How to stop rice from being sticky

Rice is one of the most popular foodstuffs on earth and forms the backbone of millions of people’s diets. It’s not just for curries – we make risottos, sushi, desserts and a million other dishes using it. However, most of us use rice in its most common form – simply boiled until, hopefully, light and fluffy. It shouldn’t be easy to mess up a thing like boiling a grain correctly, but rice is a little more complicated than we might first think. It needs to be treated a certain way to get the most out of it.

Light and fluffy

Select what rice you want to use, but going for basmati or long grain rice will produce a fluffier and less sticky finished product than short grain rice. Measure the volume of rice you want to use – about 75ml (2.5 fl oz) per person should do it.

Place the rice in a colander and rinse well under the tap – until the water runs clear. Rice often has powdery starch on it which will make it sticky when it cooks so you need to get this off. Heat a little oil in your pan and add your rice, coating it in the oil which will also help prevent stickiness.

Boil a kettle full of water and when it’s boiled measure out one and a half times the amount of rice you used in water. For instance, if you are using 200g (7 oz) rice, use 300 ml (10.5 fl oz) of water. Add the water to the rice, stir once, put the lid on, bring it all back to the boil and then turn right down to a simmer.

Leave the rice to cook for around 12 minutes, making sure you don’t stir the rice during this time – stirring can break the grains, releasing more starch and making the rice sticky. Taste a few grains from the top of the rice and remove from the heat when it’s cooked. Use a fork to softly break up and fluff up the rice, and serve.


Using brown rice will increase your cooking time, so check the packet for details. Brown rice requires more water - a ratio of two parts water to one part rice.

Things You'll Need

  • Colander
  • Large pan
  • Measuring jug
  • Rice
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Fork
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About the Author

Robert Macintosh is a full-time journalist based in Northern Ireland. He has accumulated eight years’ experience since 2005, writing for magazines, newspapers and websites in various countries. Macintosh has specialised in politics and entertainment. He has an honours degree in social anthropology, an NVQ level 4 in newspaper journalism and an AS Level in photography.