Best Brown Rice - How To Choose, Cook
Reheat and Use Leftover Rice

The best brown varieties to enjoy ~ and when ~ and the best cooking methods, along with how to store, reheat and enjoy leftovers will be the focus of this plant-based and macrobiotic meal prep series.

Once you are in the habit of batch cooking whole grains, like brown rice, it will become second nature.  

In this article, I share our preferred preparation methods for the best brown rice, what types of brown rice are best for summer versus winter, how we store and use leftovers.

Brown Rice on top of Colorful VeggiesIf you love stickier rice, try short-grain brown rice! If not available, try medium-grain. For even stickier, with a touch of sweetness, sweet rice is the best.

How To Cook The Best Brown Rice

Wild Rice Salad w/ Tofu & Broccoli recipe from FOKBrown Rice Blend of several varieties ~ Brown Rice Salad recipe from Forks Over Knives online cooking course offered through Rouxbe Online Cooking School
Macrobiotic Meal Brown Rice Cooked with Hatomugi, Sweet Sour Tofu, Vegetables w/ Lotus Root'Macrobiotic Meal' Brown Rice Cooked w/ Hatomugi (Chinese Pearl Barley), with Sweet Sour Tofu, Vegetables Cooked w/ Lotus Root

Generally speaking, brown rice is prepared using about 1&1/2-2 cups of water per cup of rice.  For plant-based diet meal prep, prepare at least 3 cups at a time.  When cooking larger batches, use about 1&1/2 cups of water per cup of rice.  You can use a little less for dryer rice, and a little more for more moist, sticky rice.

In our opinion, the best brown rice is made using a good old fashioned pressure cooker, like our Presto Pressure Cooker.  That said, you can enjoy great brown rice by boiling and simmering or steaming it.  

Many folks now use a rice cooker or InstaPot, which cooks rice quickly.  I'm sure the brown rice comes out quite good, although I could not say whether or not it produces the best brown rice without having experimented using one myself.

Pressure Cooking the BEST Brown Rice

Measure 3 cups of brown rice into a bowl, or directly into your pressure cooker.  

Cover with water, then swirl around with your hands several times.  Drain, and repeat until water comes out clear. Add about 5 cups of water, and let soak in the bowl or pressure cooker overnight.  Try with 5 cups to start, then note if you would prefer it dryer or moister for the next time, and adjust with less or more water accordingly.

When ready to cook, add anywhere form a small pinch of unrefined sea salt, up to 1/4 - 1/3 teaspoon.  Close lid on tight and bring up to pressure on a medium-high heat.  Once the pressure valve has popped up, or the bobber on top is hissing and rattling, lower heat and cook for 40 minutes. Longer cooking times = a stickier rice.

Let pressure come down before removing lid. Use the rice paddle to stir rice from bottom to the top.

Pot Cooked Brown Rice

Rinse and measure brown rice into a pot, and let soak overnight.

When ready to cook, add about 1/4 teaspoon of unrefined sea salt, give or take, and bring to a boil (leave the lid slightly ajar until boiling.)  

Once boiling, turn to low, cover, and cook about 50 minutes, or until water has absorbed.

I recommend using a stainless steel flame deflector to prevent scorching grains on the bottom of the pot, whether using the pressure or pot cooked methods.  Of course some browned crispier rice on the bottom are considered the most yang, and can be stirred into the rice with the rice paddle.

Brown Rice Porridge & Greens
Brown Rice Congee With Carrot & Cilantro

Best Brown Rice Variations

  • For variety, 1/2 to 1 cup of the 3 cups total can be a different grain, like barley, Hato Mugi (one of our favorites, also called Job's Tears, used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat edema and excess damp conditions), millet, whole wheat berries, corn, sorghum, or any of other varieties of brown rice, including the very nutritious black pearl rice.  You pay more, but you also get more flavor and nutritional 'bang for your buck' as the black rice is higher in antioxidants.
  • Adding 1 cup of sweet brown rice (used for making mochi and sweet desserts) to the 2 cups of short or medium-grain brown rice is another treat for making some of the best brown rice!
  • Sub 1/2 cup of the brown rice for mung beans, lentils, or adzuki beans for a more protein-rich alternative.
  • Use a mix of brown rice and wild rice varieties, such as brown basmati, long grain and wild rices.

Corny Brown Rice - A SWEET Fave!

Brown rice cooked with local, non-GMO sweet corn is soooo good.  Shuck two ears of corn, and add to 2 cups of brown rice, plus about 4&1/2 - 5 cups of water, and a pinch of salt.  Cook as above.  

