Why Is My Rice Mushy? 5 Mistakes That Cause Mushy Rice

Rice is a perfect complementary grain to any meal. If you are a novice cooker, you may notice that your rice often comes out mushy, even after following the instructions on how to cook it.  …

mushy rice in a ceramic bowl

Rice is a perfect complementary grain to any meal. If you are a novice cooker, you may notice that your rice often comes out mushy, even after following the instructions on how to cook it. 

Here are five cooking mistakes that cause mushy rice: 

  1. Cooking with Too Much Water
  2. Using the wrong pot
  3. Not adjusting water amount to type of rice
  4. Incorrect stove temperature
  5. Overcooking

This article will take a deeper look at these cooking mistakes and why it is that each of these can cause your rice to come out mushy. Let’s get started! 

1. Cooking with Too Much Water

The amounts of water you put into the pot when cooking rice need to be very exact, as rice is a very starchy grain. The starch content in rice absorbs the water, which is what helps it soften and expand. 

However, not only does the rice absorb the water, but it is also exposed to heat in the process. This process of absorbing water and then being softened by heat exposure is called gelatinization. 

pouring of water into rice in the rice cooker

When the gelatinization process occurs with rice, the water is absorbed into the rice, causing the rice grains to split open and the starch to be released into the liquid. This creates a thick liquid, which you see when you cook rice.

Since most of the water is absorbed into the rice, the water left over that is gelatinized continues to soak into the rice. 

When there is an excess water in the pot, this gelatinized water will continue to soak into the rice. This will create a lot of water that the rice absorbs, and as a result, the rice will turn mushy. 

To avoid mushy rice, you must put the proper amount of water into the pot; otherwise, the rice will over absorb the water and turn mushy. (source: Love Food Love Science).

Also bear in mind that some rice types like basmati also benefit from being rinsed BEFORE you cook them, to get rid of excess starch, or any powders added to the rice to stop the grains sticking together in transit.

2. Using the Wrong Pot

Another common mistake when cooking rice is using the wrong pot. When you use the wrong pot, it is expected that your rice will turn out mushy. You may wonder how the pot can affect how your rice cooks, and the answer is that the same water absorption method applies to the pot. 

The pot you use affects the rate at which the rice absorbs the water. A pot with a thin bottom means that the rice will be more exposed to direct heat. This could cause the rice to burn, or it could cause it to turn mushy if the rice absorbs the water too quickly.

A thin bottom of the pot will put your rice at risk of turning mushy when cooking it due to overexposure to heat. 

Ideally, you want to use a pot that has a thick bottom. This helps ensure that the rice is evenly cooked. It will allow the heat to be distributed evenly among the rice. 

An even distribution of heat ensures that the rice will absorb the water at the same rate. This will help prevent some of the rice from absorbing water too quickly and turning mushy due to overheating. 

Another essential aspect to consider with the pot you choose to cook rice is the lid. It is crucial to have a cover that fits tightly to the pot. A tight lid will help ensure that steam does not escape from your rice. It is best to keep the moisture in the pot to ensure that all rice is cooking evenly and does not turn mushy (source: Eat This, Not That)

adjusting the water in cooking brown rice

3. Not Adjusting Water Amount to Type of Rice

Another factor that may contribute to your rice turning out mushy is the type of rice that you use. There are many different types of rice: 

  • Jasmine rice
  • Sushi
  • Brown rice
  • Long, medium, or short-grain white
  • Basmati
  • Wild rice

The amount of water you need to cook each type of rice depends on the kind of rice you are using. 

The general rule of thumb is that you need to use two cups of water for every cup of rice. However, this can vary slightly depending on what kind of rice you make. For example, when cooking basmati rice, you should only use one and a half cups of water for every cup of rice. 

Suppose you are using the incorrect amount of water, precisely too much water. In that case, when cooking rice, this may be making your rice mushy. 

This again follows the water principle that if your rice absorbs too much water, it will become mushy. When cooking rice, you must consult how much water you will need per cup of rice. You can use this table to check that you are using the correct amount of water (source: Mica Restaurant).

4. Incorrect Stove Temperature

Another reason you may find your rice comes out mushy is that you are not using the correct temperature on your stove. While cooking rice may vary slightly depending on the kind of rice you are cooking, usually, there is a general cooking process that you need to follow. 

Most importantly, you need to wash your uncooked rice before cooking it. If you do not wash your rice, you will not get rid of excess starch. 

This loose starch that is then released into the water is what can make your rice mushy when the rice absorbs the water with too much starch. If you wash your rice first, you will eliminate the extra starch that could make your rice mushy.

cooking rice on a stove

Once you have washed your rice and have it in the pot with the correct water, you need to bring it to a boil. Once it is at a boil, you should lower the temperature to a simmer and place a lid over your pot of rice.

If you keep your stove temperature too high, this will cause the rice to absorb the water too quickly, and it may become mushy. 

5. Overcooking

The last reason your rice may turn out mushy is that you are overcooking it. You typically need approximately ten minutes of cooking rice after it has boiled. Once it boils, it will be simmering for around ten minutes. 

The simmering time also depends on the type of rice. This is why it is essential to check the exact cooking time of your rice, depending on the kind you will make. If you overcook your rice, it will turn mushy as it absorbs too much water from the heat and steam (source: BBC Good Food). 

If you want to avoid mushy rice, watch out for using the incorrect water amount, pot, stove temperature, the different kinds of rice, and overcooking. 

What if you’re eagerly anticipating a delightful plate of rice, only to find that it has turned mushy? Now you’re left wondering, is it actually safe to eat mushy rice? For a pleasant and worry-free rice-eating experience, I highly recommend reading my detailed guide.