If you're trying to figure out the best way to cook rice, here's a comparison of steamed rice versus boiled rice. The calories, nutrition and texture vary according to the cooking method. Both steamed rice and boiled rice have benefits and drawbacks.
Read more: Which Rice Is Healthiest for Consumption?
Steamed vs. Boiled Rice: Texture
Rice is a staple food in many countries, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; however, different cuisines cook it differently. Steamed rice, which is popular in Chinese cuisine, for example, primarily cooks by absorbing water that has vaporized into steam, resulting in a stickier form of rice.
Boiled rice, on the other hand, is submerged in water while it cooks. According to the University of Arkansas, Indian, Middle Eastern and Persian cuisines favor basmati rice, which is typically boiled and is both firmer and fluffier when cooked.
The texture of the rice also depends on the length of the grain; the Harvard T.H. Chan School notes that while long-grain rice tends to produce firmer, separated grains of rice, short- and medium-grain varieties of rice tend to produce stickier rice. The University of Arkansas explains that the starch content also plays a role; the more starch the rice has, the stickier its consistency when cooked.
Read more: Basmati Rice Diet
Steamed vs. Boiled Rice: Calories
Boiled rice is sometimes cooked in more water than it requires; afterward, the excess water is drained and thrown away. Ricepedia explains that this method can result in the loss of starch and water-soluble nutrients in the rice. Soaking or rinsing rice before cooking it can also cause some of the starch to drain away.
Starch is a type of carbohydrate found in grains, beans and potatoes and is the primary type of carbohydrate in white rice. According to the USDA, boiled rice has fewer carbs than steamed rice; 100 grams of boiled rice has 28.17 grams of carbs whereas 100 grams of steamed rice has 33.88 grams of carbs. Since the calories in rice are mainly from its carbohydrate content, the difference in carbs results in a difference in calories.
Steamed vs. Boiled Rice: Nutrition
While boiled rice has benefits like a lower carbohydrate and calorie content, they come at the cost of nutrition since draining away the water also washes away the nutrients. Ricepedia notes that soaking, washing or draining away water once the rice has boiled can also cause you to lose out on proteins, vitamins, minerals and fats in the rice.
While white rice has barely any fat content and minimal protein content, it does have some nutrients like potassium, folate, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, especially if it has been enriched.
Read more: How Is White Rice Healthy for Our Body?
According to the University of Arkansas, the refining process strips white rice of its bran and germ layers, which are rich in fiber and nutrition respectively.
However, the Harvard T.H. Chan School notes that some manufacturers add back some of the iron and B vitamins to the rice. These enriched varieties of rice have less nutrition than unrefined brown rice, since only a fraction of the nutrition is added back; however, they have more nutrition than unenriched white rice.
Steamed Rice vs. Boiled Rice: Which Is Good for Health?
Boiled rice's main benefit is a lower starch content. If you're trying to cut down on your carbohydrate or calorie intake, wash the rice a few times until the water runs clear, boil it and drain away the excess water when you're done to get rid of some of the starch. However, this method is not ideal, because it causes boiled rice to lose its nutrition.
Alternatively, you can steam the rice or boil it with the exact amount of water required, in order to help the boiled rice retain its nutrition. You can also opt for a combination of the two methods, where you boil it first and then switch off the heat to let it steam.
Opting for any of these three methods can help preserve the nutrients in the rice. If you're eating white rice, make sure you opt for an enriched variety, since that has more nutrition than regular white rice.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Rice”
- University of Arkansas: “Choosing the Best Rice for Your Cooking Needs”
- USDA: “Rice, White, Long-Grain, Regular, Enriched, Cooked”
- USDA: “Rice, White, Steamed, Chinese Restaurant”
- Ricepedia: “Cooking Methods”
- American Diabetes Association: “Get to Know Carbs”