How many calories is a half cup of rice cooked?

Rice is a staple food for many cultures around the world. It’s versatile, inexpensive, and easy to prepare. Rice is also a good source of energy, providing carbohydrates, some protein, and small amounts of fat. But how many calories are actually in a serving of rice?

The Calories in Rice

The number of calories in rice depends on a few factors:

  • Type of rice (white, brown, etc.)
  • Whether it is cooked or uncooked
  • How it is prepared (steamed, pilaf, etc.)

On average, a half cup of cooked white rice contains about 103 calories. Meanwhile, brown rice which is less processed has slightly more with 108 calories per half cup cooked. Here’s how the calorie count breaks down for some common rice varieties:

Type of Rice Calories per 1/2 Cup Cooked
White rice 103
Brown rice 108
Wild rice 83
Jasmine rice 103
Basmati rice 96

As you can see, even though the numbers vary slightly, a half cup of cooked rice contains 100-110 calories across popular varieties like white, brown, and jasmine.

Cooked vs. Uncooked Rice

It’s important to note that the calorie counts above are for cooked rice. Uncooked rice contains significantly fewer calories in a half cup serving.

Here is the calorie difference between uncooked and cooked rice per 1/2 cup serving:

Type of Rice Uncooked (Calories) Cooked (Calories)
White rice 160 103
Brown rice 160 108
Jasmine rice 160 103

Cooking causes rice to absorb water which increases its volume and reduces its calorie density. So 1/2 cup uncooked makes about 1 cup cooked. The cooking process basically triples the volume while reducing the calories per serving.

Factors That Impact Calories

There are a few factors that can slightly increase or decrease the calories in rice:

  • Enrichment: Some white rice is enriched with vitamins and minerals. This can add 5-10 calories per serving.
  • Oils/butter: Adding olive oil, butter, or other fats to rice can significantly increase the calories.
  • Cooking method: Rice soaked or cooked in broth may absorb some additional calories.
  • Serving size: The calorie count scales up or down depending on if you eat more or less than 1/2 cup cooked.

So enriched rice would be on the higher end of the range at 110 calories per serving, while plain basmati would be toward the lower end at 90-95 calories. The preparation method also matters quite a bit.

Rice as Part of a Healthy Diet

At about 100-110 calories per half cup, rice can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults get 45%-65% of their daily calories from carbohydrates. Rice is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates.

For a 2000 calorie diet, this would equal about 225-325g of carbohydrates. Half a cup of rice would contribute about 20-25g carbs. So 2-3 servings of rice would fit easily into a balanced diet.

Of course, the amount of rice that can be part of a healthy diet depends on your total calorie needs, activity level, and other foods you eat. Someone with higher calorie needs can eat more rice, while a sedentary person or smaller woman may want to stick closer to 1 serving.

Tips for Enjoying Rice as Part of a Healthy Diet

  • Watch your portion sizes – stick to 1/2 cup or 1 cup cooked servings
  • Experiment with different varieties like brown, wild, basmati
  • Try cauliflower rice or rice mixes to increase veggies
  • Pair rice with lean proteins and healthy fats
  • Use minimal oils, butter or salt when preparing rice
  • Enjoy rice as part of an overall balanced diet based on your calorie needs

Nutritional Profile of Rice

In addition to calories from carbohydrates, rice contains smaller amounts of protein and fat. Here is the full nutritional profile per 1/2 cup serving of cooked white rice:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 103
Carbohydrates 22g
Protein 2g
Fat 0.3g
Fiber 0.3g
Sodium 0.7mg
Calcium 10mg
Iron 0.4mg
Potassium 35mg
Vitamin A 0% DV
Vitamin C 0% DV

Rice is a naturally gluten-free grain. It provides small amounts of B vitamins like thiamin and niacin. Enriched white rice has added nutrients including iron and folic acid.

Brown rice retains more of the bran and germ, so it contains slightly higher amounts of fiber, fat, and certain vitamins and minerals. But both white and brown rice are healthy options when eaten in proper portion sizes.

