Saturday, February 2, 2013

Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice

oven brown rice

Lately I have posted a couple of recipes that had rice as either an ingredient or as a side dish and I was surprised at the number of people who mentioned BROWN RICE as being the kind of rice they eat most often. I have to say that for ME, it’s the opposite. BROWN RICE is the rice I eat LEAST often, but only because it takes so long to make and I am usually in a hurry and just don’t take the time.

Recently, however, I came across an idea/recipe for making brown rice in the OVEN that seemed intriguing….so I decided to give it a try. I love how easy it is to throw together and that it turns out perfectly every time. Well for me it’s been TWICE, but that’s EVERY time I’ve made it! :-)

Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

3 cups long, medium or short-grain brown rice
4 2/3 cups water
4 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread rice in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and top the rice with 4 pats (teaspoons) of butter.

oven brown rice


oven brown rice

Bring water to boil in a saucepan or in the microwave. Once boiling, remove from heat, stir in salt and pour water over rice.

oven brown rice

Cover baking dish tightly with a double layer of foil. Bake for 1 hour, until tender.

Remove baking dish from oven and uncover. Fluff rice with fork, then re-cover and let rice stand for 10 more minutes. minutes. Serve immediately.

I chose to “serve immediately” with a grilled chicken breast and a side of multi-vitamins. :-)

oven brown rice

So what exactly are the BENEFITS of eating BROWN RICE vs. WHITE RICE?

  • Brown rice has more nutrients than regular white rice because brown rice has only the outer layer, called the hull, removed while white rice has several layers of nutrients, removed.
  • Brown rice has more than 80% of your daily value of manganese, which gives you energy from both carbs and protein. Manganese also helps synthesize fatty acids, which keeps your nervous system in working order.
  • The fiber in brown rice helps satisfy your appetite and therefore decreasing your chances of overeating.
  • The fiber and selenium found in brown rice can also reduce your risk of many types of cancer, which I’d say is a health benefit we could all use.
  • Finally, oils found in brown rice can help lower cholesterol.

There you are, 5 good reasons to add BROWN RICE to your diet.  If not EVERY time you eat rice, then at least SOME of the time. And there’s simply not an easier way to MAKE it, than this!


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115 thoughts on “Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice

  1. Trixie

    I read yesterday in a publication from the USA Rice Federation that eating rice also boosts the body’s production of serotonin, boosting mood. BONUS :)

    Thanks for this, Jillee!! (My personal opinion…….brown rice is prettier than white rice – hehehe)

    1. Barbara

      I am sorry, but I am going to burst everyones bubble with this.
      Last year it was discovered that rice, particularly brown rice has dangerous levels of arsenic. It is very important to cook it like pasta, draining off the cooking water.
      Here is an article explaining it. Or you can just google it. This is not a hoax. Children especially are at riskCook and drain your rice sort of like pasta.

      “We say to use about 6 parts water to 1 part rice,” says Michael Hansen, a senior staff scientist at Consumer Reports. “And then drain off the water after it’s done.” The FDA says that studies show rinsing and cooking in excess water can reduce total arsenic levels by 50 to 60 percent. “However, it should be noted that for enriched rice, rinsing will also likely reduce the amount of added nutrients,” the agency said.

      Choose aromatic rices. For those who are already fans of Indian basmati or Thai jasmine rices, the news is not so bad. According to the hundreds of recently released test results, aromatic rice varieties show the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic. Imported basmati and jasmine rices showed about half to one-eighth the level of arsenic as regular rices grown in the Southern U.S.

  2. Cat

    This is very similar to a recipe I use by Alton Brown. His recipe involves bringing all the ingredients to a boil on the stovetop in a heavy pan such as a Le Creuset then covering and finishing off in the oven. It also makes a fabulous brown rice that is fluffy and not overly sticky and starchy.

    Sometimes, to change up the flavor I substitute some of the water with chicken broth and throw in some seasonings. Delicious. Really, the possibilities are endless and brown rice tastes so much better than plain old white rice.

    1. CTY

      Where can you get one? I did buy a loaf pan with glass lid by Martha Stewart, but have yet to see a 13×9 or even an 8×8. All I see are plastic covers.
      I was going to try my 7qt Dutch oven. I bet a large skillet w/ tight lid would also work (just make sure the handle can take 375 degrees).

      1. Dianna

        I make brown rice in my Dutch ovens all the time and it works great. What’s more, you can turn off the oven about halfway through and it will finish cooking with the retained heat. I think using a covered Dutch oven is much easier than messing with foil.

