How to Fix Crunchy, Mushy, Undercooked and other Rice-Cooking Fails

If you’ve ever inherited an enormous bag of rice and felt compelled to do something with it before it goes bad- then you might have ended up with a bowl of unpleasantly cooked mush. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Well, you might be alone, that’s not for me to judge. But you’re not the only one to have botched cooking rice. Whether you’ve got a pile of mush or have become the unwilling custodian of a portion of semi-hard grains- fear not. There is a solution for your ricey woes.

However, your rice dish had gone wrong, whether it’s too mushy or too dry, the solution is heat, water, or heat and water to take you back to sanity. To be brief, if your rice is undercooked or too dry, the application of water and/or steam and heat will remedy the situation. If your rice is burned, but otherwise relatively okay, then your solution will rely on heat, water, and changing your recipe.

If your rice has been over salted, then you’re going to want to add more rice to cut the saltiness or change your recipe. If your rice is mushy, you will need to use relatively dry heat to dry it out and firm it up. Now, if your rice is gummy, just give up – you have failed. Just kidding, there’s a solution to that too and we will cover it in full.

How to Fix Crunchy, Mushy, Undercooked and other Rice-Cooking Fails

There are a lot of ways rooking rice can go wrong, about six ways in fact. But don’t fret, my pet. If you have mistreated your rice in some way, chances are there is a way to rescue it from any culinary missteps you may have made. So hang in there, because we’re going to put that rice on life support… or, I guess, rice support. Clear!

1. How to fix burned rice

So you’ve burned your rice. Don’t panic. First, remove the source of heat. Then place a slice of bread, or maybe two halves of a biscuit, on top of your mistreated rice and place the lid back on your cooking container, and let it sit for a few minutes. At this point, the heat of the hot rice combined with the absorbent quality of the bread should have restored some of the flavors to your rice.

Go ahead and remove the lid and taste it to get an idea of how best to proceed. Now, remove the bread and donate it to the circulatory file or compost it- for this piece of bread has seen the end of its finest days. Then spoon your rice into a strainer, removing any grains that are burned beyond recognition. At this point in your rice’s journey, you should be able to serve it as you had previously intended.

If that doesn’t do the job, you might find that cooking some more rice and adding your rice will help. If you’re serving the rice with something saucy, spicy, or savory – then you should be able to resuscitate it quite successfully. If not, just play Taps over it and chalk it up to lessons learned.

2. How to fix undercooked rice

If you find that your rice is undercooked, rejoice, for you have hit the lottery of culinary rice fails, for this is the easiest rice related malady to cure In order to convalesce your mistreated rice successfully, all you should have to do is apply more heat and water. This time, keep an eye on it. If there is already water in your pan, just apply more heat, or continue to apply heat until the water has evaporated. Take care not to leave dry rice under the influence of heat for more than a minute.

Failure to keep an eye on rice while cooking is a good way to find yourself sailing headlong into the situation described in the previous section. As you add water, do so conservatively, so as not to end up with too much water for the amount of cooking that remains necessary, and only add more as needed. If you do end up with rice that is fully cooked, yet still submerged in a watery state, simply strain it. In the instance that your rice has suffered from a distortion of the desired flavor due to being undercooked in water, then as with the first solution, placing a piece of bread on top while leaving it covered just might fix the problem.

Once again, any unintended consequences of this incident might be easily remedied by adding other ingredients like vegetables, meat, or sauce.

3. How to fix watery rice

So, you’ve ended up with fully cooked rice and there is still water in your rice pan. There’s nothing to do now but to pack in in soldier, as you have lost this war. Just kidding. This is one of the easiest rice related problems to fix. It’s so easy in fact that I really didn’t want to put it on the list.

Just as I was getting set to wrap this up, a little bird landed on my shoulder and set me straight. He said, there are at least three to nine lost souls out there in this great, wide world who are suffering dearly from wet rice disease. Well, we can’t have that, now can we? Begin this particular rice repair operation by draining away the excess water. If that doesn’t do the trick, apply more heat. You can apply more heat in the pan you’re currently using at this point, or you can place it in the oven. This is actually the gentlest way to let the excess water evaporate.

