Ever since I had it at a vegan Chinese restaurant in Toronto (Vegetarian Haven, I miss you!!), I had always wanted to learn how to make purple rice. Purple rice (also known as Forbidden rice) is a beautiful and nutty change from your usual white rice! It adds a touch of extra fibre, antioxidants, and of course, a lovely colour.

purple rice in a small rice bowl, off center on a dark background

According to NPR, purple rice, aka forbidden rice, was reserved only for the rich because black rice was considered more nutritious. The black colour comes from the plant pigment anthocyanin, which is also present in blueberries, red cabbage, and blackberries. When I shared it in my IG stories, I had a lot of people ask me how to cook purple rice–so here’s a quick little recipe for ya.

Purple rice has been a favourite way to add a bit of extra nutrition and a pop of colour! I bought some short grain black rice a few weeks ago from Zero Waste Bulk. I think it’s the same as glutinous black rice, but I’m not sure. In any case, I’ve been loving adding a tbsp to my normal pot of rice to yield this gorgeous purple rice!

How to Cook Purple Rice

Black rice still has an outer hull and bran, so it takes extra time for the water to penetrate the grains. It’s best to soak the rice for at least a couple hours, (up to overnight) to have tender, cooked rice!

If you’d like to have even darker purple rice, use 2 tbsp instead of 1 tbsp of black rice. I usually subtract the equivalent amount of rice from my white rice since I use a rice cooker. Use equal amounts rice and water (e.g. 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp of both rice and water), and you’ll be rewarded with fluffy, tender rice!

I only know how to cook rice in a rice cooker (aka rice + water + turn on the rice cooker). Lisa from Okonomi Kitchen shares how she cooks rice in her donabe (clay pot) over the stove! I believe you can also cook rice in a cast iron enamelled pot (or even a regular pot) with the same method.

Does it taste any different?

Aside from the colour and a slightly nuttier flavour, purple rice is the same as regular steamed rice! I’ve been loving using it in vegan dolsot bibimbap. It’s also great to use in onigiri for a contrast in colour

Yield: 2 cups cooked rice

Purple Rice aka Forbidden Rice

purple rice in a rice bowl, centered on a dark background

Purple rice (aka Forbidden rice) is a beautiful and nutty change from your usual white rice! It adds a touch of extra fibre, antioxidants, and of course, a lovely colour.

Prep Time
5 minutes

Cook Time
25 minutes

Additional Time
4 hours

Total Time
4 hours 30 minutes


  • 3/4 cup short grain white rice, minus 1 tbsp
  • 1 tbsp short grain glutinous black rice
  • 3/4 cup water


In a bowl, combine white and black rice. Cover with water and rinse for 20 seconds, then drain. Repeat until the water is no longer cloudy (this usually takes me 2-3 rinses).

Drain well and add 3/4 cup water. Cover and let the rice soak for 2-4 hours so that the black rice will cook through.

After the rice has soaked, cook in rice cooker according to manufacturer’s instructions (my rice cooker just has a “cook” button). Once cooked, don’t open the lid and allow the rice to rest for 20 minutes on the keep-warm setting. This will yield a nice and fluffy rice!

Fluff with the rice paddle and enjoy 🙂

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