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How to Parboil Rice: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Parboil Rice: Parboiling rice is a process that partially cooks the rice in boiling water before it’s fully cooked. This process makes the rice less sticky, helps to remove surface starch, and preserves its texture.

Parboiled rice in a colander showing it's well separated grains

Parboiled Rice

Unlike typical boiling, which cooks the rice entirely in boiling water, parboiling enables the rice to cook only partially. This method is often used to provide extra time for the inner portion of the grain to cook without overcooking the outside.

Parboiling involves briefly immersing rice in hot water for 5-7 minutes. This quick blast of high heat partly cooks the rice grains. This short burst of intense heat partially cooks the rice grains. The process alters the texture of the rice, making it firmer on the outside while maintaining a slightly undercooked or firm center.

Parboiled rice is known for its unique grain structure, reduced stickiness, and ability to absorb flavors. You can use the parboiled for Rice and Beans, Basmati Jollof Rice, Jollof Rice,  Fried Rice Recipes, and so on. 

Why do I need to parboil my rice?

Whether you’re preparing a classic rice dish or experimenting with new recipes, parboiling can be a valuable step to achieve the desired texture, flavor, and overall quality in your cooked rice. Here are some reasons why you might consider parboiling your rice:

  • Improved Texture: Parboiling results in rice with a firmer, separate texture. The grains become less sticky, making achieving a fluffy and well-separated consistency easier.
  • Reduced Stickiness: Parboiled rice tends to be less sticky than normally boiled rice. This is especially useful when preparing dishes where individual grains need to remain distinct, such as fried rice or pilaf.
  • Faster Cooking Time: While parboiling itself takes a short time, the overall cooking time for your rice may be reduced.
  • Enhanced Flavor Absorption: The porous surface of parboiled rice grains allows them to absorb flavors more effectively. This makes it an excellent choice for dishes where the rice is infused with the taste of accompanying sauces, spices, or broths.
  • Versatility in Cooking Styles: Parboiled rice is versatile, and you can use it in various cooking styles, from pilafs to biryanis. Its unique texture and ability to hold up well to different ingredients make it suitable for various recipes.
  • Preventing Overcooking: Parboiling allows you to cook the rice partially before incorporating it into your recipe. This can be especially useful when the rice needs to endure further cooking in a complex dish without becoming mushy or overcooked.
Parboiled rice in a colander showing it's well separated grains

Simple guide on how to parboil rice perfectly 

By following these detailed steps, you will be able to get a pot of perfectly parboiled rice.

  1. Gather Ingredients and Tools: Rice, water, saucepan, or pot with a tight-fitting lid and colander or fine-mesh strainer.
  2. Rinse Rice: Rinse the rice under cold water to remove excess starch. This helps prevent the rice from becoming too sticky during parboiling.
  3. Boil Water: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Use enough water to submerge the rice fully.
  4. Add Rice: Add the rinsed rice to the pot once the water is boiling.
  5. Parboil: Allow the rice to boil for a short period, usually 5-7 minutes. The goal is to cook the rice partially, not fully.
  6. Test Doneness: test a grain of rice. It should be partially cooked, with a firmer texture at the center.
  7. Drain and Cool: Drain the rice using a colander or strainer to stop the cooking process. Rinse it briefly with cold water to cool it down and prevent further cooking.
  8. Use or Store: You can use the parboiled rice immediately in your recipe or store it in the refrigerator for later use.

Remember, the exact timings may vary based on the type of rice and personal preference, so adjust accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I freeze parboiled rice?

Yes, you can freeze parboiled rice for later use. Allow it to cool to room temperature, portion it into airtight freezer-safe containers or bags, and label it with the date before freezing. Use it within 2-3 months for the best quality.

Does parboiled rice have a longer shelf life than regular rice?

Yes, it has a longer shelf life compared to regular rice because the parboiling process helps prevent the rice from turning rancid. Proper storage in a cool, dry place further extends its shelf life.

Some recipes that use parboiled rice:

  1. Fried Rice: Parboiled rice is excellent for making fried rice as it holds its shape well and doesn’t clump together. 
  2. Casseroles: Parboiled rice can be a key ingredient in various casseroles, adding substance and texture to the dish.
  3. Jollof Rice: The parboiled rice absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients, resulting in a rich and flavorful dish that’s perfect for sharing with family and friends.

Parboiled rice can also be used in sweet dishes, particularly in rice puddings and desserts. 


  • Use the Right Rice: Not all types of rice are suitable for parboiling. Long-grain rice, such as basmati or jasmine, is best for this method. Short-grain rice, like sushi rice, is not recommended as it can become too sticky and clumpy.
  • Don’t Overcook: It’s crucial not to overcook the rice during the parboiling process. The rice should be partially cooked and still have a firm texture. Overcooking can result in mushy and overcooked rice in the final dish.
  • Rinse the Rice: Rinsing the rice before parboiling helps to remove any excess starch and impurities, resulting in a cleaner and more evenly cooked dish.

How to store parboiled rice

  • Cooling: Allow the rice to cool to room temperature.
  • Divide into Portion: Decide on the portion size you want for each package. Portioning before freezing makes it easier to thaw and use as needed.
  • Freeze: Use airtight, freezer-safe containers or resealable plastic bags for packaging. If using resealable plastic bags, remove as much air as possible before sealing. This helps maintain the quality of the rice during freezing. Place the packaged parboiled rice in the freezer.
  • Thawing: When you’re ready to use the frozen rice, you can thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave for quicker thawing.
  • Reheating: Reheat the thawed rice using your preferred method, such as steaming, microwaving, or incorporating it directly into recipes that involve cooking. Use the frozen rice within 2-3 months for the best quality.

Rice recipes to try:

Parboiled rice in a colander showing it's well separated grains

How to parboil rice

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to parboil rice like a pro.
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  • Saucepan with lid
  • Sieve
  • Bowl


  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • water
  • salt optional


  • Rinse the Rice: Measure out your desired amount of rice and put it into a sieve. Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. This helps to remove any excess starch and prevents the rice from clumping together.
  • Boil the Water: Fill a saucepan with water and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. The amount of water doesn’t need to be precise as you will be draining it off, but ensure there’s enough to fully cover the rice.
  • Add the Rice: Once the water is boiling, add the rinsed rice (and salt if desired) to the saucepan.
  • Parboil the Rice: Allow the rice to cook in the boiling water. The timing can vary depending on the type of rice, but for long grain white rice, this usually takes around 5-7 minutes. The grains should start to look translucent but still have a white center.
  • Drain the Rice: Carefully drain the rice using a sieve to remove the boiling water.
  • Cool and Store or Continue Cooking: If you’re preparing the rice for later use, spread it out on a flat surface or tray to cool before storing. If you’re continuing to cook, proceed with your recipe.

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