Many people who have not yet experienced using a rice cooker question whether it’s worth investing in an appliance that’s not the most versatile when you could just as easily use a pan and some boiling water.
Well, that’s the thing. It isn’t just as easy to make rice in a pan. You’ll need to constantly monitor the rice and you won’t get the same fluffy results either.
Also, rice cookers are less limited in scope than you might imagine. Sure, you can rustle up just about any type of rice in these things and it is their core competency. Beyond that, though, you can also create soups, stews, steamed veggies, porridge, and a variety of one-pot meals in one of these dinky appliances.
I. Is It Worth Buying a Rice Cooker?
If you’re undecided about whether or not you should treat yourself to a new rice cooker, consider the following questions:
- Do you regularly make rice or steamed grains?
- Have you found it difficult to make rice properly on the stovetop?
- Are you a fan of set-and-forget appliances?
- Do you have a small kitchen?
If you find yourself answering “Yes” to these questions, you should strongly consider adding a rice cooker to your arsenal.
To make your buying decision easier, check out our comprehensive guide to the 16 best rice cookers on the market.
How can you go about using your rice cooker, though?
Fortunately, that’s the easy part!
II. How Does a Rice Cooker Work?
Rice cookers are simple in design and execution. Essentially, all you need to do is add water and rice, and the machine does all the rest of you.
In the case of rice cookers with Fuzzy Logic technology, an onboard microprocessor ensures any type of rice you pop inside is cooked optimally, with time and temperature automatically tweaked.
Once your rice is cooked, the rice cooker flicks into warming mode and keeps your perfectly cooked rice ready to serve. Your rice will always be ready when your dinner is ready, not the other way around.
First developed in Japan, rice cookers feature a thermostat which detects the extent to which the grains absorb water. The liquid will not heat up to more than 212F – the boiling point of water – and as soon as the liquid is gone, the thermostat is triggered to switch the rice cooker to warming mode.
Before we give you a step-by-step guide to using a rice cooker, a few words on the sizes at your fingertips.
III. Consider the Capacity
Rice cookers typically come with a 3-cup, 6-cup, or 10-cup capacity. Remember that uncooked rice roughly doubles in size once cooked.
A small rice cooker will not cope well if you load it with too much rice. Equally, many large rice cookers struggle to cook small batches effectively.
Choosing the right capacity will streamline your experience.
IV. Using a Rice Cooker 101
Here is all you need to do to start cooking great rice in a rice cooker.
- Measure your rice using the measuring cup provided. Not all rice cookers use regular-sized cups, so stick with the one bundled for the sake of precision
- Rinse your rice if you want it to come out even fluffier with more defined grains
- Pop your rice inside the rice cooker
- Measure out the right amount of water for the type of rice you’re using
- Put on the lid
- Switch the rice cooker to cook or boil. With Fuzzy Logic rice cookers, choose the appropriate preset
- Wait for your rice to cook. This will take longer than if you were using a pan of boiling water on the stovetop, but it’s a set-and-forget process
- When your rice is ready, the rice cooker will alert you and it will flick into warming mode
- Remove the lid to check your rice
- If it’s cooked, allow it to sit steaming gently for 10 minutes before serving. This will ensure you get the tastiest and fluffiest results on your plate
Now, before we wrap up today, we have some handy hints on getting the best results from your new rice cooker. We’ll also round out with some tips on what else you can rustle up in one of these nifty appliances.
V. Handy Hints on Getting The Most Out of Your Rice Cooker
Always get your rice started first and then get on with preparing the rest of your meal. Whether you’re whipping up steak, a stir-fry, a curry, or some grilled veggies, make sure the foundation of the meal is laid in the background.
Use the measuring cup included with your rice cooker, but bear in mind these do not always correspond to imperial measurements. Stick with this cup when you’re measuring your rice and you won’t go wrong.
Does your rice cooker come equipped with a vent in the lid? If so, you may notice a gloopy spray shooting out of here. This can get all over the kitchen counter, so take care if you’re making some oatmeal in your rice cooker.
The best rice cooker combines the benefits of a slow cooker and a skillet in one compact appliance. This means you can easily sauté veggies in a rice cooker. As the mixture starts coming to the boil, you can make a tasty soup. If you use a steaming rack and some water, you can harness the power of your rice cooker to steam vegetables, giving you a taste sensation with all the nutrients still inside.
VI. What Else Can You Cook in a Rice Cooker?
Evidently, rice cookers excel at cooking all types of rice, but this is not the extent of their abilities.
You can cook many other grains in your rice cooker, including:
One of the most striking things you can make in a rice cooker is steel-cut oatmeal. Combine your oats with some water using a ratio of 1 cup of oats to 3 cups of water. Leave the mixture soaking overnight in your rice cooker. Not only will this help to reduce cooking time, but it will also ensure that you can more readily absorb the nutrients. When you wake up, activate your rice cooker and then you’ll have delicious oats in 30 minutes flat.
You can also make pot meals in a rice cooker, as well as porridge, soup, and stew.
While superficially limited in application, you’ll soon see rice cookers are actually quite versatile, so whyt not add one to your shopping list?
We very much hope today’s guide has shown you how to use a rice cooker to create perfect fluffy rice every time.
While you may initially question the value of these appliances, once you start using one, you’ll appreciate the convenience as well as the first-class fluffy rice you can generate.