Why is My Rice Crunchy?

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Making perfect rice can be an art.  For many, getting it cooked just right so that each grain is fluffy, tender, and delicious, can be harder than they’d like to admit.  If you have trouble cooking rice and find yourself asking “why is some of my rice crunchy and the rest is cooked fine,” know that you’re certainly not alone  In fact, this is such a common problem that I wrote an entire post about it.  So, keep reading!  Today, I will help you answer the “why is my rice crunchy” question and learn what you can do about it.

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Why is my rice still crunchy after cooking?

Why is my rice still crunchy after cooking?

There are many questions people ask about rice.  Is rice a fruit, vegetable or grain?  What is the difference between long-grain and short grain rice?  Why should you fry rice before boiling it?  And even, how do you store Rice Krispie treats?  Ok, maybe that last one really isn’t about rice!

However, one of the most common questions people have about rice is how to cook it properly.  Specifically, many people wonder why their rice turns out crunchy.  There are actually a number of possible causes for crunchy rice.  We’ll explore these different possible causes in the next few sections to help you pinpoint the reason behind your crunchy rice.  Then, you’ll be able to avoid making that same problem the next time you cook rice.

Undercooked

If your rice hasn’t finished cooking, it can be hard and crunchy.  Cooking rice requires the rice to absorb the right amount of water.  If the water is boiling too quickly or evaporates with the lid off the pot, there will not be sufficient water for the rice to absorb.  This can result in rice that hasn’t finished cooking and that is too hard or crunchy to enjoy.

The reasons identified below can all be possible causes for undercooked rice.  If you identify which of these mistakes you’re making, you can remedy the problem and ensure that your rice is able to cook fully before serving.

What about overcooked rice?  Is overcooked rice crunchy?  Overcooked rice tends to be mushy and too soft, rather than crunchy.  When the rice absorbs too much water, the grain can open up.  This can result in rice that has a very gummy or starchy consistency.

What happens if we add less water into the rice?

Too Little Water

What happens if we add less water into the rice?  Well, this is actually one of the most common causes for crunchy rice.  As we mentioned above, if you don’t use the right amount of water, the grains of rice won’t be able to absorb enough to soften up and cook completely.

While there may be some slight variations to the rice to water ratio for different types of rice, the general rule of thumb you should follow is to use 2 cups of water for each 1 cup of rice you’re cooking.  Looking at this a different way, you can see that you need twice as much water as rice.

So, for example, if you’re cooking 2 cups of rice, you should use 4 cups of water.  Cooking a smaller portion of rice and only plan to make about ½ cup of rice?  Then, just double that amount and use 1 cup of water.

This two to one ratio of water to rice applies to white, jasmine, and brown rice.  The ratio varies a bit for other types of rice, as you can see below:

  • Basmati Rice:  1 ½ cups of water to 1 cup of rice
  • Wild rice:  3 cups of water to 1 cup of rice
  • Arborio rice:  3 cups of water to 1 cup of rice
  • Sushi rice:  2 cups of water to 2 cups of rice
How do you fix hard rice?

Opening the Pot Lid Too Frequently

Why is my rice crunchy on top?  It could be because you are opening the lid of the pot too  or rice cooker often when the rice is cooking.  While it may be tempting to open the lid and check on the rice periodically, it is best to leave the lid on the pot.  This keeps the water and temperature consistent for even absorption.  

Opening the lid too much can cause water to evaporate, which would mean that the grains of rice aren’t able to absorb everything that they need.  Try to keep the lid closed as much as possible.

Stirring Too Frequently

What does crunchy rice mean?  Another possible cause of crunchy rice is that you’ve been stirring your rice too much.  Rice doesn’t require constant, or even frequent, stirring, unlike many other dishes you may cook.  In fact, too much stirring can have a negative impact on the rice by activating the starch.  The result may be mushy, clumpy, or even crunchy rice.

