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How to Make Perfect Korean Steamed Rice (Step. 3 : How to soak and cook the rice)

Learn how to make perfect Korean steamed rice using a rice cooker or on the stove!

(This is part III of How to Make Perfect Korean Steamed Rice. Click here for part I and part II.) 

How to Make Perfect Korean Steamed Rice | MyKoreanKitchen.com

After buying good rice and rinsing the rice properly, we need to soak the rice in water.
The reason is to make evenly cooked rice and to make each rice grain sticky and resilient (“gelatinization”). However, if you soak it too long, it can become brittle and lose some nutrition. So we need to do it for the right amount of time. Then what is the right amount of time?

How long to soak the rice

  • Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes in summer and 1-2 hours in winter minimum.

(The temperature is based on the Korean climate ; Seoul’s average daily high temperature – summer : 27℃, winter : 3℃)

Once the soaking is done, drain the water then add an adequate amount of water to the rice.

The adequate amount can vary depending on the the type of rice, condition of the rice and type of cooking method, but we usually need to add 1.5 times more water compared to the rice weight or 1.2 times more water compared to the rice volume.

Measuring water - the knuckle method

(However, I always measure it manually. The so called “Knuckle method” – Add the water until it covers near my knuckles when my hand is flat on the rice. Does it sound logical to you? A lot of Koreans seem to use this method too. It’s not just me. 🙂 )

The rice cooking process goes Boiling – Simmering – Thoroughly steaming. If you use an electric rice cooker like I do, we just put the rice and water into the cooker and press the button. However, if you use the stove top method then there are a couple of things you need to be aware of.

How to make Korean steamed rice on the stove

(Recommended by a rice expert in the Rural Development Administration, Korean government)

  1. Boil the rice with the lid on for 5-10 minutes on high heat (The water gets absorbed into the rice and the rice expands).
  2. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer it for 7-8 minutes (During this time we are accelerating the gelitinization process – making each rice grain sticky and resilient).
  3. As the water gets absorbed into the rice or evaporates, reduce the heat to low gradually. Do not open the lid at this point. When the water has nearly disappeared, turn the heat off.
  4. Let the rice sit (thoroughly steam) for 10-15 minutes with the lid on.
  5. Then stir the rice around (top to bottom, side to side) lightly with the rice scoop (It is to evaporate extra moisture, even out the rice taste, and keep the good shape).

Now, theoretically, we should be able to make perfect Korean steamed rice. Fingers crossed for you all!

How to make Korean steamed rice on the stove

How to Make Perfect Korean Steamed Rice
4.95 from 18 votes
Print Pin Rate Save
Course: Main
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: korean rice
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 358kcal
Author: Sue | My Korean Kitchen


  • Short or Medium grain rice
  • Water


  • Boil the rice with the lid on for 5-10 minutes on high heat (The water gets absorbed into the rice and the rice expands).
  • Turn the heat down to medium and simmer it for 7-8 minutes (During this time we are accelerating the gelitinization process – making each rice grain sticky and resilient).
  • As the water gets absorbed into the rice or evaporates, reduce the heat to low gradually. Do not open the lid at this point. When the water has nearly disappeared, turn the heat off.
  • Let the rice sit (thoroughly steam) for 10-15 minutes with the lid on.
  • Then stir the rice around (top to bottom, side to side) lightly with the rice scoop (It is to evaporate extra moisture, even out the rice taste, and keep the good shape).

Nutrition Info (per serving)

Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 6g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 76mg | Fiber: 2g | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 4.2mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Tried this recipe?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Rate this recipe with a comment below and tag me on Instagram @MyKoreanKitchen.


Written by: Sue

Last Updated:

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Welcome to my Korean kitchen! I’m so happy that you're here. I am Sue, the creator behind My Korean Kitchen (since 2006). I love good food and simplifying recipes. Here you will find my best and family approved recipes. Thanks for stopping by!


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96 thoughts on “How to Make Perfect Korean Steamed Rice (Step. 3 : How to soak and cook the rice)”

  1. Thank you for the awesome instructions the rice turned out really well with this recipe!
    I have one question though, when you say to boil the rice on high heat or 5 to 10 minutes, do I start counting the minutes when I turn on the heat or only when the rice starts boiling?

  2. “ Once the soaking is done, we can finally start boiling.
    First we need to add an adequate amount of water to the rice.”

