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Foolproof Rice Without a Rice Cooker

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2016

Rice cookers make the task convenient and foolproof, but what if you don’t own this single-task appliance?

Rice cookers make the task convenient and foolproof, but what if you don’t own this single-task appliance? Is there another way to guarantee perfect results every time? Knowing that electric rice cookers automatically switch from “cook” to “keep warm” mode when a sudden rise in temperature indicates that all the water has been absorbed, we devised a method using a probe thermometer, aluminum foil, and a saucepan. We inserted the probe until it touched the bottom of the pot (since this was the simplest, most foolproof location). We set the target temperature for 214 degrees, 2 degrees above boiling, to allow for any inaccuracies and the slightly higher temperature of the bottom of the pot. We found that the temperature stayed below 214 degrees until all of the water in the pot had been absorbed by the rice, at which point the temperature rose to 214 degrees and beyond, meaning the rice was done.

HERE'S HOW YOU DO IT: Combine 2 cups rinsed white rice and 3 cups water in saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, then cover pot tightly with aluminum foil. Insert probe, poking through foil, until tip is touching bottom of pot and set target temperature to 214 degrees. When alarm sounds, remove foil and probe, place dish towel folded in half over top, and cover with saucepan lid. Let rice stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

MAKESHIFT RICE COOKER: A probe thermometer and aluminum foil help produce perfect rice in a saucepan.