A rice cooker or rice steamer is an automated kitchen appliance designed to boil or steam rice. It consists of a heat source, a cooking bowl, and a thermostat. The thermostat measures the temperature of the cooking bowl and controls the heat which makes it quite easy to use and maintain.

It doesn’t matter if you’re new or just getting started, this rice cooker usage guide is all you need.

Rice cooker has been the sweetheart of those who wants to make amazing rice and surely it is the easiest way to make perfect rice but don’t let the name fool you, rice cooker cooks more than just rice and most of these foods would convince you to invest in a rice cooker or use yours often. Rice cooker is really simple to use regardless of the food you are cooking on it.

Despite what its name suggests, rice cooker cooks more than just rice, it is not a single-minded unitasker, it is the easiest way to make the perfect rice but it can also be a convenient way to make a wide varieties of foods and it doesn’t matter if you have a rice cooker with just one setting or a basic rice cooker, it can still be set to make more than just rice.

One of the best things about using a rice cooker is that you do not have to worry about having your foods get burnt but the right method needs to be used hence it’s time to join the ranks of millions around the world who use their rice cookers to prepare entire meals and not just side dishes.

Why use a rice cooker?

A high-end rice cooker is surprisingly a versatile piece of kitchen equipment, you do not have to use it for cooking rice alone, it’s faster, can last you years and can more or less cook any grain you want to toss in it, the rice cooker can be used for many things and additionally rice cookers are automatic, you can put your rice in it while you attend to other things, it saves time and helps make delicious healthy meals easier.

A rice cooker might be considered a single-purpose gadget in America and having a spacious kitchen may be partly to blame for sacrificing so much cabinet space to this odd little unitasker but all over China and Japan, where kitchens are small, rice cookers are well used and ever-present to do double triple or even quadruple duty.

How to use a rice cooker

how to use a rice cooker
Image: Twenty20

Using a rice cooker is quick and convenient especially if you are cooking a large quantity of food, a rice cooker would be the ideal appliance to use with no fuss. Learning how to use a rice cooker efficiently will make it easier to cook perfect rice.

Cooking a large quantity of rice in a rice cooker takes about 25 to 30 minutes but not to worry the rice cooker automatically turns itself off when your rice has finished cooking, about is how you can use a rice cooker.

  • Follow the instructions that come with your rice cooker and the type of rice you are going to cook or simply measure the correct amount of rice and place it in a bowl.
  • Rinse the rice until the water turns clear, some rice might contain some vitamins and minerals that can wash off after rinsing hence this is optional.
  • Transfer the rice from the bowl to the inner pan of your rice cooker. You can also use a reusable rice napkin to make your cleanup afterward easier.
  • Add water to the rice cooker pan.
  • Afterward, place the pan inside the rice cooker and close the top, you can any recipe you plan to use at this stage.
  • Plugin your rice cooker and turn it on, most rice cooker comes with a light indicator unit at the front.
  • The cooker will notify you when your rice has finished cooking, you can keep it in the warm mode for 15 minutes if your rice cooker has this, this will let any excess moisture evaporate and your rice can properly absorb the water.
  • Serve using a plastic utensil or rice paddle and enjoy with your favorite recipe on its own.

How do you saute in a rice cooker?

You can make a variety of food in a rice cooker but when it comes to frying in a rice cooker, extra measure is needed to prevent burning, to use your rice cooker to stir fry foods, start by drizzling a little bit of cooking oil such as vegetable oil or olive oil into the rice cooker bowl, close the lid and you can start the regular rice cooking cycle.

How to clean a rice cooker

how to use a rice cooker

Rice cookers make it easy to enjoy perfectly cooked rice in a fraction of time but to ensure you are getting the most of your rice cooker then you need to keep it clean, keeping it clean will prevent stuck-on foods and hard to remove stains. How you clean your rice cooker can depend on the type of material it’s made of.

Cleaning and maintaining your rice cooker is important to ensure it continues to work properly especially if you are dealing with a pan that has a nonstick coating.

How you clean your rice cooker depends on the specific model of rice cooker you use and there might be a cleaning instruction attached to it however you can adopt a simple cleaning method like the one listed below.

  • Removing the pan and soaking it in warm water removes stains
  • Cleaning the hot plate component by using sandpaper to remove dried-on food
  • Wiping the lid with a soapy rag or detaching and soaking the lid to remove buildup stains
  • Wiping down the exterior with a mixture of 50/50 white wine vinegar and water
  • Cleaning any included utensils in warm soapy water.

15 Surprising Things You Can Make In A Rice Cooker

A rice cooker can make more than rice so there are more unique ways you can enjoy your rice cooker, even if you have the most basic rice cooker, you can still trick it to cook other meals however this might not extend to all varieties of foods and you can even make this food without fussing over it or stirring constantly and we have listed 15 of these surprising things you can make in a rice cooker.

1. Beans

You will need to soak your beans in the rice cooker overnight (unplugged and turned off), cooking time takes 30 minutes while soybeans take longer however the advantage of using a rice cooker is that you do not have to watch over a pot for cooking lentils, soybeans, kidney beans, and other beans, you can set a timer if your rice cooker has one. In the morning, drain and rinse the hydrated beans, put them back in the rice cooker and add 4 cups of filtered water or as needed and turn the rice cooker on.

2. Rice Cooker Pork Roast

Yes, you can make a pork roast in a rice cooker and even make it turned out to be more amazing, in lieu of a slow cooker you can make use of your rice cooker for any kinds of meat, to start, place your ingredients in the rice cooker and spices you plan to use and after the normal rice cooking setting cycle, change to the warming setting and leave for an hour. You can make a pork roast on your rice cooker no matter how big it is and there are so many amazing recipes that can be used to make this delicious.

If you are cooking just regular pork, make the thin block of pork ready, brown the surface of the pork in a frying pan, you do not need to cook it, just brown and transfer the pork into your rice cooker with ingredients, if you have any leftover of aromatic vegetable, leek or green onions, put this in too. The pork is done when the rice cooker switches off, slice and enjoyed as desired.

3. Frittatas

Frittata with vegetables
Image: Envato Elements

A delicious frittata can be made in a rice cooker and with less hassle, coat the inner pot with nonstick cooking spray, in a medium bowl, mix together the spinach, mushrooms, and onions, add the eggs, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and cheese and mix well until all ingredients are well combined, spoon the frittata into the inner pot, close the lid and press the button to cook on a regular rice setting.

4. Mac And Cheese

Rice cooker mac and cheese is an easy breakfast and less effort is required to make it on a rice cooker, you can easily skip the blue box with its bright orange cheese-flavored powder and instead make your own rice cooker mac and cheese from scratch which takes the same amount of time. Rice cookers are a convenient and inexpensive way to make mac and cheese.

5. Pull-Apart Pizza bread

This might sound surprising but you can actually enjoy an instant homemade pull-apart pizza bread using your rice cooker, there are a lot of amazing recipes you can use to make this delicious meal however the same method will be used. Rice cooker pull apart pizza bread needs no expertise before it can be made.

Rice cooker pull apart pizza bread is easy to make and making it with your rice cooker is cheaper than ordering a couple of pizza, you can also freeze and save any ingredients used for a later date.

6. Boiled Eggs

boiled eggs
Image: Envato Elements

Boiled eggs are the easiest to make with your rice cooker, takes very little time and you can rest assured the eggs will be properly boiled, add water to the rice pot and set into the cooker, place the eggs in a steamer tray and set in rice pot, start the cooker and set the timer to boil the eggs, this should take 20 minutes to boil, transfer into a bowl filled with cold water immediately to stop the cooking process, crack the eggs and enjoy.

You can also steam your eggs in a rice cooker instead of the traditional method of boiling it, steamed eggs are an easy grab and go breakfast and minimal efforts are required to make them

7. Cheesecake

Cheesecake is another surprising thing you can make with a rice cooker, baking cheesecake in a rice cooker is sure surprising but can be done, simply prepare the batter, pour it in the inner cooking pan and bake using the Cake course. You can make an easy cheesecake that is quite smooth and fluffy in texture which makes it perfect for a light dessert.

8. Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake is just as easy to make as a cheesecake, this is a truly convenient and easy way to make a chocolate cake, there is no need to preheat the oven or check on the cake while baking, you just pour the mix into the rice cooker, press start and wait for it to beep, once it does, your cake is ready to be popped out, let it cool and decorate as you desire and it’s ready to be served.

9. Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca dessert with mango
Image: Envato Elements

Tapioca pudding with rice cooker? Sure this can be done and even more enjoyable, this is quite simple to make though and very classic with less hassle in a slow cooker, there is no need to presoak small tapioca pearl prior to cooking, just add the ingredients with your tapioca and cook in your rice cooker on medium heat. Set your timer as always but ensure you have a porridge setting on your rice cooker before making tapioca pudding with it.

10. Rice Cooker Pancake

You do not have to be a professional before you can make bake a pancake with a rice cooker, not only will you be making a delicious pancake but you get a large size as well depending on the size of your rice cooker. Everyone loves a delicious well-made pancake and you can get an impressive cake-like pancake with a rice cooker, no need to stand over the stove and flip individual pancake instead just pour in the batter and let the rice cooker do the rest of the work.

11. Apple Sauce

Applesauce is really one of the simplest recipes you can make with a rice cooker, it requires less hassle and time, there are lots of methods you can use to make an apple sauce with a rice cooker and most of this methods bypasses peeling. You can even customize your sauce by substituting pears or adding strawberries for a rosy hue.

12. Pasta With Fresh Vegetables

This combination will definitely turn out even more delicious with a rice cooker, a minimal amount of time is needed to make this meal, in general, all you need is a grain, vegetable, spice of your choice or oil to make this work and as long as you get the ratio right and chop larger veggies down to size, you are going to make a delicious pasta with vegetable.

13.  Soups, Stew And Chillis

You can make practically any kind of soup, stew, and chillis in a rice cooker and it’s very fast and easy to use however if you are cooking meat with this stew, you would need to experiment with the size of the meat chunks, when the meat is done, take them out and see if they are cooked and at the right temperature too.

14. Banana Bread

Toasts from Wholewheat Bread with Peanut Butter and Banana
Image: Envato Elements

Who said a rice cooker is just for rice making when you can make tasty banana bread with it, this can be done with simple steps and less fuss, there are lots of recipes that can be adopted in making banana bread with a rice cooker.

15. Other Grains

Rice cooker might be a simple appliance but a versatile one that can cook a whole range of food, it should not come as a surprise that any grain food can be made with a rice cooker, a rice cooker is a viable option for quick grain like bulgur, millet, and quinoa. It best to stick with the pasta method on the stove pot for denser healthier grain but you can use the rice method when using a rice cooker.

Note: You do not need a special expensive or fancy rice cooker to cook a variety of foods, a cheap rice cooker that has warm and settings is sufficient enough. Your rice cooker would come with directions and it is best to refer to these instructions specific to your rice cooker.

The Best Rice Cookers To Buy

A high-end rice cooker is a surprisingly versatile piece of kitchen equipment, that will save time and help make having delicious healthy meals even easier. It is, however, important to go for a rice cooker that makes a variety of foods with ease hence we have chosen 5 rice cooker from Amazon that is well worth the investment.

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

1. Aroma Housewares Rice Cooker

Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD 2-8-Cups (Cooked) Digital Cool-Touch Rice Grain Cooker and Food Steamer, Stainless, 8 Cup, SilverBuy on Amazon

This rice cooker can be used to make other varieties off foods and very easy to operate, one of its amazing features includes 7 automated control that lets you decide if you are in the mood for steamed veggies white rice brown rice oatmeal and risotto you can accomplish it all with this perfect programed cooker.

2. Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker

Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker, 10-Cups uncooked resulting in 20-Cups (Cooked), 37541

Buy on Amazon

Hamilton Beach Rice cooker is one of the best rice cookers to go for, the settings are easy enough if you are using for the first time, easy to clean as well. This rice cooker comes with 4 to 20 cups capacity and unique haet and simmer functions. It is great for rice, beans, whole grains, and flavored pasta and rice mixes and all you need is to select it’s cooking option and it does the rest.

3. Instant Zest Rice Cooker

Instant Zest Rice Cooker, Grain Maker, and Steamer, 8 Cups, Cooks White Rice, Brown Rice, Quinoa, and Oatmeal

Buy on Amazon

The instant zest rice cooker has 4 smart rice cooker that makes cooking rice to fluffy perfection, you can quickly steam veggies, fish and more with the touch of a button: Makes 8 cups and doubles as a warmer for all kinds of foods, this rice cooker is built-in protection against overcooking, burning and has a nonstick ceramic pot plus a dishwasher safe steamer tray, rice measuring cup and rice spoon to make measuring easy.

4. Black And Decker Rice Cooker

BLACK+DECKER RC506 6-Cup Cooked/3-Cup Uncooked Rice Cooker and Food Steamer, White

Buy On Amazon

Black and decker rice cooker comes with amazing reviews and offers convenient and comfort when cooking rice or other dishes. This rice cooker has 6 cup capacity, and you can prepare anywhere from 1 to 6 cups of cooked rice, it is great for small and large meals and also for keeping leftover meals warm for a long while.

This rice cooker ensures your rice stays ready for serving, it automatically switches to the “keep warm” function after cooking is complete.

5. AmazonBasics Mini Rice Cooker

AmazonBasics Mini Rice Cooker with Accessories, 4 Cups Cooked Rice

Buy on Amazon

AmazonBasics rice cooker is perfect if you do not have a very spacious kitchen space, it is a mini rice cooker but with all the functions of a quality rice cooker, it is an electronic rice cooker that prepares 4 cups of perfectly cooked rice with the touch of a button, compact size is easy to move and store which is perfect for a small individual household.

5 Benefits Of Using A Rice Cooker

Rice cookers are programmed to stop automatically when all the water has been absorbed from the rice but this is not the only benefit you will be getting from a rice cooker. Below are 5 benefits of using a rice cooker.

1. Convenience

Rice can easily boil over when cooked on the stove but a rice cooker is more convenient and won’t cause any spillover, you can relax when using a rice cooker, you do not have to constantly check on it as it automatically stops working when the water is absorbed.

2. It Cooks The Rice For You Automatically

You do not have to watch over your rice or any other meal you are making with a rice cooker, as earlier mentioned you can easily set a timer. You are not required to fuss over the rice cooker like you would a saucepan or other cooking vessel, you can measure the rice and liquid, set the lid and turn the machine on, it would then shut off it;’s cook mode itself when the cycle is completed.

3. Inexpensive And Small Space Appliance

rice cooker usage made easy

A rice cooker is a cheap option for small space cooking, this can cook practically any other dish hence you save more space and money. This is best if you have a small kitchen space or live ion a college/dorm.

4. Travel Cooking

Another way to use a rice cooker is when you are traveling, this can be really beneficial if you are road tripping or on a cabin stay, you can make easy recipes like a baked chicken, which requires less time with a rice cooker.  A rice cooker is a pretty inert item as long as it is not plugged in and you can also take it on a plane either as a carry-on item or check-in your baggage

5. It Is Easy To Clean

You can always soak a rice cooker in warm water to get rid of stains easily although this is an exception to some rice cookers as you can soak them in water to prevent damages however many countertop rice cookers offer components that are safe to put in the dishwasher.

In Conclusion

A rice cooker is a handy appliance that perfectly cooks rice with minimal effort required and all you have to do is pour in the measured rice and water, and the machine takes it from there. It also serves as an easy way to make other varieties of foods that makes a versatile kitchen appliance.

Some companies make appliances that can function as both rice cookers and deep fryers. Rice cooker takes care of your rice for you with just a press of a button.

Before getting a rice cooker though, you should consider how often you would use the rice cooker and what features you would like to use before investing in the best and fanciest appliance, you should put some features like settings, capacity, and timing into consideration before buying as this would save you from paying extra for a button you would never use as rice cooker tend to be priced according to what it has to offer.

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