  3. RainyDaisy

    Hello! I love brown rice but hate cooking it, so I will definitely be trying this but……teaspoons of butter? Or tablespoons? Most pats are a tablespoon. Just clarifying. Thank you!!


  4. Jennifer E.

    I got these directions several years ago at a cooking class, but have found recently that you don’t even have to boil the water and it still works just fine (which makes it even easier!). I just use hot tap water. Also, I don’t use the double layer of foil, just a single layer crimped down around the edges, then the lid of my casserole dish on top of that. I have found the lid alone doesn’t give a tight enough seal. It’s also good to throw some chicken and/or vegetable bouillon in there too.

  5. Karen

    Going to try this immediately. Thanks Jillie! I love brown rice, but also have the time factor problem. I’ve resorted to trying the “instant” kind, but dislike the texture/taste.

  6. Kathy S

    When I make brown rice I cook a large batch then freeze in portions appropriate for one family meal. Thaw in the microwave. The flavor and texture are not altered at all by freezing and it does not take any longer to cook a large batch than a small one.

    1. Gloria

      That’s what I do Kathy. I have always made brown rice or beans in large pots, then freeze. I found some plastic Ball jars with screw top lids in the canning section that were made for the freezer.

    2. courtneyd

      i cook a huge bag of rice on sunday, when i do my mean planning for the week. and freeze it aswell.
      i cook the rice slightly “al dente” and after its thaw, i pop it in the steamer for a few minutes. or ill throw it in a pot with just a bit of water or broth and heat it on the stove.

  7. Aimee

    Gotta say… Still nothing easier than making it in a rice cooker! Measure rice, wash rice, add right amount off water, press 1 button–set it and forget it, rice is DONE in prob 30-ish mins for 4 cups of rice (though the Asian plastic “rice measuring cup” is a bit smaller than the regular cup measurement). ;)

    1. KD

      I agree. my rice cooker is one of my most used small appliances. If you add hot water to the machine, cooking is even quicker. I can make any kind of grain in it, and it’s so easy. It also has a steamer piece, so I can steam vegetables. I can’t imagine using the oven to cook rice, natural gas is expensive!

    2. Ryanne

      I got a rice cooker for Christmas and I love it! I haven’t tried brown rice in it yet but I can’t wait! For my husband and I, and even a couple of guests, our small rice cooker is perfect.

      But for larger amounts, I would definitely try this method!

    3. Heather

      I agree – I love my rice cooker. The rice comes out perfectly every time. I use it to cook other grains and even one-pot meals (there are tons of wonderful rice cooker cookbooks). I use it most frequently for my oatmeal, though. It cooks my steel-cut oatmeal to the perfect chewy-smooth texture, just how I like it. I admit it was an expensive up-front outlay, though by now, it has long since paid for itself. I have a Zojirushi. If you live near an asian neighborhood, you can usually get one for less at a market there. Japanese rice makers tend to be the best.

      1. Heather

        Oops, one last thing. I usually put my oatmeal in the night before so it’s ready when I wake up in the morning. An added benefit to this lazy way of cooking is that I’m soaking my grains too. It also has a button on it that cooks brown rice in a way that supposedly increases levels of a certain enzyme. I don’t remember what it is though, but I thought I’d through that out there :) Gee, I should work for Zojirushi.

        1. lisa

          heather, I’d like to make oatmeal in my rice cooker, too. Could you please tell me how which setting you use on your Zojirushi rice cooker to cook steel cut oats and what your oats to water ratio is. Thank you.

  8. Desperate Housewife

    The only rice I eat is brown and I only ever cook it in the oven. I use 3/4 cup brown rice, 1/4 cup wild rice, one minced clove of garlic and 2 cups of chicken broth. It’s so much easier in the oven than stovetop!

  9. Tracy Lang

    I like to saute the rice in the butter before putting in the oven. Gives it a nice nutty flavor. Throw in a little chopped onion at the same time. Use chicken broth, a little thyme. Nice. Or some ginger in place of the thyme & it’s great for asian dishes.

    1. Periwinkle

      I often do it this way before cooking in the microwave.
      Just rice and butter in the dish – 30 – 60seconds to melt the butter and stir.
      Heat another 2 min (time depends on amount of rice) to toast ; then add water or broth and cook.

  10. Carolyn

    I converted a great ginger-sesame (white) rice recipe from Southern Living to brown rice, just cooks a bit longer . . . will adapt again to work with your method. If you are interested, just add 1 tsp sesame seeds and 1/2 tsp ground ginger (per cup of rice) to the water/broth. Very refreshing, nutty taste. And I always use low sodium chicken broth instead of water when cooking rice.

