How To Cook Brown Rice Perfectly and Zucchini and Garlic Brown Rice

Zucchini Brown Rice-1-19Every cook should have a go-to method for cooking common side dishes, because we make them all the time. When you’re making mashed potatoes, there isn’t really a recipe, although there are many tips for best results (I have a whole post dedicated to Mashed Potatoes). Rice is different, though. When I found a way to cook rice that worked every single time and had perfect results, I didn’t mess with it. Of course, I have many variations of rice, but the main recipe is always the same. For the perfect white rice recipe, click here. 

We love long grain basmati rice the best in our family and most of the time, white rice is the one we buy. Brown rice is so much healthier though, so I was determined to find a perfect method for cooking brown rice too. I tried many different methods – slow cooker, stovetop. The results were ok, but I wasn’t too impressed. What’s the point of healthy food if you have to force yourself to eat it? Our main issue with the brown rice was how unevenly it cooked. It would turn out clumpy, sticky and still have some grains that were hard and undercooked. How is that possible? Mushy and undercooked in one pot? Finally, one day I tried this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, and we have a winner! It’s incredibly easy and the rice cooks so evenly, with every grain perfectly cooked and so fluffy. The nutty, chewy and “earthy” flavor and texture of brown rice is really awesome. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it. This recipe really is foolproof. It does take much longer to cook than white rice, which is why I like making a big batch. But come on, there’s hardly any work at all!

Since I like to add things to rice all the time, I’m including a Zucchini and Garlic version. You can skip the zucchini and just add some sautéed onions (or shallots, leeks, etc), garlic and herbs. You can also use a carrot instead of the zucchini. Once you start experimenting, there’s no stopping. Bell peppers, corn, peas, spinach, kale, sun dried tomatoes – they will all be delicious. 

Ingredients:

Oven Baked Brown Rice:

1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice

1 Tablespoon butter or oil

2 1/3 cups boiling water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Zucchini and Garlic Brown Rice Addition:

1/2 – 1 Tablespoon olive oil or butter

1 onion, minced

1 medium zucchini, grated

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

salt, ground black pepper, to taste

2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Instructions:

Zucchini Brown Rice-1-34Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the rice out in an 8 inch square baking dish. Add the butter, boiling water and salt on top of the rice. Zucchini Brown Rice-1-33Cover the baking dish with a lid or foil and bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven. Zucchini Brown Rice-1-31Fluff with a fork. Don’t mash it all up with a big wooden spoon. The trick here is to fluff. With a fork.

Zucchini Brown Rice-1-30

Zucchini Brown Rice-1-26

How EASY is that? Doesn’t the rice look perfect? I wasn’t exaggerating. I promised you fluffy and tender and here it is.

While the rice is baking, prep the rest of the ingredients.

During the last 15 minutes of baking, heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat until the onions are tender and starting to turn lightly golden. Zucchini Brown Rice-1-28Add the grated zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes. The zucchini should still be vibrantly green. Zucchini Brown Rice-1-27Clear a space in the middle of the skillet, add a little bit of oil and add the minced garlic. Zucchini Brown Rice-1-25Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring it around. Mix the garlic in with the zucchini and onion. Zucchini Brown Rice-1-24When the rice has finished cooking, add the sautéed vegetables to the rice, along with the minced parsley and mix to combine. Zucchini Brown Rice-1-23

Zucchini Brown Rice-1-22Serve warm.

Reheat rice on the stovetop or the microwave. One of my favorite breakfast/lunch/snacks is to reheat the rice in a skillet and add a scrambled egg. YUM!

Other additions to rice to consider:

  • shallots
  • leeks
  • carrots
  • bell peppers
  • corn
  • peas
  • green beans
  • spinach
  • kale
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • any herbs – dill, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc.
  • lemon or lime juice and/or zest
  • pine nuts, almonds
  • raisins
  • Parmesan cheese

