Oven Baked Brown Rice

I love this recipe because it is incredibly hands-off and doesn’t require any special equipment or skill to make. Brown rice is such a seemingly simple grain, but it transforms into this warm, wholesome, and nutritious food. This easy-to-prepare whole grain can also become the basis for many other recipes. I think it’s wonderful even on its own with some butter and a bit of black pepper.

Oven Baked Brown Rice
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe:

1 1/2 c. Brown rice (uncooked)
2 1/3 c. Water
2 tsp. Canola oil
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375º F. Bring water, salt, and canola oil to a boil in an oven safe pot or baking dish (I use an enameled cast iron dutch oven), then add rice. Alternatively, you can start with the rice, salt, and oil in the pot, then add boiling water from an electric kettle.

Cover the container tightly with foil, or use a tightly fitting lid, and bake for one hour (or until tender).

Remove baking dish from oven, uncover, fluff with fork, then cover with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes. Uncover and let stand another 5 minutes, then serve immediately.

25 comments posted

  1. Posted by Alexander Rice - 01/04/2011

    The first way you could contribute to speed and efficiency in the kitchen would be to only use weight measures and shun volumetric measurements.

    Using cups to measure things is inaccurate, and means that at the end you have dirty measuring cups all over the place, filling the dishwasher and leaving greasy pools on the work surface.

    Using mass measurements and a digital scale makes it trivial to simply add ingredients to a pot directly from the packet. It also yields handy rules of thumb, for example it doesn’t matter whether you’re cooking rice, cous cous, quinoa… they all need twice as much water by weight as the grain.

    Converting from liquid measurements is easy — 1ml of water weighs 1g and there’s not much variation for other liquids, 1ml of oil weighs 0.9g and 1ml of sugar syrup weighs 1.2g and those are the least and most dense liquids in the kitchen.

  2. Posted by Gooch - 01/04/2011

    I learned to do this from Good Eats – an amazing source of simple cooking ideas, BTW.

    Also, since I cook my brown rice in the oven with other foods most Fridays (part of getting ready for Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath), there are a few other positives:

    1 – Temperature does not matter a huge amount in this method. I have baked rice this way anywhere from 350 to 475. Jus adjust the time a bit. My favorite is to bake @450 for 45 minutes, then turn the oven off.

    2 – Always fluff with a fork. A spoon will make things sticky (thank you Alton Brown)

    3 – Buy your rice in bulk from Whole Foods, a Co-Op, or another bulk purveyor. My personal favorite mix is 1 cup short grain brown, 2/3 cup long grain brown, and 1/3 cup long grain wild. The mix of textures really enhances the eating experience.

    4 – For easy flavoring, use powdered soup base with or without MSG. Measure out the soup base as if you were using the water to make soup instead of rice. Mixes beautifully with rice. My wife has also had good luck with a bay leaf and salt/pepper. Another idea – walnuts, almonds, and pecans each add their own unique flavor.

    5 – I use olive oil, and just eyeball it. However, I use a lot of oil which seems to make the texture creamier. About 1 tbs. per cup of water.

    Love the site, and this is a great time saver to include. My wife has been known to burn pasta, and has no trouble with making rice this way!

  3. Posted by Alix - 01/04/2011

    Nice post, and fab comments!

  4. Posted by Mimi - 01/04/2011

    my way of cooking rice: just as simple as your method, a bit faster, more energy saving, but needs a bit of attention for 2-3 minutes.

    take rice plus water in a pot, add boiling water from a kettle, put it on the stove and don´t do anything until there is no more water on the surface and you see some “holes” in the rice (takes some minutes, 2-3-4, depending on the power of your stove). this is the only critical moment: if you see the holes, you have to be quick, put a lid on the pot, turn off the stove and wait for ~half an hour.
    don´t do anything, especially: don´t stir! just leave it like this.
    if you would like to have stiky rice, take 1 part of rice (1 cup, 100g, whatever) plus 3 parts of water. if you would like to have non-stiky rice, take 1 part of rice and 2 parts of water. plus salt or oil, whatever you like.

  5. Posted by Erin - 01/04/2011

    I’ve so struggled to make good brown rice (why is it so difficult?), so I’ll be trying this one today. Thanks!

  6. Posted by L. - 01/04/2011

    I don’t get it. If you’re already using a pot to boil water, why not make the brown rice in that pot? It takes the same amount of time and effort (almost one hour, almost no effort) and messes up one less baking dish.

  7. Posted by Matt Fetissoff - 01/04/2011

    Alexander: Some day I swear I’ll convert to weight. Until then, sorry if my you end up needing to convert these recipes.

