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How much rice per person?

Updated on August 31, 2011

Isn’t it annoying trying to figure out how much rice to cook per person?

Cook too much and you end up with a mountain of rice going to waste, cook too little and you end up dividing a small amount of rice between many people’s plates.

Often, reading the back of the rice packet doesn't help much as they tend to suggest a serving size based on a dietary recommendation, which doesn't take into consideration whether yiou are serving rice as a side dish or as part of a main dish.

What’s more, there are huge numbers of rice varieties and what might work for one rice may not work for another.

All is not lost; below are some basic tips and guidelines to help you cook the perfect amount of rice per person every time.


How much rice per person??

White Rice serving size

Firstly, you need to decide whether you are serving your rice as a side dish or as a main dish.

The general rule is that for an ‘average’ person the amount of rice to cook per person for a side dish is approximately ¼ cup of uncooked rice (approximately 90g). A main dish serve the amount of rice to cook per person is twice this amount – ½ cup (approximately 180g) of uncooked rice.

Long grain rices such as long grain white rice, basmati rice, and jasmine rice generally double in size when cooked, so ½ a cup of uncooked rice makes around 1 cup of cooked rice. A 1 cup serving of long grain white rice contains approximately 200 calories.


Short-Grain White Rice Serving Size

Short grain white rice such as Arborio rice is often used in paella, risotto, and sticky rice.

The amount of this rice to cook per person follows the same rule as for white long grain rice, although short grain rice is more calorific than long grain rice – a cup of cooked short grain rice contains approximately 240 calories.


Brown Rice Serving Size

The above rule also works well with brown rice although brown rice does not expand to the same extent as white rice. A cup of cooked medium-grain brown rice contains approximately 220 calories.


What if I don’t have a measuring cup, how do I tell how much rice to cook per person?

What if you don’t have a measure that can show you what ½ a cup of rice is? Well, one guideline is that the amount of rice to cook per person is approximately the amount that fits into the folded fist of your hand. Even though everyone has different size hands, this guideline still works as an approximation.

Rice is inexpensive and although you want to minimise the amount of wastage, if in doubt it is better to over-cater and cook a little more than you first thought, as leftover rice can be used at a later time in other dishes such as fried rice. Rice is delicious and chances are that everyone will want a second helping anyway!


Why you should buy a rice cooker

Cooking perfect rice can be harder than it looks, and there are very few home cooks who have not had a rice cooking disaster at some point. Rice needs to be closely watched when cooking and if you get the amount of water or temperature wrong then you end up with rice that gets overcooked before the water can be absorbed.

What’s more, in most cases, rice is served as an accompaniment to a meat or vegetable dish and while you are busy preparing the other dish you don’t want to have to be constantly monitoring your rice.

An inexpensive and foolproof solution is to use a rice cooker. A rice cooker cooks you rice at an optimum temperature, and turns itself off when the rice is cooked to perfection. This means you can set your rice cooker going and then ignore it until you are ready to serve perfect, fluffy rice every time.

Rice cookers needn't cost much and are very easy to use. There is a very good reason why those people who eat rice every day use rice cookers! Once you have tried using one you will be an instant convert.


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