The Lemon Juice Hack For Fluffier Rice

Long-grain fluffy rice is a comforting carb that pairs perfectly with an Indian curry or baked into an aromatic pilaf. Rice varieties, such as basmati or jasmine rice, are on the opposite end of the size and starch scale from short-grain rice like Arborio or Japonica, which are prized for their stickiness and creamy texture. However, buying long-grain rice rather than short-grain doesn't necessarily guarantee a fluffy outcome. 

Many factors determine how much the rice you cook sticks to itself. Details such as the ratio of cooking liquid that's used, whether you rinse or soak your rice, how long it's cooked, and even how long it's been since the rice was harvested all impact the final texture. However, you don't always have time to pre-soak rice. Ratios are only guidelines, and home cooks have no control over how recently their rice was picked. Luckily, a small squeeze of lemon juice is all you need to keep stickiness at bay and enjoy rice that's light and feathery every time.

Add just enough lemon juice to make it fluffy

If you want fluffy rice, start with a long-grained variety, rinse it twice, and soak it for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Check the packaging for the advised ratio of water to rice that your variety needs. For jasmine and basmati rice, it's usually between 1.5 and 2 cups of water per cup of rice. The longer you soak the rice, the less cooking water you need, as the rice will have absorbed some moisture already. At this stage, you can add the lemon juice. Just a teaspoon will do the trick. As the rice boils, the grains transform into separated, minute nuggets of bliss rather than a stodgy porridge.

The science behind this effect isn't quite settled. A 2019 study published in Food Research International found that old rice could be rejuvenated by adding Vitamin C, which is abundant in lemon juice. Although scientific research is just beginning to explore this phenomenon, the citrus trick has existed for a while. As nutritionist Grace Clark-Hibbs told Everyday Health, "Many cultures use a few drops of lemon juice in their rice cooking water to promote light, fluffy, and bright white rice granules." Give this hack a try today, and see if a simple squeeze of lemon can transform how you eat rice.