Water Matters: Does Long Grain Rice Need More Water Than Basmati?

Fact Checked By: Macaria Valerie

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Rice, a staple in cuisines across the globe, comes in many varieties, each with its unique characteristics and cooking requirements. Among the most popular are basmati and long grain rice, both revered for their distinctive textures and roles in various dishes. However, a common question arises in kitchens everywhere: does long grain rice need more water than basmati? This seemingly simple query uncovers a world of culinary nuance, inviting both novice cooks and seasoned chefs to delve deeper into the art of rice cooking.

In this article, we will explore the intricacies of cooking these two popular rice varieties. We’ll examine how factors like the age of the rice, cooking methods, and even environmental elements like altitude can influence the amount of water needed for that perfect fluffy or tender texture. From the aromatic fields of basmati to the versatile grains of long grain rice, understanding their water requirements is key to mastering one of the culinary world’s fundamental skills. Join us as we unravel the mysteries behind cooking these beloved grains to perfection.

Does Long Grain Rice Need More Water Than Basmati?

The water requirements for cooking rice can vary depending on the type of rice, but in general, both long grain rice and basmati rice require similar amounts of water. However, there are some nuances to consider:

  • Basmati Rice: Basmati rice is a type of long grain rice, known for its fragrant aroma and light, fluffy texture when cooked. Typically, the ratio for cooking basmati rice is about 1 part rice to 1.5 to 2 parts water. This can vary slightly based on the specific type of basmati rice and personal preference for the texture.
  • Other Long Grain Rice: Other varieties of long grain rice (like American long grain rice) often require similar ratios of water to rice as basmati. The common ratio is also around 1 part rice to 1.5 to 2 parts water.
  • Cooking Method: The required amount of water can also depend on the cooking method. For example, cooking rice in a pot on a stovetop might require slightly more water due to evaporation compared to cooking in a rice cooker where there is less evaporation.
  • Soaking: Basmati rice is often soaked before cooking, which can reduce the amount of cooking water needed. If the rice is soaked for 30 minutes to an hour, it may require slightly less water in the cooking process.
  • Age of Rice: The age of the rice can also affect how much water is needed. Older rice grains can be drier and may require more water.
  • Altitude: The cooking environment can also play a role. In higher altitudes, water boils at a lower temperature, which can extend the cooking time and potentially require more water due to increased evaporation.
  • Texture Preference: Personal preference for the texture of the rice can influence the amount of water used. Some people prefer a firmer texture and might use less water, while others prefer softer, more moist rice, which would require more water.
  • Starch Content: Different types of long grain rice might have varying levels of starch. Basmati rice, known for its lower starch content, tends to be less sticky and more separate when cooked. Other long grain varieties with higher starch content might need slight adjustments in water to avoid becoming too sticky or mushy.
  • Brand Variations: Different brands of the same type of rice can also have slightly different cooking requirements. It’s not uncommon for two brands of basmati or long grain rice to require different water ratios or cooking times.
  • Rinsing: Rinsing rice before cooking can remove excess starch, affecting how much water the rice absorbs during cooking. Basmati rice is often rinsed until the water runs clear, which can influence its water absorption and thus the amount of cooking water needed.
  • Resting Time: After cooking, allowing the rice to rest in the pot with the lid on can help in absorbing any excess water and improving the texture. This resting time can make a difference in the final outcome of both basmati and other long grain rice.
  • Consistency Across Dishes: If you’re aiming for a specific dish, such as a pilaf or a biryani, the water ratio might change to achieve the desired consistency and texture. Some dishes require the rice to be more al dente, while others may need it to be softer and fluffier.

In conclusion, while both basmati and other long grain rice varieties generally require similar water ratios, slight adjustments might be needed based on the specific variety, cooking method, and whether the rice has been soaked. It’s always a good idea to check the package instructions or follow specific recipes for the best results.