  11. sage

    Here is the crockpot method I have been using for 30 years:

    1) spray inside of crock with cooking spray

    2) add 4 cups brown rice

    3) add 10 cups water

    4) add 1 tablespoon butter

    5) add 4 teaspoons sea salt

    Stir to combine, and turn on high for three hours. This makes a huge pot of rice which is eaten with cheese, stirred into pancake batter, mixed into muffin batter, added cold to salads, and cooked again in the crock to make delicious brown rice pudding! I could go on an on.

    1. CTY

      Hmmm-thanks for the recipe. I don’t own a rice cooker or a crock pot (don’t have the space for both of them) and am trying to decide which one to get. So far the crockpot is ahead.

      1. sage

        Go for it CTY – I use mine for everything from porridge to making applesauce. Right now Swedish meatballs are simmering away, and the smell is heavenly. I started it early this morning, so I have the rest of the day to myself. Low energy consumption too. I confess I’m a crock pot addict, but I became so while home schooling my kids decades ago. It helped keep me sane and my family very well fed! And as the temperature outside is a whopping 16 degrees right now – a hot meal from the crock will get everyone singing my praises.

          1. sage

            My pleasure, Melody – it’s just the basic recipe for rice pudding.

            1) spray inside of crock with cooking spray

            2) add 2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

            3) 1 1/2 cups scalded whole milk (low-fat is OK but not as substantial)

            4) 1/3 cups brown sugar, and 1/3 c. white sugar

            5) 3 Tbsp. butter

            6) 2 tsp. vanilla extract

            7) 3 eggs, beaten

            8) 1/2 – 1 cup raisins or currents (I like to use a 1/2 cup of each)

            Mix all ingredients together in crock. High for 2-3 hours, Low for 4-6 hours. I ALWAYS double this, and serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream. Makes a very solid breakfast.

              1. sage

                Beth, the scalding of milk (before skin forms on the surface) enhances the flavorings (vanilla and nutmeg or cinnamon if used), melts the butter in, and also concentrates the milk (making it richer) as water evaporates during the scalding process. I’ve used condensed milk, but frankly, the flavor is more intense with old fashioned scalding. I’ve also been using Vanilla Bean Crush from the Baker’s Catalog for recipes like this and my home made ice cream. Amazing doesn’t begin to describe it.

                If you use condensed milk, it’s a good idea to soften the butter before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients.

      2. Beth Sherrill

        I found the rice cooker to be a waste of space. I make tons of things in my crock pot, never really trusted the rice cooker for anything but rice.

        1. sage

          Beth. I confess, I own four crockpots – and a large counter top roaster! I recently discovered an all new use for the “Little Dipper” that came with my 7 quart cooker as a bonus. I use a lot of honey in baking and on toast, but often the bottom inch or so crystalizes to the point it is unusable – especially during our frigid winters. “Little Dipper” to the rescue! I re-purposed a large glass jar that fits snugly into the “Dipper.” Now when I bring honey home – it goes into this glass jar, which can be put into the “Dipper” and gently warmed without even the slightest effort. No more wasted honey! I also put a paper towel around the bottom of the jar for further insulation. I get every drop of honey now. This method works 100 times better for me than trying to warm the honey in a bowl of hot water.

          Now, if I’m going to make my Oatmeal Power Bars, I just put the honey jar into the “Dipper,” plug it in, and go fold laundry or something. No watching. When I’m ready, the honey is flowing easily and I’m good to go.

          6 eggs – beaten

          1 1/2 cups honey

          1 cup regular olive oil

          4 tsp. vanilla

          8 cups quick oats (not instant!)

          1 cup finely chopped walnuts

          1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

          Mix everything together until well blended. Spread (very thick – you will need to press it in) into 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 20-20 minutes until edges are browned.

      3. Judy

        Just be sure to get a slow cooker with more settings than just “high” and “low.” I have found with several types of recipes that the low setting on my slow cooker is still too hot for some things, and definitely too hot for keeping queso warm. I’m sure brands vary, but having more options will give you much more flexibility. My other cooker has settings of 1-5, and can be set anywhere in between those numbers as well.

    2. Amanda

      Thank you so much for this recipe! I am the world’s **worst ever** rice cooker! No joke! It never turns out no matter what type or method I use. I was going to try Jillee’s oven-baked method (I keep trying even though it never turns out; I’m determined to get this right!) but this crockpot one seems even more “fool-proof.” I need only half the recipe at most though. How will the cook time be affected? If this doesn’t work for me, there really is no hope! This girl needs a rice cooker more than anyone haha!

