Forbidden Black Rice

Forbidden black rice is nutty, delicious, and chock-full of nutrients like iron and fiber. Read on to learn how to cook this striking, good-for-you grain!

Forbidden black rice

As I rummaged through my pantry last spring, I found a canister of black rice that I’d forgotten about. Jack and I hadn’t been to the store in weeks. After eating our way through boxes of pasta and bags of white rice, the black rice was an exciting change.

Thanks to its nutty flavor and striking purple hue, black rice, also called forbidden rice, had been one of my favorite grains when we lived in Austin. I’d get it from the bulk bins at the grocery store, eagerly anticipating adding it to salads and bowls when I got home. I don’t know why it fell out of the rotation when we moved, but after eating it on repeat throughout the spring, summer, and fall, I’m happy to report that in our house, black rice is back for good.

Bowl of black rice

What is forbidden rice?

If you’ve only cooked white rice and brown rice before, you might be wondering, “What is forbidden rice, anyway?”

It’s a fair question. This heirloom rice variety isn’t common. Compared with other types of rice, it has a low yield, so it’s not grown as much as higher-yielding, mainstream varieties. Even in ancient China, it was rare. In fact, the name “forbidden rice” comes from the fact that only the ancient Chinese royalty were allowed to eat it.

Still, black rice is worth seeking out. I adore its nutty flavor and chewy texture, and it’s also highly nutritious. Its dark color comes from powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. It’s rich in iron, and it’s a whole grain rice variety, too. What does that mean? Well, unlike white rice, its outermost layer stays intact when it’s processed. As a result, it has plenty of fiber. I think you’re going to love it!

How to Cook Black Rice

Cooking black rice on the stove is simple. In fact, it’s a lot like cooking brown rice! Here’s what you need to do:

  • First, rinse the rice. This step helps remove starches that can cause clumping during the cooking process.
  • Next, add it to a lidded saucepan. Stir in 1 3/4 cups of water for every cup rice, along with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Finally, allow the rice to steam. Remove it from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 more minutes.

Fluff with a fork, and enjoy!

Cooked forbidden rice in a pot

Black Rice Serving Suggestions

Season the rice with salt and pepper and serve it as a side dish, or use it in your favorite rice recipes! I especially love using forbidden black rice as the base for grain bowls. Try adding it to any of these 15 Rice Bowl Recipes, or make your own bowl with these components:

Let me know what combinations you try!

Forbidden black rice recipe

More Healthy Cooking Basics

If you love this black rice recipe, try cooking one of these nutritious grains or legumes next:

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Forbidden Black Rice

rate this recipe:
5 from 20 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4
Black rice, or forbidden rice, is nutty, delicious, and rich with nutrients like antioxidants and fiber. It's an excellent side dish or addition to grain bowls, salads, and more!



  • Combine the rice, water, and olive oil in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 more minutes. Fluff with a fork.


5 from 20 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Angela

    5 stars
    Yum, this came out perfectly!! I added a bit of sea salt & covered the lid with a tea towel (to prevent steam dripping onto the rice while cooking.) Delish!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Angela, so glad it came out well!

  2. Denise SUTCLIFFE

    Hi, is this type of rice American wild rice (expensive and actually a grass) or the black rice sold in supermarkets?
    I use the former as I’ve been told it’s healthier than normal rice.

  3. gaea

    hi. thanks for this souns easy. I had it at a local vegan food truck and bought some like you it’s been in the cabinet a while cuz I was not sure how to cook so TONITE its One!! what is that on top in the photo? Looks like whole Cardamom pods
    thanks a bunch.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Gaea, we topped the rice with thinly sliced scallions. I hope you enjoy!

  4. Scott Steward

    5 stars
    Love this! Had no idea that it even existed. I started eating it because it has anti inflammatory properties. I was just eating it plain but started putting a bit of Makrut Lime Sea Salt in and it hit the spot.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Scott, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it!

  5. Sue

    5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe. Can you cook it in the instant pot? I know brown rice takes long to cook on the stove so I usually cook brown rice in the IP. Would I cook it as the brown rice or less time? Thank you

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Sue, we haven’t tested cooking black rice in the IP, though I’m guessing the timing would be similar to brown rice.

  6. Sarah Bucklew

    5 stars
    Yay! I’ve tried to make black rice before and it ended up all mushy and bland but your recipe and method were perfect! So much tastier and fluffier! I’m so happy! Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad your rice came out perfect!

  7. Leanne from

    5 stars
    Thanks for perfect instructions on how to cook black rice. It finally turned out perfect.

  8. Iris Davis

    5 stars
    I tried the recipe and love it

  9. Cara

    I LOVE black rice! I cannot find it anywhere here in Ohio though! I purchased it in the past online, but have not been able to find the brand I loved before. Thanks for sharing!

    • Pauline

      Cara – I’m in Toledo and I found it at the little Asian market on McCord.

    • Elessa

      5 stars
      I’m in Columbus I bought it at river raisin health food store and saraga in the Asian section

  10. Kara

    Just bought some at Whole Foods. Can you cook it in a rice cooker?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      You can!

      • Karen Lipsey

        What setting would you use for a rice cooker?

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          Hi Karen, I use the brown rice setting.

  11. martin...schoeman

    it sounds very very good……its the
    first time that i hear about black rise specially when its forbidden…..thank u. 😏

  12. Deborah Demoney

    This may sound strange, but black rice with celery cooked in chicken broth is delicious.

    I use a very light broth to cook the celery, drain, and serve over the rice with tamari soy sauce and butter. It goes very well with salmon, and feels like a very decadent meal.


    • Cindy

      5 stars
      This is amazing, thank you Deb!!!

    • Pat Dohaney

      Sounds fabulous. I will try this. Thank you.

    • Theresa Davies

      Why drain the broth out? Wouldn’t it add moisture and flavour to the rice?

      • Debbie Demoney

        You could cook the rice in broth, I suppose, but I usually make more rice than I need in one sitting, and like to keep the rice “plain” so I can use it with other flavors later.

        I drain the broth from the celery because I don’t want it to be soupy. That’s just me. Everyone can do whatever pleases them.

  13. Nicole

    Sounds so delicious! I’ve never heard of it before. Do you have any preferred brands for the black rice? There’s so many different ones out there!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Nicole, I like Lotus Foods

      • Nicole

        Thanks, Jeanine! That narrows it down for me. I’ll give it a try! 😀

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.