Rice is unarguably a staple in many homes across the continent, and for centuries, it has served as one of the primary carbohydrate sources.
However, rice has become so popular that it is now eaten in many forms, such as boiled rice, fried rice, Chinese rice, rice porridge, rice pudding, etc. Indeed, it is versatile and can pair excellently with different vegetables, stews, and soups.
Although, because of its popularity, you’d think rice is that easy to prepare, on the contrary, many people still find it challenging to prepare perfectly boiled, non-sticky rice. Hence, we often get questions about making rice less sticky when cooking it with a stove or rice cooker.
Other times, the frustration is even about rice not sticking together when trying to make rice balls. Find out in this article why your rice comes out sticky, different ways to make rice less sticky, whether you are cooking with a pot or rice cooker, and how to make rice stick together for rice balls.
How to make rice less sticky – 5 things you can try
If you battle with sticky rice every single time, having your rice come out singly may seem like a feat that is impossible to achieve. But not to worry, be prepared to enjoy your boiled or fried rice dishes as we share with you 5 things you can try to make rice less sticky.
Rinse rice severally
Rinsing rice is an inescapable effort to make rice less sticky. Ensure to rinse rice severally before you cook to eliminate excess starch on the surface of the grains. Then, rinse it in a strainer repeatedly until the water becomes clear.
Reduce added water
This is the best bet if you use a rice cooker. Use a little below the recommended amount of water to cook your rice so it does not become overly soft and mushy.
You can also cook your rice without reducing the water or adding a little more water, but you’ll have to drain excess water when the rice is cooked to your desired texture (this cannot work with a rice cooker, though).
Add a small amount of fat or oil
Although many people add a small amount of butter or olive oil to boiling rice to prevent it from overboiling, there’s more! The added butter or oil will coat the rice grains and help keep them from sticking together.
Cook rice on medium heat
Be sure always to cook rice on medium heat. Increased heat will not make it cook faster; instead, it will make your rice sticky, burned, or unevenly cooked.
Use the correct cooker settings
If you are using a rice cooker, be sure that you check the instruction manual or the cooker settings label on the cooker to see the required settings for the type of rice you want to cook.
Read also: Do You Boil Water Before Adding Rice?
Why is my rice so sticky?
Your cooked rice may come out sticky due to these three intertwined factors:
- The type of rice.
- The amount of water added to the rice.
- The amount of heat applied.
Although heat makes rice exude starch, some types exude more starch than others. This difference is based on the type of starch present in rice. Starch present in rice is in two forms- amylose and amylopectin.
The amylose-amylopectin ratio is different for every type of rice, and it determines the texture of the rice after cooking.
For instance, long-grain rice like basmati has more amylose than amylopectin, while short-grain rice like sushi rice has more amylopectin than amylose. Unlike amylopectin, amylose is a long, straight starch molecule that does not gelatinize during cooking. So, rice varieties with high amounts of amylose will not be sticky when cooked.
Once you start boiling your rice in water, the starch molecules in the rice and the water molecules begin to move, allowing water to seep into the granules. Then, as the temperature increases, more water seeps in, and the granules swell. Finally, the swollen granules begin to pop at a point, and starch rushes out into the water.
The rice variety with more amylopectin begins to stick together, while the one with more amylose remains separated at the same temperature.
Consequently, the type of rice, the amount of water added to the rice while cooking, and the amount of heat applied all work together to determine if your rice will come out mushy or singly.
Is mushy rice unhealthy?
No, mushy rice is not unhealthy, and unless it becomes contaminated, you can eat it if you want to. However, if it is too mushy and you are so concerned about the mushy appearance, you can turn it into rice pudding/porridge.
Is Calrose rice sticky rice?
Yes, Calrose rice is sticky rice. Although it is medium grain rice, Calrose rice becomes soft and sticky when cooked. This makes it ideal for rice dishes like sushi, rice porridge, and rice balls where sticky rice grains are utilized.
How to keep rice from sticking – tips for cooking
Here are some tips to make rice less sticky so the grains do not stick together or to the pot/rice cooker.
- Always rinse your rice over and over again before cooking.
- Do not stir the rice while it is still cooking.
- Remember to add some drops of oil or butter while cooking your rice.
