Red rice

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked about red rice. “How do you cook it?” “Is it healthier than brown or white rice?”

Well, I was stumped. I had never heard of red rice before to be fully honest, but I took to doing some research so I could answer their questions.

Here is what I came up with:

On Cooking Red Rice:

You can cook red rice the same way as you would any other rice…in a pot of boiling water (preferably salted,) but most sources say that red rice just takes longer to cook then brown or white rice. This site recommends boiling the rice for 40 minutes until it is sticky….They quote:

“This red rice is not any different. Unlike white or brown rice, this rice takes longer to cook, and is chewier. In America, it is considered to be an exotic rice, with a nutty, earthy flavor, soft texture, and a beautiful red, russet color. It is also less likely to become “sticky” on you.”

Comparing Red Rice to Brown or White Rice:

It seems that red rice and white rice are comparable in nutrients. As it turns out, white rice is actually a genetically modified cultivar of red rice, and is now more common because it makes for more lucrative and favorable cultivation. The red rice plants make smaller yields compared to the white rice plants, which is why we see much more white rice around restaurants and grocery stores. Read more about this in Cornell’s finds.

In conducting this research, I found there to very little knowledge about red rice there, and I’m still left with the question of whether or not it is healthier. From what I gather, brown rice still trumps them all. Anyone know?

In the meantime, here is a recipe for Chicken and Red Rice.

-Hillary, excited about our new Monthly Mouthful series
Editor, Recipe4Living

  • Jennifer Hess

    The Bhutanese red rice I use cooks in 20 minutes and I don’t recall it being sticky at all. I love the nuttiness of it, and obviously the color. Not sure about how it compares to brown rice nutritionally, but it doesn’t matter to me one way or another – the beautiful color and flavor keep me coming back for more!

    (I’m actually planning a dish with this over the coming week… stay tuned!)

  • Hillary

    Yea I guess different kinds of red rice require different cooking. I think I was reading about the Himalayan kind, but like I said I’m no expert! Thanks for the info and I look forward to your red rice dish!

  • JEP

    Where do you buy red rice? Remember, I’m rice-challenged by hx :( but this does intrigue me!

  • Steamy Kitchen

    I’ve never cooked red rice before- I have a bag of it in my pantry waiting…no…begging to be steamed.

  • intheyearofthepig

    Bhutan is in the middle of the Himalayas. Highest country in the world I believe.

  • Pat

    Someone told me that red rice is good for the colestrol.

  • http://yahoo ellie

    I know red yeast rice capsules are good for lowering cholesterol because there are statins in it (same as in lipitor, etc) and they work but does that have anything to do with red rice?

  • Cid Young – Moss Beach, CA

    I recently bought some RED rice imported exclusively by : Lotus Foods Inc. El Cerrito, CA 94530
    (510) 525-3137 or fax 510-525-4226. These bullet points from the package: Cooks in 20 minutes; Handcrafted Heirloom Rice; Pesticide & Herbicide free; Gluten Free & wheat free; Non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) It can be made in a rice cooker (As I did ) or simmer in a pot. 1 cup of raw rice yields 3 cups cooked red rice.

    The romantic description on the package warrants quoting as well…
    “Bhutanese Red Rice grows at 8,000 feet in the Himalauyan Kingdom of Bhutan. Irrigated with 1,000 year-old glacier water rich in trace minerals,this premium heirloom rice is distinguished by its complex nutty flavor, and beautiful russet colot. It is the perfect compliment to full-flavored vegeables, fish, fowl,and game. serve steamed, or in pilafs, stir-fries, salads, rissotto and pudings.”

    WOW! it sounds like an epicurean religious experience, doesn’t it? NIRVANA!
    Cid Young

  • Birte Harley

    Hello Hillary, What a timely research. I just purchased my first red rice. , at TJ Maxx of all places. I wanted to try it because I will be doing a seminar project on Rice. I had never seen or heard of red rice before. In some of my research I have come across references to it, but I haven’t looked into it in debt. Great information, thank you. Birte Harley

  • Yan

    Just discovered Himalayan Red Rice lately so I also made some research about it.

    Red rice is healthier than white or brown rice. It is very high in fiber that helps lower bad cholesterol. It is also a good source of B vitamins and lycopene .

    An indian friend told me that people in india whose main food is red rice have no love handles….Of course, fiber helps a lot in getting rid of body fats.

    From now on, Red rice will be a part of my diet…Been eating red rice three times a day for a month now but still managed to maintain a flat abdomen….besides,it makes my daily “poops go” ritual every morning a lot easier.

    Was able to buy a little bag of red rice in an asian store in Queens,New York. …I’ll buy some more today. I am afraid it is not available everywhere :-)

  • Ginger

    Nice informative article, I came across it while looking for recipes that use red rice. Needless to say, I was disappointed that the link posted goes to a recipe that uses white rice & jarred spaghetti sauce.