Another solution is to put your soggy rice in a sealed container in the fridge and start over. You can cook a new batch of rice using greater care and attention. In the meantime, your soggy rice will absorb the excess water and will be ready for use in the not so distant future.

Here’s a video on how to fix soggy rice:

4. How to fix salty rice

So, you’ve over-salted your rice. Take a deep breath, fan yourself with a warm, damp rag, steady yourself against the kitchen counter, and prepare to perform culinary EMS on your salty rice. Your first mission is to add unsalted rice to your salty rice. See where I’m going with this one? Good. Add half the amount of salted rice already in your pan to that same salty rice and stir gently – unless you’re walls are in need of decoration. Make sure the additional unsalted rice is cooked properly. If your additive rice has gone wrong in some way, refer yourself to steps 1, 2, or 3 and return to this point when ready.

You should be able to cut the saltiness of your salty, salty rice by adding unsalted rice. It seems so simple, and yet, here we are. If, after adding additional unsalted rice… brace yourself, and add even more unsalted rice. At this point in your adventure, consider taking a nice nap. Perhaps the dream world will grace you with the wisdom necessary to stop mistreating rice. Finally, if your rice remains ever so slightly saltier than you would like, add veggies, meat, sauce, or other ingredients and change the name of your dish. Done and done.

5. How to fix mushy rice

According to the National Rice Health & Safety Commission, as many as 57 million people, in Eastern Winston County Florida alone, suffer from mushy rice syndrome. If you or someone you love is suffering from mushy rice syndrome, follow these steps carefully, and may the forks be with you. Depending on the exact condition of the rice, there are three options you can choose from as you work to bring your poorly prepared pilaf back from the brink of destruction.

Your first option is to drain the water slowly. Then continue to heat the pan with the top off to evaporate any remaining excess moisture. Make sure to use a low flame. The second solution is to use a baking sheet and parchment paper to spread the rice out evenly for full aeration. Then place the splayed rice in the oven on low heat. Alternatively, you can place it this way in the refrigerator where it should become acceptable within an hour or so, God willing.

Finally, consider using a pinch of salt to wick away the excess water and bring your rice to the desired consistency. Be sure to add the salt slowly while holding the rice over low heat. If salty rice isn’t on the menu this evening, and you’ve gone too far, please refer to section four.

6. How to fix gummy rice

Rice that has been overcooked and then becomes more dry than wet is going to have a gummy texture. In fairness, this is not necessarily a bad thing. May cultures and many recipes call for rice to be in a state quite similar to this. If you find yourself in this unenviable position, you might consider switching gears and going for something a little more Asian in nature than what you originally intended. Just break out the chopsticks and chill. If, on the other hand, you insist on getting your rice the way you originally envisioned it- take courage. Hope is on the way.

Begin by removing the lid and reducing the heat to low. If there is water in your rice still, leave it in and add more as necessary to prevent your rice from becoming dry or burned. Moving forward in this way, taking care not to over-water or burn your rice- consider sprinkling in some salt. This familiar maneuver will help the rice firm up and wick away any excess moisture. You may use a strainer to remove some of the water, shifting it hither and thither to help it drain. If you go the strainer route, rinsing the rice with cold water can help it to firm up if it is not already overcooked.

Then place the rice in a bowl and place it in the oven preheated to 350 degrees. Bake it for five minutes and check. You may cook it longer if necessary. It may turn out that your rice is beyond repair, in which case, starting over with a new batch is not an unacceptable remedy to your predicament.

Sticky rice problem? Here’s a video demonstration to help you:


If your ricey problems seem overwhelming, remember that most of the world’s finest cultural cuisine phenomena are the result of experimentation and accident. You may find that your rice related mishap leads you into a strange and wonderful new experience.

Consider transforming your rice dish into something else entirely. In the worst case scenario, you can chalk it all up to experience, compost your fallen rice, and take comfort in the secure knowledge that rice is both inexpensive and plentiful.

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