    What… this doesn’t make sense, it would already be in water once the soaking is done… So it is rinsed, and then soaked, and THEN the water is changed again? It does not say to change the water.

  3. Hello, thank you for the recipe.
    Can you please clarify something? It says on point 4 “ Do not open the lid at this point.” but does not on any of the previous steps say that a lid should be put on.
    Can you please clarify at what point the lid should be put on?

    • I didn’t realize that my instructions in the main article and the recipe card weren’t matching! Thanks for pointing it out. I fixed it now.
      You put the lid on from the beginning in step 1.

  4. Haven’t even tried your detailed instructions but I am beyond impressed with your way of instruction: Here’s what you do. (Here’s why you do it.) Logical, complete and step by step. You should copyright your presentation. Thank you,
    Joseph A. O’Reilly

  5. I love Korea and I love food here. Korea food has never let me down. Thanks Sue for detailed instructions making Korean-style rice!

  6. This is awesome! Whenever I have Korean food I have always LOVED the rice. Will file this away for sure! Thanks for sharing! Also, gorgeous pictures. 🙂

  7. After spending 6years stationed in Korea I enjoyed so many great meals now I hope to be able to make my own and bring back a lot of great tastes and great memories of years gone by I make my own bulgogi and buy a lot of items from hmart that I can or drive 45miles to the Korean store in Pittsburg pa for kimichi now I hope to learn new receipes

    • Robert: May I ask where the Korean grocery in Pittsburgh is? I’m in Morgantown, an hour and change south, and ours closed a couple years ago so I’m in need of one reasonably close. Thank you for any tips you might have!

  8. Thank you for these wonderfully detailed instructions on the whole process of making Korean-style rice! I live in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles and wanted to enjoy Korean rice at home sometimes rather than at a restaurant. Everytime I follow this technique with the Calrose rice from a nearby Korean grocer it comes out perfectly.

    • In Korea, plain rice is served with banchan (“side dishes”), and you eat one spoonful of rice with one chopstick-scoop of banchan. Generally, the dishes are intentionally made pretty salty. They are not meant to be eaten alone, but always with plain, unsalted rice.

    • Hi Madi, The instruction works for any amount of rice, but you could start with 2 cups of rice and see how you go. For the water amount, I always use the “knuckle method” as I explained above. 🙂 Hope this helps!

  9. Hi Sue.. that’s so precise.. but I would like to know how do I use it with a rice cooker at home. I use a Cuckoo 3.5 L

    Many thanks!

  10. Hi,
    I am Deepti from India .I want to try to make some Korean food at home please guide me.
    And it’s nice to read your recipes

  11. This is a great blog you have here. It has really been helpful. I never knew I had to soak my rice. By the way, what amount of water must I soak my rice in? Or is it that the amount does not really matter?

    • You don’t “have to” soak the rice. Though traditionally that’s how it was done in Korea, particularly when you didn’t have a good quality rice cooker. 🙂
      Anyway, the water amount for soaking rice isn’t important as you will drain it before cooking anyway. Just make sure the rice is immersed under the water.

  12. Hi Sue,

    I came across your site from searching for a pancake recipe.. I am so glad I did. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and information on Korean cooking. Especially appreciate you explaining the essential Korean ingredients and how to cook rice properly. Though it may sound easy, whenever I tried cooking short grain rice, it always turn out a bit too hard, just not like the soft sticky rice I get at Korean restaurant. I’ll try your tip on soaking the rice beforehand.

    Thanks again.


  13. Hi Sue, thanks for always posting such wonderful Korean recipes! I’m from the American South and am convinced I was Korean in a past life, this food just speaks to me! Your recipes are so delicious and informative, I’ve loved exploring this amazing food through your posts. You inspired me to recently purchase a Cuckoo pressure rice cooker and I absolutely love it!

    I was wondering what setting you use when cooking white rice. I use the mixed rice setting for multigrain rice mixed with white, but am not sure what to use for white on its own? I used the sushi setting, but it took longer and came out somewhat dry. The glutinous setting didn’t seem right either.

    Also, is there a downside to using the turbo cook function? It’s so fast, but I didn’t know if there was some negative.

    감사합니다 ! Keep doing what you’re doing 🙂

    • Hi Rex, I’m so pleased to hear you love exploring Korean food through my recipes!

      To cook regular white rice with Cuckoo rice cooker, you need to choose the glutinous rice setting. I know! I think it’s a bad English translation on their part. lol. In Korean, this setting is 백미 (Baekmi). Sushi rice setting is obviously when you make the rice for sushi rolls or Kimbap (Korean rice rolls).

