Undercooked Brown Rice: Causes, Fixes, Sings and Preventions!

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Brown rice, touted for its nutritional benefits, can sometimes present a culinary challenge when it turns out undercooked.

This article dives into the causes behind undercooked brown rice, explores effective fixes, identifies signs of undercooking, and provides valuable tips to prevent this common kitchen dilemma.

Can you eat undercooked brown rice?

No, you can not eat undercooked brown rice because it can pose potential health risks. Undercooked rice may contain harmful bacteria called Bacillus cereus, which can produce toxins that lead to food poisoning.

Bacillus cereus is commonly found in rice and spores can survive even during the cooking process.

When rice is undercooked, these spores may not be completely eliminated, and if the rice is left at room temperature, the spores can multiply and produce toxins.

Consuming rice contaminated with these toxins can cause symptoms of food poisoning, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

How to Know if brown rice is undercooked? 

Determining if brown rice is undercooked involves assessing its texture and doneness.

Here are some signs that can help you identify undercooked brown rice:

Hardness or Chewiness: 

Undercooked brown rice will be harder and chewier than properly cooked rice. When you bite into a grain, it should have a tender and slightly chewy texture. If the rice feels overly firm or crunchy, it’s likely undercooked.

Visible Core:

If you observe a white, opaque core at the center of the rice grain, it indicates that the inner part is not fully cooked. Properly cooked brown rice should have a consistent color and texture throughout.

Resistance to Pressure:

When you press a cooked rice grain between your fingers, it should yield to slight pressure without feeling overly firm or resistant. Undercooked rice may feel too firm and won’t easily break apart.

Grain Separation:

Well-cooked brown rice grains should separate easily when fluffed with a fork. If the grains stick together or clump, it may be a sign that the rice is undercooked.

Excess Water:

If there is excess water in the pot after the recommended cooking time has passed, the rice may be undercooked. Ensure that the water is fully absorbed or drained before assessing the rice.


Taste a few grains of the rice. Undercooked rice will have a starchy or raw taste. Properly cooked rice should have a nutty and slightly sweet flavor.

Check a Few Grains:

Take a few grains of rice and press them between your fingers. If they feel hard or gritty in the center, the rice is likely undercooked.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s an indication that the brown rice needs more cooking time.

Depending on the degree of undercooking, you can employ methods such as steaming, using hot broth, stir-frying, or using a rice cooker or pressure cooker to finish the cooking process.

How to Fix Undercooked Brown Rice: 5 Methods For Fixing

Undercooking brown rice can be a frustrating experience, but don’t worry, there are several methods you can use to salvage your batch.

Whether you prefer adding more water, simmering for longer, using a rice cooker, double boiling, or overnight soaking, these techniques can help you achieve perfectly cooked brown rice.

Let’s dive into each method and learn how to fix undercooked brown rice. If your brown rice turns out undercooked, one simple fix is to add more water and continue cooking.

This method works best if the rice is only slightly underdone. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Use a measuring cup to add an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to the pot.
  2. Stir the rice to evenly distribute the water.
  3. Place the lid back on the pot and continue cooking for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  4. Check the rice to see if it has reached the desired level of tenderness.

Adding More Water

Adding more water allows the grains to absorb the moisture and cook fully, providing you with soft and fluffy brown rice.

Another method to fix undercooked brown rice is to simmer it for a longer duration. This technique is suitable when the rice is significantly undercooked.

Follow these steps:

  1. Add a small amount of water (about 1/4 cup) to the pot if the rice appears dry.
  2. Place the lid back on the pot and reduce the heat to low.
  3. Simmer the rice for an additional 10-15 minutes, providing enough time for the grains to fully cook.
  4. Check the consistency and continue simmering if necessary.

Simmering For Longer

By simmering the undercooked rice for an extended period, you allow it to absorb more moisture and cook thoroughly.

Using a rice cooker is a foolproof method to fix undercooked brown rice. Rice cookers have built-in sensors that automatically adjust the cooking time and temperature.

Here’s how to fix undercooked brown rice using a rice cooker:

  1. Transfer the undercooked rice to a rice cooker, ensuring to level the grains evenly.
  2. Add the appropriate amount of water according to the rice cooker’s instructions.
  3. Close the lid and start the cooking cycle.
  4. Allow the rice to cook until the rice cooker signals it’s done.

Double Boiling

Rice cookers guarantee perfectly cooked brown rice by monitoring the cooking process and adjusting the settings accordingly.

