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Everything You Need to Know About Short Grain Rice

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Rice is sorted into three main categories: short-, medium-, and long-grain. True to its name, short-grain rice is small and stout. In addition to its shape, short-grain rice varieties are known for their starchy texture, which makes them great for dishes where you’d like the grains to stick together, like sushi, or in recipes where you’re going for a creamy texture, like rice pudding. Read on to learn more about short-grain rice and explore all the different ways to use and cook it.

What Is Short-Grain Rice?

When you look at short-grain rice, you’ll notice its squat, plump shape. The grains are noticeably shorter than, say, long-grain basmati rice or wild rice. Each grain is just a wee bit longer than it is wide, making it look almost round. 

American short-grain brown rice and sushi rice (Japanese rice) are the most common types of short-grain rice you’ll see at the supermarket. With their higher starch content, these grains tend to clump together when cooked, making them perfect for eating with chopsticks. Because of its sticky texture, short-grain rice is also excellent for sushi or rice pudding. Some medium-grain rice varieties, such as Arborio, are sometimes placed in the short-grain category, which can lead to confusion.

How Should You Cook Short-Grain Rice?

Stovetop? Oven? A countertop appliance? No matter how you cook short-grain rice, we have the best methods.

How to Cook Short-Grain Rice on the Stove

For short-grain white rice, measure out 1 cup short-grain white rice, and pour it into a small saucepan. Fill the pan with enough cold water to cover the rice, and vigorously swish the rice in the water with your hand; pour off the water. Repeat this step 3 to 4 more times, until the water you pour off is almost clear. Drain the rice in a sieve or mesh strainer, then return it to the pan. Add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (or 1 cup for drier rice), cover the pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. (Try not to lift the lid; listen for boiling cues.) Reduce the heat to low, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 5 minutes (listen for hissing and crackling and try not to lift the lid). Increase the heat to high for 30 seconds to dry out the rice. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand 10 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork before serving.

For short-grain brown rice, measure 1 cup short-grain brown rice into a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse under cool running water until water runs clear. Combine the drained rice and 1 3/4 cups water in a small saucepan, and add salt to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the water is absorbed, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

How to Cook Short-Grain Rice in an Instant Pot 

For short-grain white rice, measure out 1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice, and pour it into a medium bowl. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to cover the rice, and vigorously swish the rice in the water with your hand; pour off the water. Repeat this step 3 to 4 more times, until the water you pour off is almost clear. Cover the rice with water and let it soak at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh strainer, shaking the strainer to release all of the excess water. Combine the drained rice and 1 cup water in the pot, and add salt to taste. Lock the lid in place and set to cook under High pressure for 2 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then carefully quick release any remaining pressure. Fluff with a fork before serving.

For short-grain brown rice, measure 2 cups short-grain brown rice into the inner pot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the rice, and vigorously swish the rice in the water with your hand; pour off the water. Repeat this step 2 to 3 more times, until the water you pour off is almost clear. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Combine the drained rice and 2 1/4 cups water in the pot, and add salt to taste. Lock the lid in place and set to cook under High pressure for 20 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes, then carefully quick release any remaining pressure. Fluff with a fork before serving.

How to Cook Short-Grain in a Rice Cooker 

For short-grain white rice, first check your manual to see if it offers specific instructions for short-grain white rice. Measure the rice with the cup that came with your rice cooker, then rinse it in a fine-mesh strainer. Add the rinsed, drained rice to the pot, then add salt to taste and water to the level indicated for white rice (rice cookers should have markings inside the pot). If you don’t have a rice cooker cup or markings inside the pot, try a ratio of 1 cup rice to 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water. Set to cook using the white rice mode. Let the rice stand in the closed cooker for 10 to 30 minutes after cooking, then fluff and serve.

For short-grain brown rice, first check your manual to see if it offers specific instructions for short-grain brown rice. Measure the rice with the cup that came with your rice cooker, then rinse it in a fine-mesh strainer. Add the rinsed, drained rice to the pot, then add salt to taste and water to the level indicated for brown rice (rice cookers should have markings inside the pot). If you don’t have a rice cooker cup or markings inside the pot, try a ratio of 1 cup rice to 1 2/3 cups water. Set to cook using brown rice mode. Let the rice stand in the closed cooker for 10 to 30 minutes after cooking, then fluff and serve.

How to Bake Short-Grain Rice in the Oven 

We don’t recommend cooking short-grain white or brown rice in the oven. Its high starch content can leave it gummy and dry when baked.

How to Cook Short-Grain Rice in a Slow Cooker 

For short-grain white rice, measure 2 cups short-grain white rice into a bowl. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to cover the rice, and vigorously swish the rice in the water with your hand; pour off the water. Repeat this step 3 to 4 more times, until the water you pour off is almost clear. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine the drained rice and 3 cups water in the slow cooker; salt to taste. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours; uncover and stir the rice. Cover and cook on High for an additional 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Fluff the rice before serving. 

For short-grain brown rice, measure 2 cups short-grain brown rice into a bowl. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to cover the rice, and vigorously swish the rice in the water with your hand; pour off the water. Repeat this step 2 to 3 more times, until the water you pour off is almost clear. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine the drained rice and 3 cups water in the slow cooker; salt to taste. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours; uncover and stir the rice. Cover and cook on High for an additional 30 minutes or until the rice is tender. Fluff the rice before serving.

How to Store Short-Grain Rice

Store uncooked short-grain white rice in your pantry, either in its original packaging or in an airtight container, such as a Mason jar or tightly lidded plastic container. 

Because short-grain brown rice still has its bran and germ attached, it contains oils that can go rancid relatively quickly. Be sure to store the rice in an airtight container (such as a Mason jar or tightly lidded plastic container), since exposing oils to oxygen can start to deteriorate or spoil the grains. An even better option is to store the rice (in its airtight container) in the freezer, which is not susceptible to changes in temperature and light like the pantry tends to be.

How Long Does Short-Grain Rice Last?

Our Favorite Short-Grain Rice Recipes 

With a slightly sticky texture and tendency to clump together, short-grain rice — either white or brown — is an excellent choice for sushi, rice balls, rice pudding, and more.

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