      I also love using turbo function. Though I only use it when I’m in a rush. The only bad thing I personally found with this function is when I cook multigrain rice in this setting. The rice seems less soft and/or maybe drier. But it could be me adding not enough water too. 🙂 Anyway, enjoy your Cuckoo! I should share more recipes you can try with Cuckoo!

      • Thank you so much! This helps a lot 🙂
        More Cuckoo recipes would be great, they’re hard to find online in English. I would love a recipe for 누룽지 , that button on the cooker looks like it could be useful!

        Thanks again!

  14. Sue, thank you for sharing this recipe. I also really enjoyed reading all of the comments. Although I have cooked a lot of different rices in my time, I learned a lot from this blog. Also, it made me want to try authentic Korean rice. I think I can find it. I live in Orange County, California and you can find practically any type of food and stores. I am so fortunate to live here and experience diversity.
    Also, I am using the stovetop method because I don’t have an electric rice cooker. I saw the one that you use and it is a beautifully designed cooker. I think it is the prettiest one I have ever seen. The design and your description of it’s use made me want one, but the price means I can’t. Fortunately the stove top method is good too! 🙂 I loved looking at the blog where you showed your favorite cooking things, including your rice cooker and other items!
    Best wishes, Sylvieann

  15. I just don’t understand . I looked for all korean rice recipe and noticed u don’t add sault ?!
    In my country we add sault when we make rice . So i was wandring if we really don’t on the korean way ???

      • I’m from egypt . We have 3 recips of rice depending on the kind of food and we always add some sault in the water with the rice . That’s why i was confused
        I’d like to thank u alot for your replay ^^

          • Hi there,
            Thanks for all the good advise, I really enjoy your recipes, ideas. I was tought to rinse the rice, saute it with some oil/butter/greas until it becomes glassy, cover it with water (a little more than the your picture shows) usually put a half onion, a handful of parsley, salt, give it one stir, cover unopened until ready. In this case the goal is for the rice not to be sticky. ?

    • We don’t usually add salt either here in the USA when cooking rice. It alters the taste. Its about the only thing we don’t salt while cooking. I love the recipes.

    • It’s expensive in Australia as well. Probably because it costs a lot to ship over from Korea. Nonetheless, it tastes way better than Australian grown rice for sure! 🙂

  16. Thank you for letting us know how to cook Korean rice properly. I’ve been curious when watching Korean dramas why they keep on eating rice even without proper dish and my question just solved when I visited Seoul last June 2014. Their rice looks like a semi-glutinous and taste delicious even without main dish. When I returned to my country and went to Korean store they are not selling Korean rice.

    • Hi Kate, I found that Korean rice is hard to get outside of Korea, unless it has large Korean immigrants. If you’re after glutinous texture, try short or medium grain rice. It doesn’t have to be “Korean rice”.

  17. Does this also work well for Korean Brown Sweet RICE? I just bought some and there isn’t english instructions. Thank you!

    • What is brown sweet rice? I’ve never heard of it. Usually, brown rice requires more water than white rice when cooking, so this how to guide wouldn’t quite work. I think you’ll have to revise it a bit.

  18. Thaaaaanks for the instruction!!!

    I’m so happy that I could finally make the kind of rice I see when I’m watching korean tv shows. ^-^

    Thaaanks you so much!! 🙂

  19. Omg. Im kinda confused.. when do I put the lid on??.. and should I stir it? Or put oil in it so it wont stick to the pan.. and should I get a certain brand of rice..

  20. Do I use the glutinous or sushi setting to make regular white rice in the cuckoo rice cooker? I was told glutinous is for white rice but it comes out too sticky, I had put less water but then it was still sticky and it wasn’t cooked all the way. THe rice wasn’t fluffy enough.

  21. awesome tips! finally the mystery was cracked whether the Korean restaurants imported a particular rice…….thanks to u, managed to make nice sticky rice with good ol’ Indian rice 🙂

  22. Wait, so when does the top go on the rice for the stove top method? Right away or only after the water reaches a boil?

    Also, how do you know if it should be 5 or 10 minutes for the first part? Are you waiting for the water to be nearly evaporated?

    Thanks for the great post! My boyfriend is Cambodian and his family uses the finger method. I’m great with long grain rice, but me and sticky rice need to get to know each other better :P.