For the BEST of the Best Brown Rice with Corn, simmer saved corn cobs in water first for 15-20 minutes.  Then use that water to cook the brown rice and corn.  OMG is it good!  

Stir in a little umeboshi plum paste, or umeboshi plums once cooked, then top with sliced scallions or chopped fresh parsley.  YUM!

Brown Rice with CornBrown Rice cooked w/ Corn is especially sweet if you take a little extra time to simmer the cooking water w/ the corn cobs first!
Macrobiotic Meal Brown Rice w/ Corn, Red Cabbage, Black Soy BeansMacrobiotic Meal w/ Brown Rice Cooked w/ Corn, Chickpea & Zucchini, Pressed Red Cabbage Salad

Best Brown Rice Cooking Tip 

This tip is great for easy clean up. 

Place rice into a stainless steel bowl ~ large enough to hold 3 cups of brown rice + about 5 cups of water, and that will fit into your pressure cooker. The water should cover rice by about one inch, or a bit more, which will nearly fill your bowl. Stainless steel bowls or a clay cooking pot both work well.  Actually, we miss having our old clay pot which we loved using for this purpose.

Place a few inches of water into the pressure cooker. Add the bowl of rice + water. The water in the pot should come up no higher than half way up the sides of the bowl. Cook as above.  

Carefully remove bowl, then stir rice with the rice paddle from bottom to top.  Cover with a sushi mat until ready to serve.

Choosing and Storing Cooked Brown Rice

To prepare the best brown rice, you want to choose the best brown rice for your needs!  Although we generally prefer a short or medium-grain brown rice, the medium grain has been the easiest to purchase in bulk.  

Short-grain brown rice is considered more yang, and therefore a better choice during the colder months.  Long-grain brown rice is best during the warmer months.  It's more expansive, and less warming than short-grain.  

To learn more about some of the hundreds of varieties of rice, I recommend checking out Wendy Esko's The Big Beautiful Brown Rice Cookbook.

Brown Rice pressure cooked in a stainless steel bowl

People with an excess yin condition may want to choose the short or medium-grain until more balanced.  (A macrobiotic counselor can help you determine which types would be best for your needs.)

Or, simply choose the type of rice you most prefer.  Experiment!  There are countless varieties, including red rice and black rice, which are great sources of antioxidants.  They cost more, but are worth it, and can be cooked with more affordable varieties of brown rice.

Once brown rice is cooked, we place enough rice for the two of us into a heat proof bowl that we can then use to reheat leftovers.  The rest is either refrigerated, or kept on the counter, covered by a sushi mat.  This works fine if it is not too hot out.

If you are concerned about safety, you can refrigerate leftover cooked brown rice.  We just prefer leaving it out so it doesn't get quite so cold, which changes the texture.

For more recipes and information about starting a macrobiotic diet, be sure to download a copy of my free ebook, How to Feel Great & Improve Your Health with a Macrobiotic Diet.  More FREE Macrobiotic books / cookbooks coming soon in 2024!  

For my top recommended condiments for making delicious, healthy, vegan macrobiotic food, including my favorite condiment to put on top of brown rice ~ umeboshi plum or paste ~ click here.

Brown Rice Cooked or Reheated in stainless bowlBest brown rice cooking / clean-up tip ~ cook brown rice in a heat proof stainless bowl or clay pot which can be placed in a traditional style Presto Pressure Cooker
Brown Rice cooked with mung beansLong-Grain Brown Rice Cooked w/ Mung Beans ~ a good, protein-rich summer blend
Brown Rice & Aduki Beans, Kale, Sesame Seeds Ohsawa PotOur old Ohsawa Clay Pot sadly is no longer with us ~ it didn't make it through our move, but it's ideal for cooking whole grains in a pressure cooker

Best Way to Reheat Brown Rice

Fill a pot with a couple inches of water.  Place rice in a stainless steel or heat proof bowl that will fit inside the pot, then place inside the pot.  (Or place in a steamer basket.) Gently reheat on medium for about 15 minutes.  

I sometimes add a splash of water to the bottom of the bowl first to prevent sticking.  If the rice was too dry to begin with, add a little more water before reheating.

How To Feel Great & Improve Your Health with a Macrobiotic Diet book cover

For more recipes, check out my FREE Macrobiotic Ebooks.  

How To Feel Great & Improve Your Health with a Macrobiotic Diet, now available, with more to come!