Double boiling is a technique that involves using indirect heat to cook rice slowly and evenly. This method is ideal for fixing slightly undercooked brown rice.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Fill a larger pot with water, ensuring it’s about three-quarters full.
  2. Place the undercooked rice in a smaller pot that can fit inside the larger pot.
  3. Put the smaller pot with rice inside the larger pot with water.
  4. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Allow the rice to cook in the steam produced by the water for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Overnight Soaking

If your brown rice is severely undercooked, consider using the overnight soaking method. This technique involves soaking the rice overnight to soften the grains before cooking.

Follow these steps:

  1. Transfer the undercooked rice to a bowl.
  2. Add enough water to cover the rice completely.
  3. Allow the rice to soak overnight (for at least 8 hours).
  4. Drain the soaked rice and rinse it thoroughly.
  5. Cook the rice as you normally would, using the appropriate amount of water.

Overnight soaking helps to hydrate and soften the rice, ensuring it cooks evenly and to the right consistency.

With these different methods at your disposal, you can easily fix undercooked brown rice and enjoy a delicious and fluffy end result.

Use hot broth or stock to fix undercooked Brown Rice

Using hot broth or stock to finish cooking undercooked brown rice is a method that not only adds flavor to the rice but also helps it reach the desired doneness without making it mushy.

Here’s how you can use this method:

Prepare the broth or stock:

Heat the broth or stock on the stovetop until it’s hot but not necessarily boiling. You can use vegetable, chicken, beef, or any other type of broth that complements the flavors you want in your dish.

Assess the rice:

If your brown rice is undercooked but has absorbed most of the water, you can proceed with this method. If there’s excess water in the pot, you may need to drain it before continuing.

Replace water with hot broth or stock:

Pour the hot broth or stock directly into the pot with the undercooked rice, replacing some or all of the remaining cooking liquid. The hot liquid will bring additional heat to the rice and aid in the cooking process.

Continue cooking:

Put the lid back on the pot and continue cooking the rice over low to medium heat. Keep an eye on the pot to prevent burning and stir occasionally to distribute the heat evenly.

Check for doneness:

Periodically check the texture of the rice by tasting it. The hot broth or stock should infuse the rice with additional flavor as it finishes cooking. Be cautious not to overcook the rice, as it can become mushy.

Adjust seasoning if needed:

If you used a low-sodium broth or stock, you might need to adjust the seasoning by adding salt or other spices to taste.

This method is particularly useful if you’re preparing a dish where the flavor of the broth complements the overall recipe, such as in a risotto or pilaf. It allows you to salvage undercooked rice while enhancing the taste of the final dish.

Stir-frying Technique to Fix Undercooked Brown Rice

Stir-frying is a cooking technique that involves quickly cooking food, usually in a shallow pan or wok, over high heat while constantly stirring or tossing the ingredients.

This method is commonly associated with Asian cuisine and is ideal for quickly cooking thinly sliced or bite-sized pieces of vegetables, meat, or in this case, undercooked rice.

Here’s how you can use stir-frying to fix undercooked brown rice:

Prepare the pan:

Heat a pan or wok over medium-high to high heat. Make sure the pan is hot before adding any ingredients.

Add oil:

Add a small amount of cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable oil or peanut oil, to the hot pan.

Transfer the undercooked rice:

Place the undercooked brown rice in the hot pan. Make sure to break up any clumps of rice with a spatula.

Stir constantly:

Use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir the rice continuously. Stir-frying helps distribute the heat evenly and prevents the rice from sticking to the pan.

Check for doneness:

Keep stirring and cooking the rice for a few minutes until it reaches the desired doneness. The high heat will help evaporate any excess moisture and finish cooking the rice.

Adjust seasoning:

If needed, you can add salt, soy sauce, or other seasonings to enhance the flavor of the rice while stir-frying.

Serve immediately:

Once the rice is fully cooked, remove the pan from the heat and serve the stir-fried rice immediately. It should have a slightly nutty flavor from the stir-frying process.

Stir-frying is a quick and efficient method to salvage undercooked rice, and it can add a nice texture and flavor to the dish.

Just be sure to monitor the heat and stir consistently to prevent burning or uneven cooking.

Can I Fix Undercooked Brown Rice Without Adding More Water?

Yes, you can try fixing undercooked brown rice without adding more water. Here are a few methods you can use:

Steam it:

Place the undercooked rice in a heatproof container, cover it tightly with a lid or aluminum foil, and steam it over simmering water.

The steam will help the rice finish cooking. Check it periodically until it reaches the desired consistency.

Use residual heat:

If the rice is close to being fully cooked but still a bit underdone, you can turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and let the residual heat continue to cook the rice. Leave it undisturbed for 10-15 minutes, and then check the texture.

Transfer to a microwave-safe dish:

If you have a microwave, transfer the undercooked rice to a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a damp paper towel or microwave-safe lid, and microwave it in short bursts, checking the texture after each burst. Be cautious not to overcook it.