  23. I think best method is
    Step 1
    Soak rice 30 min
    Step 2
    Boil the rice putting more water then the level of rice.
    Step 3
    Check the rice is cooked after 10 min to 20 mins
    Remove extra water it is to good to remove the extra water to remove the starch from rice.
    Step 5
    Then keep for 2 mins more.You will get good steam rice with low calore

  24. Does the rice prepared in a Korean rice cooker taste different than the rice prepared in a non-Korean rice cooker? If so, what is the difference?

    Thanks – Emily

  25. Wait, so you don’t wait for the water to boil before putting the rice in…?
    Anyway, thanks for the knuckle method. It helped me a lot. I always put too much or to little water.
    Very helpful!

    • Hi Agii,

      Well, I only use the pot in a very extream situation. 🙂 But no, you don’t wait for the water to boil. You put the rice and water, put the lid on then boil.

  26. i am hosting a korean exchange student and was obviously not cooking the rice properly.
    I got some great tips on this site thanks(I am sure Solbee thanks you too)

  27. Whenever i try to boil the rice with the lid on the pan, for some reason the pan begins to bubble up then start overflowing, regardless of whatever heat i have it on.
    Any ideas as to why this is?

  28. I’m Korean. This instruction is so nice(Thanks!), but looks a bit complicated even for me. I simply make Korean steamed rice like this. You can skip the process soaking the rice in the water if you don’t have time(usually I don’t, but recommend doing it and in fact, many koreans do that.)and when you put the pot having the rice on the stove after measuring the amount of rise, bring to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling and reduce the heat to the lowest and simmer it until i think it’s done.(Honestly, my pot has burned from time to time because i boil it on the highest hit for a long time)Don’t think my instruction is typical making korean steamed rice. this is just my way 😉 and wanted to give you easier way. Happy cooking!

  29. I also use the knuckle method and also use the finger method. I my middle finger in the water and make sure it cover half of finger where my finger naturally creases. It works every time! I don’t recommend a strainer because that way all the debris and such float to the top and run out with the water. I think that’s the reason for not using a strainer. The rice will stay at the bottom since they weigh the same and debris weighs differently.

  30. great recipes and easy to follow, but what brand of Korean rice do you use? My wife and I eat a small Korean restaurant and we asked them what rice they used and they said something like “hepban.” But I don’t see that anywhere. Any help on names of good rices would be appreciated.
    thank you.

  31. A Korean friend of mine showed me the knuckle method, too, and ever since I have used it, my rice comes out just fine! Also, I rinse the rice in a fine-meshed sieve under running water, swishing it around with my hands a few times until the water runs almost clear.

  32. Ah~ I always use the 1.5 times method, using the rice measurement bowl. But sometimes the bottom part burned. :O

    I never know we must soak the rice first…I always rinse, rinse, put on the rice cooker, push button, and wait. Rice never met stove in my life.

    Thanks for all the tips~ I’ll start using them ^^

  33. My mother taught me this method, and it works every time. Pull all the rice to one side of the pot. Then fill the other half with water to the same level as the rice. No knuckles, no hands, nothing. easy.

  34. Eun Jeong taught me the knuckle method. Yet my hands are way too big for the rice cooker, so I use the “inverse knuckle” method, where I turn my hand knuckles down and see if the water goes above my fingers.

    And, yeah, *I* had to teach her how to cook rice on the stove top.

  35. Thank you for this great blog!! My kids and I just returned from Korea and I was determined to make authentic Jajangmyun, not that stuff from the packet.

    Thanks for the great recipe. I will stop back often.

  36. I’ve been told that much of the Japanese and Korean types of rice grown and sold in the US doesn’t have rice bran coating it but corn starch instead. You still need to wash the rice, as far as I’m concerned, except for (supposedly) the new musenmai type that claims that no washing is needed.

  37. My Aunt taught me the knuckle method. My mom taught me how to cook rice,on the stove, when I was very young and she told me to always rinse the rice.

  38. I use a similar method to the knuckle method (good for people with big hands). Stick the index finger on the surface of the rice (make sure it’s uniformly flat) and bring the water level up to the first joint. It works every time with every kind of rice I’ve ever cooked!

  39. I’ve heard about the knuckle method but like Jeff, my hands are wider than my rice cooker pot, so I’ll just estimate about 1cm of water above the rice for whatever volume of rice I add to the rice cooker pot. 🙂


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