How to Cook Japanese Rice in a Rice Cooker: Follow my rice to water ratio tips, and you’d get the perfect steamed rice every time! No more mushy or dry rice!
The Japanese eat rice almost every day, sometimes 3 meals a day! Cultivated for thousands of years in Japan, rice places a highly important place in the culture and is the quintessential staple of the Japanese diet.
When comes to the quality of the rice down to the cooking technique, we take every aspect seriously.
Today I will share how the Japanese cook rice in a rice cooker. Most importantly, how we measure rice and water to achieve a perfect result.
The Rice to Water Ratio for Short-Grain Rice
Over the years, I’ve received a lot of questions from my readers asking why their rice comes out dry.
And I think I know the reason.
Most online resource (in English) for the rice to water ratio for short-grain rice is 1 : 1 (rice : water).
But what you probably didn’t know is this:
The Japanese golden rule for rice to water ratio is 1 : 1.1 (or 1.2).
That is 10-20% more water (that you didn’t add)! For 1 rice cooker cup (180 ml), you will need 200 ml of water, not 180 ml.
That means, if you still want to use a 1:1 ratio, the rice must be soaked in separate water for 20-30 minutes (for that extra 10-20%), drain well, and add the measured (a 1:1 ratio) water. This way, you made sure your rice got moisture it needs.
Most recipes online do not include that step, which means the rice is missing the additional 10-20% of water that it needs.
So… Exactly How Much Water Do You Need for Each Cup?
The plastic rice cooker cup that comes with the rice cooker is a 180 ml cup. In Japan, this amount is called ichi go (一合). Here’s how much water you need for each rice cooker cup when you follow the 1:1.1 (or 1.2) ratio.
1 rice cooker cup (180 ml) = 200 ml
2 rice cooker cups (360 ml) = 400 ml
3 rice cooker cups (540 ml) = 600 ml
4 rice cooker cups (720 ml) = 800 ml
5 rice cooker cups (900 ml) = 1000 ml
Calculation: 180 ml x 1.1 (or 1.2) = 198 ml (or 216 ml)
🤫 If you don’t want to be so precise, pour water just a little bit above the marked water line (see below). You can always adjust the amount of water after you see the result.
Important Tip: Never Skip Soaking!
Short-grain rice always requires soaking (20-30 minutes) unlike other kinds of rice.
The rice grains are rounder and fatter so they need a head start to absorb moisture to the core of the rice kernel.
For newer rice cookers, about 10-minute “soaking” time has already been programmed into the rice cooking menu. However, in my opinion, 10 minutes is not sufficient. I would suggest giving at least 20-30 minutes to soak and revive the rice.
- 1 Rice Cooker Cup (180 ml / 150 g) – yields 330 g of cooked rice, which is about 2 bowls of rice (150 g per bowl) or 3 rice balls (a typical Japanese rice ball is 110 g).
- When you use a new crop (新米) – reduce the water slightly.
- Different brands of rice – require a slightly different amount of water.
- No measuring cup? – Use a mug to measure rice and water (exact same volume). Soak the rice for 20-30 minutes and drain well. Then add the measured water (a 1:1 ratio approach).
My Favorite Rice Cooker
The rice cookers in Japan are more high tech and have a very futuristic look, but they are also very expensive. The rice cookers, which many of my friends in Japan have, would have cost $1,000!
Those of us who live outside of Japan don’t have too many (fancy) choices. Since I came to the US, I’ve been using only Zojirushi brand rice cookers (3 of them).
This is my current rice cooker by Zojirushi. It is a 5.5 cups Zojirushi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer (Amazon).
As we eat rice at home almost every single day, I depend highly on a superior quality rice cooker to cook the perfect rice for my family.
Zojirushi rice cooker uses pressurized cooking and AI (Artificial Intelligence) to cook rice. It also has a platinum infused nonstick inner cooking pan that brings out the natural sweetness of the rice.
The other features include:
- Automatically selects from three pressure levels according to the menu selected
- Healthy cooking options: brown rice and GABA brown rice settings
- Menu settings include: white (regular, softer or harder), umami, mixed, sushi/sweet, porridge, brown, GABA brown, steam-reduce, scorch, rinse-free and quick cooking
- Made in Japan
With this rice cooker, I’ve never once needed to worry about dry or mushy rice. It is absolutely one of the must-have kitchen gadgets I can’t live without!
If you’re interested, you can purchase the rice cooker on Amazon.
I hope you’ve found the above tips helpful. I’ve also included more topics on rice after the recipe below. If you have more questions, leave me a comment below!
How To Make Rice in a Rice Cooker
★ 1 rice cooker cup (180 ml)
- 200 ml water (for white rice)
- 300 ml water (for brown rice)
★ 2 rice cooker cups (360 ml)
- 400 ml water (for white rice)
- 600 ml water (for brown rice)
★ 3 rice cooker cups (540 ml)
- 600 ml water (for white rice)
- 900 ml water (for brown rice)
★ 4 rice cooker cups (720 ml)
- 800 ml water (for white rice)
- 1200 ml water (for brown rice)
★ 5 rice cooker cups (900 ml)
- 1000 ml water (for white rice)
Before You Start...
- The white rice to water ratio is 1 : 1.1 (or 1.2 ). Please read the blog post for a detailed explanation.
- 1 rice cooker cup (180 ml, 150 g) yields 12 oz (330 g) of cooked rice, which is about 2 bowls of rice (150 g per bowl) or 3 rice balls (a typical Japanese rice ball is 110 g). 1 US cup of cooked rice weighs 6.3 oz (180 g).
To Rinse the Rice
- Overfill the plastic rice cooker cup (180 ml) and level off. In this recipe, I'm using 3 rice cooker cups (540 ml).
- Add water just enough till it submerges all the rice. Then discard the water immediately. Repeat this process 2-3 times. Tip: Rice absorbs water very quickly when you start rinsing, so don't let the rice absorb the first few rounds of water.
- Use your fingers to gently wash the rice in a circular motion for 10-15 seconds. Repeat this process 1-2 times.
- Add water and discard the water. Repeat this process 1-2 times.
- Repeat this process 2 more times.
- When the water is almost clear, drain well. Tip: Use a fine-mesh sieve to drain and shake off excess water.
- Transfer the drained rice to the rice cooker (I use the Zojirushi IH). Add room water (600 ml for my 3 rice cooker cups). Water can't be warm or hot. To cook brown rice, add a pinch of salt and distribute evenly.
To Cook the Rice
- Soak the rice for 20-30 minutes for white rice and 6-12 hours for brown rice (especially if you're using an older rice cooker). Select your menu and press "Start". Tip: Even though my rice cooker includes soaking time, I soak my rice for 20-30 minutes. Note: For this Zojirushi rice cooker, 3-cup "regular" white rice takes 55 minutes to cook, which already includes a 10-minute soaking time and 10-minute steaming time in the program.
- Once the rice is done cooking, let it steam for 10 minutes (if your rice cooker does not include the steaming time). Open the lid and fluff the rice with a rice paddle.
To Store Cooked Rice
- Transfer the rice in airtight containers and close the lid to keep the moisture in. Let cool completely before storing the containers in the freezer (read my tutorial post).
The Best Way to Store Cooked Rice
Want to Learn More about Japanese Rice?
Cooking Japanese Rice in a Pot over Stovetop
Cooking Japanese Rice in an Instant Pot
Making Delicious Sushi Rice
In order to make all types of sushi (sushi rolls, nigiri sushi, hand rolls, etc), you will need Sushi Rice seasoned with sushi vinegar.