Oven method:

Preheat your oven to a low temperature (around 300°F or 150°C). Place the undercooked rice in an oven-safe dish with a lid, add a small amount of hot water (just a couple of tablespoons), cover tightly, and bake until the rice is fully cooked. Check it periodically to avoid overcooking.

Remember not to add too much water during these processes, as you don’t want to turn the rice into mush. It may take a bit of trial and error to find the right method and time for your specific situation.

Why my brown rice is undercooked?

Several factors can contribute to brown rice being undercooked. Here are some common reasons why this might happen:

Incorrect Water-to-Rice Ratio:

Using the wrong water-to-rice ratio can result in undercooked rice. Make sure to follow the recommended ratio, usually around 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of brown rice.

Insufficient Cooking Time:

Brown rice typically takes longer to cook than white rice. If you don’t allow enough time for the rice to absorb the water and become tender, it may be undercooked.

Inconsistent Heat:

Inconsistent or insufficient heat can lead to uneven cooking. Make sure to simmer the rice over low heat with a tightly covered lid to ensure even absorption of water.

Failure to Bring Water to a Boil:

Starting with water that is not boiling before adding the rice can result in undercooking. Ensure that the water is boiling before reducing the heat to simmer.

Not Rinsing the Rice:

Rinsing brown rice removes excess surface starch, preventing it from becoming overly sticky. Failure to rinse the rice can lead to uneven cooking and undercooked portions.

Old Rice:

If your brown rice is old, it may take longer to cook or may not cook evenly. Fresher rice tends to cook more predictably.

Altitude and Water Boiling Point:

At higher altitudes, water boils at a lower temperature, affecting cooking times. You may need to adjust your cooking time or use slightly more water.

Pan Selection:

Using a pan with a poor-fitting lid or one that doesn’t distribute heat evenly can lead to uneven cooking. Choose a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid.

Disturbing the Rice While Cooking:

Lifting the lid or stirring the rice too frequently can interfere with the cooking process. It’s best to leave the rice undisturbed while simmering.

Variations in Brown Rice Types:

Different types of brown rice may have slightly different cooking requirements. Read the package instructions for specific guidelines.

If your brown rice is consistently undercooked, consider adjusting these factors and experimenting with different cooking methods until you achieve the desired results.

It may take some trial and error to find the perfect approach for your specific type of brown rice and cooking environment.

How to prevent brown rice from being undercooked?

Preventing brown rice from being undercooked involves following a few key steps during the cooking process.

Here are some tips to ensure that your brown rice is cooked properly:

Measure Accurately:

Use the recommended water-to-rice ratio specified on the package or in your recipe. Generally, it’s around 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of brown rice.

Rinse the Rice:

Rinse the brown rice under cold water before cooking to remove excess surface starch. This can prevent the rice from becoming overly sticky and clumping together.

Soaking (Optional):

Consider soaking the brown rice for 30 minutes to a few hours before cooking. Soaking can help reduce cooking time and improve the texture of the rice.

Choose the Right Pot:

Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. The heavy-bottomed pot helps distribute heat evenly, and a tight lid helps trap steam for even cooking.

Boil the Water First:

Bring the water or broth to a boil before adding the rice. This ensures that the rice starts cooking immediately and helps prevent undercooking.

Reduce Heat and Simmer:

Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and let the rice simmer. Cooking on low heat allows the rice to absorb the water gradually.

Avoid Disturbing the Rice:

Once the rice is simmering, avoid lifting the lid or stirring the rice too often. Disturbing the rice can interfere with the cooking process.

Check Doneness Periodically:

Check the rice for doneness after the recommended cooking time. Look for a tender and chewy texture with no visible white, opaque core at the center of the grains.

Adjust Cooking Time if Needed:

If the rice is undercooked, add a small amount of hot water or broth, and continue cooking until the rice reaches the desired doneness.

Fluff and Rest:

After the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork to separate the grains. Let it rest, covered, for a few minutes before serving.

Use a Timer:

Set a timer to keep track of the cooking time. This helps prevent overcooking or undercooking by ensuring you check the rice at the right intervals.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your brown rice is thoroughly cooked, tender, and has a pleasing texture.

Adjustments may be needed based on your specific type of brown rice and personal preferences, so feel free to experiment to find the perfect cooking method for you.

Alternative and Creative uses of undercooked brown rice 

If you find yourself with undercooked brown rice, there are creative and alternative ways to repurpose it rather than discarding it. Here are some ideas:

Stir-fry or Fried Rice:

Use the undercooked brown rice in a stir-fry or fried rice dish. The additional cooking time in the stir-fry process will help finish cooking the rice.

