at high temperatures

Any rice-based dish shouldn’t boil for more than 1 minute. Otherwise, the water will evaporate too quickly and cause the rice to stick to the bottom (and possibly even burn), which can result in undercooked rice that’s both crunchy and gooey.

Make sure you turn the heat to low as soon as the rice comes to a boil, and cover the pot. 

If you’re using an induction stove with a slow reaction time, transfer the pot to another burner on low once the water begins to boil.


Overcooking the rice can cause too much starch to release, which will cause the grains to disintegrate and gel into a mushy mess.

Check out this article if you’re wondering why brown rice takes longer to cook.

Not allowing it to steam. Steam is essential to the process of cooking rice, and an important step is letting the rice steam AFTER turning off the heat. Once the rice is cooked, don’t uncover the lid yet, don’t fluff it. Wait 5-10 minutes to allow the steam to permeate the rice, and only then fluff and serve.

This step allows any excess moisture to seep into the grains. Then they can become fluffy and respect each other’s space.

Humidity and altitude 

Your air humidity and altitude can affect moisture absorption and cooking time. 

Humid weather may require less liquid, while higher altitudes can extend the cooking time. Here’s a High Altitude Cooking Guide to check out.

Not using a heavy-bottomed pot

Heavy-bottomed pots are heavier at the base, so they absorb and distribute heat more evenly than thin pots. 

If you want your rice to cook evenly without burning, use a good, hefty pot.

Using the wrong type of brown rice

Not all types of brown rice are created equal. 

Short-grain and medium-grain brown rice are starchier, which means they’re more prone to gooeyness. If your brown rice keeps turning out sticky, try using long-grain brown rice—it may just be the magic fix!

How Do You Fix Sticky Brown Rice?

Now, the question you’ve all been wondering is—can sticky rice be saved? Yes, it can!

If your rice has turned into a gooey mess, don’t fret. 

Try rinsing it under cool water to remove any excess starch. Then, spread the rice out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. 

Preheat your oven to 350°F and bake the rice for 10 minutes.

This method will dry the rice and improve its consistency.

Why Does My Brown Rice Come Out Mushy?

The two main causes of mushy brown rice are: adding too much liquid and stirring the rice too much. 

If you add too much water, you’ll have a rice mush once the liquid evaporates. As mentioned earlier, stirring should be reserved for risotto (or rice porridge).

Method for Cooking Fluffy Brown Rice Every Time

If you tried all these tips and your brown rice is still too sticky for your taste, try the“pasta method” below.

Cooking brown rice in a blue pan.

Cooking Rice Like Pasta


  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • About 2 quarts water
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt


  1. Rinse the brown rice under cool water until it runs clean.
  2. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add salt and rice to pot, and boil for about 25 minutes (or until cooked to your liking).
  4. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer and serve immediately.
  5. If making a large batch for later, spread the rice evenly on a prepared baking tray and let it cool at room temperature, allowing any excess moisture to evaporate.

In this video, Chef Paula doesn’t use a mesh strainer to rinse the brown rice, but I find that using a strainer helps remove all the excess water.

Benefits of cooking rice like pasta

It takes less time. In comparison, brown rice can take up to 50 minutes to cook with the absorption method.

You don’t have to measure the exact amount of water, which means less room for mishaps.

It’s foolproof. With so many factors affecting rice cooking, finding what works for you can be tiring. The pasta method offers a fail-free alternative. Plus, the pot is easier to clean after.

It cooks the rice evenly. Since the rice kernels are floating in boiling water, they all get equal amounts of heat—Bye-bye, crunchy, soggy, or sticky grains.

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