How to Cook Brown Rice in a Rice Cooker: Brown Rice Programs and Simple Adjustments for White Rice Programs

Brown rice can be cooked perfectly in a rice cooker. Some rice cookers offer a pre-programmed brown rice setting that produces great brown rice every time. Then you’re in luck! But, many don’t, and have either a simple manual on/off switch, or just a white rice setting. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what to do to prepare brown rice in any kind of rice cooker.

Brown rice is structurally different than white rice, which is why it needs to be cooked differently. White rice has been processed to remove the bran and the germ. The bran is the outer coating of fiber, and the germ is the portion of the grain that contains fats and protein. This kind of processing strips rice of much of its nutritional value, as well as the pleasantly nutty flavor found in brown rice. Since brown rice has more fiber surrounding the starchy portion, it requires a longer cooking time and more water.

Brown rice can vary between types as to how much water is needed. The ratio of water to rice also depends on if you like softer rice or an al dente firmness. In general, use about 2 cups of water per cup of rice. You can also increase or decrease cooking time depending on what texture you prefer. Around 35 minutes is sufficient for very firm rice, and up to 80 minutes can be necessary for very tender rice. Unfortunately, brown rice is more variable than white rice and you may need to do a little trial and error with your favorite brand.

firm brown rice after 30 min vs. very soft rice after 80 min

You may also want to add broth instead of water, as well as butter, oil, or spices, depending on what you are going to use the rice for. We will present two basic recipes for cooking brown rice below, either in a rice cooker with a brown rice program or in one with only a white rice or timer setting. Then we will provide you with some possible flavor variations.


  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 11⁄2 – 2 cups water


  • Rice cooker with inner pot
  • Measuring cup
  • Strainer for rinsing (optional)
  • Rice paddle

Instructions for a Rice Cooker with a Brown Rice Setting

If you are using a rice cooker that has a brown rice option, preparing the rice is super simple. Use the instructions below as a general guideline, but defer to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

  1. Measure out one cup of rice. Rinse the rice under cold water in a strainer. Or, put it in the cooking bowl, add cold water and swish it around. Rinsing is especially important if it is imported or if you’re not sure how it was handled.
  2. Drain and place the rice the bowl of the rice cooker.
  3. Fill the rice cooker with water to the line indicated for 1 cup of brown rice. If there is noline, add 11⁄2 cups of water for firm rice and 2 cups for soft rice.
  4. Set the inner cooking bowl inside the rice cooker.
  5. Close the rice cooker, select the brown rice program, and press start.
  6. At the end of the cooking time, open the rice cooker, fluff the rice with a paddle, andserve.

Instructions for a Rice Cooker with a White Rice or Time Setting Only

Cooking brown rice in a rice cooker with a white rice setting only requires slight modifications to ensure complete, even cooking.

  1. Measure out one cup of brown rice and rinse it in a strainer under cool water.
  2. Place the rice in a bowl and cover with warm water. Soak for at least 45 minutes and upto 2 hours.
  3. Drain the rice and place in the bowl of the rice cooker.
  4. Add 11⁄2 cups of water for firm rice and 13⁄4 cups for softer rice.
  5. Place the inner cooking bowl in the rice cooker and close the lid. Press the start buttonfor the white rice program, or set the time to 30 minutes and press start.
  6. At the end of the cooking time, open the rice cooker (careful of the steam) and check therice for doneness. If it is not done, close the cooker and cook for ten more minutes. Adda few tablespoons of water first if it seems dry.
  7. When the rice is done, let it sit in the rice cooker for 5-10 minutes, then fluff with a ricepaddle and serve.

Optional Ingredients

  • Salt – unless you need to avoid salt for health reasons, we recommend adding 1⁄2 tsp per cup of uncooked rice. This brings out the natural flavors of the rice itself and makes it taste better when combined with other dishes.
  • Broth – substitute all or part of the water for vegetable or chicken broth for a richer flavor. This is particularly good if you are using rice as a stuffing or mixing it with other ingredients, so that it adds flavor, rather than making the whole mix bland.
  • Butter or oil – fat helps carry the flavors of spices and other ingredients, so it never hurts to add a pat of butter or a tablespoon of olive oil. It also gives the rice a richer texture.
  • Bouillon cube – if you don’t have broth, dissolve a bouillon cube with a little hot water and add it to the rest of the cold cooking water.
  • Spices – if you are serving the rice with a stir fry, add some of the same spices to the cooking water, such as powdered ginger. For a dish with North African flavors, add cumin and black pepper. For something like roasted winter squash, add rosemary and sage for a savory perfume. Saffron also pairs beautifully with rice and will give it a lovely yellow color.Now that you have perfectly cooked brown rice, there are many options for serving it. Fry it with ginger, garlic, veggies, and lightly beaten eggs for fried rice, serve it alongside grilled fish or chicken, or make a rice bowl with fresh veggies and flavorful sauce. The possibilities are endless. Bon appétit!

chicken steak brown rice

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