UACES Facebook Choosing the Best Rice for Your Cooking Needs |Which rice is best?
skip to main content

Choosing the Best Rice for Your Cooking Needs

There are so many varieties of rice available, each with a specific texture, purpose and flavor.


I grew up having white medium-grain rice with butter, cinnamon and sugar for breakfast. It was, and still is, one of my favorite breakfast. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I discovered there were other varieties of rice.

There are so many varieties available. Each has a specific texture, flavor, and purpose. Today, I am sharing some of the types of rice and what makes each one different. 

Since Arkansas is the number one producer of rice in the nation, chances are you will be eating Arkansas rice!

Arborio rice is creamy

It is a variety of short-grained rice used primarily in the classical preparation of risotto. Its shape is short, fat and slightly oval with a pearly white exterior. Once cooked, the grains stick together, which leads to the sticky starch essential for risotto’s creamy texture.

Because it undergoes less milling than ordinary long-grained rice, it retains more of its natural starch content. Cooking releases this starch, giving risotto its creamy consistency. A pound of arborio rice can absorb up to 6 cups of liquid without becoming mushy.

Basmati rice is nutty

Basmati rice is long, slim, full of flavor, and subtly nutty. It grows in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India and Pakistan. This is a long grain variety of rice commonly used in Indian, Middle Eastern and Persian cooking.

To make perfect Basmati rice, soak the rice with plenty of water for 30 minutes. Drain. Cook the soaked rice in 2 cups water. Bring to a boil under medium-high heat, uncovered. When it starts boiling, cover and lower the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes. After fifteen minutes, take the lid off. If there is any excess water, allow it to boil off. Fluff with a fork; serve.

What is the difference between brown and white rice?

The difference between Brown Rice and White Rice is in the milling process. Brown rice has only its husk removed during milling, making it naturally high in B vitamins and minerals. Because brown rice retains its germ – the portion of the grain that is richest in nutrients – it also has some vitamin E. Brown rice has a richer flavor and a chewier texture than white rice. It also takes longer to cook. Brown rice is much higher in nutrients than white rice. This includes fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

White rice, on the other hand, has the husk, bran, and most of the germ removed during milling. It’s fluffier and softer in texture than brown rice. The cooking ratio for both brown rice and white rice is the same, 2 cups water to 1 cup rice.

Jasmine rice is sweet

Jasmine rice is an aromatic rice, named after the sweet-smelling jasmine flower that has long translucent grains, stickier than other long-grain rice. It is used mostly in Thai cooking. It does not need to be soaked before cooking; you only need to rinse it a few times. Soaking it will make it soggy. When cooking Jasmine rice, follow the package directions. Typically, they call for one and one half cups water for every 1 cup of rice.

What is par-boiled rice?

Probably one you are familiar with is Par-boiled Rice and Quick-Cooking (or Instant) Rice. These are very different. Par-boiled rice is whole grain rice that is soaked, steamed under pressure and dried before milling and polishing. This forces the nutrients into the remaining portion of the grain, so they are not totally lost during processing. It’s not pre-cooked and is slightly harder than regular rice. It is golden in color, takes a little longer to cook, and remains separate and fluffy. If cooking par-boiled rice, the package directions usually state the cooking ratio to be two and one fourth cups water to 1 cup rice.

Quick-cooking rice is faster but pricier

Quick-cooking rice, or Instant as most know it, is milled, polished and fully cooked first, then dehydrated. Regular rice requires 18-30 minutes to cook while instant rice needs anywhere between 1-7 minutes. It’s best to follow the package directions when preparing this kind of rice. Although faster to cook than regular rice, it is more expensive than regular rice.

Wild Rice isn't rice!

It is not actually a rice at all. It is a seed of a native marsh grass, known for its luxurious nutty flavor and chewy texture.

Wild rice is native to the Great Lakes region of North America. Wild rice is generally more expensive than other rice and takes longer to cook. Because of its texture, the cooking ratio is 3 cups water to 1-cup rice.

This Basic Fried Rice recipe can be made with leftover vegetables and features a low sodium stir-fry sauce you make yourself.

Basic Fried Rice Recipe

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 cups chopped veggies (may use leftover vegetables)
  • 1 tablespoon Stir-Fry Sauce*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 cups cold, cooked brown rice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • *Stir-Fry Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sodium-free beef bouillon
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dark molasses
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash of black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup water

For Stir-Fry Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and boil gently, uncovered for 5 or more minutes or until sauce is reduced to one half cup. When cooked, pour into lidded jar and keep in the refrigerator. Stir before using. Nutrition: 1 Tablespoon = 5 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g protein, 1 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 30 mg sodium

To make rice: Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray. Stir-fry vegetables in pan. Add stir-fry sauce, onion, and garlic powder. Stir. Stir in cooked rice. Push to sides of pan, making a hole in the center. Drop beaten egg into the center of pan and scramble. Stir into rice and vegetable mixture.

Makes 4 (½ cup) servings. Nutritional Information (per serving) using carrots and broccoli: 160 calories; 2 g fat; 55 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 5 g protein. Excellent source of vitamins A and C.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. 

By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture