Three additives were optimised for the sensory characteristics, textural and physicochemical properties of instant rice by using response surface methodology (RSM) and principal component analysis (PCA). Comprehensive evaluation indicated that 0.025% glycerol monolaurate (GML), 0.58% β-cyclodextrin (β-CD) and 0.41% alcohol formed a new quality improver of instant rice. Moreover, several specific quality properties of instant rice were further studied. Compared with freshly cooked rice, instant rice with or without optimised additives owned much lower quality. The microstructure observation and pasting properties by Rapid Visco Analyzer (RVA) analysis implied that quality improver could distinctly ameliorate the texture and viscoelastic properties. Simultaneously, the quality improver had no significant effects on the starch digestion. But, it could retard short-term starch retrogradation of instant rice, namely △Hr value decreasing from 1.511 J g−1 to 1.386 J g−1.