How to Cook Rice for a Crowd (Baked Method)

4.85 from 104 votes

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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.
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in this Rice Recipe
  2. What Kind of Pans to Use for this Easy Oven Rice
  3. Types of Rice to Use
  4. Seasoning Variations for Baked Rice
  5. Getting the Quantities Right:
  6. Tips for Perfect Baked Rice
  7. How to Store Leftovers
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. More Ideas for Cooking for a Crowd
  10. How to Bake Rice (Making Rice for a Crowd)
  11. Rice for a Crowd (Baked Method) Recipe

Cooking large quantities of rice doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it is pretty much one of the easiest starches you can make for a crowd! I used this baked rice method when I was serving 50+ people a big dinner 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. Use it for stir fry, fried rice, cilantro lime rice or plain rice. It’s cheaper, too! Why spend $25-$35 (or more) to have rice catered when you can literally make it for a few bucks? You will love this easy recipe!

Ingredients in this Rice Recipe

A basic rice recipe is so easy and only has three ingredients. You can add more seasonings like fresh herbs or lime juice as desired but here’s what to start with:

  • Long grain, white rice – I use a five pound bag of long grain rice for this recipe. I prefer that over short grain or medium grain. That’s about 12 cups of rice or 3 quarts.
  • Water – five quarts or about 20 cups water. This may seem like excessive water to rice ratios, but rice in the oven requires more liquid than the stovetop. You could use vegetable broth, chicken broth or beef broth instead of water.
  • Kosher salt – three tablespoons, or add a teaspoon salt more at a time, to taste.

What Kind of Pans to Use for this Easy Oven Rice

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. 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.

Types of Rice to Use

For this baked rice recipe I used long-grain white rice. You can also use brown rice, basmati rice, wild rice, short-grain rice or jasmine rice. The cooking times should remain the same. No need for rinsing the rice before cooking, either. You can rinse, if you want to, by using a fine mesh strainer, but that step isn’t necessary.

Seasoning Variations for Baked Rice

Once you get the gist of cooking large quantities of 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, bell peppers or green onions. Season with some soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. 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.

Getting the Quantities Right:

The baking times and methods shouldn’t change depending on the quantity of rice. It may vary slightly but not much. You will just need bigger or smaller pans depending on whether you need more or less rice. The recipe below makes 50 servings but it can easily be doubled to make 100 servings. If doubling, you will definitely want to use 2 separate pans, but they should still be able to fit in 1 oven. If you need closer to 20 servings of rice, you can half the recipe but still use the same-size pan or opt for a smaller pan.

Tips for Perfect Baked Rice

Some of our wonderful readers offered some helpful tips to make this rice perfect every time:

  • Toast the dry rice in the oven for about 30 minutes on 350 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes.
  • Add blended charred tomatoes and onion to the boiling liquid just before pouring it over the rice to be baked.
  • Use boiling water, not cold water. Water temperature will affect how the rice cooks in the oven.
  • Make sure to use enough water and check the volume of water in the recipe. Keep in mind that there is more water in this recipe than cooking on the stove or a rice maker.
  • Double the foil pan due to weight of water for added stability. You can use foil steam table size pans or a large casserole dish.
  • Fluff rice using a fork just before serving.
Seasoned rice in a large tray with a serving spoon.

How to Store Leftovers

Store any leftover rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Heat again by warming in the oven, if there is a lot to heat up, or microwave single servings. Remove the covering before microwaving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people bake rice?

It’s the easiest, least messy way to make rice for a crowd. And unlike rice cooked on the stovetop, which is heated just from the bottom, oven-cooked rice gets an even, steady flow of heat from all directions.

How much water do you use to bake rice?

You will need more water when baking rice than you would cooking it on the stovetop. For a five pound bag of rice, you’ll need about 20 cups or five quarts of water.

How much rice do I need for a party of 50?

This recipe will serve 50 people, at about ½ to ¾ cup per person. So you’ll need a five pound bag of long grain rice for a party of 50.

READ MORE: Family Reunion Ideas for Meal Planning

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! Cheesy Potato Casserole (aka Funeral Potatoes) is always a crowd pleaser, along with this yummy Blueberry Jello Salad. Or try some of these delicious recipes that you can make in bulk:

How to Bake Rice (Making Rice for a Crowd)

Rice for a Crowd (Baked Method)

4.85 from 104 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 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Asian
Servings 50



  • Conventional Oven


  • 3 quarts long grain, white rice (12 cups or a 5 pound bag)
  • 5 quarts water (20 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt


  • 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 three beautiful 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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  1. 2 stars
    Proportions seem to conflict with most other recipes for white LG rice at 5 – 1 cup servings per pound which is only 25 servings for 5 lbs of uncooked rice (not 50). You give a range of 1/2 to 3/4 C per serving. If the servings ar 1/2 C, then 5 pounds are enough, otherwise you need 10 lbs of rice.

