Rice Servings & Amounts

On one hand, there’s nothing particularly different about cooking rice on a boat, but there’s always the chance that the only type available at the tiny store in a fishing village is different than what you usually cook . . . or it’s labeled in a language you’re not quite proficient in . . . or there’s no instructions on the package . . . or maybe there’s not even a package.  Hmm, do you just guess?

Before that happens, why not print out this article (or save it as a PDF on your computer or Kindle) and save it as a reference?

Serving Size

The exact size of a 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 cup (cooked) per person

If rice is part of the main dish, as with Spanish Rice, Jambalaya, as a base for Beef Stroganoff or if a rice salad is the main dish, allow 1 cup per person.

Side Dish — 1/2 cup (cooked) per person

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 per person.

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

Cooking Rice

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


Uncooked (cups)

Water (cups)

Cook Time (minutes)

Cooked (cups)

White long grain



15 – 20


White medium grain



10 – 15


White instant








45 – 55


Brown instant





Wild rice



30 – 45


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.

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  • Bruce Bibee
    Posted at 09 January 2011 Reply

    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?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 09 January 2011 Reply

      With these times, you begin timing when the rice comes to a boil (and you turn the heat down to simmer). I just edited the article to make this clear — thanks!

      Some brands of instant rice will cook in the way you describe, but others do not and need to be left to simmer. “Instant” rice really varies (far more than other types of rice, because it depends on how it’s processed to be “instant”) and so if the package has directions that you can read, always follow them instead of these general guidelines.

      These times refer to cooking rice on the stove top and not in a rice cooker.

      I’ll look into your problem with the comments not editing — I haven’t had a problem with editing when writing a reply (like this), so I don’t know of anything off the top of my head.

  • sue
    Posted at 17 May 2014 Reply

    I use absorbtion method and put in cold water to 1cm above rice. Thin bring to boil and then turn down to simmer till all water absorbed. This seems to work for most types of rice and quantities. It doesn’t waste water. I add salt at the beginning.

  • Kenneth Arnold
    Posted at 18 May 2014 Reply

    FYI, When I make Mac and Cheese, I use 3-4 Boxes (nice leftovers) at a time but only use 1/2 the Cheese Mix (cuts Fat calories). Then I use the saved Cheese (mark which type on the Bag) on a Rice batch since it makes a great Base for Cheesy Rice type dishes. I put small cut or Diced Veggies in the Rice 1/2 way through the Cooking. Use extra Milk if you want it runny and yummy 🙂

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