How to Cook Rice for a Crowd (Baked Rice Method)

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Cooking rice for a crowd is SO easy with this Baked Rice Method! For a potluck, family reunion or church party, bake it in the oven and have up to 50 servings in less than an hour.

White rice in a large blue tray with a serving spoon.

Rice for a Crowd

Cooking large quantities of rice doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it is pretty much one of the easiest things you can make for a crowd! used this baked rice method when I was serving 50+ people at our church’s Girls Camp and it worked like a charm. It was so much easier than making batches on the stovetop or a rice cooker and it never scorches on the bottom of the pan. I love that you can hurry and prepare it and just forget about it in the oven while you are prepping other food. Why spend $25-$35 (or more) to have rice catered when you can literally make it for a few bucks? It is so so easy.

This rice is perfect for a potluck dinner, whether it’s a family reunion, church party, or work gathering. Cheesy Potato Casserole (aka Funeral Potatoes) is always a crowd pleaser, along with this yummy Blueberry Jello Salad. Serve them alongside a gorgeous meat and cheese tray with instructions found here.

Baked Rice Method

Cooking rice in the oven is so easy and can make a large quantity. Use a 20-3/4″ x 12-3/4″ x 4″ steam table pan (can be found HERE). It holds 15 quarts so plenty of room for rice expansion. You can also use a roasting pan or a large baking dish with a lid. Just make sure that it can hold at least 10 quarts of rice and liquid. I like using the steam pan because it allows the rice to liquid ratio to cook more evenly. It is only 4″ deep so not too shallow, not too deep. The closer you can get to the dimensions above, the better.

Seasoning Variations for Baked Rice

For this baked rice recipe I used long-grain white rice. You can also use brown rice, basmati rice or jasmine rice. The cooking times should remain the same. Once you get the gist of baking rice for a crowd it is SO easy to make variations and flavors depending on what you are serving. Keep it simple with lemon zest, a little garlic and garnish with parsley or green onions. Or try one of these recipes below. They’re super easy and absolutely delicious!

  • Spanish or Mexican Rice for a Crowd: The recipe below calls for 5 quarts of water. For this Spanish Rice, reduce water to 3.5 quarts and then add two 28-ounce cans of Rotel tomatoes, 2 cups of tomato sauce, ⅓ cup of taco seasoning, and more salt to taste (if needed). Continue directions as directed below. This is delicious served with refried or black beans. 
  • Seasoned Rice for a Crowd: Use 2 quarts water and 3 quarts chicken broth. You can also substitute beef broth if you’re serving this with a beef main course. Eliminate salt (or just use a pinch to taste. The chicken broth should have plenty of sodium). Slice four cubes of butter (2 cups) into squares (pats) and evenly place over rice (it doesn’t need to be perfect, this is just so it will melt evenly when the hot water is poured on).  In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons EACH of thyme, basil, and paprika and 1 tablespoon turmeric. Sprinkle mixture evenly over rice and butter. Carefully pour water and chicken broth over the top and lightly stir to combine butter and herbs/spices if needed. Bake as directed below. This rice is delicious alongside cooked carrots, green or red peppers and onions or any other vegetables.
Seasoned rice in a large tray with a serving spoon.

More Ideas for Cooking for a Crowd

Need more ideas for cooking for a crowd? Have a big reunion coming up? Check out our Ultimate Family Reunion Meal Planning Guide HERE! Or try some of these delicious recipes that you can make in bulk:

How to Cook Rice for a Crowd (Easy Oven Method)

4.69 from 41 votes
Cooking rice for a crowd is SO easy! For a potluck, family reunion or church party, bake it in the oven and have up to 50 servings in less than an hour.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Asian
Servings 50

Video

Equipment

  • Conventional Oven

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
  • Place 3 quarts uncooked rice in large roasting pan (lightly sprayed with cooking spray), spread evenly. Set aside.
  • In a large stock-pot, combine water and salt. Bring to a rolling boil.
  • CAREFULLY pour boiling water over rice and stir so rice is even along the bottom.
  • Immediately cover tightly with aluminum foil. Make sure you have a tight seal around ALL the edges. 
  • Place roasting pan in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until rice is tender.
  • Fluff with a large wooden spoon & serve.
  • **Note: If you want to wait to serve, just keep in the oven at 150 degrees or so or keep warm in an electric warming pan. Add a little water if necessary to keep from drying out.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 207kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 426mgPotassium: 65mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Just made this today for 100 people at church. It could not have been easier. The only thing different I did was instead of boiling water I made my own chicken broth and used that instead. Everyone raved. Thank you thank you thank you! And Oh yes I will be making this again lol!

