Here's Why You Should Be Toasting Your Rice First

Rice is one of the most popular side dishes, whether you're pairing it with a nice juicy steak or mixing it into a tangy stir fry. But everyone who's ever tried to make it at home knows how tricky it can be to whip up the perfect batch of rice. Unless you have a rice cooker, where you can just set it and forget it, rice is one of the more finicky foods to cook. Too much water and it's a soggy mess, but too little and it ends up burnt and crispy. Too hot and the rice dries up, but too low and slow and it turns into mush.

It seems like every chef and every home cook has their own secrets to cooking rice, from washing your rice to using the right type of pan. But one trick you may not have known about? Toasting the rice before you cook it. Here's why you should.

Toasting your rice prevents it from sticking together

When you're ordering Chinese food, sticky rice is a very welcome side. But for your average bowl of rice, the last thing you want is for all of the grains to stick together into one giant glutinous ball. That's why Bon Appétit recommends toasting the rice in oil before you cook it. "This ensures that all of the rice is coated in oil, which keeps the grains distinct and less likely to clump up," the culinary magazine explains. Not only that but The Kitchn says that the rice will absorb some of the flavors and fat from the oil, resulting in a tastier final dish. They suggest using olive, coconut, or sesame oil for the most flavor.

Another reason to toast your rice prior to boiling it is that it will significantly cut down on the cook time. Bon Appétit says to toast it until the grains are golden brown and slightly translucent. This softens the starch enough that it will need less time in the pot.