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Are you looking for a hands-off way to make rice that's fluffy and perfect every time? Look no further than your own kitchen cabinets. A casserole dish and an oven are all you need to make a stellar bowl of rice in no more than 20 minutes. We've done the research and found a foolproof recipe for oven-cooked rice that you can make right in your favorite casserole dish.
To make rice in a casserole dish, follow these easy steps:
- Preheat your oven to 350° F
- Boil water
- Rinse rice (optional)
- Combine rice, water, salt, and butter in a casserole dish
- Bake with the lid on for 15-20 minutes
- Let sit an additional 5 minutes
- Remove lid, fluff rice with a fork, and serve
With just a few tweaks, this method can be applied to cook any type of rice your heart desires. Keep reading for specific tips and some easy one-dish recipes that will warm you up.
How To Cook Rice In A Casserole Dish
1. Preheat Your Oven
The ideal temperature to cook rice is 350° F. Give your oven a solid 15 minutes to heat up while you prep the ingredients.
Pro tip: many home ovens, especially after years of frequent use, will cook at a slightly different temperature than the one you set on the dial. If you notice that your oven is running a little too hot or cool, it's a good idea to keep an oven-safe thermometer hanging from one of the racks to ensure you're cooking at the right temperature.
2. Boil Water
Boiling the water in advance will cut down on the amount of time your rice needs to spend in the oven. Use a pot or electric kettle to boil your water while the oven preheats.
The amount of water required will depend on the type of rice you're using. The package directions on white rice usually call for a 1:2 ratio of rice to water, but we recommend using a little less water to avoid gummy rice – 1 cup of rice to 1 3/4 cup water is a safe bet. Brown rice needs more liquid, so use 2 1/2 cups water (or broth!) for every cup of rice. Basmati rice cooks up nicely with a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups water.
3. Rinse Rice
White rice will sometimes have a starchy, powdery coating that can cause the finished dish to come out clumpy. This step is totally optional, but rinsing your white rice before cooking will help to avoid this problem. Simply place your rice in a colander or fine-mesh sieve and rinse until the water runs clear.
If you're using this method, it is very important to note that water will cling to the rice and transfer to your baking dish in the process. To account for this, use at least 1/4 cup less water in your recipe.
To learn how to keep your rice fresh, check out this article: Does Rice Go Bad In The Pantry?
4. Combine Ingredients
A 2-3 quart casserole dish (aka an 8x8 or 9x9) that is at least 2 inches deep will be perfect for the job. In the dish, combine your desired type of rice and the subsequent amount of boiling water with a tablespoon of butter (or a glug of veggie oil) and a pinch of salt. Stir to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom.
If your casserole dish has a tight-fitting lid, use that to create a seal over the rice. If not, don't worry – aluminum foil works just fine. Place your casserole dish on the center rack and bake 15-20 minutes for white or basmati rice or an hour for brown rice.
We know you may be tempted, but don't peek! Lifting the lid off your dish during the cooking process will release steam and set you back an extra couple of minutes. Just be patient and check your rice after the full amount of time has passed.
6. Let Sit
Take your rice out of the oven and let it sit (still covered!) for an additional 5 minutes. We know it may sound unproductive, but this is the key to perfectly fluffy rice. Trapping steam in but taking the dish out of the oven will allow every last grain to properly hydrate without the risk of burning rice onto the bottom of your favorite casserole dish.
If you do get some rice burnt to the bottom of your dish (it happens to the best of us) check out this article: How To Clean A Burnt Casserole Dish [8 Effective Ways]
7. Fluff And Serve
When five minutes have elapsed, remove the lid and fluff your rice with a fork. It should be airy and light with no water leftover in the dish, and every grain should be tender all the way through (no crunchy bits!) Serve and enjoy!
What To Do When Your Rice Is Too Hard?
If you take your rice out of the oven and the grains are still hard in the center, then it hasn't been cooked all the way through. Inspect the casserole dish. Is there water pooled at the bottom? If so, it simply needs more time in the oven. Put the lid back on and give it 2-5 more minutes.
If your rice is still hard but all the water has been absorbed, then it needs more liquid and more time. Start with 2 additional tablespoons of water and 5 more minutes in the oven (with the lid on, of course). Add more liquid accordingly.
What Are Some Oven-Baked Rice Casserole Recipes?
Not only can plain rice be cooked in a casserole dish, but entire one-dish meals are delicious and easy to make in the very same vessel. Keep reading for a few of our favorite recipes for quick weeknight casseroles.
Chicken And Rice Casserole
There's no casserole more classic than chicken and rice. This recipe from Lena Abraham at Delish calls for chicken thighs, cream of mushroom soup (a casserole classic), white rice, and some yummy herbs and aromatics. It's the perfect quick meal on a snowy day. We love that this recipe doesn't call for any prep or multiple pots and pans. As long as you have a casserole dish, you can be eating this recipe in under two hours.
Broccoli, Cheese, And Rice Casserole
Deep in the archives of Bon Appetit is a recipe for a broccoli and cheese casserole that is almost as intimidating as it is delicious. Although it requires over 20 (!!!) ingredients, its complex flavor and rich, cheesy goodness are totally worth it. If you're in need of a fun Sunday project and a delicious meal, look no further than this recipe.
Spanish Rice Bake
This Spanish rice bake from Allrecipes is almost like a burrito in a bowl. Bell pepper, onion, and chile sauce provide deep flavor and heat while the cilantro adds a touch of brightness. Ooey, gooey, and satisfying, this casserole comes together in just an hour, making it a no-brainer when you're deciding what to make for the family at the end of a long day.
Can You Put Uncooked Rice In A Casserole?
Starting a casserole with uncooked rice is not only possible, but it's also preferred! Unless you're following a carefully thought out recipe, putting cooked rice back in the oven is just going to make it soft and mushy. The recipe for chicken and rice casserole listed above is one of many recipes that start with uncooked rice – just add an adequate amount of liquid and there won't be a problem.
Does Rice Freeze Well In A Casserole?
No need to worry – you can absolutely freeze tonight's casserole for next week's meal. Although fresh rice is always better, it will still be perfectly adequate as long as the casserole has been properly sealed in an appropriate container before going in the freezer. After thawing in the fridge overnight, heat your rice casserole back up in the oven so you get those delicious crispy edges.
You're only 20 minutes away from a perfect dish of rice to accompany tonight's dinner. Just boil, bake, rest, fluff, and serve. We're confident that this recipe will make it into your regular rotation, so give it a try!