- When your rice is almost cooked, place a kitchen towel under your pot’s lid to absorb condensed steam and prevent your rice from getting mushy. Alternatively, you can open the pot’s lid halfway to allow some of the steam to escape.
How to make fried rice not sticky
No doubt, fried rice is one delicious and nutritious rice dish! It is also a fantastic way to use up leftover rice. But how do you cook fried rice without the rice grains sticking together? Please follow these successfully tested methods:
- Use previously cooked rice; fresh rice has enough moisture to make your rice stick together when you fry it.
- Heat the vegetable oil before adding your rice.
- Fry rice in batches.
- If you are adding sauce, do not add too much sauce so the rice doesn’t get soggy or sticky.
Tips for cooking rice in a rice cooker without sticking
In case you are using a rice cooker and your rice still comes out sticky, here’s how you can cook rice in a rice cooker without the rice grains sticking to themselves or the cooker.
First, read the instructions on the cooker’s manual; it has the cooking directions for different types of rice, so you’ll want to check the instructions for the type of rice you are cooking.
Next, coat the rice cooker’s bowl lightly with oil or butter. Then, rinse your rice till the water becomes clear. Add water and cook as directed in the cooker’s instructions for cooking.
When your rice is cooked, allow it to rest for a while so that trapped steam will disperse through the rice grains hydrating the grains at the bottom of the cooker and making them less sticky. Then, serve and enjoy your rice!
How to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the rice cooker or pot
If you are reading this, I bet you must have had at least one episode of rice sticking to the bottom of the rice cooker or pot. But it is high time you stopped leaving it to chance; we will show you some tricks to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of your rice cooker or pot. These tricks work all the time.
- Rinse rice thoroughly before cooking to remove some of the starch on the rice grains.
- Coat the sides and bottom of your rice cooker or pot lightly with oil or butter to create a barrier between the rice grains and your pot or cooker’s surface.
- Use long-grain rice if your recipe does not specify the rice type.
- When using a rice cooker, always allow your rice to rest for a while after it is cooked so that trapped steam will disperse through the rice grains hydrating the grains at the bottom of the cooker and making them less likely to stick.
- Use the required amount of water for the rice you are cooking as directed on the cooker’s instruction label.
Note: Your rice is more likely to stick to the bottom of your cooker if the cooker’s surface is scratched. This happens when you use metal utensils or abrasive cleaners on the cooker. So, to avoid scratching your cooker’s surface, always use wooden or silicone utensils and non-abrasive cleaners.
How do you make rice stick together for rice balls?
Many people complain that rice does not stick together when making rice balls. This could be due to several reasons. Here’s how you can make rice stick together ideally for rice balls, whether making Japanese onigiri or Italian arancini.
Use the right rice variety
To make your rice stick together for rice balls, you must first ensure that you use the right type of rice. As mentioned earlier, short-grain rice, like sushi rice, has more amylopectin; therefore, it will be sticky, making it form perfectly when molded into balls.
In contrast, long-grain rice like basmati has more amylose and will not stick together like short-grain rice; hence, it will keep falling apart when you try to mold it into balls.
Mold rice when it is still warm
Another way to make your rice stick together for rice balls is to mold the rice when it is still warm. This is important because rice balls become harder to form once the rice is cold.
Therefore, we recommend you start making your rice balls right after you finish cooking the rice, not while it is still hot, but as soon as it is warm enough to handle.
Do not make your fillings too oily or watery
Make sure that the fillings are not too oily or watery, as that will cause the rice to lose its stickiness, and the rice balls will not be able to hold their shapes.
Ensure that your rice is properly cooked
Always make sure you cook your rice precisely as directed, whether you are cooking on a stovetop or in a rice cooker. First, wash the rice a few times before cooking, add enough water as instructed (depending on the quantity of rice you are cooking), and cook till it is soft. Do not overcook your rice, as that will also ruin the stickiness.
Cooking can be a challenge or a walk in the park, depending on what you know about it. However, you never have to worry about cooking rice dishes; the aforementioned rice-cooking tips and methods will help make rice less sticky.
Also, you have learned how to make your rice stick together for rice balls. So whatever rice dish you want to make, you already know how to make your rice come out perfectly.
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I write about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. I also talk about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things