  • Denny

    Quite a bit of misinformation here. Red rice actually cooks faster than other types of rice NOT slower. It is not sticky rice – making it a bit more difficult to eat with chopsticks. Red rice is pretty easy to find in Columbus, Ohio. We have lots and lots of asian grocery stores. They carry red rice, black rice, jasmine plus several varieties of brown and white rice. And red rice yeast capsules have been banned by the FDA. As for recipes try this:

    1 cup red rice
    2 tablespoons butter
    1/2 bunch green onions chopped finely
    1/2 cup petite diced carrots
    1/2 cup finely chopped shitake mushrooms
    1/2 teaspoons thyme
    3 bay leaves
    2 cups vegetable stock


    1. Wash rice with cold water and let it sit in warm water for an hour before you cook.
    2. Heat butter in a pot then stir in onions and cook 5 minutes.
    3. Add carrots, mushrooms and rice then stir for 5 minutes.
    4. Add vegetable stock, thyme and bay leaves.
    5. Bring to a boil then put it in an oven dish, cover and cook at 450 for 30 minutes.
    6. Let it sit for at least ten minutes before serving.


    Red Rice and Broccoli Salad with Lemon Dressing and Tamari Walnuts

    Adapted from Marie Simmons’ cookbook, The Amazing World of Rice

    1 cup uncooked Bhutanese Red Rice
    1 teaspoon olive or other vegetable oil
    1/2 cup walnut halves
    2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
    1 bunch broccoli, with tough stems trimmed, stems sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, and flower separated into 1-inch clusters

    3 scallions, trimmed and cut diagonally into thin slices (about 1/2 cup)

    Lemon Dressing:

    1/4 cup olive or other vegetable oil
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
    1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
    1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
    1 small clove garlic, crushed

    Cook the rice according to package directions. Let stand, uncovered, until cooled.

    Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium-sized heavy skillet over medium heat and add the walnuts. Stir-fry just until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Sprinkle with the tamari or soy sauce and stir-fry, adjusting the heat so that the tamari does not burn, until the walnuts are coated with the thickened tamari, about 1 minute.

    Place the broccoli in a vegetable steamer set over gently boiling water and steam covered, until tender, about 4 minutes. Lift the steamer from the saucepan, and then rinse the broccoli with cool water. Drain and cool.

    To make the dressing: In a large bowl whisk together the oil, lemon juice, tamari or soy sauce, ginger, lemon zest, and garlic.

    Just before serving add the cooked rice, tamari walnuts, broccoli and scallions. Toss to blend.

    Note: If making the salad ahead, set aside the broccoli and tamari walnuts and add just before serving.

    Serves 4


    This nutty pilaf is a perfect companion to any dish with which you might normally serve pilaf or a flavored rice, including fish, duck, or chicken, or a vegetarian menu alongside a vegetable gratin, curried vegetables, or ratatouille.


    1 cup Bhutanese red rice
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/4 cup finely minced yellow onion or shallots
    Fresh thyme (2 small or one large sprig)
    1 bay leaf
    1 1/2 cups chicken stock (homemade or boxed, not from a bouillon cube) at room temperature or warmed
    Salt and pepper

    Serves 6

    1. Rinse the rice in cold water. Drain completely, shaking off any excess water.
    2. Using a large (about 3 qt.) saucepan or a sauté pan that has a cover, melt the butter over medium heat until the foam subsides.
    3. Add the chopped onion or shallot and cook until soft and transparent, about 1 to 2 minutes; lower the heat so that it won’t brown.
    4. Add the rice and stir to coat with the melted butter and combine with the cooked onions/shallots; depending on how salty your stock is, add about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
    5. Cook over a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Your goal is cook the rice for 1 or 2 minutes, not to toast it but instead to have the hot butter adhere to the surface of the grains. You’ll know when it’s at this point because the rice will begin to sound dry and scratchy as you stir it.
    6. Add the warm stock, thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
    7. Cover and gently simmer on a low flame for about 20 minutes.
    8. It’s done when all the stock is absorbed and the grains of rice are tender.
    9. Fluff the grains with a fork, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

    This pilaf can be made ahead of time and reheated just before serving. Depending on how long in advance it was cooked, you may want to add a tablespoon of butter as it’s reheated to bring a gloss back to the grains of rice.

    —basic cooking instructions—-

    40 min |

    2 -3 cups

    * 1 cup red rice
    * 1 tablespoon olive oil
    * 2 cups water

    1. rinse red rice in water.
    2. heat oil in a pot, add rice and stir for 2 minutes.
    3. add water and bring to a boil.
    4. lower heat and cover pot. Cook for 45 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
    5. remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes.

  • craig

    Hey that looks like the rice people here in Hawaii have for the New Years. “Azuki Beans Rice”. If it is, it is very tasty.

  • Faye

    Nice article on red rice. We have just started enjoying red rice.

  • Juria

    I’ve been eating red rice for years here in Thailand. Its cooked exactly the same as white rice, in a rice cooker or boiled. I find it to be extremely yummy and prettier than white rice. Also all the veggie shops use red or brown rice here, claiming (most of them originating from China) that it’s good for the blood, skin, lowering cholesterol and general good digestion.

    Either way, its yummy, hugely available here in Thailand and I suggest mixing it with other coloured rices as another yummy alternative! :)

  • Ken Gallaher

    There clearly must be different kinds of red rice based on the comments here.
    I use Thai “cargo rice” I usually cook it about half way in a rice cooker with insufficient water and then add white rice and more water and cook that on top.

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