Brown rice is a tough sell when offered next to white. Despite the fact that brown is healthier, people prefer white because they think it just tastes better. (Just like folks opt for white bread instead of whole wheat.)
White rice and brown rice begin as the same thing ― they come from the same grain, after all ― but there’s one big difference: white rice has been processed more than brown.
When rice is first harvested, it is washed and the hulls are removed from the grains. At this point, what you’re left with is brown rice ― it still has several thin layers of bran coating the grain. To get white rice from that grain, it has to be milled and polished down, removing the bran. This is what that process looks like:
Brown rice is a whole grain ― i.e., it contains all parts of the grain, including the fibrous bran, the nutritious germ and the carb-rich endosperm. White rice has had the bran and germ removed, removing much of the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients.
One cup of cooked brown rice contains 4g of fiber and 5g of protein, while one cup of cooked white rice contains only 1g of fiber and 4g of protein. But fiber isn’t the only perk of brown rice. Studies have found that it could reduce the risk of diabetes. (The same study also found that eating five servings a week of white rice could in fact increase the risk.) That’s huge.
One of the reasons white rice has soared in popularity is because it’s easier to cook. Not only does it take less time (because the fibrous bran has been removed), but it turns out with a soft, delicious result more often than not. What makes brown rice so hard to prepare is that fact that you have to cook it long enough to soften the bran, but not so long that the inner grain turns mushy.
This is tricky, but it’s not impossible. There are many fool-proof methods at your disposal. One is to get a rice cooker, but if you’re not up for another appliance on your kitchen counter ― and we don’t blame you ― there are other options.
1. Boil it, like rice. This takes about 30 minutes of cook time, plus 10 additional minutes afterward to steam in the pot.
2. Bake it in the oven. This method takes a full hour, but is so simple.
Once you cook brown rice with one of the fool-proof methods above, try it in one of these delicious recipes below.