Why Does Brown Rice Take Longer to Cook

Why Does Brown Rice Take Longer to Cook? Answered (2023)

Last Updated on July 12, 2023 by Shari Mason

Rice is a main staple in every cuisine, paired with vegetables, meat, and spices. Rice comes in wide varieties, but two of the most common are brown and white rice.

Brown rice is a whole grain, so it’s healthier since it contains fiber, minerals, and vitamins. White, on the other hand, is more delicate and softer.

But, in terms of cooking time, why does brown rice take longer to cook? Let’s get into it.

2 Reasons Why Brown Rice Takes So Long To Cook

close up shot of cooked brown rice

1. It Has Bran

Bran is the tough outer layer of whole grains, such as rice, corn, wheat, oats, and more. It contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, and natural oils.

The fiber-rich bran is intact in brown rice, affecting its total cooking time. It serves as a protective barrier since it hinders moisture from entering that easily and being absorbed by the grain.

You can easily distinguish the bran since it is tan or brownish. And it gives off a distinct earthy flavor.

Read: Chipotle White Rice vs. Brown Rice

2. It is a Whole Grain

Brown rice is a whole grain [1] since the fibrous bran, nutritious germ, and energy-fueled endosperm are not removed. It is less processed in contrast to white rice.

Since the protective fibrous bran is part of the whole grain, it stimulates a slow absorption rate. Therefore it will take significantly longer to cook brown rice.

It is also associated with many important nutrients and health benefits, so many people perceive brown rice as a healthier option.

How Long Does It Take To Cook It?

It takes 40 to 45 minutes of cooking and an extra 10 minutes of resting. It varies depending on the kind of brown rice. 

For short-grain, it will take 40 minutes of cooking and additional 10 minutes of resting.

As for medium- and long-grain, you will have to simmer it for about 45 minutes before resting it for 10 minutes.

How To Perfectly Cook Brown Rice

To perfectly cook brown rice, you must use the appropriate water-to-rice ratio. Generally, it is 2 cups of water for every cup of rice (2:1). 

If you’re cooking brown rice on a rice cooker, add enough water where the mark for cooking brown rice is indicated, or 2 cups for every cup of rice.

If it’s on an instant pot, use the same cup ratio of rice and water.

If it’s on a stove, use 2 cups of water for every cup of rice and set it to low-to-medium heat.

Cover it up during the entire cooking process, so it’ll steam up and cook properly.

Can You Soak Brown Rice to Make It Cook Faster?

Yes. Pre-soaking for 90 minutes or more helps cook brown rice faster when the pot’s finally brought to a boil.

As the water gets through the thick bran coating, it will soften the brown rice, and as a result, it will reduce regular cooking time drastically by half.

Can You Cook Brown Rice in the Oven?

Yes, you can cook brown rice in the oven as the oven disperses heat proportionately on all sides. It will steam your brown rice without burning the portions at the bottom.

Cooking in the oven is relatively easier than on the stovetop, but this is not a fast method. It will take you approximately an hour to get it done.

How to Speed Up the Cooking Process of Brown Rice

Cooked Brown Rice

To speed up the cooking process, you can use the cooking technique that is called the “pasta method”. It is the process of cooking rice in the pasta way.

Start by boiling a pot of water, add the brown rice grains, and cover. Let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice looks tender.

Drain any excess water worth a tablespoon and let the brown rice in the pot sit for 5 minutes.

Tips & Tricks When Cooking Brown Rice

  • Rinse the rice thoroughly to remove all impurities and starch. Repeat rinsing until the water is no longer cloudy.
  • Pre-soak your brown rice before cooking it to reduce the cooking time.
  • Use the rice-water ratio properly.
  • Keep it covered during the entire cooking time. Refrain from lifting the lid every once in a while.
  • Always let it sit for at least 10 minutes to absorb any excess water after cooking.


How much longer does brown rice take to cook vs white rice?

Typically, brown rice takes 40 to 45 minutes to cook and 10 minutes to sit, whereas white rice takes 15 minutes to cook and 5 minutes to sit.

Brown rice has a relatively long cooking time because it is less processed.

Why does brown rice need more water?

Brown rice generally uses a rice-to-water ratio of 2:1 to cook.
It needs more water because it contains the whole part of the grain, including fibrous bran, germ, and endosperm.

The outer bran layer needs more water to cook and soften it inside out.

How do you soften brown rice before cooking?

Pre-soak the brown rice in cold water for 90 minutes or so. It will soften the brown rice as the water is absorbed into the grains.

How do you know when brown rice is done?

Brown rice is cooked when all the water has been absorbed and looks fluffy, tender, and slightly chewy.

Does brown rice take more water than white rice?

Yes. Brown rice grains are normally drier and tougher than white rice grains, so that you will want as much water around them as possible.

Is brown rice healthier?

Yes. Brown rice is healthier because it is a whole-grain food.

Its bran and germ (removed from white rice) contain most vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins B1 and B6 [2].

It also helps reduce the risk of diabetes, improve heart health, and promote better weight control.

In Conclusion

Brown rice is a whole grain rich in nutrients and vitamins that greatly benefit the human body.

The thick outer bran layer restricts the water from entering the grain, thus making brown rice longer to cook.

Take note that pre-soaking brown rice before cooking reduces regular cooking time significantly by half.

Also, the pasta method is faster than cooking brown rice on a stove (unless pre-soaked) or in an oven.


Shari Mason

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