Cooking brown rice in an Instant Pot can seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite simple! With just a few tips and tricks, you can make perfect, fluffy brown rice easily in your Instant Pot.
The main benefits of using an Instant Pot to cook brown rice are the speed and convenience. While cooking brown rice on the stove or in a rice cooker can take 40-50 minutes, the Instant Pot can have it done in just 20-25 minutes! The pressurized environment allows the rice to cook through quickly while still retaining its nutrient density.
Getting the Right Rice-to-Water Ratio
The most important factor in cooking any type of rice is using the proper rice-to-water ratio. For brown rice in the Instant Pot, you’ll want to use a 1:1 ratio. This means for every 1 cup of brown rice, add 1 cup of water.
However, keep in mind that this 1:1 ratio is for rinsed rice. Rinsing the rice removes excess starch on the surface that can make the grains sticky. Be sure to place the brown rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Shake off any excess water before adding the rinsed rice to the Instant Pot.
If you choose not to rinse the rice, use a 1:1 1/4 ratio, so 1 cup unrinsed rice to 1 1/4 cup water. The extra water compensates for the extra starch.
Cooking Time and Pressure
For standard cooking, set the Instant Pot to High Pressure for 22 minutes. Allow for 10 minutes of natural pressure release, then manually release any remaining pressure. After opening the lid, let the rice sit uncovered for 5 minutes which allows any remaining moisture to evaporate.
You can adjust the cook time slightly based on your preferences. For firmer rice, reduce cook time to 20 minutes. For softer rice, increase to 25 minutes. But 22 minutes produces rice with the perfect texture that isn’t too mushy or too hard.
For quick cooking, you can set to High Pressure for just 10 minutes followed by full manual pressure release. However, the rice may be slightly underdone with this quick method.
The key is to make sure the Instant Pot reaches high pressure during the cook time. If it takes several extra minutes to build pressure at the beginning, that will impact the ultimate cook time and texture.
Know Your Rice
Keep in mind that various types of brown rice have different cook times. Long grain brown rice generally takes less time than short grain. Be sure to read the package instructions for suggested cook times and adjust as needed in your Instant Pot.
Also, the age of the brown rice can impact cook time. Fresher brown rice cooks quicker, while older rice stored for several months may take a few extra minutes. Monitor the first few times you make a new bag of rice in the Instant Pot and adjust pressure cook time as needed.
Getting the Proportions Right
In addition to the rice-to-water ratio, it’s also important not to overfill your Instant Pot when cooking brown rice. For a 6-quart size Instant Pot, do not exceed 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice per batch. Any more than that, and the rice is prone to being undercooked in the center.
For larger 8-quart Instant Pots, you can safely cook up to 2 cups dry rice per batch. But refrain from maxing out the capacity, as too much rice can interfere with the pressurization.
The rice should never exceed the max fill line inside the inner pot either. Try to keep rice an inch or two below the max fill line for best results.
Preventing Burn Messages
One common problem that can occur when cooking brown rice in an Instant Pot is the dreaded “burn” message. This happens if the Instant Pot struggles to come up to pressure and senses that food is scorching on the bottom.
Adding a thin layer of water at the bottom of the inner pot before adding unrinsed rice can help prevent burning. About 1/4 cup water for a 6-quart Instant Pot is sufficient. This extra moisture helps regulate the temperature at the bottom as pressure builds.
You can also do a “pot-in-pot” method by placing the rice in a stainless steel bowl and setting that bowl on a trivet inside the Instant Pot. The elevated bowl prevents direct contact between the rice and the bottom of the inner pot.
Finally, make sure the exterior of the inner pot is clean and dry before inserting it into the Instant Pot. Debris and moisture on the bottom can lead to inaccurate temperature readings.
Releasing Pressure Safely
When your brown rice is finished cooking, resist the urge to open the lid right away! Always allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 10 minutes as a safety precaution.
Releasing the pressure immediately can cause the rice to splatter and bubble up aggressively through the vent. Letting it de-pressurize gently prevents a mess.
After 10 minutes, you can do a quick pressure release by turning the valve to venting. Use a wooden spoon to press the valve if needed but be cautious as steam escapes rapidly. Continue venting for 2-3 minutes until the floating valve drops.
Then unlock and remove lid, tilting it away from you to allow residual steam to escape. Now your perfectly cooked brown rice is ready to fluff with a fork and serve!
Extra Flavor and Nutrition Boosts
To take your instant pot brown rice to the next level, experiment with adding extra flavor and nutrition. Stir in a tablespoon of butter or olive oil after cooking for added richness. You can also fold in chopped fresh herbs, garlic, lemon juice or vinegar for brightness.
For extra nutrition, add a handful of frozen peas or other veggies on top of the rice before pressure cooking. The steam cooks them perfectly. Diced carrots, corn and edamame also work well.
Toss in nuts like slivered almonds, pecans or walnuts after cooking for some crunch. For a protein punch, shred up a rotisserie chicken and mix it in the finished brown rice. Alternatively, top the brown rice bowls with a fried egg.
So in just 20 minutes, you can have the perfect pot of brown rice loaded with flavors and nutrients using your Instant Pot. Once you nail the simple tips and ratios, this wholesome side dish can be on your table any night of the week. Enjoy all the benefits of brown rice with the speed and ease of the Instant Pot!