5 Rice Brands To Buy, And 5 To Avoid

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Cooking rice allows you to create countless recipes from around the world. The grain is a component in international, hearty dishes like fried rice, risotto, sushi, paella, bibimbap, tahdig, biryani, and jambalaya. Of course, different rice recipes require different types of rice. The starch comes in multiple colors, including white, brown, or black, along with varieties, like basmati, jasmine, or arborio, and grain lengths that range from short to long. But if you already know what kind you want, but are still wondering which rice brand to buy, we've got you covered.

We recommend rice companies that are known for good-tasting products, with rice that has an excellent texture and flavor. Additionally, we suggest buying from brands that are less harmful to your health. This includes companies with rice that is organic, lack artificial preservatives, and are nutrient-rich. To us, it's a bonus if the brand is attempting to combat issues like climate change and give back employees, too.

On the other hand, some rice brands we recommend avoiding are those made for instant cooking. These products come in packaging that contains higher levels of microplastics, which are tiny plastic particles which may be harmful to your health, per The Brisbane Times. "Boil-in-bag" or microwavable rice products may also have fewer nutrients and more artificial preservatives in them, per Miss Vickie. The same goes for rice blends that come prepared with seasonings. Instant rice also often comes in single-use plastic containers which create waste. To find which rice brands we avoid or recommend, read on.

1. Buy: Nishiki

Nishiki is a popular Japanese brand of rice known for its quality. On Amazon, /it is the number one best-seller in the category of "dried white rice." Its over 34,000 ratings come to an average of 4.7 out of 5, with around 85% percent of customers giving the rice a score of 5 out of 5. "This rice smells great, tastes great, is easy to cook, and it is inexpensive," one person said of Nishiki. You'll find similarly enthusiastic Nishiki advocates on other parts of the internet, like on the review website Influenster. "When cooked the grains are starchy and stick together. The flavor is sweet and texture is chewy," added one recommendation.

This brand is owned by JFC International, which is a subsidiary of the Japanese company Kikkoman, which is most famous for its soy sauce. Nishiki produces a few kinds of rice — like brown rice and short-grain rice — but its medium-grain white rice is the most recognizable, and appears to be the most popular. Not only is it popular, affordable, and great tasting, but it's also easy to find. You can buy Nishiki rice at Whole Foods, Walmart, and many other grocery store chains.

Nishiki rice comes with no added ingredients, as, per Whole Foods, the only food in each bag of Nishiki's medium-grain white rice is milled rice. Plus, it's a certified vegan, vegetarian, kosher, and dairy-free product. Per Japan Centre, Nishiki's grains are grown in California — a bonus for people looking to purchase domestically-grown rice.

2. Avoid: Success

Success is a brand that produces "boil-in-bag" rice. This means that within each box, you'll find a bag filled with precooked grains. You submerge that bag in a pot of water and boil it, allowing the rice to completely cook within ten minutes. You can also do a version of this process in the microwave.

This method is meant to help save cooking time, reduce the number of tools used, and keep you from having to measure out water and rice — which is typically the trickiest part of cooking rice on the stove. You'll find that rather than compliment its taste, fans of Success say things like "very convenient and easy," because expediency is the motivator for buying Success products. However, we recommend avoiding this brand.

Although Success states that its products are BPA-free, this doesn't guarantee that all of the chemicals inside the boiling bag won't get into your food. Per Men's Health, these chemicals are all the more likely to move into your food once it's heated. It's similar to what happens when you leave a plastic water bottle in the sun (via Today). We wouldn't drink that, so why would we boil pre-cooked rice in a plastic bag? Although the concerns around "boil-in-bag" rice's chemical transfer are not completely known, we don't want to risk exposing ourselves to potentially harmful microplastics just to save a few minutes of cooking time. After all, cooking rice isn't that difficult and won't take much longer using more traditional methods.

3. Buy: Lundberg Family Farms

Lundberg Family Farms is an American food brand that specializes in rice. It sells rice blends, microwavable rice, rice cakes, and rice chips, in addition to regular rice. As for this last category, Lundberg makes products like brown short-grain rice, white arborio rice (often used for dishes like risotto and rice pudding), wild rice, white long-grain rice, California red Jasmine rice, and many more varieties. We appreciate the diversity because it allows fans to explore new foods.

We recommend trying some of Lundberg's whole-grain rice blends. These products are typically made with zero added ingredients, as is the case with Lundberg's white jasmine rice. Additionally, these products come with a variety of health certifications. They are certified gluten-free, vegan, kosher, non-GMO, USDA organic, and approved by the California Certified Organic Farmers organization.

People also appreciate this rice for its taste, texture, and quality packaging. On Amazon, reviewers complimented Lundberg Family Farm's brown long-grain rice. "Well-packaged and great-tasting rice," wrote one person. Another reviewer wrote, "It has a pleasant nutty flavor and it doesn't have a lot of dust or broken grains." If you want high-quality, clean, and health-certified rice, we recommend checking out this brand.

4. Avoid: Minute

Minute rice is another brand of instant rice. The company sells various boxes of rice, inside of which are precooked and dehydrated grains. The standard version of these grains doesn't come with a boil-in-bag feature. Instead, they are made for pouring directly into some water and reheating, either in the microwave or on the stovetop. It's a positive to us that you don't have to reheat this rice inside a plastic container. However, the brand still has downsides that make it one rice company we recommend avoiding.

Our main issue with this brand is that when Minute's rice products are pre-cooked, they lose much of the rice's nutrients. As Miss Vickie explains, a significant amount of the regular nutrients in white rice are lost in the pre-cooking and dehydrating process. Sometimes, pre-cooked kinds of rice like Minute's are enriched before packaging to add back lost nutrients. However, there is no mention of this enriching process on Minute's products or the brand's website. Additionally, some people think pre-cooked rice creates mushier, less defined rice kernels, per The Watering Mouth. Due to both the loss of nutrients and the quality of Minute's rice, our recommendation is to avoid this brand.

5. Buy: Botan

Botan is a rice brand that makes Calrose rice. With over 120,000 types of rice in the world, we are nowhere near covering all the types and brands out there. But Calrose is a fairly common one to know. It is a cultivar (or variety) of Japonica rice. According to The Forked Spoon, Calrose is a medium-grain rice that becomes sticky and soft when you cook it. The term Calrose comes from its place as a leading variety in the California rice industry, where Botan's rice is still grown today (via Rice and Company).

Like Nishiki, Botan's rice is also produced by the Kikkoman subsidiary JFC International. We appreciate that the only ingredient in Botan's rice is milled rice, according to Walmart. Also, each serving comes packed with around two percent of the daily recommended serving of iron. Per Rice and Company, Botan is also a non-GMO-certified company, meaning its products are free from genetically modified ingredients.

Not only does this health-certified, high-quality brand come with the depiction of a beautiful rose on the packaging, but it's also beloved by home chefs. "This has the best texture and cooks so evenly. It's my favorite for kimbap! The perfect amount of stickiness!" said one person on Influenster. "My husband and I make a lot of Japanese and Korean food and this works perfect for making a sticky rice that you can pick up with chopsticks," another person wrote.

6. Avoid: Ben's Original

Ben's Original makes various rice products with expedited cooking processes. The company sells "boil-in-bag" rice, "instant" pre-cooked rice, and a line of products called "Ready Rice." While several of the items sold by Ben's Original all go by different names, they all have downsides.

The "boil-in-bag" products sold by Ben's Original concern us because they require cooking rice within a plastic bag, whether on the stovetop or in the microwave. This process potentially exposes us to microplastics and other potentially harmful components. According to a study published by Science Direct, there may be four times as many microplastics found in instant rice. This is concerning because microplastics could potentially cause respiratory or cardiovascular issues (via Yale Sustainability).

As for the "fast-cook rice" from Ben's Original, this variety is pre-cooked, meaning it may lose some nutrients in the boiling process. While some of these instant rice products made by Ben's Original (like its Long Grain White Rice) are enriched to add back lost vitamins and minerals, others (like the brand's Whole Grain Brown Rice) are not. This inconsistency makes it confusing to find nutritious products from this brand. Finally, the line of Ready Rice products from Ben's Original is both made for heating within plastic containers and has additional ingredients that we're not fans of. Added artificial and unnecessary items include things like canola oil, a seed oil which some view to be potentially harmful to health, via Healthline. Combined, these things give us plenty of reason to avoid this brand.

7. Buy: RiceSelect

RiceSelect is a rice brand that boasts its products are packaged, milled, and grown in America. It produces organic, non-GMO project-verified, and kosher rice products. You can purchase brown rice, wild rice, red rice, black rice, jasmine rice, and many more similar items from RiceSelect. The brand is especially famous for its Texmati rice, as it was the first aromatic rice – a category including basmati and jasmine varieties — grown in the U.S, per Delighted Cooking.

On Walmart's website, people were mostly happy with their RiceSelect purchase. Some noted that the cost of RiceSelect's products was a little high, but people ultimately gave the rice positive reviews due to its flavor, texture, cleanliness, and cooking ability. "I love this brand of rice, it's so easy to prepare and at the same time healthy," wrote one customer. "The most flavorful and the best texture," added another shopper. "Good quality of wild rice. Delicious. ... Higher priced but everything is now," wrote yet another customer who bought RiceSelect.

Rice is the only ingredient in RiceSelect's Jasmati white rice. Additionally, it is a certified gluten-free product that comes in a BPA-free and recyclable container. The same goes for other RiceSelect items. While plastic containers are not the best, we do appreciate the ease of use that RiceSelect's packaging allows for. You can simply remove the lid from a RiceSelect product and pour grains into a measuring cup when making rice at home.

8. Avoid: Annie Chun's

Annie Chun's is a food company that sells various readymade Asian dishes. In addition to rice products, it offers things like instant ramen, noodle bowls, and potstickers. Annie Chun's is primarily known for one kind of rice. This consists of microwavable medium-grain white rice that comes in bowl-shaped plastic containers. Although we admire the simplicity of this product, we don't recommend buying it.

First of all, this is a pre-cooked rice dish. This means it comes with fewer nutrients than uncooked rice. Second, Annie Chun's rice requires heating in a plastic container, potentially exposing buyers to harmful ingredients like BPA (bisphenol A). Per Mayo Clinic, this is unwanted because BPA has been traced to illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. There is currently no guarantee on Annie Chun's website or product packaging that says its products do not contain BPA.

Furthermore, rice is not the sole ingredient in Annie Chun's microwavable product. It's packaged with water and gluconic acid. These ingredients are not necessarily harmful, but we prefer products that contain only rice. Finally, we dislike the amount of plastic waste created through microwavable rice products. We all know about plastic waste's negative impact on the world and the environment at this point, and buying microwavable containers like those used for Annie Chun's is not doing anything to help end this problem.

9. Buy: Lotus Foods

If you specifically want to buy from a company that seems to be attempting to make life better for its employees and the environment, consider Lotus Foods. The company advertises policies that reduce the physical workload for women, the amount of methane emitted through its farming, and the amount of water used to grow its rice. Its different kinds of rice are also organic, helping to reduce the number of harmful pesticides that you could be ingesting through food. The rice industry has a large-scale and sometimes negative impact on the water supply, small rice farms, the people responsible for harvesting it, and the climate, but with Lotus Foods, you can know they are being mindful of these issues.

There is white rice, brown rice, and black "forbidden" rice all available for purchase through Lotus Foods. In addition to being organic, items like Lotus Foods' Forbidden Rice are nutrient-rich. Each serving contains some of the daily recommended doses of iron and potassium. Plus, the only ingredient in each package is rice. Finally, the product is certified gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO project verified, allergen-free, and oil-free.

On Amazon, users are complimentary of the brand's rice in texture and flavor. "My favorite brand for organic white rice, it's got a great, clean flavor and texture and I enjoy eating it," said one person. "You can clearly tell the difference between this rice and regular Jasmine rice! It cooks faster, needs less water, cleaner, and tastes richer," wrote another shopper.

10. Avoid: Near East

We don't recommend buying rice from Near East, a brand that produces a variety of boxed rice pilafs and blends. These flavored rice mixes can appear appetizing at first, with their additions of herbs and other seasonings seeming especially tasty. Also, these vegetal items even look somewhat healthy. Overall, the boxed rice mixes promise to be quicker to make than creating a pilaf from scratch.

In reviews on Amazon, ease of making is one of the most commonly mentioned compliments for this product. "Great tasting pilaf and easy to make. No rice cooker necessary, just follow microwave instructions on the side of the box," explains one Amazon reviewer who purchased items from Near East. "If I'm stuck, and in a hurry for a quick, easy side with great flavour, I just pull out a box of this," wrote another shopper. We don't doubt that this is easy to prepare. However, we have a few issues with the goods sold by this brand.

For one, they all contain additional ingredients. This is the case with Near East's original Rice Pilaf mix. Some of these unwanted ingredients are artificial, like with the flavoring agent autolyzed yeast extract. This ingredient is not necessarily harmful to our health, via Healthline. But we think it's unnecessary. Then, there are ingredients like wheat flour, which is frustrating because it adds gluten to a naturally gluten-free product that is rice. These are not the worst qualities for a food product to have, though there are simply better brands out there.