How much rice is one serving will vary depending on appetites and what else is being served. As a general guideline—that you can adjust up and down, knowing appetites and what’s on the menu—the following are good starting points:

Main Dish — 1 serving of rice = 1 cup (cooked)

If rice is part of the main dish, as with Spanish Rice, Jambalaya, as a base for Beef Stroganoff or if a rice salad (see my recipe) is the main dish, allow 1 cup of cooked rice per person. See the table below for amounts of uncooked rice of different types to make one cup when cooked.

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Side Dish — 1 serving of rice = 1/2 cup (cooked)

If that same rice salad is being served as an accompaniment to another main dish, or if rice is being served as a stand-alone side dish or otherwise as a side dish, generally allow 1/2 cup of cooked rice per person.

However, if you’re trying to “fill up” a big eater before they devour everything in sight, allow 1 cup or rice or even more as a “side dish.”

Cooking Rice

Literally thousands of individual strains of rice exist, and each one cooks slightly differently. The table below isn’t designed to go into all the fine distinctions between types of rice, but it will get you in the right ballpark if you don’t have any other information on how to cook the rice you have. Always cook rice with the pan lid on. Times refer to the time after the water comes to a boil (and you turn it down to simmer).

TypeUncooked (cups)Water (cups)Cook Time (minutes)Cooked (cups)
White long grain 1215 – 203
White medium grain 1210 – 152-2/3
White instant1152
Brown12-1/245 – 553-1/2 +
Brown instant11-3/4102
Wild rice1330 – 453-1/2 +

If you wish, you can add 1/4 teaspoon salt per serving (using bouillon powder or part of a cube will add more flavor with less salt) and 1 teaspoon butter or olive oil per serving.

You can also cook rice in a thermos — it takes longer, but keeps the heat and steam out of the kitchen. Learn how.

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It is not clear to me what ‘cooking time’ means. I have cooked rice in two ways: 1) add instant rice to boiling water and when it starts boiling again take it off the burner and let is sit covered – when you remove the lid there is cooked rice; and, 2) put rice and water in an automatic rice cooker and when the ‘warm’ light is on you remove the lid and there is cooked rice.

In the article on thermos cooking of beans, you indicate that when the beans are sitting in hot water they are ‘cooking’. So are the times noted for the rice to be boiling, simmering, or sitting?

PS – Is there some reason why we can’t edit these comments before sending. The cursor doesn’t seem to behave properly even though the spell checker shows an error – you can’t put the cursor on it to make a correction. Or is there some trick I am missing?