Pressure Cooker Grains

The pressure cooker can make quick work of tough whole grains and perfectly steam white rice to its full fluffy potential but a few wrong moves can have starch spraying into your kitchen or, worse, turn your grains into gruel.  Here are my do’s and don’ts to get perfectly cooked grains without the drama.

Measure water and cranberry cocktail.DO check timing and ratio before you go. Each grain requires its own exacting amount of liquid to re-hydrate fully and not burst into a runny porridge. For example, soaked Basmati rice just needs one cup of water to one cup of rice while steel-cut oats need three.  Look-up the rice or grain-type in the pressure cooking time chart its recommended cooking time and liquid requirements.

DON’T fill-up the pressure cooker. Like, ever. The rice, or grain, and their cooking liquid should never fill the pressure cooker more than half-way.  These foods expand to once, twice, three times already – you don’t want them to get anywhere near the lid of the pressure cooker (where all of the safety systems reside).

Dry Basmati RiceDO fatten it up to keep it from foaming up. Add a bit of oil, butter, ghee or any fat that matches your recipe into the pressure cooker along with the grains and cooking liquid.  The fat will reduce the amount of foam that is generated while the rice or grain cook under pressure.

DON’T rush it! Almost all rice and grains should be opened using the 10-minute Natural Release method. This adds an equivalent of 5 minutes of  low pressure cooking time using only the cooker’s residual heat and energy.  More importantly, it is one the most delicate pressure cooker opening methods, which ensures no foam or starch comes spraying out of the valve when you open the cooker.

In the pressure cooker base: the minimum liquid required, the steamer basket, a heat-proof dish containing rice and water.DO bain marie-it for tricky pressure cookers. For pressure cookers, especially those that rattle, jiggle or huff-and-puff to maintain pressure, cook rice in a heat-proof container inside the pressure cooker. We call this pressure cooker bain marie (also known as “pan-in-pot”) – this technique cooks the rice, or grain, more delicately and uses the same recommended grain-to-liquid ratios and cooking times.


See Also

Your tip?

Leave  a comment, below!

Similar Posts


  1. does the rice need to be rinsed or soaked prior to pressure cooking?

    1. Unless the rice has been coated with vitamins (as Italian rices) then the rice should be rinsed. Soaking will require a different cooking time, and we note all of those times in the time chart:

      And the rice & grains infographic:



  2. Would a 10 1/2″ diameter pressure skillet be a good choice for brown rice? Or, would something taller and narrower be better?

    1. There’s no problem making brown rice in a pressure skillet, just be sure to follow the filling recommendations (no more than half full). You’ll have problems making soup in it, though. ; )



  3. hi!

    i am a newbie pressure cook and i have just purchased a 2.5 L WMF perfect plus and a 5 L kuhn ikon top model. i am vegetarian and thought it would be great for bean and grain cooking. so far i have cooked beans a few times in the 5 L and i am so happy with pressure cooking beans! however, i tried my first attempt at cooking grains in my 2.5 L last night, and it came out like gruel. i soak all of my grains for 12-24 hours before cooking them for health reasons. i used 1.5 cups of short grain brown rice and after draining it of the soaking liquid i put the rice in the pressure cooker with 2 cups water and cooked at high pressure for 17 minutes. the result was a sticky gruel.

    i am assuming your grain charts are for unsoaked grains? do you know where i could find charts for soaked grains, or do you have a suggestion of how to compensate across the board. i literally soak all of my grains (and beans & nuts too) and anticipate having a steep learning curve if the only info out there is generally for unsoaked grains.

    appreciate any help you can give! thanks!

    1. Some of the grain cooking times are for soaked grains, if you look at the chart there are times for soaked hominy, kamut and white basmati rice.

      I haven’t tested the cooking times post-soak for any other grains but for white basmati rice the water ratio to grain is lowered to 1:1.25 and the pressure cooking time is reduced from 4 to 1 minute at pressure.

      If you can tell me which grains you’re soaking and and then pressure cooking I’ll gladly test a couple to add to the cooking chart.

      Until then, I can only recommend reducing both the cooking liquid and cooking time.



