Do I need to boil rice before frying?

  • By: Emma
  • Date: May 19, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

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Do I need to boil rice before frying?

Rice is a staple dish in many parts of the world. Of late, fried rice has gained prevalence as it is quick to make and tastes good. Apart from the chili chicken fried rice, most other dishes are based on boiled rice or stir-fried noodles.

So, do you have to boil your rice before frying it? This is a question that does not have a definitive answer. While some people believe it is necessary, others do not think that way.

This article tries to answer this question by looking at the different standpoints and highlighting what seems to be more relevant. So, read on to know if you really do need to boil rice before frying it!

Boiling rice

Rice grains are starch molecules bound together by heating and treatment with water. The process of converting the raw starch into the more complex cooked one requires the application of heat. Simply cooking the grains in water does not result in cooked rice but rather disintegrated starch. The answer to whether one has to boil rice before frying them lies in understanding the effects boiling can have on these starch molecules.

Boiling reduces size

Boiling rice leads to a process called gelatinization. The granules swell up and eventually burst or break down during this process because of exposure to heat or liquids. The starch granules diminish in size upon cooking.

This phenomenon increases the surface area for exposure to other ingredients during stir-frying, improving texture and taste. So, does this mean that you need to boil your rice before frying it? If you are looking for good results when you fry your rice, then boiling is necessary.

Boiling increases the moisture content of rice

Boiling rice increases the moisture content of this grain. A higher moisture level interferes with processing and stir-frying, leading to a lower quality dish. Also, it makes the starch molecules more available for gelatinization or breakdown, which can lead to a loss in texture during cooking.

Boiling reduces oil absorption

The oil acts as a binding agent between ingredients and other liquids or sauces added after frying. Hence, if there is a pre-boiling of rice grains before frying them, then less oil will be absorbed by these grains.

An accumulation of excess oil leads to greasiness which is unacceptable when making fried rice. Moreover, pre-boiling also helps separate individual grains while stirring or tossing because of the extra oil.

When you cook your rice in water, it boils, leading to a change in the physical properties of the starch molecules. This process dissolves some starch granules so that each grain swells up.

Once it becomes tender or soft, gelatinization takes place. The presence of water enables easier movement of molecules within the food so that the cooked dish holds together better and has a more uniform texture upon cooling down. Here again, we can say that boiling is necessary to achieve these results when stir-frying your rice.

Steps to boil rice before frying

Now that you know the answer to whether I need to boil rice before frying, here are some steps to help you in your endeavor.

1. Rinse your rice first. This is an important step as the grains tend to stick together when wet. The presence of water also makes it easier for heat or steam to penetrate the interior of the grains during boiling, leading to faster cooking.

2. Add your washed rice into a large pot with at least twice as much water covering it by no less than 1 inch above the surface of the rice. Warm-up this mixture on a high flame until it starts boiling.

If you wish, you can add salt either after rinsing or water while cooking the rice according to taste. You can also add a tsp of oil or butter to the boiling rice while cooking.

3. Once it starts boiling, reduces the flame to low and wait for at least 15 minutes before switching it off. This is important as long cooking times help in better gelatinization of starch. Do not forget to drain out all the water from your boiled rice once it has finished cooking on its own without any further heating.

4. Put the tray in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before storing the rice. This is a good way to cool down your food quickly and make it easy for you to handle them before you fry them.

If the boiled rice had been left out for an extended time, then some water would have started evaporating from it. You can cover this tray with a wet kitchen towel or cheesecloth before putting it in the refrigerator so that there is no water loss during cooling.

5. Add any of your marinades/sauces if you wish to do so before frying your rice. They will help you achieve better results as they coat each grain of rice better due to their stickiness and enable even distribution of flavors.

Raw vs boiled

Boiled rice tastes good and has an appealing taste and feel, but that does not mean that raw rice does not have these qualities. The process of boiling the grains increases their susceptibility to heat, making them softer throughout after cooking.

However, this is true for cooked rice. So do you need to boil your rice before frying it? Yes, if you are looking to achieve uniform results.

Generally speaking, there are no differences in how fried rice tastes whether one has boiled it or used it raw. Once the dish is stir-fried, all the ingredients blend well without sticking too much or forming clumps. Thus, either way, it works equally well.

The difference lies only in the texture and looks of the dish when it is done. Boiled rice tends to be more uniform in color. It also looks wet and glossy, while fried rice tends to be on the drier side. The latter is visually appealing, even though both will taste equally delicious. Some people prefer one over the other simply because of their personal preferences.


If you think about it, boiling rice before frying it is a good idea for several reasons. First, it cooks the exterior and interior of the grains evenly, which results in better tenderness upon cooking. Secondly, this process gelatinizes the starch content that helps hold the grains together when stir-fried.

Lastly, there are no differences in taste or appearance between boiled and fried rice when both have been treated similarly during stir-frying.

However, if you want to achieve a more glossy texture with a moist look, boiled rice might be a better bet for you, so try boiling your next batch before going in for deep frying. Further, If you are looking for uniform results with each grain of rice being cooked throughout, the answer is yes.

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