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How to Cook Black Rice: the Best Methods + Tips & Tricks

I had always wanted to try black rice but never taken the time to do it until just recently. My local grocery store started selling it about 2 months ago, and I bought a package right away. To my surprise, there were no cooking instructions on the packaging, and since I had no idea how to cook black rice, I assumed that the standard ratio of 1 part rice and 2 parts water would work just fine. However, it didn’t turn out as well as I expected.

Cooked black rice in a round bowl standing on a purple napkin.

I actually had to experiment quite a bit to find the best ratio of rice to water. As I was doing my research, I also learned how to cook black rice using three different methods and found quite a few useful tips and tricks.

If you are new to cooking black rice, here are a few interesting facts about it…

What is Black Rice?

Black rice, also called purple rice, forbidden rice, and Chinese black rice is a type of whole-grain rice that is quite dark in color. It can be completely black or more of a dark purple or burgundy with some multicolored kernels. When black rice is cooked, it turns dark purple.

Black rice kernels.

Uncooked black rice can be completely black or more of a dark purple or burgundy with some multicolored kernels.

Why is Black Rice Black?

Black rice gets its dark color from the antioxidant called anthocyanin. It’s the same nutrient that is found in many purple-colored fruits and vegetables such as blueberries and eggplant.

How Does Black Rice Taste?

Black rice tastes very similar to brown rice and is often described as having a “nutty” flavor. It’s quite dense and chewy. Depending on the cooking method, black rice can also be quite sticky.

Is Black Rice Nutritious?

Yes, black rice is very nutritious. It’s high in antioxidants, protein, and fiber and is a good source of iron.

Is Black Rice and Wild Rice the Same Thing?

No, black rice and wild rice are quite different. They are grown and harvested in different ways. They also taste differently and behave differently in cooking.

Black rice in a small bowl on the left vs. wild rice in a small bowl on the right.

Black Rise (on the left) vs. Wild Rice (on the right)

What is the glycemic index of black rice?

The glycemic index of black rice is 43, and the glycemic load is 14.

Is Black Rice Gluten-Free?

Yes, black rice is gluten-free.

How do You Serve Black Rice?

Black rice can be served as a simple side dish just like you would serve white or brown rice.

It makes an excellent base for grain and veggie bowls and grain salads. It also tastes great in burritos and wraps. Since black rice is naturally sticky, it’s perfect for sushi. Black rice is also often used to make desserts and puddings.

For example, it would taste great served with this Vegan Mushroom Goulash, these Healthy Turkey Meatballs, or this Pan Fried Rainbow Trout.

Is it better to pre-soak black rice before cooking?

Pre-soaking hard grains such as brown or wild rice is a popular method of reducing the cooking time. Since black rice also takes a long time to cook, I decided to experiment with pre-soaking it to see how it turns out. The results were quite surprising.

I found that pre-soaking for 1 hour didn’t change the cooking time at all and didn’t affect the taste or the texture of the cooked rice.

Pre-soaking the rice overnight only reduced the cooking time for 5 minutes but changed the texture of the cooked rice quite a bit. The pre-soaked cooked black rice was clumping together, most of the kernels burst open, and the rice became very sticky when it cooled.

Although pre-soaking black rice just to reduce the cooking time doesn’t make much sense, it might still be a useful step to do for other reasons, for example, to make it easier to digest.

Black rice cooked from dry vs. pre-soaked cooked black rice.

Black Rice Cooked from Dry vs. Pre-Soaked Cooked Black Rice

What to Keep in Mind When Cooking Black Rice:

  • Black rice takes longer to cook than white rice, so plan accordingly.
  • The purple pigment in the black rice is so strong that it will stain anything and everything. So, use glass or metal cookware and wipe your countertop immediately if you get any wet black rice or the purple colored liquid on it. Also, make sure to protect your clothing. Black rice will also stain any food it’s cooked with.

