Basmati vs jasmine rice | A comparison of taste, nutrition & more

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  November 26, 2021

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Today, I want to talk about basmati vs jasmine rice, and really look at the differences in taste, nutrition, and when to use them.

The beauty of rice is in the texture, as well as the flavor.

These qualities can, of course, differ, depending on what you cook your rice with. The type of rice you use also plays a big part.

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

While there are many options, basmati and jasmine rice are 2 popular choices, particularly in Asian cuisine.

Basmati vs jasmine rice

Basmati vs jasmine rice: Differences

Origin

Commonly known as Thai fragrant rice, jasmine rice comes from Southeast Asia and is primarily grown in Thailand.

Basmati rice is also from Asia. While there are many countries that now grow it domestically, it was originally cultivated in India and Pakistan.

Appearance

One way to tell the difference between uncooked basmati and jasmine rice is by looking at the grain size and shape.

Jasmine rice grains have slightly rounded ends and are a bit clearer. On the other hand, basmati rice grains are more slender and have much sharper ends.


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Cooking time & method

The cooking technique used for jasmine rice and basmati rice also differs.

The rice to water ratio matters: 1 cup of basmati rice usually needs 1 and ½ cups of water. This is the same for jasmine rice.

Basmati rice is then cooked as follows:

  1. The rice should be soaked in water for at least half an hour before cooking it.
  2. Once the grains have absorbed some liquid, bring the rice to a boil in salted water.
  3. Then, cover the lid and turn the heat down, letting it cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain any excess water.

I’ve listed some of the best rice cookers for basmati rice here to make the process easier

Alternatively, when cooking jasmine rice, proceed as follows:

  1. Start by rinsing your rice a few times. This will get rid of the surface starch, which would otherwise make your rice even more clumped together.
  2. Boil your water in a saucepan and then stir in the rice and salt.
  3. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, letting your rice cook for 15 minutes until all of the water is absorbed.

If in either of these situations your rice is still too firm, add a few more tablespoons of water, then cover the pan and let the rice absorb the rest of the liquid.

Big fan of either basmati or jasmine rice, and want to make cooking it easier? Go for the best rice cooker out there!

Taste

Basmati translates to “full of fragrance”, and true to its name, basmati rice has a strong nutty flavor and aroma.

Jasmine rice also has a nutty flavor but is more delicate. As its name suggests, it has a floral aroma, and you may smell a sweet popcorn-like scent when cooking this rice.

So if you’re looking for aromatic rice, both will fit the bill.

Basmati rice is typically much drier than jasmine rice. If you want to enhance the flavor in either, add a little butter or olive oil when cooking your rice.

Both types of rice go great with a number of Asian and Caribbean dishes, such as spicy curry or Jamaican jerk chicken.

Jasmine rice goes especially well with sweet and sour chicken, salmon, and beef stir-fry.

Basmati works well with chicken or seafood. It’s also commonly seen in biryani or pilau. These are popular Asian mixed rice dishes served with meat, grated carrots, and raisins.

Grain size and shape

Basmati rice is a type of long-grain rice, as is jasmine rice. This means their grains are slim and have a length 4-5 times longer than their width.

Basmati rice grains get 2 times bigger in size once cooked and stay separate. Whereas jasmine rice becomes moist and clumps together slightly, giving it a soft and sticky texture.

On the other hand, basmati rice has a more dry and fluffy texture.

Each type of rice comes in both white and whole-grain varieties.

Which is healthier?

The nutritional value of basmati and jasmine rice are quite similar. However, the whole-grain varieties of each are definitely the healthiest choice.

These unprocessed varieties of brown rice contain more fiber, protein, and antioxidants than their white rice varieties. They’re also richer in vitamins and minerals, which adds to their nutritional value.

The whole-grain element of brown basmati and brown jasmine rice has several other health benefits too and can help lower cholesterol and improve digestion.

Basmati rice contains slightly fewer calories per cup and has higher values of iron and calcium. So it can be considered the healthier choice, but only by a small margin.

Glycemic index

The glycemic index (GI) is a system that rates foods containing carbohydrates. It can tell you how quickly each food affects your blood sugar level when eaten.

The lower the GI score, the longer it takes for your body to digest that food.

Brown basmati rice has a glycemic index in the 50s. This is considered low, and is great for diabetes management, as this slow release of energy can stabilize both insulin and blood sugar levels.

In contrast, jasmine rice has a GI of up to 80. This is quite high and means your body burns through the energy from this type of rice faster.

However, it’s uncommon to eat rice by itself, and the food you pair it with can reduce its glycemic index by 20-40%.

Bodybuilding

Jasmine and basmati rice both contain complex carbs, which means they serve as great energy boosters. The protein contained in these types of rice also makes them ideal for bodybuilding.

The low GI score of basmati rice means it’s digested and metabolized slower. As a result, you’ll feel full for longer, helping with weight loss or management.

However, for bodybuilding and muscle gain, the slightly higher number of calories provided by cooked jasmine rice can make it a better choice.

Paella

Despite their Asian origins, basmati and jasmine rice each work great in a selection of dishes from other continents.

This includes paella, a well-loved dish in Spanish cuisine.

Since Spanish paella typically requires short-grain rice, the rounded grains of jasmine rice is preferable.

This is because they’ll absorb liquid better, as opposed to the grains of basmati rice, which are usually more slender and have sharper ends.

Jasmine and basmati rice for fried rice

Though jasmine rice works great as part of a stir fry, it might not fare quite as well when used for fried rice.

This is because the texture becomes soft when cooked, and can easily become too soggy and clumped together for fried rice.

So for this dish, basmati rice can work better, as it’s typically much drier.

However, regardless of rice type, one tip is to cook your rice in advance and chill it before frying. This ensures it stays nice and firm for your fried rice.

Jasmine and basmati rice for curry

You can use either basmati or jasmine rice when cooking a curry.

However, the fluffy long-grained texture of basmati rice is the classic companion of South Asian curry.

Its strong, distinctive taste is known to enhance flavors, and can also complement the overall aroma of your dish.

Meanwhile, the soft and slightly sticky texture of jasmine rice might be a tad too moist for some curry dishes.

Jasmine and basmati rice in the Instant Pot

When making rice, the Instant Pot can certainly be a handy kitchen appliance.

The good thing is that you can cook both basmati and jasmine rice with this type of cooker.

For basmati rice, it’s still worth soaking it for up to 30 minutes so that the grains absorb some liquid before being cooked.

Jasmine rice doesn’t need to be soaked before you cook it in an Instant Pot, as doing so will only make it soggier. However, it should still be rinsed a few times beforehand.

Can dogs eat basmati or jasmine rice?

Both of these rice types are perfectly safe for dogs to eat. Some commercial dog foods even contain these ingredients.

Since rice has many health benefits, including helping with digestion, it’s common for pet owners to feed their dogs plain rice when they have an upset stomach.

What’s better: Basmati or jasmine rice?

Overall, both basmati and jasmine rice offer fantastic flavors, textures, and nutritional value.

They’re quite evenly matched in their health benefits. However, basmati rice can be better for weight loss due to its low GI. For bodybuilding, jasmine rice is slightly in the lead.

The question of which is the superior rice type is totally subjective, and will usually depend on the dish you’re making.

They can be substituted in some recipes, but shouldn’t be in others.

For example, you could pair either with a curry, though basmati rice is more typically used.

However, jasmine rice would work better than basmati rice for a rice pudding, due to its soft and more creamy texture.

So in general, it’ll come down to personal preference when it comes to basmati or jasmine rice!

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.