Zucchini Brown Rice-1-35

Zucchini Brown Rice-1-19

How To Cook Brown Rice Perfectly and Zucchini and Garlic Brown Rice
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sides
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
Oven Baked Brown Rice:
  • 1½ cups long grain brown rice
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or oil
  • 2⅓ cups boiling water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Zucchini and Garlic Brown Rice Addition:
  • ½ - 1 Tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the rice out in an 8 inch square baking dish. Add the butter, boiling water and salt on top of the rice.
  2. Cover the baking dish with a lid or foil and bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven.
  3. Fluff with a fork. Don't mash it all up with a big wooden spoon. The trick here is to fluff. With a fork.
While the rice is baking, prep the rest of the ingredients.
  1. During the last 15 minutes of baking, heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat until the onions are tender and starting to turn lightly golden.
  2. Add the grated zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes. The zucchini should still be vibrantly green.
  3. Clear a space in the middle of the skillet, add a little bit of oil and add the minced garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring it around. Mix the garlic in with the zucchini and onion.
  4. When the rice has finished cooking, add the sautéed vegetables to the rice, along with the minced parsley and mix to combine. Serve warm.
  5. Reheat rice on the stovetop or the microwave.
Notes
Other additions to rice to consider:

shallots
leeks
carrots
bell peppers
corn
peas
green beans
spinach
kale
sun dried tomatoes
any herbs - dill, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc.
lemon or lime juice and/or zest
pine nuts, almonds
raisins
Parmesan cheese

22 Comments

  • Irina

    I have been baking my brown rice like this for years and tell everyone I know about it- it’s truly fool-proof and it comes out perfect every time, the only difference is I put 1 1/2 cups brown rice to 2 1/2 cups boiling water. I found this on Alton Brown’s website a long time ago- named Baked Brown Rice

  • Natalie S

    This works amazingly well! And SO easy! Thank you for sharing! I made brown rice for dinner last night and used this method – this will definitely be my go to method from now on. I wonder if this works well for white rice?

    • olgak7

      That’s so great to hear, Natalie. I’m so thrilled to have found such a simple method.
      I’m pretty sure it would work for white rice too, but the water to rice ratio might be different and the time would definitely be a lot shorter.
      I prefer making it on the stovetop, since it cooks so quickly.

  • Shinee

    Although, I never had a problem cooking brown rice on stovetop, this method looks intriguing and super easy. Trying this baking method next time. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lidiana

    I tried this method last night as I always try to cook brown rice instead of white and it never came out soft, even in my rice cooker. This method is amazing! and worked great! the rice was delicious! everyone loved it. Especially with the zucchini, onion, and garlic! LOVE it!
    Thank you!

  • Natasha

    Hello Olga. I did not have enought brown rice, therefore thinking pearled Barley cooks long also, i just tried to Bake Barley this way: 1cup barley, 2 1/2 cups boiling water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1tbs butter. For 1 hour in the oven 375 F. This is amazing!!!!! Barley came out so fluffy and soo delicious!!! I did not add anything to it yet, i could not resist to let you and everyone who reads comments know: This Way You Can Cook Barley Also!!! Thank you Olga for great tip!! I aways had trouble with brown rice and barley because of how long i have to cook it on the stovetop, and it was almost never fluffy. Now the problem is solved! Thank you again.
    All the best to you Olga and your coming Nathaniel:) ( love that name:)) God bless you:)

  • marianna

    thank you olga for this recipe. I cant eat much right now and finding this recipe gave me ideas of what I can do with my brown rice (which is the only grain I am allowed to consume) thank you for all your hard work!!! god bless you and your family!!!

    • olgak7

      I’m so glad that this recipe is helpful for you, Marianna. You can have many different variations of this brown rice recipe to change it up whenever you feel like it.

  • Aly

    Hi Olga,
    Thank you for another great recipe!
    My question: do you recommend washing the brown rice before cooking?
    Thank you,
    Aly

    • olgak7

      Hi Aly,
      I’m not sure what country you’re from, but the rice that I buy here in Florida does not need to be washed. I would not recommend it.

  • Darlene

    Great recipe i would love to try it but this amount is way to small for my family of 12, do you know if i could triple the recipe as is? Thank you.

  • Betsy

    I tried your baked brown rice method tonight and it turned out great!!! I mixed some chopped parsley & green onion in, it was so good 🙂 thanks for sharing, I’ve been enjoying your blog!

  • Lisa Ruiz

    Hello! I stumbled upon your recipe when I was looking for a brown rice recipe with parsley. I had already cooked my rice in the rice cooker when I saw your recipe. I followed your add ins and added it to my brown rice. It was delicious and so easy! I love all the pictures you have, very helpful.

  • Elena

    HI Olga! I made this before and loved it! So delicious 😋 Have you tried this method with short grain brown rice? I have a bag of it and want to use it up. Thank you for the recipe!

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