How to Cook Rice at Altitude

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Ecuador | 1 comment

How to Cook Rice at Altitude

Whether we live in the plains of Texas or in Georgia’s Blue Ridge mountains, we develop cooking habits based on the altitudes we live in.  And when we move away from our home, perhaps to a new country, we might also change the altitude and may have to review our cooking times.

That’s true for eggs, rice, potatoes, anything we boil. But it doesn’t apply to baking.

How Do You Cook Your Rice?

That’s one of the most frequently asked questions asked in our coffee house.

The answer is not very complicated, but why does it become a challenge to cook rice at altitude, especially here in Cuenca, Ecuador?

Cooking Rice in Cuenca By Unknown
Cooking Rice in Cuenca By Unknown

First, we need to understand why cooking and baking at altitude differ doing the same at sea level. If we take into consideration the geography of the United States, most cities are at sea level or are low elevation compared to Cuenca.

Take New Orleans, for example, the altitude is -8 ft of elevation or New York is at 0 ft of elevation. Cuenca is at 8,400 ft of elevation from sea level. The boiling point at this altitude is lower at 206.6 °F (97°C) compared to the boiling point at sea level, where water boils at 212°F /100°C.

Therefore, water takes longer to boil because of increased atmospheric pressure, which results in longer cooking times.  In order to avoid under-or overcooking, we require some recipe modifications compared to cooking and baking in the flat-lands in the United States.

Many of you may say that it is also because of the type of rice. The type of rice plays a role, especially if it’s brown rice. It will also depend on the variety and quality of the rice you are using. Around the world, they use different rice.

In the United States, you can find most of them in a normal supermarket. However, here in Ecuador, there are not as many varieties available as in other countries. It is better to purchase the one you like most. If purchasing the traditional rice of Ecuador, it is better to get long grain, not too broken or too clear. If it is too clear, the rice has been over-processed and has lost some of its nutritional value.

How Do We Cook Rice at Altitude?

These tips will be useful for cooking in a rice cooker or in a pot:

  • Rinse white rice in cold water
  • Remove pebbles or impurities before placing a rice cooker or pot.
  • Add two cups of water per cup of rice if cooking in a pot. Use three cups of water per 1 cup of rice if cooking in a rice cooker.
  • Season rice to preference and let it boil.
  • Once it boils, reduce the heat to simmer until half of the water evaporates.
  • Reduce the heat to the minimum and let it dry.
  • It is better to add oil once cooked to add flavor.
  • To add sweetness, instead of three cups of plain water, replace one cup with sparkling water or Sprite.


These tips will help you cook rice at altitude and help create sumptuous meals at home. Watch out for more cooking tips and ideas in my next article. Have fun cooking at altitude.

by: Sebastian Vallejo

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