Rice Calories in Different Dishes

Rice is used in a wide variety of global dishes. Of course, the total calories depends on the other ingredients beyond just the rice. Here are estimated calorie counts for common rice dishes based on a 1 cup serving:

Rice Dish Total Calories*
Rice pilaf 175
Fried rice 175
Rice and beans 200
Rice and curry 300
Sushi rolls 250
Risotto 200
Jambalaya 250
Biryani 300
Rice pudding 220

*Estimates based on average recipes with rice, vegetables, lean protein and moderate amounts of oil/butter. Counts will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Dishes that include lots of vegetables, beans, or lean proteins like chicken, shrimp or tofu will be lower in calories than heavy rice dishes like fried rice made with fatty meats, butter and oils. Watch your portion sizes of these rice dishes as it’s easy to overeat with large servings.

Healthier Rice Alternatives

There are also some lower calorie alternates you can try in place of rice:

  • Cauliflower rice: Replaces white rice with riced cauliflower for about 1/4 the calories. Half cup is just 15 calories.
  • Quinoa: Full-grained high-protein substitute has about 110 calories per half cup.
  • Barley: Chewy whole grain has about 150 calories per half cup cooked.
  • Rice mixes: Products with riced veggies, barley, quinoa. Around 60 calories per half cup.
  • Shirataki rice: Made from konjac plant with 10 calories per cup.

These lower-carb rice alternatives provide more volume and nutrients with fewer calories. They can be used in many recipes in place of rice.

Cooking Tips for Rice

Here are some tips to make delicious rice while keeping calories in check:

  • Use a 3:1 water to rice ratio for fluffy, separated grains. Add broth for more flavor.
  • Saute aromatics like garlic and onions before adding rice to pan.
  • For enriched rice, boil for 5 minutes then simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.
  • Let rice steam off heat for 10 mins after cooking for perfectly tender texture.
  • For brown rice, boil for 30 minutes then simmer for about 50 minutes.
  • Stir in lemon juice, herbs, spices, chopped veggies at the end for extra flavor.
  • Avoid adding too much oil or butter. A light spray or drizzle is all you need.
  • Portion out rice dishes instead of serving family-style to better control servings.

Properly cooked rice with the right ratio of water should be fluffy and tender. Going light on any added fats will help keep the calories down.

Storing Leftover Rice

Here are some tips for storing leftover rice:

  • Let rice fully cool first before refrigerating. Don’t pack hot rice into the fridge.
  • Store rice in a sealed shallow container to allow it to cool quickly.
  • Only keep rice in the fridge for 2-3 days maximum.
  • You can freeze leftover rice for 1-2 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before using.
  • Add a little water when reheating to help restore moisture lost in refrigeration.
  • Only reheat small portions instead of the whole batch to avoid repeat cooling and reheating.

Cooked rice is prone to growing bacteria when left out too long at room temperature. Follow proper storage methods to reduce food safety risks. Reheat rice thoroughly and don’t save it longer than 3-4 days total.

Common Questions

Does rice expand when cooked?

Yes, rice expands in size and volume after cooking. Dry rice roughly triples in volume after being cooked. The grains absorb water during the cooking process which causes them to plump up and become softer. This is why 1/2 cup uncooked rice yields about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups cooked.

Is rice gluten-free?

Yes, all types of rice are naturally gluten-free. Rice does not contain the gluten proteins found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. This makes rice flour and products made from rice great options for gluten-free diets.

Does white or brown rice have more calories?

Brown rice contains slightly more calories than white rice. Per half cup cooked, brown rice has 108 calories while white has 103 calories. The extra calories in brown rice come from its higher fiber and fat content.

What rice is the most nutritious?

Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice since it retains more of the bran and germ. Brown rice has higher amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Enriched white rice has added vitamins to help boost its nutritional value after processing.

Can you eat rice on a low carb diet?

Strict low carb diets generally limit rice and other high carb foods. But rice can be eaten in moderation on more flexible low carb plans like the Mediterranean diet. Small 1/2 cup servings of rice along with plenty of vegetables, protein and healthy fats can fit into a low carb lifestyle.

The Bottom Line

A half cup of cooked rice clocks in right around 100-110 calories for most varieties. This makes rice an excellent part of a balanced diet when paired with vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. Sticking to reasonable portion sizes and rounding out meals can help keep rice as a slimming staple.

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