    Gooch: I like your suggestions! I end up using chopsticks to fluff my rice.

    Mimi: I definitely need to try your method sometime. I use a similar style for white rice which I will write about here some day.

    L: You are right. Looks like I need to re-word part of this recipe since I definitely don’t intend to dirty extra dishes.

  8. Posted by Gooch - 01/04/2011

    L: Two thoughts:

    1 – This method is much more forgiving to, say, dealing with your 2 year old’s diaper emergency than stovetop is. Also, less chance of crusty rice stuck to the bottom.

    2 – I no longer boil the water in a separate pot and do the pour-over. I instead pour the rice into the already boiling water. I have not noticed a difference. I only make one pot dirty.

    Finally, pot suggestion – for even heating, I use the same basic corelle white ceramic cooking/baking dishes that my mother has used my entire life. Enameled cast iron would also be excellent.

  9. Posted by Chris - 01/04/2011

    Not to poo on this tip, but I do have to agree with L. Cooking rice in in the same pot you boiled the water in is much simpler. If you follow the directions on the rice exactly, it’s always perfect. But as someone else said, do not lift the lid or touch the rice until the dinger dings, or you’ll end up with a sticky mess.

  10. Posted by kr - 01/04/2011

    @Alexander, I’m curious as I’ve recently been considering purchasing a digital scale. But confused as to how using a scale makes measuring use fewer dishes. From what I understand you still have to pour the item into a dish of some sort to put on the scale don’t you?

  11. Posted by Ophelia - 01/05/2011

    @kr

    You put the saucepan/whatever on to the scales first and then press the tare (or “zero”) button and it resets the readout to zero. Then you pour in your ingredient until the scale reads whatever weight you needed.

    Magically: no extra cups or bowls!

    Buy a digital scale! You won’t regret it

  12. Posted by spanish rice addicted - 01/05/2011

    I’m from Spain and the rice (white, brown etc…) is a must to do at least once a week so I have some ideas:
    1. Allways: olive oil.
    2. Double water than rice (or even triple if is for one or two p.)
    3. Better if you “fried” the grain before adding boiling water. (I allways boilt it in the microwave) Adding to the oil everithing you want to have in the rice (onion, pepper, fish, chiken…)
    3. After that 10min. of good fire, 10min. of minimum fire both without lid.
    4. Quit the fire, cover with a wet cloth and in 10min. you have a true “paella”.
    5. Never, never, never stir the rice. The toasted rice in the botton of the pan is called “socarrat” and is the most sought part in this dish.

    If you did it in the spanish way the only dirty thing is the pan and the cutting table (if needed).

    If you used fish soup instead of water (and nothing more) the rice is called “arroz a banda”.

  13. Posted by Karen - 01/05/2011

    Hmmmm. I use this method all the time, as I can make several pans at a time, and it doesn’t burn while I’m off chasing the toddler.

    But, it is always 1.5 c rice, 3.25 c water and it takes a full 90 minutes to cook.

    Maybe it’s a different brand of rice? I use Nishiki brown rice.

  14. Posted by Dave - 01/05/2011

    Curious, has anyone tried this without the oil? What purpose does it serve? I would think it makes it crispy.

  15. Posted by Daphne - 01/05/2011

    Maybe I read this too quickly, but I was surprised no one mentioned the concept of cooking rice, on the stovetop, with much MORE water than you need. In other words, cook it with LOTS of water, just like you would pasta. For brown rice, simply drain at the 45 minute mark.

    To do this, you need only one pot and no measuring implements. I fill my stock pot with water and then pour in a bunch of brown rice and a bit of salt, and then leave it to cook. After it’s cooked and cooled I divide it into small bags and store it in the freezer in single size servings. I’m the only one in the house who eats brown rice so this is the most efficient method for me. I do it about once a month.

  16. Posted by Daphne - 01/05/2011

    Forgot to add, if you ever need to cook brown rice in a big hurry you can always use your pressure cooker. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to do that but I think it will cook it in something like 15 minutes. Check your manufacturer’s instructions.

  17. Posted by calico ginger - 01/05/2011

    I made this last night – it tasted fabulous and is a real “set and forget” recipe, unlike the stovetop method. As for Alexander and weighing stuff, I go for the cup measurement. I have a measuring jug that first does the rice and then the water (ie, it rinses itself out)- WAY less bother than dragging out the scale.

  18. Posted by Merry - 01/05/2011

    Sounds interesting. My method is in a pressure cooker: 1 cup brown rice to 2 cups water. Bring to boil in pressure cooker and let it “jiggle” for 18 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit to cool. Makes very good, meaty rice.

