Why Is My Rice Sticky? – How to Make Rice Less Sticky

When it comes to having your cooked rice come out singly, a lot of people struggle with getting it right. Some have even given up hope and gotten used to eating sticky rice – “nothing works”, they say.

But not to worry, some things work. And you are in luck, I happen to know a few tricks you can use to make rice less sticky. Before I share those tips with you, let me first tell you what makes your rice sticky in the first place and then we can go on to see how to make rice less sticky.

Why Is My Rice Sticky?

Well, it depends mostly on the type of rice. While heat makes rice exude starch, some types of rice exude more starch than others. This difference is caused by the amylose-amylopectin ratio in the different varieties of rice. Amylose and amylopectin are the two types of starch present in rice.

The percentage of each starch is different for every type of rice and it determines the texture of the rice after cooking. 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 be separated when cooked. 

Let me describe what happens when you cook your rice: The moment you start boiling your rice in water, both the starch molecules in the rice and the molecules of the water begin to move, allowing water to seep into the granules.

As the temperature increases, more water seeps in and the granules swell. At a point, the swollen granules begin to pop, and starch rushes out into the water. The rice variety with more amylopectin than amylose begins to stick together while the one with more amylose than amylopectin remains separated at the same temperature. 

Other factors that affect rice texture include: 

  1. The amount of water added to the rice
  2. The amount of heat applied                                      

Why Is My Rice Sticky in The Rice Cooker?

Using too much water to cook your rice can make it sticky. When cooking rice with a rice cooker, use a little below the recommended quantity of water to cook your rice.

Once it’s cooked, let the cooked rice sit undisturbed in the cooking pot for 8-10 minutes after cooking (do not remove the lid), to allow excess water to be absorbed without overcooking.

This ‘resting period’ also allows the rice to cool slightly and firm up a bit. After about 8-10 minutes, use the rice paddle to fluff the rice gently, layer by layer. Now, your rice is ready to be served. 

Also, using the wrong cooker settings for the rice variety you are cooking may result in having sticky or undercooked rice. 

P.S: Do not write off the possibility of a faulty rice cooker, if no matter what you do you always end up having mushy or undercooked rice.

Why Is My Basmati Rice Mushy?

Your basmati rice can become mushy as a result of adding too much water, cooking with too low/high heat, or cooking for a longer duration than recommended/required.

Can You Eat Mushy Rice?

Yes, you can eat mushy rice if you want to. Alternatively, you can turn it into fried rice if it’s just a bit sticky or rice pudding/porridge if it’s too mushy.

Read also: What Is Medium High Heat Used for On a Stove?

How To Make Rice Less Sticky

It can be frustrating to have your rice come out sticky every single time you cook it; trust me, I’ve been there. But all that changed when I discovered different ways I can cook my rice without it getting all sticky and mushy. 

Different methods have been employed to make cooked rice less mushy. I’ll describe them below.

  1. Rinse: You should rinse your rice severally before you cook it to wash off excess starch on the surface of the grains. Don’t just cook your rice directly; rinse it in a strainer over and over again until the water becomes clear.
  2. Add a little fat: Adding a small amount of butter or olive oil to your boiling rice will not only help to prevent it from boiling over but will also help to reduce rice stickiness. 
  3. Reduce added water: This is the best bet if you are using a rice cooker. Use a little below the recommended quantity 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 you can even add 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).  
  4. Use medium heat: Always cook rice on medium heat. Increased heat will not make it cook faster, it will only result in uneven texture, stickiness, or burning of your rice.
  5. Use the correct cooker settings for the type of rice you want to cook.

Read also: What to Eat When Nothing Sounds Good

How To Make Jasmine Rice Not Sticky

To make non-sticky jasmine rice, do this:

  • Make sure to set the rice cooker correctly (for instance, jasmine rice is white rice so you should set your cooker to “white rice”), when using a rice cooker.

With these tips, I can assure you that your days of sticky rice are over (unless of course, you want to make sticky rice intentionally). Now you can control the texture of your rice, depending on the type of rice dish you are making.

For instance, if you want to make sushi rice, you need the rice to be sticky so it can easily be molded. But for your ‘normal’ rice dishes, you can use these tips to make the rice less sticky. Try cooking your rice this way when next you cook it and let me know how it comes out afterward, I can’t wait to get your feedback.

By Luong Tan

Luong Tan, the creative and passionate founder of Bourbono, is a multi-talented individual with a deep love for the culinary arts. An accomplished food blogger, cookbook author, and former Ambassador of US cuisine in Vietnam (2015-2016), Luong has been on a mission to share his appreciation for food with the world.

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