    Yield for a full size 4″ high hotel pan is as you said , 15 qts which is 60 cups. Therefore for 1 cup servings, 30 cups of rice should be used. (about 12 pounds)

  2. We are trying to do 20 lbs for a wedding reception, so will need to do this over a couple of hours during the day. What would you recommend as the best way to keep the rice warm once it is cooked?
    We will be in a building with a no-open-flames rule, so the obvious chafing pans won’t work.

    1. You can use crock pots to keep the rice warm! Add about 1/2 inch of water to the pot so the rice doesn’t dry out and keep adding water if needed throughout the day. Keep the crockpots on low or warm.

    2. I have a few suggestions: 1) Keep the rice warm on the warm setting in crock pots, stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn on the bottom or edges. A crock pot liner will help with this. 2) Keep the rice warm in a roasting pan lined with foil, stir occasionally. 3) Use coolers to keep the rice warm. To do this, you need to first heat the cooler by filling it with hot, almost boiling, water. Empty the cooler and dry it, then add the rice. Keep the cooler sealed until you are ready to serve.

  3. 5 stars
    Perfect Baked Rice Recipe! We needed rice for 100 and we don’t have enough stovetop space so we used this recipe. Doubled everything and divided between 3-2 inch deep steam table pans. It did take an extra 15 minutes in our oven. Just the right amount of water and salt to rice ratio! Will be using this recipe again and again!

  4. 5 stars
    Genius! Thank you! I made tikka masala for a group of missionaries, so I didn’t have room on the stove to do rice. I used a very large foil pan with 4 pounds of rice and 16 cups of water. It turned out perfectly! Thanks for a great idea!

  5. 5 stars
    I cooked for my church Wednesday night supper tonight for the first time. Well, I have helped for many years, but this was my first time being in charge and actually making the recipes myself and not just “taking orders” from someone else. I knew she had always cooked the rice in the oven but beyond that, I was unsure, so your instructions were so timely! I used parboiled rice (because that’s what “she” always does and I didn’t want to shake things up too much on my first night out), but the salt measurements you had were perfect, the water was perfect and since I forgot to pre-spray my disposable steam pan, I put a drizzle of olive oil in the pan with the rice and water and stirred it around. I covered it and put it in the slower of the two ovens, knowing I had a long time it could cook and also did a half pan (2 lb bag) for a total of 7 lbs. It was perfection, probably the best we have ever had. I added water one time later in the afternoon while it was in the warmer to keep it moist. Thanks again for these great instructions. I will use this many times!

  6. 5 stars
    We had a big youth group event tonight and we did Chipotle-inspired bowls/nachos. I was in charge of the rice and beans and I stressed about how I was going to do it.
    This recipe was slick and dare I say, fool-proof! I used a 5lb bag of jasmine rice and baked it in a large hotel aluminum pan. After baking I split the rice between 2 pans and made one be regular rice and other cilantro/lime. We had a little leftover, but overall the rice was very well received!

  7. This recipe was a great success! I was even able to make two pans at the same time in my convection oven. Now I have my go-to recipe for rice for a crowd. Thank you!

  8. This recipe worked beautifully in the oven using jasmine rice. I made this for an Independence Day celebration using your method with a few additions: 1) I toasted the dry rice in the oven first for about 30 minutes on 350 F, stirring every 10 minutes, and 2) I added blended charred tomatoes and chipotle in adobo plus desired onion and spices to the boiling liquid just before pouring it over the rice to be baked. The dish was very popular and I had very little of it left. Thank you for posting this; I’ve already passed on the recipe.

  9. Just the recipe I was looking for! I see that this recipe serves 50 people. What is the serving size per person?

  10. I’m grateful to have found this recipe! I have 25 lbs of uncooked rice to make for our microschool’s feeding the hungry project.
    Do you suppose I can cook multiple pans in my oven simultaneously, provided they fit? Just wonder if you have thoughts or experience with regard to the heat/temperature, etc., with multiple pans being cooked at one time.

  11. The temperature of the water will absolutely affect cooking time…
    As the recipe says to use boiling water, cold water would not work the same.

    1. I used room temperature water because I knew I had a long time to allow it to cook. I had two pans going in the same oven and it cooked for two hours at the recommended temperature with no problems and it was perfect.

  12. I’m so glad I came across this method! I need to cook rice for 150 people this weekend and I was not looking forward to doing it in small batches. I do have one question before I start. Do you rinse the rice first or would that cause the rice to soak up extra water and change the water ratio?

    1. We don’t rinse the rice first with this method. You probably could without any changes to the recipe but we haven’t tried it that way.

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