When I was growing up in the South and Midwest, rice with dinner meant one thing: a scoop of long-grain white rice with a pat of melting butter on top. If we were lucky enough to have leftovers, my mom might heat it up for breakfast with milk and brown sugar — but that was about as exciting as rice ever got.
Imagine my surprise when I moved to Seattle for college and discovered the myriad types of rice that lend distinct flavors and textures to international cuisines. I tasted Indian dishes on beds of basmati, devoured California rolls stuffed with sushi rice, ordered Italian risottos with creamy Arborio and inhaled the fragrant aroma of jasmine rice in the city’s many Thai restaurants.
If you’d like to learn how to choose the perfect rice to elevate your favorite dishes, stick with us! Our 365 Everyday Value® line offers an exceptional selection of rice varieties — including many organic options — at prices that encourage exploration. Below is a quick guide to some of the most popular types and their culinary characteristics.
This plump, short-grained variety lends a creamy, slightly chewy texture to risotto recipes. Lightly toast the grains in butter, oil or liquid (white wine or broth will work), and then gradually add liquid as you stir to create a rich, sauce-like result.
A fragrant, nutty, long-grain rice that is often aged to develop its full flavor. Rinse before cooking and fluff with a fork to separate the grains afterwards. Look for white or brown basmati rice and serve with Indian dishes or rice salads.
Because it’s not milled, brown rice retains the bran and germ that surrounds the kernel, which means it takes longer to cook than white rice, but it’s also more nutritious. Look for long or short grain varieties, and savor the chewy texture and nutty flavor in pilafs and rice salads.
There’s simply no substitute for this sticky, short-grain variety in sushi or rice balls. Remember to rinse and drain several times before cooking, or the excess starch will make the rice too sticky to work with.
This aromatic long-grain rice from Thailand has a mild, sweet flavor and texture that’s similar to basmati. Serve with stir-fries, Thai curries or pilaf dishes. Cook until grains are tender but not gooey, about 15 minutes, and fluff with a fork after removing from heat.
This chewy, whole grain “rice” is actually an aquatic grass seed, but it can be cooked and enjoyed as a rice. Because the flavor can be a little intense on its own, wild rice is most popular in grain mixes, stuffings, soups and salads.
For cooking times, grain-to-liquid ratios and even more rice varieties, check out our handy rice guide.
Personality quiz: if you were a rice variety, which one would you be? Tell us why in the comments below!