Serving Rice Too Soon

If you find yourself regularly asking, “why is my brown rice always crunchy,” or “why is my jasmine rice crunchy,” it may be that you aren’t letting the rice finish cooking all the way.  As we mentioned above, rice that is crunchy is typically undercooked.  If you serve your rice before it has had enough time to finish cooking, it is going to taste crunchy.

One way to try to remedy this is to slow down when you think you’re ready to serve the rice.  Leave yourself a few extra minutes when cooking rice so that it can remain in the pot or rice cooker for about 10 minutes after it looks done and you have turned off the heat.  This extra few minutes will allow the rice to finish absorbing the water, resulting in a fluffy, soft, and enjoyable treat.

How do you fix hard rice?

What do you do when rice is not fully cooked?  If your rice turns out crunchy, there are a few possible ways to fix it using either the stove top, a rice cooker, or the microwave.

How To Fix Undercooked Rice On Stove

If you’re cooking rice on the stovetop and realize that it is still crunchy, don’t worry.  The steps outlined below could also be used to help you revitalize rice that has previously been cooked and is crunchy:

  1. Place the right in a pot (or leave it there if you’re already in the process of cooking it).
  2. Add in a little extra water (the amount will vary based on how much rice you have, but you want to add enough that the rice will absorb it and become soft).
  3. Recover the lid and turn the heat on low.  
  4. Let the rice continue cooking for about 5 minutes.  Then, check on the rice and take it off the burner if it has finished absorbing the water, or let it continue to cook if it hasn’t.
  5. Even after the water appears to be all absorbed, turning the burner off and letting the pan sit for a few additional minutes can help ensure that the rice becomes soft and fluffy.
stove for cooking rice

How To Fix Undercooked Rice In Rice Cooker

The steps to fix undercooked rice in a rice cooker are similar to those used to fix it on the stovetop:

  1. Add a small amount of water to the rice cooker.  You just want enough that it will create some steam, so probably only about ⅓ cup or less.
  2. Close the lid on the rice cooker and let it continue cooking on a low heat setting for approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Check the rice for doneness, and allow it to continue cooking for a few more minutes if needed.

How To Fix Undercooked Rice In The Microwave

Follow these steps to fix undercooked rice using the microwave:

  1. Spoon the rice into a microwave-safe dish or bowl.
  2. Fold a paper towel and wet it with water.  Squeeze out most, but not all, of the excess water.
  3. Place the paper towel over the bowl of rice and warm up the rice in the microwave.
  4. After the rice has finished heating, carefully remove the paper towels and discard them.
white microwave oven turned off

FAQs

Is it OK to eat crunchy rice?

You should not eat rice that is raw or undercooked.  Bacteria spores may be present and could cause food poisoning. However, there are cultures that eat cooked crunchy rice, like Korean Scorched Rice.

What is the crunchy part of rice called?

When you cook rice in a pot and it leaves behind a thin crispy and crunchy layer on the pot, it is referred to as scorched rice.  This layer has different names in different regions, such as socarrat in Spain, hkaka in Iraq, and tah-dig in Iran.

Why is my rice hard the next day?

If you have leftover rice, it can become hard by the following day when you’re ready to eat it.  The retrogradation of the starch in the rice is the reason for this change in texture.  However, all is not lost!  You can re-soften the rice when you add a little water to it before reheating it in the oven or microwave.

How can you tell if rice is undercooked?

How to tell if rice is undercooked?  If rice has not finished cooking, it won’t have the fluffy and full appearance of cooked rice.  Undercooked rice will also feel harder or crunchier and may still have a grainy appearance of texture.

paella rice dish

Crunchy Rice:  Final Thoughts

Cooking rice only for it to turn out crunchy can be discouraging.  We all want the meals we prepare, whether for others or just for ourselves, to turn out nice and taste delicious.  Hopefully, you’ve learned a few possible causes of crunchy rice and know what you should do differently when cooking it in the future!

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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