The Ultimate Claypot Rice Recipe – A Classic Chinese One-Pot Meal

Claypot rice, known as bo zai fan in Cantonese, is a beloved Chinese one-pot meal where rice and savory toppings are cooked in a claypot. The dish is popular across Southern China as well as Southeast Asia. 

This article will provide an in-depth claypot rice recipe, including step-by-step instructions, essential ingredients and supplies, serving suggestions, and tips for achieving the perfect texture and flavor.

What Makes Claypot Rice Special

The ClayPot

Claypots are traditionally used to cook this dish. The unglazed clay evenly distributes heat, producing perfectly cooked rice with a coveted crispy crust at the bottom. The porous material also allows steam to pass through and infuse the rice with an earthy aroma. 

While claypots are ideal, a Dutch oven or cast iron pan with a lid can be used.

Layering of Ingredients

Part of what makes claypot rice so delicious is the layering of ingredients. Savory meats and aromatic veggies are placed over par-cooked rice, and everything finishes steaming together. As the ingredients cook, the fat and juices from the toppings drip down and flavor the rice.

Contrasting Textures  

Claypot rice is all about textures – fluffy rice up top with a crackling crispy crust at the bottom. The key is using the right ratio of rice to liquid, plus adding a touch of fat before crisping.

Intensely Flavored Sauce

An umami-packed sauce featuring soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and other seasonings brings everything together. It’s drizzled over the piping hot rice just before serving.

Ingredients Needed

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice (jasmine or basmati) 
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 boneless chicken thigh, cut into 1-inch pieces  
  • 2 links of Chinese sausage, sliced 
  • 5 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced, greens and whites separated


  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • White pepper

Essential Equipment

  • Claypot or Dutch oven/cast iron pan with lid
  • Kitchen towel or mitt for handling hot pot

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these simple steps to make authentic claypot rice at home.

Prepare the Ingredients 

  1. Rinse the rice in a mesh strainer or colander until the water clears. Soak in water for 15 minutes, then drain well.
  2. While rice is soaking, prepare the chicken and sausage. Cut chicken thigh into 1-inch cubes—slice sausage diagonally into 1/4-inch pieces. 
  3. Rehydrate mushrooms in hot water for 15 minutes until softened. Slice into strips. 
  4. Mince the garlic, ginger and scallion whites. Slice the scallion greens for garnish.

Cook the Rice

  1. Heat a claypot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the drained rice and 1 3/4 cups water. Stir gently. 
  2. Then reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let it simmer for five minutes. Uncover and stir the rice. At this point, it should have absorbed most of the water. 
  3. Spread chicken and sausage over rice in an even layer. Top with mushrooms. 
  4. Cover the pot again and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid during this stage.

Crisp the Rice

  1. Uncover the pot and increase heat to medium-high. Listen for sizzling and popping sounds. 
  2. When rice starts crackling against the bottom, drizzle 1-2 tsp oil around the pot’s rim. Cover and cook for 2 minutes more. 
  3. Uncover and check that the rice is crispy on the bottom. If not, replace the cover and cook for another 1-3 minutes until sufficiently crisped.

Finish and Serve

  1. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 5 minutes. 
  2. Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl. 
  3. Garnish claypot rice with scallion greens. Drizzle sauce over and gently toss before serving. Enjoy the crispy burnt rice bits!

Tips for Success

  • Use a rice-to-water ratio of 1:1. The claypot concentrates the steam and cooks faster than a stovetop.
  • Resist lifting the lid until ready to crisp rice. This allows it to cook evenly.
  • Rotate the pot over the flame to ensure even crisping.
  • Add oil before crisping to help form a crust.
  • Let the claypot rest before serving. This completes cooking and makes crispy rice easier to scrape up.

Serving Suggestions

Claypot rice is usually served as is, but here are some simple ideas to round out the meal:

  • Stir-fried greens like bok choy or Chinese broccoli
  • Quick pickled cucumbers
  • Miso soup 
  • Light salad with Asian vinaigrette 

Leftover claypot rice makes excellent fried rice. Break up the crispy rice and stir-fry with beaten eggs, soy sauce, frozen peas, and carrots.

Key Takeaways

Claypot rice is a quintessential Chinese one-pot meal that’s well worth the minimal effort. If you carefully follow the directions, you’ll be rewarded with flawlessly steamed fluffy rice, luscious meats, soft vegetables, and the crowning glory—the crispy bottom crust. Once you master the technique, experiment with different toppings like shrimp, pork belly, or tofu. Your family and friends will repeatedly beg you to make this delicious rice dish!

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of rice is best for claypot rice?

Long-grain white rice varieties like jasmine and basmati work best, as they have a fluffy texture, and their grains remain separate. Medium or short-grain rice can also be used but may turn out sticky.

How much liquid do I need?

Use a 1:1 ratio of rice to liquid. To 2 cups of rice, add 2 cups of water or broth. The claypot concentrates the steam, so less liquid is needed than in stovetop cooking.

When do I add the toppings?

First, parboil the rice until halfway cooked. Then, arrange the raw toppings like chicken or sausage over the rice and let it all steam together for 15 minutes. This enables the liquids and fat to flow down and flavor the rice as they do so.

How do I get the crispy burnt rice?

Drizzle a bit of oil around the pot rim after steaming. Fry over high heat, rotating the pot to crisp the sides and bottom evenly. Listen for popping sounds to gauge doneness.

Can I use a regular pot instead of a claypot?

You can use a Dutch oven or cast iron pot. You won’t get as much of the signature claypot aroma, but the dish will taste very similar. Just adjust the heat and cooking times as needed.

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