What’s better than a bowl of flawlessly cooked rice? It should be tender yet fluffy with each pearly grain separated and peaked. How to cook the perfect pot of rice is as baffling as there are methods, and yes, it’s easy to mess up, but we’ve mastered the technique with the Instant Pot and added a crispy, crunchy top (arguably the only way to improve rice). Here are the tricks to mastering the glorious crispy crown every time using an Instant Pot.
How to Make The Best Instant Pot Crispy Rice
2 cups basmati rice (makes 6 cups of cooked rice)
5 Tbsp ghee or unsalted butter, divided (1 ½ Tbsp softened)
1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp saffron threads (optional)
3 Tbsp olive oil or neutral oil
1. Wash Don’t Rinse
Wash the rice 3x in a bowl covered with cold water, swishing with your hand or until the water runs clear. Tip the bowl to drain the cloudy water and repeat. Rinsing the rice in a fine-mesh sieve isn’t enough to thoroughly wash away any loose starch, dirt or debris that has accumulated from storage or the field, and it tastes so much better.
2. Good Soak
Place the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water for 20-30 minutes until the grains are pearly white, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. (Yes, this is when you can rinse through a sieve!) The rice will absorb some of the water, resulting in elongated, perfectly separate grains, and it shortens the cooking time.
3. Prep the Pot
Evenly spread 1 ½ Tbsp of softened ghee on the bottom of the Instant Pot, making sure to cover. Melted ghee will trickle down from the centre of the pot since there is a slope. Softened ghee, on the other hand, will stay in place while preventing the rice from sticking.
Tip: We like using ghee for its golden hue, and it’s a pure fat with a high smoke point. It’s basically unsalted butter with the milk solids removed after separating from the butter fat (a cousin to clarified butter). Learn how to make your own ghee at home.
4. Under Pressure
Add the strained rice to the prepared pot, spreading evenly over top. Sprinkle with salt and 2 cups of cold water. Press the Pressure function and cook on high for 5 minutes. Release the pressure, remove the lid and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest for 10 minutes.
5. Grind and Bloom
*This step is optional. Skip the grinding if you’re not using saffron.*
Meanwhile, grind saffron in a mortar and pestle or finely rub between fingers and stir into a measuring glass with the olive oil. Melt the remaining ghee, then stir into the oil mixture to allow the saffron to bloom.
6. Poke Poke
Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke the rice to the bottom to make many holes. These holes will be the tunnels for the ghee saffron mixture to reach the bottom and create the signature crispy top.
Drizzle the saffron mixture over the rice, concentrating in the centre (the slope will pool the ghee to the edge of the pot).
7. Crispy Sauté
Remove the kitchen towel and press the Sauté function, and cook until the rice is golden brown and crispy on the bottom, 10-12 minutes. Using an offset spatula or rubber spatula, loosen the edge of rice and lightly pack.
Tip: If you’re afraid of the inverting, scoop the rice onto the centre of the platter, then carefully remove the crispy top and transfer. You won’t have a single piece, but you can hide the cracks with parsley or chopped pistachios or pomegranate seeds.
Using kitchen towels, remove the pot. Place a large platter over top and quickly invert it, so the rice falls onto the platter with the crispy side up. Be patient, you may have to wait up to 30 seconds for the bottom to fall, and you may have to scrape and patch any bits left behind. You did it! Now crunch, crunch and enjoy!
Note: Crispy rice is often called Tahdig (tah-DEEG), the Persian word that translates as “the bottom of the pot” and is the golden, crispy crust coveted by everyone at the table.