Expert Tips

When considering whether long grain rice needs more water than basmati, here are some expert tips and insights:

  • Understand the Varieties: Both basmati and standard long grain rice are part of the same family, but they have subtle differences. Basmati is a type of long grain rice known for its fragrance and slightly drier texture. The water absorption rates can vary slightly between these two.
  • Standard Water Ratios: Generally, the water-to-rice ratio for both basmati and other long grain rice is similar, typically around 1 part rice to 1.5 to 2 parts water. However, this can vary slightly based on the specific type of rice and desired texture.
  • Rice Age Matters: Older rice tends to be drier and may require a bit more water compared to newer rice. This applies to both basmati and other long grain varieties.
  • Rinsing Rice: Rinsing basmati rice before cooking is a common practice. It removes excess starch, making the rice less sticky. This can affect the amount of water the rice absorbs. Rinsing standard long grain rice is also recommended, but the impact on water absorption might be less pronounced.
  • Soaking Basmati Rice: Soaking basmati rice for 30 minutes to an hour before cooking can reduce the cooking time and the amount of water needed. This step is not commonly used for other long grain rice types.
  • Cooking Methods Influence Water Needs: The method of cooking (stovetop, rice cooker, or oven) can affect how much water is needed. Rice cookers are designed to minimize water evaporation, while stovetop cooking might require a bit more water due to evaporation loss.
  • Altitude Adjustments: Cooking at high altitudes can affect water ratios and cooking times for all types of rice due to lower boiling points and increased evaporation.
  • Texture Preferences: Personal preference plays a significant role. Some prefer their basmati rice very fluffy and separate, which may require less water. Others might prefer their long grain rice a bit moister, which could mean a slight increase in water.
  • Check the Package: Brands may have specific recommendations for water ratios based on their processing methods. Always check the package for guidelines.
  • Experimentation is Key: Cooking is often about personal preference and trial and error. It might take a few attempts to get the perfect water ratio for your specific type of rice and cooking method.

In conclusion, while the basic water-to-rice ratio for both basmati and other long grain rice is generally similar, minor adjustments might be needed based on the specific variety, age of the rice, preparation methods, and personal preferences. Experienced cooks often develop a feel for these adjustments over time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Here are some expertise-based questions and answers on whether long grain rice needs more water than basmati rice:

Q: Is the water-to-rice ratio different for long grain rice compared to basmati rice?

A: Generally, both long grain rice and basmati rice use similar water-to-rice ratios, which is typically around 1 part rice to 1.5 to 2 parts water. However, this can vary slightly depending on the specific type of rice, its age, and the desired texture. Basmati rice, especially when soaked before cooking, may require slightly less water.

Q: Does the age of the rice affect how much water it needs?

A: Yes, the age of the rice can affect its water needs. Older rice grains are drier and may absorb more water. This applies to both basmati and other long grain rice varieties. Therefore, older rice might require a slightly higher water ratio.

Q: Should I adjust water ratios for rice cooked at high altitudes?

A: Yes, cooking at high altitudes affects water boiling points and evaporation rates. This means you might need to adjust the water ratio slightly and extend the cooking time for both basmati and long grain rice.

Q: How does rinsing or soaking rice impact water requirements?

A: Rinsing rice removes surface starch, which can affect water absorption during cooking. Soaking basmati rice, in particular, can also reduce the amount of cooking water needed, as the rice absorbs some water during the soaking process. Soaked basmati rice may require slightly less water compared to non-soaked long grain rice.

Q: Can the cooking method change how much water is needed for rice?

A: Absolutely. Cooking methods like stovetop, oven, or rice cooker can influence water requirements. Rice cookers are designed to reduce evaporation, potentially requiring less water compared to stovetop methods where there is more evaporation.

Q: Does the brand or type of rice affect how much water to use?

A: Yes, different brands and types of rice can have varying requirements due to their processing and origin. It’s always advisable to check the package instructions for specific water ratios and adjust based on your experiences and preferences.

