Today’s ‘Cooking 101’ tutorial: How to Cook Basmati Rice in the Microwave! Follow a few easy steps and get fluffy, delicious rice in less than 20 minutes.
In my house, we go through a lot of basmati rice. Sometimes we eat it with curry, sometimes with lentils, but I always– and I mean always— cook it in the microwave. Actually, I cook all my rice in the microwave. Why? It’s easy, seemingly foolproof, and is ready in about 20 minutes.
I realize that this post won’t be helpful for everyone. Some of you are ‘anti-microwave,’ others have rice cookers, and some of you probably cook rice on the stove top regularly without any issues.
Personally, I don’t use the microwave on a regular basis– except for rice. If you’re ‘rice challenged,’ and have issues with rice sticking to the bottom of your pot when cooking– this post is for you.
If having multiple stove top burners going at once stresses you out– this recipe will let you put the rice in the microwave while dinner cooks on the stove. If you’re simply looking for an incredibly easy way to fix your basmati rice– keep reading, because this post is for you too!
Do I have to Soak Basmati Rice Before Cooking?
In an ideal world, you should soak your basmati rice for at least 20 minutes before you cook it. Soaking the rice helps the rice grains elongate, and yes– side-by-side, you would be able to tell the difference between rice that’s been soaked and rice that has not been soaked.
The good news here is two-fold: First, the 20 minutes is not an exact soak-time. On a pretty regular basis, I soak my rice for HOURS. If I know that I’m going to fix rice with dinner, at some point earlier in the day, I’ll go ahead and pour rice into a bowl with water. There’s no need to set a timer.
Second, you CAN SKIP soaking your rice if you simply don’t have time. It will still taste delicious, the world will not end, and dinner will be on the table faster. Your rice will simply be a little shorter.
Does It Matter If I Leave the Lid On or Off While Cooking?
Traditionally, basmati rice cooked on the stove top is made with the lid in place for the entire cook-time, and then the lid stays on for about five minutes after the rice is finished. I’ve tried leaving the lid on for the entire cook-time in the microwave, but could never get the moisture to cook off correctly, leaving the rice soggy.
Taking the lid off for the second part of the microwave cook-time results in a better texture for microwave rice.
Do I Really Need to Adjust the Power Level on My Microwave?
Yes. If you don’t lower the power level, you’ll have problems with the water boiling over the edge of the bowl.
Not sure how to adjust the power level? Keep reading.
How to Cook Basmati Rice in the Microwave
First things first– to cook basmati rice in the microwave, you need to know how to adjust the power level on your microwave. If you aren’t sure how to do that, typically it works like this:
- Set the time using the ‘Time Cook,‘ or whichever button allows you to type in a specific time. Don’t use the pre-programmed time buttons.
- Next, press the ‘Power Level‘ button. Depending on your microwave, you’ll either keep pressing the power level button until it reads ’60,’ or you’ll press the ‘power level’ button and enter ’60.’
Next, prep your rice. Whether you’ve soaked the rice or not, pour it into a mesh sieve and rinse it off. This will rinse off any extra starch, and help keep the rice light and fluffy.
Then, put the rice, a couple of cups of water, a little olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a couple of bay leaves into a large lidded microwave safe bowl. (I use a 2 quart bowl for this recipe.) Cover the bowl, set the microwave power to 60%, and cook it for about twelve minutes.
Finally, take the lid off and cook the rice for about six more minutes. That’s it! Your rice is ready to be eaten. Enjoy your dinner, and congratulate yourself on making delicious rice with zero stress.
Note: Keep in mind, not all microwaves are exactly alike. This recipe was tested on a 900 watt microwave. Adjust your recipe accordingly if your microwave is considerably more or less powerful.
How to Cook Basmati Rice in the Microwave
Makes 4 sides of rice.
Note: 18 minute cook-time does NOT include optional soak-time.
- 1 1/2 cups dry basmati rice
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1 TB olive oil, ghee, OR butter
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 bay leaves (optional)
Optional but recommended: Soak rice in water for at least 20 minutes before cooking. (Soaking helps to elongate the rice-- Skip if you don't have time.)
Rinse rice in a mesh sieve.
Add rice, water, oil, and bay leaves to a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover bowl with lid.
Microwave covered at 60% power for 12 minutes.* (See Recipe Notes). Remove the lid, and cook uncovered on 100% power for 6 minutes. Serve as a side dish, refrigerating or freezing leftover rice.
*Keep in mind microwave cook times may vary depending on the microwave. This recipe was tested on a 900-watt machine.
*Note: Microwave recipes do not always 'double' well. To make larger batches, try increasing the cook-time by adding 3 minutes to the 'covered' cook-time for each 1/2 cup of rice added.