Fast Perfect Brown Rice

Do you own a pressure cooker? Does it sit in some dark corner of your cabinets, collecting dust? Did you inherit it from your grandmother and fear that it will blow up? I have a good reason for you to break out that pressure cooker: brown rice. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, consider this – you can cook perfect brown rice in about 25 minutes. I know there are plenty of folks who don’t like brown rice but I’m here to tell you this is good stuff. I much prefer brown rice to white rice. Its flavor is nuttier and I like the chewy texture. You can now find basmati brown rice which is even better. White rice is just blah in comparison.

In my house, we eat more brown rice than white rice (much to my daughter’s chagrin). And because of that trusty pressure cooker, I don’t even have to think very far ahead to make it.

Pressure cookers are good for lots of other things too. You can go from dried beans to soft and creamy in under 30 minutes. It’s great for cooking stews and soups, simulating hours of stovetop cooking. They are very popular in India, where my pressure cooker was manufactured. Why? Because they appreciate the sped-up slow-cooked convenience of the thing.

I don’t suggest you use grandma’s ancient pressure cooker. In the old days, pressure cookers did blow up, or so I have read. Nowadays, pressure cooker have multiple safety systems to prevent an all-out explosion. Which is a good reason to invest in a modern one. You can get a decent one for under $50. That’s a pretty good deal in cookware.

This isn’t really a recipe – more a method. It’s a variation on a method in Lorna Sass’s Cooking Under Pressure. Last night, I skipped a step – boiling the water before adding it to the rice – and it went from OK brown rice to perfect. I’ve provided measurements for cooking 1 1/2 cups rice (our typical batch) or 1 cup rice.

Fast Brown Rice
(makes 3 1/2 cups rice if cooking 1 1/2 cups raw rice; 2 1/4 cups if cooking 1 cup raw rice)

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups brown rice (1 cup rice)
2 1/2 cups water (1 3/4 cups water)

Heat oil over medium heat in pressure cooker. Add rice and toss in oil until rice becomes fragrant. Do not brown. Add water. Lock on the lid and turn heat to high. When the pressure cooker reaches pressure (and how you know this will depend on the model you have; mine has a jiggle top), turn down heat to just maintain pressure and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow pressure to drop for 10 minutes. Release remaining pressure and open the top. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Note: You can substitute stock for water to add more flavor. You can add  1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt to the water but I never salt my rice.


Author: worldplatterblog

I blog about food, travel, and anything else tangentially related to food that piques my interest. I have a degree in Culinary Arts and in Operations Research (it's math). That means I'm pretty analytical and love science, but I also love art. Food is a strange place where science intersects art in continually changing ways. I love writing about all of it.

2 thoughts on “Fast Perfect Brown Rice”

  1. The total elapsed time isn't much different than doing it on a stovetop, is it? The thing that always frustrated me about the pressure cooker was how long it took for the rocker to start rocking…

    I also stir the rice in a lightly oiled pot til fragrant. (I also do this for white or basmati rice.) Then I add already-boiling water or stock (pyrex beaker in microwave) to the rice and cover quickly. Turn the heat down and in under 40 minutes (at sea level!) it's done. If you don't stir it, and let it rest at the end, it comes out perfectly.


  2. It is slightly faster and much more reliable at 5400 feet. Without a pressure cooker, brown rice needs to cook 50 minutes at Boulder elevation. And, it may still be kind of crunchy. Yes, it can take a while to get that jiggler rocking. I crank it up as high as it will go, which on my induction cooktop is kind of like a blast furnace.

    I found if I used boiling water, the rice came out gummy and sticks terribly to the bottom of the pressure cooker. That's why I switched to unheated water. If you start with boiling water, it should come to pressure much faster, like immediately. But, I didn't like the results as well.


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