How to Cook Black Rice: The Basic Methods

There are three basic techniques that can be used for cooking almost all hard grains – the absorption method, the pasta method, and the pilaf method. Here is how you can use these methods for cooking black rice:

Method # 1 – The Absorption Method

The absorption method is the most basic and popular method of cooking grains.

This technique requires the grain to be cooked in a specific quantity of liquid that should be fully absorbed by the grain by the end of cooking. When using the absorption method, you can also use broth instead of water to give the dish more flavor.

How to cook black rice using absorption method.

Black Rice Cooked Using Absorption Method

The Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 1 cup of black rice, rinsed
  • 1/8 tsp of salt (or to taste)

The Method:

To cook black rice using the absorption method, add water, and rinsed black rice to a saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, reduce heat, cover, and cook for about 30-35 minutes.

Resist the urge to open the lid too often to check on the rice because this will let a lot of steam out. Continue cooking until the rice is tender and chewy, and all water is absorbed. Take off the heat and let it stand covered for about 5 to 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.

Troubleshooting:

If all the water has evaporated, but the rice is not fully cooked yet, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and cook for 5 more minutes.

Keep in Mind:

The time and water to rice ratio required to cook the perfect black rice using the absorption method very much depend on the amount of water that evaporates during cooking. And this, in turn, depends on your cooking environment, such as the saucepan and lid you are using, the humidity in your area, the altitude you live in, etc. So, you might need to experiment to determine the ratio and timing that works best for you.

Method # 2 – The Pasta Method

The pasta method of cooking hard grains isn’t very popular, but it is super easy and works very well with black rice.

This technique requires the grain to be cooked just like pasta in a large amount of water in a pot without a lid. When the grain is cooked, the water is discarded.

It’s is an excellent method of cooking black rice because you don’t have to figure out and remember the exact ratio of water to rice.

It results in black rice with a very nice non-sticky consistency. It’s also more flexible as you can taste the rice during cooking to check for doneness. In addition, you don’t have to worry about burning the rice or getting a hard crust at the bottom of the pan.

The disadvantages of this method are that you can only use water and not broth for cooking as you will be discarding it at the end, and some nutrients will also be lost in the discarded water.

How to cook black rice using pasta method.

Black Rice Cooked Using Pasta Method

The Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of black rice, rinsed

The method:

To cook black rice using the pasta method, add the water, rinsed black rice, and salt to a large pot. Bring to a boil and cook for about 30 to 35 minutes until the rice is tender and chewy. Strain the black rice using a mesh colander.

Method # 3 – The Pilaf Method

In the pilaf method, grains are lightly toasted in oil with aromatics such as vegetables, herbs, and spices first and then simmered in water or stock.

To prepare a fragrant pilaf, you can use carrots, onion, shallots, garlic, ginger, fennel, celery, green peas, bay leaves, cumin, thyme, etc. You can also experiment by cooking the black rice pilaf with chicken or vegetable stock instead of water.

How to cook black rice using pilaf method.

Black Rice Cooked Using Pilaf Method

The Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup black rice
  • 2 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp salt (or to taste)

The Method:

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

Add the black rice and cook, stirring until the grains are well coated in oil and become fragrant. Then add the water and salt and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover, and cook until the black rice is tender and chewy for about 30 to 35 minutes. Take the rice off the heat and let it stand covered for about 5 to 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.

Troubleshooting:

If all the water has evaporated, but the rice is not fully cooked yet, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and cook for 5 more minutes.

Keep in Mind:

The time and water to rice ratio required to cook the perfect black rice pilaf very much depend on the amount of water that evaporates during cooking. And this, in turn, depends on your cooking environment, such as the saucepan and lid you are using, the humidity in your area, the altitude you live in, etc. So, you might need to experiment to determine the ratio and timing that works best for you.

Now It’s Your Turn!

I’ve had a lot of fun testing these cooking methods and eating all that black rice, and now it’s your turn! Please let us know in the comments below what is your favorite method of cooking black rice. Do you like it? Do you cook it often? And if you try any of the techniques described in this post, please give this recipe a 5-star rating!