Rice Salad:

Turn undercooked brown rice into a cold rice salad. Mix it with fresh vegetables, herbs, and your favorite dressing for a refreshing side dish.

Rice Patties or Croquettes:

Combine the undercooked rice with ingredients like beaten eggs, breadcrumbs, and seasonings to create rice patties or croquettes. Pan-fry or bake them until they are golden brown.

Rice Soup or Porridge:

Simmer the undercooked brown rice in broth to create a hearty rice soup or porridge. Add vegetables, herbs, and spices for flavor.

Rice Pudding:

Use the undercooked rice to make a creamy rice pudding. Simmer it in milk or a dairy-free alternative with sugar, vanilla, and spices until it reaches a pudding-like consistency.

Stuffing or Casseroles:

Mix the undercooked rice into stuffing for poultry or use it as a layer in casseroles. The additional cooking time in the oven will help finish the rice.

Rice Burgers or Veggie Patties:

Combine the undercooked rice with mashed beans, vegetables, and spices to form burger or veggie patty shapes. Pan-fry or bake until they are cooked through.

Rice-based Smoothies or Bowls:

Blend the undercooked rice into smoothies or bowls for added texture. Combine it with fruits, yogurt, and other ingredients for a unique and nutritious treat.

Rice-based Baked Goods:

Incorporate undercooked brown rice into baked goods like muffins, bread, or energy bars. It can add a chewy texture and boost the fiber content.

Rice-based Sushi Rolls:

Use the undercooked rice to make sushi rolls. The rice will continue cooking during the sushi preparation process, and the final result can be delicious.

Remember to adjust flavors and seasoning based on the dish you’re creating. These alternatives allow you to salvage the undercooked rice and turn it into something tasty and inventive.

What texture should brown rice be when cooked?

Properly cooked brown rice should have a tender and chewy texture. Each grain should be separate, and there should be no hard or crunchy core at the center.

When you bite into a cooked grain, it should yield easily without feeling overly firm or gritty.

The ideal texture is subjective and may vary based on personal preference. Some people prefer their brown rice slightly firmer, while others like it softer.

The key is to strike a balance where the rice is thoroughly cooked but still maintains a pleasant chewiness.

If you find that your brown rice is consistently crunchy, adjusting your cooking method, water-to-rice ratio, and soaking time may help achieve the desired texture.

What Should I Do If I Ate Undercooked Rice? 

If you’ve consumed undercooked rice, there’s a potential risk of foodborne illness due to bacteria such as Bacillus cereus.

While not all undercooked rice is necessarily harmful, taking precautions is important. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea, which may manifest within a few hours to several days after eating.

How much undercooked brown rice make you sick? 

The amount of undercooked brown rice needed to make someone sick can vary based on several factors, including the level of contamination, the presence of harmful microorganisms, an individual’s health condition, and their sensitivity to pathogens.

It’s important to note that undercooked rice can potentially harbor bacteria, such as Bacillus cereus, which can produce toxins leading to foodborne illness.

How long does it take to cook brown rice?

The cooking time for brown rice can vary depending on the specific type of brown rice, the cooking method, and whether or not the rice is soaked. Generally, it takes about 40-45 minutes to cook brown rice on the stovetop.

However, this time can be reduced if you soak the rice beforehand or if you use a rice cooker or pressure cooker.

Why does brown rice take 40-45 minutes to cook?

Brown rice takes longer to cook compared to white rice primarily because it retains its bran layer and germ, which contain fiber and nutrients.

The bran layer slows down the absorption of water, resulting in a longer cooking time. The bran also contributes to the nutty flavor and chewy texture of brown rice.

What is the ratio of brown rice to water?

The typical ratio for cooking brown rice is around 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of brown rice.

However, this ratio may vary slightly based on the specific type and brand of brown rice. Always check the package instructions for recommended water-to-rice ratios.

Why does brown rice need so much water?

Brown rice requires more water than white rice because it still has the bran layer intact. The bran contains fiber, which absorbs water during cooking.

Additionally, the outer layers of brown rice grains are not as easily penetrated by water as the layers of white rice.

The extra water helps soften the bran layer and germ, allowing the rice to cook thoroughly and achieve the desired texture.

If you find that your brown rice is consistently taking too long to cook or is not reaching the desired tenderness, you can experiment with soaking the rice before cooking or using a rice cooker or pressure cooker, which can reduce the cooking time.

Adjusting the water-to-rice ratio based on the specific type of brown rice you have can also impact the cooking process.


Mastering the art of cooking brown rice requires attention to detail, but armed with the knowledge of causes, fixes, signs, and preventions of undercooked brown rice, you’re well on your way to achieving the perfect batch every time. Embrace the versatility of brown rice and let it be a staple in your wholesome, nutritious meals.

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