  4. thank you! that is very kind of you to offer to test some. i will also report back on my findings as i go. i soak every grain and eat of lot of different kinds, but i would say that ones i eat most often are:

    short grain brown rice
    brown basmati
    farro (or spelt berries)
    bulgar wheat (although this hardly needs cooking so probably won’t try to pressure cook)

    also, incase you are interested in why someone would want to soak all their grains, here’s a decent read:

    thanks laura!

    1. Tigz, that’s an interesting article. I would have thought it was to remove arsenic – I didn’t realize that phytic acid would be neutralized by sprouting, too. I must read more about this.

      Do you use whole or pearled Farro and Barley? I happen to have brown basmati in my grain drawer so I will try that first. I also have some oat groats that are begging to be eaten so I’ll do those next.

      BTW, to figure out the “new” water ratio for soaked grains. Soak the grain/rice in the recommended liquid amount for dry grains (in the time chart). Then, before dumping out the water, measure how much is un-absorbed. That will be what’s needed to cook them (later you can soak them in as much or as little water as you like).

      Figuring out cooking time will be tricky and may take several tries. For the first test I’m going to pressure cook them for 1/4 of the time recommended for the dry grain. The results will dictate whether the next test (if any) will need to be for more or less time.

      Keep me posted on your results and I’ll add them to the cooking time chart as well – it will certainly be useful to other cooks!



      1. hi laura,

        before i dig in, one thing to note; i checked the box below my reply to ‘notify me of new comments’ to see when you (or anyone) replies & i do not receive a notification email. just wanted you to be aware in case it is happening across the board on your blog.

        regarding soaking grains (and nuts & seeds) yes it’s a very interesting topic. three rcookbooks that came out recently, are great all around, and have some good info on the topic are; the vibrant table by anya kassoff, at home in the whole foods kitchen by amy chaplin, and my new roots by sarah britton. in fact, amy chaplin’s book is what made me interested in purchasing a pressure cooker – although it seems she only uses it to cook beans. i recommend all of these books. speaking of books, i am ordering yours today. :-)

        in answer to whether i used polished grains or not, normally its yes i use more often farro and pearled barley, BUT i have just in the last month moved from the US to spain – the island of ibiza in fact – and i am still learning where to source things and how to speak the language. so far i think all i can find is unpolished (not pearled).

        that is a VERY helpful water tip. last night i used my 2.5L WMF to cook 1.5 cups of brown basmati that i had soaked for about 20 hours. i used the ratio of 1 1/4 cup water to 1 cup of rice and cooked on high pressure for 1 minute with a natural release. when i opened it was too wet. all was not lost as i just kept the top off and cooked the water off. but of course it wasn’t ideal because basmati should be light and fluffy. the only thing i don’t quite understand about your instructions on that is where you say: (later you can soak them in as much or as little water as you like) – do you mean once i use this method to figure out the water ratios? yes, now that i write i think that is what you mean.

        i’m thankful that you are interested in developing this. as people become more health conscious and actually, informed about bean and grain based diets. i.e. studying the ways of traditional cultures with those diets prepared grains, soaking & sprouting grains & nuts will become as common as soaking beans. it’s already happening! the three books i mentioned are quite popular as are their blogs, and there’s others as well.

        i will report back on my next grain experiment and am looking forward to hear about yours.

  5. When you steam something like grains in a pot-in-pot method, do you still need to add 1c of water in the bottom liner to allow it to comments pressure, or is the water in the inner pot enough? Certainly if cooking a lasagne or cheesecake or other non-watery dish in an inner pot you need the extra water in the bottom, but I’m curious about grains. I’m wondering if the PIP method would also work for the Mac and cheese recipe I’m trying to convert for pressure cooking, where the noodles are cooked mostly in evaporated milk with a little water (just tried this directly in the pot and the pot never came to pressure, and it was a burned mess on the bottom of the pot, maybe too think to boil?).

    1. Janelle, you should always have liquid in the base of the pressure cooker – otherwise the heat will never make it to the suspended container to bring it to a boil. Here are the instructions for making rice this way:



    2. And Laura has already done the heavy lifting for you on Mac & Cheese

      Try it. It’s delicious!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *