Different Types of Rice for Cooking

When you ask people what rice looks like, most of them would tell you that rice is soft grains that are white in color. However, not many of them know that rice can often come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. If you want to read more about these differences in rice, here are the various types of rice for cooking that you should know about.

Parts of a Rice Grain

Before we can get into the different types of rice, it is important that we should discuss first the various parts of a rice grain, which are also factors that determine what type of rice is sold in stores. In addition, the different parts of a rice grain will also be mentioned in particular sections of this article, so it is essential we talk about them. So, without any more delays, here are details about the parts of a rice grain.


The hull is the part of the rice grain that serves as the outer layer of the rice grain, so it could be said that the hull protects most parts of the rice grain from damage and harmful elements. The hull is usually taken out of the rice grains before they are shipped out or consumed, as eating them with their hull still intact would make them tougher to chew. All types of rice have their hulls removed.


The bran is the layer of the rice grain that is just under the hull and is also removed in some types of rice before consumption. The brand is said to contain the most nutrients out of all parts of the rice, which is why the most nutritious types of rice would have their bran intact. However, much like the hull, the bran can also be tougher to chew, although it is relatively softer than the hull. The color of the bran can be black, brown, or red.


The biggest part of the rice is the “white rice,” also known as the endosperm, which is the specific part that you will see once you remove the hull and the bran. True to its name, the white rice is whitish in color, but it does have a little bit of translucency on it. The most popular types of rice would usually only have the endosperms visible as the bran and hull are removed.


Located under the endosperm is the germ, which is considered another very nutritious part of a rice grain. The germ contains B vitamins, proteins, and minerals. In addition to being full of nutrients, the germ is also responsible for giving color to the rice.

Types of Rice by Texture

Now that we have discussed the different parts of a rice grain, let us now talk about the different types of rice based on categories. The first category is texture, which is important since a texture type can only be used in particular recipes or dishes. You can read this to know about a tasty recipe that has rice as one of its ingredients. Then, you can read below to learn more about the two types of rice based on texture.

Parboiled Rice

Parboiled rice is a common type of rice that is partially boiled in the husk through a steam process. To produce parboiled rice, you would first need to soak the rice before steaming it, and then after steaming, you will then need to dry it. Because of the boiling process, it gelatinizes the starch and makes it fluffier in texture. In addition, because the rice is boiled with most of its parts intact, the endosperm absorbs all the nutrients found in the bran and germ. However, before it is consumed, the hull is removed first to make it softer to eat.

Sticky Rice

Sticky rice is the rice type that is commonly found and grown in different countries of Asia. As its name suggests, sticky rice is very sticky in texture, which makes it perfect to use for sushi and other dishes where you need to mix rice with other ingredients. Sticky rice is also often utilized to create rice flour.

Types of Rice by Length and Shape

long grain rice

The second category we will discuss is length and shape. Depending on the country or region where it is planted, rice can grow in different shapes and sizes. Here are the three types of rice by length and shape.

Short Grain Rice

short grain rice

Short grain rice has shorter grains and is usually sticky in texture, which is why it can also be called sticky rice. This type of rice is more suitable for sushi because of its ability to combine different ingredients together. However, short grain rice can also be eaten on its own, although most people would pair it with cooked meat.

Medium Grain Rice

Medium grain rice has a much wider kernel than short grain rice and is much longer. This type of rice tends to be tenderer than other types of rice by length and shape, so it enhances the overall flavor and texture of dishes where it is incorporated. However, medium grain rice can typically be as sticky as short grain rice if it is cooked for much longer periods of time, so they can be a good alternative to sticky rice for sushi.

Long grain rice

Long grain rice is longer than medium and short grain rice but is much thinner and frailer. When it is cooked, long grain rice tends to have a fluffy texture. But, because of its thinness, it can often separate pretty easily when eaten.

Types of Rice by Color

The last category is color, as rice can typically come in different colors, depending on how it is grown and prepared. Below is a list of the different types of rice by color and a description of each of them.

Polished Rice

polished rice

Polished rice is commonly called “white rice” because of its color. Besides being white, polished rice is also smoother in texture compared to other types of rice. The “whiteness” of polished rice is achieved by removing the germ and the outer layer of the bran. In addition to being called polished rice, most people refer to this rice type as milled rice.

Wild Rice

wild rice on a bowl

Wild rice is a peculiar type of rice that is harvested from the Zizania family of wild grasses. This rice type is usually dark green to brown in color as it is much longer than the regular long grain rice you would find in grocery stores.

Black Rice

uncooked black rice

Also known as “Forbidden Rice” in ancient China, black rice is mostly known for its dark color and nutty flavor, which makes it one of the tastiest types of rice in the world. Black rice was once known as a food item that could only be eaten by the elite in ancient China, hence the reason why it was called “Forbidden Rice.” In modern-day China, black rice has become much more available and is primarily used to make Chinese black rice cake.

Brown Rice

cooked brown rice

Another popular type of rice often seen in grocery stores is brown rice, which is rougher in texture compared to polished rice but is much healthier since it still has its bran and germ connected to the endosperm. Moreover, brown rice is also much tougher and harder, thus it would usually take much longer to cook compared to polished rice.

Understanding the different types of rice based on the three mentioned categories is crucial if you want to incorporate rice in your recipes, as using an incompatible type of rice can just ruin the texture and flavor of the dishes. But, you also have the option to try out these different rice types on your own so that you can see which rice suits your palate.