How to Cook Black Rice

How to Cook Black Rice

Yield: 4 portions
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Learn how to cook black rice for salads and side dishes using 3 easy methods - the absorption method, the pasta method, and the pilaf method.

Ingredients

For the Absorption Method:

  • 1 cup black rice, rinsed
  • 2 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp salt or to taste

For the Pasta Method:

  • 1 cup black rice, rinsed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

For the Pilaf Method:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup black rice
  • 2 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp salt or to taste

Instructions

For the Absorption Method:

  1. Add water and rinsed black rice to a saucepan.
  2. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, reduce heat, cover and cook for about 30-35 minutes. (Don't open the lid too often because this will let a lot of steam out.) Continue cooking until the rice is tender and chewy and all water is absorbed.
  3. Take off the heat and let it stand covered for about 5 to 10 minutes then fluff with a fork and serve.

For the Pasta Method:

  1. Add the water, rinsed black rice, and salt to a large pot. Bring to a boil and cook for about 30 to 35 minutes until the rice is tender and chewy.
  2. Strain the black rice using a mesh colander.

For the Pilaf Method:

  1. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent for about 2 minutes then add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the black rice and cook, stirring until the grains are well coated in oil and become fragrant.
  3. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook until the black rice is tender and chewy for about 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. Take the rice off the heat and let it stand covered for about 5 to 10 minutes then fluff with a fork and serve.

Notes

1. Troubleshooting for the absorption and pilaf methods:

  • If all the water has evaporated but the rice is not cooked yet, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and cook for 5 more minutes.

2. What to keep in mind for the absorption and pilaf methods:

  • The time and water to rice ratio required to cook the perfect black rice very much depend on the amount of water that evaporates during cooking. And this, in turn, depends on your cooking environment such as the saucepan and lid you are using, the humidity in your area, the altitude you live in, etc. So, you might need to experiment to determine the ratio and timing that works best for you.

3. Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 out of 4 servings of black rice cooked using absorption method with 1/8 tsp of salt.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 portions Serving Size 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 160Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 73.6mgCarbohydrates 34gFiber 2gSugar 0gProtein 3g

Nutrition facts provided on this website are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a qualified health care provider for personalized diet advice and make sure that each of the ingredients is allowed in your diet.

Did you make this recipe?

If you tried this recipe, please give it a 5-star rating! To do this, click on the stars above. You can also leave a review or comment below. And don't forget to tag me @mariaushakova.blog if you share a picture on Instagram!

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Evyan Koenig

Saturday 2nd of October 2021

If I double the rice to two cups do I double the water? Increase cooking time?

Paula

Saturday 4th of September 2021

Oh my gosh I'm here in September of 2021 and I am so so appreciative of the three methods of cooking. This is what I do and there are specific rices that will lend themselves to certain types of cooking. I am way, way delighted that you have examples of all three techniques and the rice's reaction to it. Thank you, thank you!

PS: I definitely agree your environment will influence how much water you do use. I spent 20 years cooking in humidity at sea level and then I moved to the high desert and I was completely flabbergasted that I had to actually introduce a lot more things like water and so forth. None of my old ways worked at all.

Mary

Saturday 3rd of July 2021

Thank you! I had a packet of black rice in the cupboard - in fact it was the only rice in the cupboard, so I couldn't afford to stuff it up. Following your directions, it turned out great and my guests enjoyed it thoroughly. You got me out of a jam! Thanks again!

Ann

Friday 23rd of April 2021

Thanks for sharing this detailed description. Here’s a great recipe for rice salad (you can fry the rice but we don’t, we just serve as salad.) https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pineapple-black-fried-rice

Maria

Monday 26th of April 2021

@Ann, Thank you so much for sharing!

Laura

Sunday 7th of March 2021

Which method did you like the best when you were testing all of these?

Maria

Sunday 7th of March 2021

@Laura, I like them all. If you are cooking it to make a black rice salad, I recommend the pasta method. Otherwise, I don't have a preference.

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