Q: How does the desired texture of the rice influence water ratios?

A: Personal preference for the rice’s texture greatly influences the water ratio. For fluffier, more separate grains (common with basmati), you might use less water. For softer, stickier rice (as some prefer with long grain rice), you might use a bit more water.

Q: Are there any special considerations for cooking basmati or long grain rice in a rice cooker?

A: When using a rice cooker, the standard water ratios generally apply, but it’s important to follow any specific instructions provided by the rice cooker manufacturer. Rice cookers are designed to optimize water usage and cooking time, which can vary slightly from traditional stovetop cooking methods.

Q: Do I need to adjust water ratios for flavored or aromatic rice dishes?

A: When cooking dishes like pilaf or biryani, which include additional ingredients like vegetables, meats, or spices, you may need to adjust the water ratio slightly. The additional ingredients can affect the moisture levels and overall cooking time.

Q: Can altitude and climate affect how much water is needed for cooking rice?

A: Yes, both altitude and climate can impact rice cooking. Higher altitudes require adjustments in water and cooking times due to lower atmospheric pressure. Humidity and ambient temperature in your cooking environment can also affect evaporation rates, potentially requiring minor adjustments in water ratios.

These answers provide a comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing water requirements in cooking basmati and long grain rice, emphasizing the importance of adjusting for specific types, methods, and preferences.


Navigating the nuances of cooking rice can be as intricate as it is rewarding. Our exploration into whether long grain rice requires more water than basmati reveals that, while the basic principles are similar, the devil is indeed in the details. The art of perfecting rice lies not just in measuring water but in understanding the unique characteristics of each variety and how they interact with factors like age, soaking, rinsing, cooking methods, and even the environment.

We’ve learned that both basmati and other long grain rices generally adhere to similar water-to-rice ratios, but subtle adjustments can make a significant difference in the outcome. Whether it’s accounting for the drier nature of aged grains, the reduced water needs of soaked basmati, or the evaporation variables of different cooking methods, each factor plays a crucial role in achieving the desired texture and flavor.

Moreover, this exploration transcends mere technicalities; it invites us to appreciate the cultural significance and culinary diversity that rice brings to our tables. From the fragrant pilafs of South Asia made with basmati to the hearty staples of American cuisine featuring long grain rice, each grain tells a story, enriches a tradition, and offers comfort.

In conclusion, the journey to mastering rice cooking is one of patience, observation, and adaptation. As we refine our techniques and respect the individuality of each rice variety, we not only enhance our culinary skills but also deepen our connection to the global tapestry of food and culture. So, the next time you stand over a pot of simmering rice, remember: you’re not just cooking a meal; you’re weaving a thread into the rich fabric of culinary tradition.

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Macaria Valerie

About the author

With over 15 years of experience in the culinary world, Macaria Valerie has developed a unique niche expertise in the art and science of rice cooking. Born in Taipei and raised in San Francisco, Macaria's passion for perfectly cooked rice is a blend of her Taiwanese roots and modern culinary techniques. She has traveled across Asia, gathering traditional rice recipes and cooking methodologies. Macaria is not just about plain rice. She's explored the depths of risotto in Italy, paella in Spain, biryani in India, and sushi in Japan. Yet, she believes that the core of these dishes lies in mastering the basic foundation - the rice. In her popular blog, "Expert Reviews Best Rice Cooker", Macaria shares not only her favorite rice recipes but also reviews the latest in rice cooker technology. She's been a consultant for major kitchen appliance brands, aiding in the development and testing of their rice cooker lines. In her spare time, Macaria conducts workshops and classes, ensuring that the art of cooking perfect rice is accessible to everyone. Whether you're aiming for a simple bowl of fluffy white rice or venturing into the intricate world of flavored rice dishes, Macaria Valerie is your go-to guide in the rice cooker niche.

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