Instant Pot – Rice


Any vessel that can hold rice and water can cook rice. A plain pot on a stove top, a rice cooker or a pressure cooker all might cook rice. Using a pressure cooker or pressure multi-cooker to cook rice may not be the best use of that device,depending on the meal being prepared. For steamed long grain white rice, including Basmati, I often use a normal pot on the stove. I use the Instant Pot for brown rice. I may use the Instant Pot for white rice particularly when I will add the rice to a wok (e.g. nasi goreng) or when I am working on another dish on the stove and want to get the rice ready at the same time.

Rice can be cooked in the Instant Pot insert (cooking vessel). There is a bain-marie method: rice and water in a heat proof ceramic or glass vessel on a trivet above water in base of the pressure vessel. Some ceramic vessels such as Corningware can be used for cooking and serving, and for storage of left-over cooked rice. The cooking times are the same. The amount of rice that can be cooked in a ceramic vessel will be less than can be cooked in the insert.

Rice Program

The Instant Pot Rice Program uses the low pressure settings of the Pressure Cooker program, and has preset or automated cooking times. Other pressure multi-cookers have similiar programs. It is for medium and long grain white rice, and cooks plain white steamed rice. The Instant Pot web site recommends cooking rice, other than medium and long grain white rice using the pressure cooker program, rather than the Rice Program. Information posted by Instant Pot about the Rice program:

  • It uses low pressure;
  • It cooks “the ever-popular parboiled long grain white rice”, long grain white rice, and medium grain white rice;
  • “This setting automatically adjusts the time based on the volume of rice [and water?] you add to the inner pot”;
  • There is a suggested recipe and method for steamed (white) rice using rinsed rice and water in a 1:1 ratio.

In the Rice program, in the Ultra model, the display shows a pressure cooking time of 12 minutes at the first step of starting the rice progam. The time cannot be adjusted from the control panel. The display changes to Auto in my Ultra model when the program starts to run, and through the preheat. It changes to a time, in minutes, when the device comes to pressure. I have not used a Less-Normal-More (L-N-M) Instant Pot, such as the Duo. The displayed time seems to be pressure cooking time, and is said to be based on the amount of water and rice, however the machine determines that.

ModelProgram SelectionInstant Pot explanationEffect
UltraLow≥12 minutes
UltraHigh≥14 minutes
e.g. Duo
Less“Tender but firm to bite”
e.g. Duo
Normal“Normal texture white rice”≥12 minutes
e.g. Duo
More“Softer texture white rice”

Instant Pot have indicated that white Basmati rice needed a different cooking time and ratio than American white Long grain, and should be cooked in the Pressure Cooker Program rather than the the Rice Program. White Basmati should be rinsed, which affects cooking. Madhur Jaffrey says the Rice program would make steamed White Basmati rice cooked plain or in a pilaf in her Duo model, in Instantly Indian Cooking, provided the rice was rinsed. She used rice and water at the ratio of 1:1.3. That works out. I find I get fluffier rice by using slightly (as in only few tablespoons) less fluid. Other Instant Pot Indian food recipes recommend the Rice Program for white Basmati rice: plain, in pilafs and in dry khichri (yellow and/or red lentils and rice; also spelled khichdi in English language resources).

The Rice Program can be used with other recipes, but may not lead to the expected outcome,

MaoMaoMom’s Kitchen recipe for Chicken Potato Rice presented on her web site uses the Rice program. The same recipe as presented in the 2018 Instant Pot Recipe Booklet said Rice Program, “set to 35 minutes”. A cooking time cannot be set in the Rice Program; cooking this for 35 minutes in the Pressure Cooking Program fails – the food burns. The comments on the online recipe indicate misunderstandings about the setting, and the version of that recipe presented in the manual.

Laura Pazzaglia’s 2009 review of the Instant Pot (links in the Instant Pot manual pages for all models on her site) suggested not using the Rice Program:

Pressure programs designed to cook rice and grains.  Because of the decreased evaporation, conventional rice recipes (water to grain ratios) will need to be updated for use in the cooker.  We have written a comprehensive guide for pressure cooking rice and grains with the appropriate ratios and cooking times.  If the “Rice” setting won’t let you adjust the cooking time, use the “Pressure Cook” setting and adjust the pressure to Instant Pot’s recommended “low” following the same cooking times and ratios recommended in our guide. Remember not to ever fill the inner pot more than the 1/2 full mark with rice/grains and their cooking liquid.

White Rice

An Instant Pot or other pressure multi-cooker will cook steamed white rice in the pressure cooker program at high or low pressure. A stovetop pressure cooker will too. The preheat and the time at operating pressure bring the water to a boil, and up to operating temperature. The rice boils, and then simmers during a natural release period. Using the pressure cooker progam with natural release adapts the normal approach to steamed rice cooked in a pot on a stove.

The conventional pressure cooker advice for long grain white rice, unrinsed, is a few minutes at High Pressure, typically 3 minutes, folllowed by 10 minutes or more natural release (letting the pot cool). Some writers – e.g. Christopher Kimball, Milk Street, Fast and Slow – recommend 10 minutes at Low Pressure followed by a natural release.

The cooking directions on a package of rice typically are for steamed rice in an ordinary pot on stovetop, or a microwave. Typically, such directions suggest 2 or more cups of water for a cup of rice. This approach produces soggy rice in a pressure cooker. The ratio of water to rice will depend on whether the rice has been rinsed or soaked, which partially hydrates the rice. The advice converges on a ratio of 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice for the first cup of dry rice. Jill Nussenow, the Veggie Queen, will decrease the water for larger amounts of rice. She suggests 1.5 cups of water for the first cup of rice, 1.25 cups of water for the second cup of rice – which means 2.75 cups of water for two cups of rice. Laura Pazzaglia incorrectly used a 1:2 ratio of long grain white rice and water (1.5 cups rice, 3 cups water) in her printed work, Hip Pressure Cooking (2014) but adjusted to 1:1.5 in her online guide.

For rinsed rice – white Basmati is normally rinsed – writers recommend 1.25 cups of water (or less) to 1 cup of rice.

Recipes for more complex rice dishes can be carried out in Instant Pots and other pressure multicookers, with limitations. There are pressure cooker techniques and recipes for:

  • pulao and pilaf;
  • risotto (normally made with starchy short grain white rice e.g. Arborio, Carnarolli);
  • paella (normally made with certain varieties of short grain white rice e.g. Bomba).

Brown Rice

Brown rice works in a pressure device. It takes longer than white rice. An Instant Pot, pressure multi-cooker or pressure cooker is somewhat faster than a pot on a stove. In reading a recipe, it looks much faster – but a pressure cooker recipe specifies the time at pressure. The method is simpler. The pressure setting is usually the high setting. The cooking time is 20 minutes at high, or more. It depends on the rice and the way you like it. Jill Nussenow suggests that for some brown rice, the grower/seller’s “stovetop” suggested cooking time should be halved. Her default suggestion for brown rice is 22 minutes at high pressure.

The ratio water to rice is normally 1.5 cups of water for the first cup of rice. (The rice is dry – there is no benefit from rinsing brown rice). For 1.5 cups of rice, 2 1/8 to 2 1/4 cups of water produces soft but not mushy rice, with 22 minutes at high pressure.


Resources and recipes for Instant Pot, pressure cookers and pressure multi-cookers:

Tsp. (fraction)Tsp. (decimal)Grams

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