Welcome to everything you ever wanted to know about brown rice! In this guide, you'll learn all about brown rice--from its origins to preparation techniques, nutrition, recipes, and more. There's a lot to love about this healthy whole grain, so let's get started!
Did you know that nearly half of the world's population is dependent on rice as a staple food? I would be very surprised if you have never had rice before!
Rice cultivation began in China thousands of years ago and 90% of the world's rice is still grown in Asia today. (source: "Brown Rice" from Britannica).
White rice seems to be the most popular variety consumed today but there are several different types of rice, and we're going to focus on brown rice.
🥄What does brown rice taste like?
Brown rice is a whole grain from which only the outermost layer of the rice grain has been removed. If you were to remove the top layer (aka the bran layer) from your brown rice grains, you would have white rice.
Brown rice tastes a little bit different than white rice. It has a stronger, nuttier flavor than white rice.
It also has a chewier texture when cooked. Properly prepared brown rice is not supposed to be crunchy.
Some people do not prefer the taste of brown rice because they are used to white rice. I find that if you continue to give it a chance, you can learn to enjoy whole grains over processed white grains.
There are many ways you can add flavor to your brown rice to make it taste better. For example, instead of using water, you can cook the rice in broth. You can add butter and salt and pepper after cooking. You can also serve it with a saucy recipe that goes over the rice, covering the grains.
There are many varieties of brown rice, but let's look at the most common.
- Short grain: softest and stickiest variety
- Long grain: the most popular, firmest of the brown rice family.
- Basmati: A long-grain rice, originally found in India. Has a nuttier flavor than other types of brown rice and a fluffy texture.
- Jasmine: Originally found in Thailand, this type of rice is very fragrant and has more texture than other types.
- Minute or instant brown rice: This type of brown rice has been partially pre-cooked and then dehydrated, making it have a very quick cook time. Because of the way it has been processed, this type of brown rice has fewer calories, carbs, and protein. It is also a softer rice and has less flavor. But some varieties can be ready to eat in 90 seconds!
Brown rice is similar to white rice in calories and carbohydrates but has more nutrition in pretty much every other way. This is because it still has its outer bran layer, which makes it a whole grain.
Each type of brown rice (i.e. basmati, jasmine, short-grain, etc) has a little bit different nutritional value, but they are pretty similar.
So check out the nutrition for ½ cup of cooked, long-grain brown rice:
- Calories: 150
- Total fat: 1G
- Cholesterol: 0
- Sodium: 0
- Carbohydrates: 32G
- Fiber: 1G
- Protein: 3G
- Iron: 2%
- Potassium: 2%
Brown rice is also a good source of folate, B vitamins, calcium, and antioxidants.
It is also lower on the glycemic index than white rice. This means it is a better choice for people with diabetes because it has less of an impact on your blood sugar.
Brown rice has an average GI of 55.
In general, whole-grain foods like brown rice are always helpful with weight loss. This is because they usually have more fiber and protein than their more processed counterparts.
This means you can eat less and feel fuller for longer, plus you'll be getting more nutrients.
People often wonder if brown rice is unhealthy or bad for you because of the level of arsenic found in it. Arsenic is a toxic chemical and it is found in brown rice more often than in other types of food.
So, eating considerable amounts of brown rice every day may pose a health risk to you. Eating it occasionally as part of a healthy and varied diet should be ok.
You can reduce the amount of arsenic in your rice by thoroughly rinsing the grains before cooking. Jasmine and basmati rice also tend to have lower arsenic levels than other varieties.
To read more about this topic, check out "Arsenic in Rice: Should You Be Concerned?" by Healthline.
👪 Serving Size and Ratios
1 cup of uncooked brown rice makes about 2 cups of cooked rice.
½ cup of cooked brown rice is considered 1 serving of rice.
So 1 cup of uncooked brown rice will make about 4 servings.
📖 Cooking Instructions
When cooking brown rice, it's always a good idea to rinse the grains with clean water first. Not only does this remove any dirt or debris that has gathered during the packaging process, but it also removes excess starch from the surface of your grains. This means your rice will be less sticky after cooking.
Some people suggest soaking brown rice before cooking. This is not necessary, and honesly, I don't every make time to this. However, soaking rice does provide some benefits.
For starters, it cuts down on cook time. Also, some argue that presoaking rice leads to your rice being more aromatic. For more info on that interesting idea, check out "Should You Wash Rice Before Cooking?" from Food52.
Brown Rice can be prepared in a variety of ways:
- Instant Pot usually takes about 25-30 mins.
- Stove top usually takes about 45 minutes.
- Rice cooker usually takes about 45 minutes.
You can easily substitute brown rice for white rice and vice versa.
Brown rice can often be a substitute for other types of grains, like farro, quinoa, or barley. When substituting one grain for another, use the cook time and water ratio for the grain you are using, not the grain the recipe calls for.
🥣 Storage and Reheating
Uncooked brown rice should be stored in an air-tight container, in a cool and preferably dark location.
Cooked brown rice should be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. The longer it stays in the refrigerator, the drier the rice grains will become.
The simplest way to reheat your rice is in the microwave. You'll want to use a microwave-safe container that has a lid. Add the rice and break up any large chunks of rice with a fork. Add a few sprinkles of water to help create steam and rehydrate the grains.
Cover the container and microwave for 1 minute. Remove the lid, (watch out for steam) and test the grains. If they are still cold or dry repeat until you're satisfied.
💰 Where to Buy
You can find brown rice on the shelves of your grocery store, and in the bulk bins if your grocery store has them. Shopping in the bulk bins is the most cost-effective place to buy them. Plus you can get the exact amount you need.
You can always purchase it online as well, but it will be significantly more expensive.
Brown rice is so versatile and can be used in so many different types of cuisines. It pairs well with meat, veggies, and beans. You can serve it as a side dish, in soups or salads.
Here are some of my favorite recipes from around the web:
Here are some kitchen tools that come in handy when cooking with brown rice.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying orders at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting The Incredible Bulks.
I hope this guide has been helpful to you! Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions about brown rice, and I'll try to get them answered!