Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Mary-Claire Britton

Follow our foolproof formulas for cooking three different types of rice on the stovetop.

Rice is an essential part of Southern cooking. From jambalaya to Savannah red rice to shrimp purloo, almost every region of the South has a favorite way of preparing this pantry staple. Follow these helpful tips to make sure each pot of rice cooks up fluffy, tender, and delicious, no matter what type of grain you’re cooking.

Long Grain Rice

Types of rice: Long-grain rice cooks up fluffy with distinct grains. Varieties include Basmati and jasmine.

Water to rice ratio: 2 cups water to 1 cup rice

How to cook: Combine the water and rice in a pot with a lid. Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop, then reduce the heat to low. Once the water is simmering, cover the pot with its lid. Cook for 15 to 18 minutes, keeping the pot covered. (No peeking!) At the end of the cooking time, uncover the pot and taste a few grains for doneness. If the rice is done, remove it from the heat, then recover the pot and set it aside for about 10 minutes. The hot steam will help the rice dry out a bit and turn fluffy instead of sticky. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Watch: How to Make Hoppin' John

Short Grain Rice

Types of rice: Short grain rice cooks up tender and a bit sticky. Varieties include Japanese-style rice (also called sushi rice) and bomba rice, which is traditionally used in Spanish paellas.

Water to rice ratio: 1 ¼ cups water to 1 cup rice

How to cook: Rinse the dry rice two or three times in a fine mesh sieve to remove excess starch, if desired. Transfer the grains to a pot with a lid and add the water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let the rice cook for 25 to 30 minutes, keeping the pot covered. At the end of the cooking time, uncover the pot and taste a few grains for doneness. If the rice is done, remove it from the heat, then recover the pot and set it aside for about 10 minutes.

Brown Rice

Types of rice: Brown rice still has the bran on the rice grain, which gives it a nutty flavor and makes it more nutritious. Brown rice can be medium, long, or short grain.

Water to rice ratio: 1 ¾ cups water to 1 cup long-grain rice or 2 cups water to 1 cup short-grain rice

How to cook: Combine the water and rice in a pot with a lid. Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop, then reduce the heat to low. Once the water is simmering, cover the pot with its lid. Cook for 45 minutes, keeping the pot covered. (No peeking!) At the end of the cooking time, uncover the pot and taste a few grains for doneness. They should be slightly chewy but still tender. If the rice is done, remove it from the heat, drain any excess water, then recover the pot and set it aside for about 10 minutes. The hot steam will help the rice dry out a bit and turn fluffy instead of sticky.

If the rice isn’t quite done cooking, add a few more tablespoons of water, recover the pot, and continue cooking. Check every 5 minutes until the rice is done.