When to Rinse Rice

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2009

Rinsing rice can dramatically affect whether your rice dish will have distinct, individual grains or if it will have a creamier texture.

Do you always need to rinse rice? In the test kitchen, we recommend rinsing long-grain white rice when we want separate, distinct grains. That’s because rinsing flushes away excess starch that would otherwise absorb water and swell, causing grains to stick together. To see if this was also true for other types of white rice, we gathered up three of the most common kinds called for in our recipes and cooked them, rinsed and unrinsed, in a few typical applications: We cooked medium-grain, high-starch Arborio rice in risotto, medium-grain rice in rice pudding, and steamed long-grain, low-starch basmati plain. After side-by-side tastings, we confirmed that for steamed rice, where individual grains are the desired result, rinsing improves texture. But for creamy dishes like risotto or rice pudding, rinsing compromises the texture of the finished dish. The bottom line: Unless you want a sticky, creamy texture, rinse your rice.