  12. Cindy

    This is a wonderful recipe and I had forgotten this method, I use to work with a wonderful chef and he would put very finely cut green and red pepper, onion and carrott (really really finely cut). mix this in with the dry rice and bake according to this recipe. Adds color and a dash of colour to your rice dish. Thank you for bring this to my attention again.

    Your kitchen friend

  13. Diane Bush

    I have been a lover of brown rice for ages, then I tried basmati. I cook rice in a rice cooker, then freeze a couple of extra containers of it. When I need it, the microwave is great, just add a tablespoon of water and heat thru. No worries about yeast from leftovers this way.

  14. Karen H

    Sage; wow I have to admit it.. Never …crossed my mind to add rice to muffins, or add it to a salad, (dont like pancakes so would never waste the rice : ) ) Said all that to say thanks for stirring my creative juices, yours and Jillees stirring has and will be invigoratingly challenging

  15. Teresa Wright

    I was once told by a homeapathic Dr. the proper method of cooking brown rice to keep the nutrients in the rice alive is to boil the water and rice on your stovetop for 2 minutes, turn off the stove, leave it overnight and wallah, you have prepared rice in the morning. All you have to do is add it to your recipes. She said it doesn’t destroy the B vitamins in the rice.
    I have used this method of cooking rice for 8 years now and I love it. I suppose you could put it on in the morning using the same method and by the time you got home from work, your rice would be ready to eat with whatever dish you choose to use it in.
    I hope you will find this helpful and enjoy using this method. It is absolutely the easiest thing in the world to do.

  16. Kim

    Great recipe idea. Never tried it using brown rice but have used it for white rice. I will try it now. I love to use Trader Joes Organic fast cooking brown rice. It’s soft like white rice but cooks in the same amount of time as white! My family will eat that but not the firmer regular brown rice. Check it out!

  17. Donna H.

    Thank you for sharing this way to cook brown rice. I know it’s healthier. I also like the comments saying that it freezes well! As always, Jillee, you and your followers rock!

  18. Bev

    I read somewhere that brown rice contains more lead or other dangerous ingredient, perhaps because of the coating left on. I still eat brown rice but perhaps people with children should check this out.

      1. Lynda

        I read that too! If you are concerned, I have read that the best way to reduce the arsenic content is to either rinse the rice well (or soak) before cooking or cook it the boiling method. As I rinse anyway, I find it makes ANY rice cook better- less sticky, I just make sure that I rinse it that bit extra.

    1. Tracy Lang

      You might be thinking of arsenic. All things grown in the ground contain traces of thing we wouldn’t want to eat. But it’s in there naturally & in quantities that will not harm unless there’s some ground contamination involved.

  19. Barbara

    I love this suggestion of cooking brown rice in the oven. I hated cooking brown rice because of the time involved. I have found that cooking brown rice in a pressure cooker is very quick and easy.

  20. CTY

    Jillee thanks for the great post. I do agree with Michele about no taking much longer than white rice. I always add some wild rice to any rice I cook, which requires more time anyway.
    But if there is already something in the oven why not use this recipe? I was also wondering about placing fresh broccoli on top of the rice.

    Here’s my latest rice method. I use coconut milk instead of water. I just add about 1/2 C more for every 2 C water called for in the recipe. After about 20-25 min. remove from heat–(don’t raise the cover) let sit about 8 min. I judge the amount of liquid that hasn’t absorbed by the weight of the pot & by swirling a little (to feel what’s still sloshing around) with the lid still on. A little sloshing and it can be removed from heat. Stir & serve. Very creamy.

  21. Darlene

    Great ideas. I cook up a batch of brown rice and wild rice and then freeze in small containers. When I make a white rice dish that I want to add more nutrition to, I add a package of the frozen brown rice to the white rice.

    Good way to use up food storage white rice and to make it more likeable for younger children who may not like all brown rice.

  22. Angie

    I do love this method for cooking brown rice when I have the time. If I need it faster, though, I use my electric pressure cooker. It cuts the time down to about 20 minutes, start to finish. It has to get up to pressure, cook for 10 minutes, and then the pressure has to come down. It works much better than my rice cooker to do an even job.

  23. Nicole

    I’ve never been a brown rice fan until I tried short grain brown rice. Wow! What a difference. The chewier texture doesn’t try to compete with white rice and I like that. :) Long grain is all that most grocery stores sell around me but then I noticed the short grain at Sprouts. So glad I tried it.

  24. Melody

    I’m not getting how you can get 3 cups of rice softened up with only 4 2/3 cups of water? All other instructions for rice have you using at least twice as much water as rice. Is it because you aren’t losing so much that boils over the side of the pot?

