How to Cook Rice for a Crowd (Baked Method)

4.87 from 129 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 about an hour!

Holding a scoop of cooked rice on a wooden spoon.

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!

How to Cook Rice in Large Quantities

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 chicken broth, vegetable broth or beef broth instead of water.
  • Kosher salt – three tablespoons, or add a teaspoon salt more at a time, to taste.

First, place the rice in a large roasting pan and spread it around evenly. Next, bring the water to a boil and pour it evenly over the rice. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes or until rice is tender. Fluff with a fork or wooden spoon and serve!

Ingredients to make Rice for a crowd including rice, water and salt.

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.

Get the Right Size Pan

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.

Cooked and steamy rice in a roasting pan.

Types of Rice to Use

For this baked rice recipe I used long-grain white rice. You can also use basmati rice, wild rice, short-grain rice or jasmine rice. The cooking times should remain the same. If using brown rice, you may need to add another 10-15 minutes to the cooking time.

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: 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: Use 2 quarts water and 3 quarts chicken broth. Eliminate salt (or just use a pinch to taste). Slice four sticks of butter (2 cups) into squares (pats) and evenly place over rice. 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.
Wooden spoon resting in the roasting pan of cooked rice.

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 pans or a large casserole dish.

Fluffing up the rice from a roasting pan.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Store any leftover rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Heat again by warming in the oven, or microwave single servings. If the rice seems a little dry, sprinkle a little water over the top before heating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the rice need to be rinsed?

There is no need to rinse the rice before cooking. You can rinse, if you want to, by using a fine mesh strainer, but that step isn’t necessary.

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:

Cooked rice in a roasting pan with parsley as garnish. Wooden spoon in the pan.

Rice for a Crowd (Baked Method)

4.87 from 129 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.
    Spreading rice in a roasting pan with a wooden spoon.
  • In a large stock-pot, combine water and salt. Bring to a rolling boil.
    Boiling hot water for rice.
  • CAREFULLY pour boiling water over rice and stir so rice is even along the bottom.
    Stirring hot water into roasting pan with rice.
  • Immediately cover tightly with aluminum foil. Make sure you have a tight seal around ALL the edges. 
    Covering roasting pan with aluminum foil.
  • Place roasting pan in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until rice is tender.
    Cooked and steamy rice in a roasting pan.
  • Fluff with a fork or large wooden spoon & serve.
    Fluffing up the rice from a roasting pan.
  • **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. I am a banquet cook (for 3 years now-self taught, former dairy farmer) I cooked for 150 for a wedding yesterday and used the Spanish rice version to go with the taco bar. I only have convection ovens so I would suggest these tips: YES, rinse the rice. Mine was a sticky mass, not able to fluff. I used 325 LOW fan and by the time I checked it at 40, it was already overcooked. I would check at 30 minutes and if it is close to al dente, pull and let the carryover heat finish cooking it out of the oven. The flavor was good, so I will try again but with these changes.

  2. 5 stars
    I just made a variation of the seasoned rice listed in the description. I did a half batch in a deep dish lasagna pan and it worked great (filled completely to the top). First I sauteed 1/2 tablespoon turmeric, 1/2 tablespoon oregano and 3/4 tsp coriander, one large diced sweet onion and 3 large cloves of garlic in olive oil with some salt until lightly golden brown (about 10 min on medium + heat). Then I added 4 cups (one box) of vegetable stock and 6 cups of water and brought it to a boil. Meanwhile I rinsed my rise well and put it in the glass dish (I didn’t spray it since I figured the olive oil from sautéing would be enough fat). I added the onion/broth/spice/olive oil mixture to the rice and covered with aluminum foil. I baked it for 40 minutes at 350. It came out SO perfect! Next time I think I will bake it for 35 min since I plan to reheat this. But it was perfect for serving immediately. Thanks so much for the recipe! I’m cooking this for a dinner at my church and this was a test batch.

  3. When making the Spanish rice version of this rice for 50 was that with just one steam table pan of the size you listed? Also, did you heat the two 28oz. cans of rotel before adding to the rice?

    1. Yes, it should still fit in one steam table pan since you are reducing the water. We didn’t heat the Rotel, but you can if you’d like!

  4. 5 stars
    Perfect! I halved the recipe, otherwise followed the recipe to a T. Did 6 cups Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice to 10 cups of beef/vegetable broth combo, added some onion powder, Italian spices, 1/2c butter cut in cubes and cooked at 350 for 40 minutes. I used a foil pan 17″longx14″widex3″high. Will definitely make this again! Yum!! Thank you!

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