  19. Posted by CharlesP - 01/06/2011

    Thanks for posting this. I tried it last night (fudged the amounts a bit… made about a 2/3 batch… fit an 8×8 pan) and it worked out well as I was boiling the water while I figured out what I was actually making for dinner, put this in the oven, then prepped the simple quiche-esque thing and stuck it in too. I also used Olive Oil instead, and a brothy seasoning instead of plain salt.

    (in case anybody is actually interested) The Quiche-esque thing was:
    about 10-15 crackers crushed and put at the bottom of a small casserole dish (I think it was a 7×11 size?)
    one onion chopped up and stuck in a blender with
    8 eggs
    2-3 tablespoons of sour cream
    about 1/4 cup of half-n-half

    After blending I mixed in a couple cups of shredded cheese (whatever I had in the bin)

    Half of it I put in spinach and a roma tomato before pouring the egg/cheese mix over it (leaving half of it plain egg/cheese for my two youngest ones) and stuck it in the oven with the rice for the last 30 minutes or so.

    Everybody but the 5 year-old was happy with it (this week she has decided that everything is “blech” & “disgusting”)

  20. Posted by Kara - 01/08/2011

    Wow .. such hostility over the extra pot. :)

    FWIW, I don’t boil water in a pot. I have an electric kettle that I use for boiling water for everything. I’ve also always used this method for making brown rice – boil the water in the kettle, pour it over the rice, stick it in the oven (usually my toaster oven), set the timer, and forget about it.

    The benefit of the oven over the stove top is that the rice cooks EVENLY with the heat coming at it from all directions. When you cook on the stovetop the heat comes from the bottom and it’s easy to overcook or even scorch the bottom while the top is still slightly undercooked.

    I make stock in the oven for the same reason.

  21. Posted by Kari - 01/18/2011

    Ok, I do this a bit differently. This is an adaptation/combination of Madhur Jaffrey’s oven baked basmati and the Alton Brown technique:

    In a dutch oven (2.5 qts for small batch; 3.5 qts for large batch) I usually start with browning some onions and other aromatics in a tablespoon or two of olive oil to give additional flavor. Then, I add the brown rice (I use either brown basmati or brown jasmine) either one or two cups depending on the amount I am making), a half teaspoon of salt and perhaps a half teaspoon of another flavoring (like a garam marsala for Indian) and stir to coat the rice (like making pilaf). Then I turn off the heat, add the water (either 1.5 or just shy of 3 cups), put on the lid, and put the pan in a 400F oven for an hour, then let it sit for 15 minutes (or longer) then fluff and serve. Comes out perfect every time and I don’t have to pay any attention to rice cooking on the stove to, coming out sticky, etc. The same approach also works for brown rice/wild rice mixes (the ones with just various rices that have not been parcooked–we buy ours at our food coop or Costco).

    So you only need one pot, no extra step of boiling the water, and perfect rice every time.

  22. Posted by DC Foodie - 01/19/2011

    Looks like a less efficient, more energy-consuming way to cook brown rice. It’s basically slow-boiling rice in an oven without added value. Quite silly in my opinion.

  23. Posted by Adam Snider - 01/19/2011

    What is the difference and/or benefit of cooking rice this way, as opposed to on the stovetop? It sounds like both methods would produce a dish that tastes the same, but this way is less efficient (because it used the entire oven instead of just a single burner on the stove).

    I don’t mean to be negative, but I just don’t understand the reason for doing it this way as opposed to on the stove.

  24. Posted by Debbie - 01/19/2011

    I have found a great way to cook brown rice. Follow measurements on bag- I usually use 1 cup rice. In the evening, I put rice in large bowl and cover with about three cups of water and then put on lid.
    The next morning, I drain the water from the rice, then add rice and required amount of water from package ( 2 1/4 cups for one cup rice) and then cook as directed for 30 minutes. The rice is very fluffy and easier to digest.

  25. Posted by Stephanie - 01/19/2011

    Ok, I can’t keep my mouth shut any longer… attention Negative Nellies: perhaps you should consider actually *reading* peoples comments regarding why they choose to cook rice this way. Kara has a good response regarding why the oven is a good choice over the burner. Electric stoves (if that’s what you’re using)are inefficient no matter what. Either way it’s going to be on for an hour, so I would need to see some evidence that using the burner is more efficient than the oven.

    Anyhoo, brown rice and I have a spotty history on the stovetop, so I’m looking forward to trying this tonight!
    Thanks!

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