  25. Deborah

    I LOVE brown rice, but found that you can also cook it in a rice cooker. Simply add rice, water, press “Cook”, and voila!… perfect brown rice in about 20 minutes.
    The oven method is a great idea if you don’t have a rice cooker, but being Asian, it’s all I’ve ever used.
    Last – if you’re in a pinch, Trader Joe’s sells quick cooking brown rice that’s done in 10 minutes!

  26. Kara

    I’ve been oven baking brown rice exactly like this for years, based on the Alton Brown recipe. I don’t bother with foil – I just use my Corning Ware with a lid. The round dish works just fine. I also will bake an entire bag of rice at a time, then divide it up into quart freezer bags and freeze it. That way I have rice on hand whenever I need it.

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  28. infmom

    I just use a rice cooker. I make more than I need and put what’s left over in a glass container and keep it in the fridge. It reheats perfectly in the microwave with just a splash of water.

    It doesn’t take 20 minutes, as Deborah says, more like an hour, but if you use a rice cooker you can start the process any old time and you don’t have to keep an eye on it to figure out when it’s done.

  29. Jan

    for variety, I add a can of onion soup mix and canned mushrooms, in addition to the water and butter, (omitting the salt) to oven-baked rice; it’s so good!

  30. Georgie

    I make all my rice in the microwave oven
    Covered cassarole 1 1/2 qt
    Brown rice 1 cup
    water 3 cups
    Micro water for 8 min on high power
    Add -rice
    Micro for 25 min on 50% power
    Makes 4 cups cooked rice

  31. Beth Sherrill

    My micro actually has a rice setting. One button cooking, lol even easier than anything. I put the rice and water in a vented covered pot that allows a little steam out and hit that rice button. 25 min later, ready to eat brown rice. So much yummier than white, but takes a little getting used to if you have never eaten it before.

  32. Stephanie A.

    I love brown rice!! I’m definitely trying this. Especially in the colder months when I like heating my house with the oven cooking something………dual duty. In the hot spring and summer months, I will be trying that microwave method that some folks mentioned. I got rid of my rice cooker because my townhome is so small and I just didn’t have the room to try to find a place for another small appliance. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Sheryl

    I have often cooked rice in a similar manner (1cup rice, 2 cups water, tsp of butter) – but in a greased loaf tin and covered with foil – great to pop in beside caserole or other such dishes (good way to save power/gas) as oven already on.

  34. rktrixy

    These are all great, yummy ideas. Anything that can up the healthy fiber in our diets is fantastic. The stovetop over-night recipes are great, too!

    The only step I find missing in these recipes: I usually rinse my rice to pick out any debris or “bad” (unripe) rice that might be in the bag. It typically floats to the top.

    I also like to brown my rice (especially basmati) in butter before adding the water. Adds a nice toasted quality to the flavor.

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  36. Athena

    I LOVE brown rice. When I cook it I just boil it like pasta. Boil a pan full of water, put the rice in and once it tastes done I drain the water and eat it or add it to a recipe that calls for cooked rice. I never have much luck making it according to the bag’s directions (I don’t have much luck with white rice this way either!). I think I will try this method out one of these days though to add a new way of cooking brown rice to my repertoire. Thanks Jillee! Love your site :0)

  37. Linda

    This is the only way I cook brown rice, ala Alton Brown as well. I also freeze my leftovers. I usually make it on the weekend if I’m planning a rice dish during the week. Does anyone else rinse their brown rice before using (the arsenic thing)? I didn’t see anyone mention it. I use about a 1/4 cup less water when baking to make up for the wet rice. I also only use one layer of foil. Just wipe the foil off (it’s only steam), crumple it up to use in the dryer. For those of you with pets, it really helps to get the hair off your clothes. Thanks Jillee for all the great ideas & comments with so many more ideas!

  38. Nancy

    You could always cook up a double batch and when cooled, freeze the extra. Then you have your rice that is heated up in just a few minutes in the microwave. Great for those “need supper in a hurry” nights! :0)

  39. Christin

    For Sage: At what temperature do you bake the oatmeal power bars please?
    Also key to fluffy rice is not to stir it once it is simmering. Place brown rice and twice as much boiling water in covered pot, simmer for 30 mins or unt done. If there is extra water, remove lid to allow it to evaporate before taking off of heat.

  40. Peri

    I use a Tupperware Rice cooker in the microwave. It takes 45 minutes to cook the brown rice and comes out perfect every time. I’m anxious to try the oven brown rice without the butter as that detracts from healthy eating.


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