  2. This was very easy! But, I had to trouble shoot. Not sure if it was me or that I used basmati rice. When I checked it at 40 min, the rice was swelling but overflowing my extra large buffet container – so I split it in half between 2 which was fine. But it took a lot of adding hot water and cooking times to get the rice to cook all the way. The edges had the less cooked rice- so needed stirring. Still much easier then the alternative. I added olive oil and salt

  3. Erica, you are a life saver!
    I am catering for the first time on Friday (so far, I’ve only ever cooked for friends and one private dinner party). I’m feeding 50 people, and I couldn’t imagine for the life of me how to get the rice right.
    I’m also making kidney beans. My recipe for the dish says to cook the beans from dry, then add uncooked rice and coconut cream to the beans and simmer until the rice is done. My question is, should I cook the rice separately and add it to the beans when it comes out of the oven?
    Thank you!

    1. Yes, I would add the rice after it is cooked. You may need to reduce the amount of coconut cream since it won’t be absorbed by the rice.

  4. I’m making this in a roasting oven. Should the water that I add be cold? Would it speed up the recipe if I added warm or hot water instead?

  5. Hi, when you say a large roasting pan, what size would you be correct?

    I have one that is 11” x 17” x 2 ½ “. It does not seem suitable for 50 servings.

    Thanks,

  6. Hi, I am making coconut rice for a huge party this weekend. I was planning to do half water half light coconut milk for the liquid. Do you think this will work fine? Need help its in 2 days !Thanks.

  7. I’m looking to make rice for about 30 people. Do you think I could make 2/3 of this recipe? Would it scale down correctly?
    2 qts rice
    3.3 qts water (13 1/3 cups)
    2 Tbsp salt
    Would I reduce cooking time also?
    Any feedback you could provide would be amazing helpful. Thank you!

    1. Hello Sara, I’d love to know how this worked for you for 30 people! I’m cooking for 30 people this week.
      Thanks!

  8. Have you made this in foil pans before? I need to make a large quantity for church potluck. A foil pan would make clean up easy.

  9. Do you think I could keep the warm in a crockpot on warm for a few hours after I am done cooking it in the oven?

  10. What size roasting pan do you recommend for your recipe? If I want to double the recipe, can I use one large roasting pan or do I need to go with two?

    1. You will need at least an 18-inch roasting pan for a single batch of this recipe. I would do two roasting pans for two batches.

  11. When the recipe for Spanish Rice calls for 2 (28oz) cans of Rotel, does that mean 2 cans (each can 28oz) or 2 cans TOTALING 28oz.?

    1. I’m sorry for the confusion! It is for two 28 oz cans, so 56 ounces total. Thanks for asking!

      1. Found this recipe online yesterday when trying to figure out how I was going to make rice for 30. I found cooking stovetop for large crowds was very inconsistent. I was leery to try it but I am so glad I did. I used a very large disposable aluminum pan (saw a comment where someone wanted to know if that would work) and it came out perfect. Had to keep it sitting for over an hour so I kept it in the oven at lowest temp to keep it hot. Followed the recipe exactly except I always add garlic powder to the water for extra flavor especially when serving Spanish food. Everyone raved about how fluffy and perfect it was cooked. Thank you…this is a keeper I will use over and over for years to come.

        1. That is great to hear! Thanks so much for letting us know how it all turned out. We are glad that the comments helped too!

        2. Has anyone made this in a convection oven. I cook for 200 every week and would love to try this. What about a gas stove too?

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