Plump, fluffy, and buttery white basmati rice is easy to make at home and all you need is a pot and a stove. Learn how to cook perfect grains of white basmati rice over the stove in less than 40 minutes for your next meal.
What is so special about basmati rice?
Basmati is a type of long-grain rice that comes in white and brown varieties that are popular in countries like India and Pakistan. Since it’s a type of long-grain rice, the grains are less likely to stick to each other once it’s cooked. This is due to the low amount of amylopectin starch in long-grain rice. The only difference with the brown basmati rice variety is that there is an outer bran layer intact, whereas the white basmati rice is polished. Basmati rice is typically eaten with Indian cuisine and curries like butter chicken recipe (Indian murgh makhani).
How do you make basmati rice fluffy and not sticky?
To make the perfect basmati rice that is fluffy and not sticky, you need to follow a ratio of basmati rice to water. The more water you use, the more mushy and sticky the rice will be. However, if you use too little water, the rice will be too dry and hard.
Basmati rice to water ratio
This recipe uses a higher water ratio than with cooking medium or short-grain rice. The ratio is one cup of uncooked, white basmati rice to one and a half cups of water. After testing this recipe on different servings, I’ve found you can simply scale the rice and water up using the same ratio if you want more rice, which is not something you can do with every type of rice.
- 2 servings: 1 dry measuring cup white basmati rice, 1 ½ liquid measuring cup water
- 4 servings: 2 dry measuring cups white basmati rice, 3 liquid measuring cups water
Cooking time for basmati rice
Using a pot over the stove to cook white basmati rice is easy and as fast as under 30 minutes. Cooking white basmati rice on the stove takes about 20-25 minutes, in addition to presoaking the basmati rice for 20 minutes.
Note that this recipe uses a stainless steel pan with a glass lid, so if you use other materials of pots like non-stick pots, it may cook differently.
What is the best way to cook basmati rice?
- Using the stovetop takes about 20-25 minutes of active cooking time on the stove, but I recommend soaking the rice for 20 minutes before cooking to get fluffy and tender rice.
- If you have an Instant Pot, this is the fastest way to cook basmati rice, from my experience. You don’t need to pre-soak the rice, and it’s a hands-off method.
- If you also have a rice cooker, this is a hands-free method, but it takes up to 50 minutes in my rice cooker to cook the rice vs. 30 minutes in an Instant Pot.
If you have leftover cooked rice after your meal, you can put the leftovers in airtight containers and place them in the fridge for up to 3-5 days or in the freezer for up to one month.
How to season basmati rice
You can use butter (like ghee) or olive oil and salt to season basmati rice. The butter prevents the rice from sticking to other rice grains and the pot itself. I recommend melting the butter on the stove and then mixing in the rice, salt, and water, so it’s incorporated while cooking.
Can you cook basmati rice without soaking it?
If you’re cooking basmati rice with a rice cooker or an Instant Pot, you don’t need to pre-soak the rice. If you’re cooking basmati rice on the stovetop, I would recommend soaking the rice before cooking to reduce the active cooking time and make sure all the rice is cooked thoroughly. When I didn’t soak my rice before cooking it on the stove, I noticed some uneven hard pieces.
If you’re interested in other seasoned rice recipes, check out my easy, buttery seasoned rice post.
Stovetop Basmati Rice Recipe
2 servings rice
- 1 c white basmati rice
- 1 ½ c filtered water plus more for soaking & rinsing
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
4 servings rice
- 2 c white basmati rice
- 3 c filtered water plus more for soaking & rinsing
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- mixing bowl
- Put rice in a strainer and run under cold water until the water turns clear.
- Transfer the rice into a mixing bowl and pour the filtered water until it’s at least two inches above the rice line. Let the rice soak in the water for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, drain the water from the rice and set it aside. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and add the butter to melt it.
- As soon as all the butter is melted, add the water, salt, and rice. Mix until everything is combined. Use the spatula to even out the rice.
- Bring the water to a boil and then lower to medium heat, uncovered. Continue to boil until you see the top layer of the rice grains through the simmering water. This photo shows how it should look at the end once the rice becomes visible.
- Lower the heat to low so that it remains at a simmer, and cover with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes and do not open the lid during this step.
- After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and move the pot to a cool burner. Leave the lid on and let it rest for five minutes. After 5 minutes, open the lid, here's how it should look.
- and use the spatula to gently fluff the rice with a fork carefully to separate the grains. Serve immediately.