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A rice cooker is an electronic kitchen appliance designed for cooking rice easily and quickly while also being able to keep it warm until consumption. This appliance is made up of a pot, an internal cooking container, a thermostat, and a heating element. Rice is placed inside of the inner container with water and is heated until the water reaches a temperature of 212°F (100°C) and will stay at this boiling point. However, a rice cooker can also be used to:
- Boil and cook non-rice grains
- Mix macaroni and cheese from scratch
- Make hearty soups
- Cook fluffy breakfast pancakes
A standard rice cooker will need 400 watts to 1000 watts to cook rice but only use 30 watts to 50 watts when you are using the warming function. This means that your rice cooker, which can take about 30 minutes to cook rice, will cost you $0.043 to $0.048 per use. How much energy your rice cooker will need depends on its size and today’s rice cookers have a 3 cup to 5 and ½ cup capacity.
A rice cooker can be used to prepare and cook the ingredients for chilli. You can also adjust the water to grain ratio to cook non-rice grains perfectly in your appliance or use a steamer basket to thoroughly cook homemade or store-bought dumplings. Other foods that can be made in the rice cooker include:
A rice cooker can be used to make a cake. Simply add your flour, sugar, eggs, and milk into a mixing bowl and stir until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour this batter into your rice cooker, close the lid, and push your On/Off button. After 30 minutes, you will have a moist and fluffy cake that you can put the icing on or eat plain.
Alternatively, your rice cooker can be utilized to make chilli. Put olive oil and your ground beef in the rice cooker and press the On/Off button then close the lid. Let your beef cook for 5 minutes opening up the rice cooker halfway to stir around the beef so that it will cook evenly. Drain any excess fat before adding in your seasoning and sugar and letting the beef cook for another minute. Drain your beans then add them into the rice cooker along with your tomato, tomato paste, and water. Stir until the ingredients are combined and close your lid making sure that the rice cooker’s On/Off button has been pressed. The chilli should simmer for 30 minutes before serving.
Another way to use the rice cooker is as an egg boiler. Place a steamer basket inside your rice cooker before adding enough water to touch the basket but not cover it. Place your eggs into the basket and put the lid on your appliance. Depending on how you like your eggs, press the On/Off button and wait for your eggs to be boiled. Soft-cooked or runny eggs should be steamed in the rice cooker for 13 minutes to 15 minutes while hard-boiled eggs can be steamed for 20 minutes. After your eggs have boiled, transfer them to a bowl with ice water and let them sit in the bowl for 1 minute or 2 minutes before cracking and serving.
The rice cooker is also a frittata fryer. Start preparing by spraying the inside of your rice cooker with oil so that your fluffy frittata will not stick to it. In a mixing bowl, add 3 to 4 eggs and use a fork to scramble them before folding in your vegetables of choice. Season to your liking before pouring your mixture into the rice cooker. Add grated cheese on top before pressing the On/Off button. Let your frittata cook for 15 minutes before using a spatula to transfer it to a plate. Slice your frittata and serve with bread and fruit.
Macaroni and Cheese
A rice cooker is a great appliance to use to make macaroni and cheese. Add vegetable broth and your macaroni into the rice cooker and use the Steam setting. Let the pasta cook for 10 minutes to 15 minutes making sure to stir your pasta 2 to 3 times during this time and closing the lid shut after stirring. While the pasta cooks, cut your cream cheese into smaller chunks. Then, use the Keep Warm function of your rice cooker before adding your cream cheese and milk into the appliance. Stir until the cream cheese has melted before adding cheddar and melting that too. After all of the cheese has been incorporated, transfer your macaroni and cheese into a bowl and serve hot.
Your rice cooker also doubles as an oatmeal maker. Add your oatmeal, milk, sweetener of choice, and a pinch of salt into the rice cooker. Stir your ingredients then close the lid and press the On/Off button. Cook your oatmeal for 10 minutes to 15 minutes depending on the consistency you prefer.
The rice cooker is also used to cook non-rice grains. To cook quinoa, rinse your quinoa until the water in the bowl runs clear. Then, add 1 part quinoa and 2 parts liquid of choice (e.g., water or broth) into the rice cooker. Press the On/Off button and your quinoa should be ready after 15 minutes.
Also, a rice cooker can be used as a pancake maker. Using cooking spray, coat the inner pot of your rice cooker. In a mixing bowl, use a whisk to mix your flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, butter, milk, and vanilla extract before adding this into your bowl of dry ingredients. Pour your pancake batter into your rice cooker and press the On/Off button. After 30 minutes to 35 minutes, the top of your pancake should be firm and bouncy while the bottom is a golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve with syrup and butter.
Pasta is another food that you can make in the rice cooker. If your rice cooker has a Soup/Stew or Saute function, you can use this to bring your water to a boil before adding in your pasta. Otherwise, press the On/Off button and close the lid until your water comes to a boil. Add your uncooked pasta and let it cook al dente or boil in the water for 4 minutes to 10 minutes. Drain and serve with sauce.
Another way to use your rice cooker is to make pizza with it. In a mixing bowl, add ½ cup of water and 1 packet of instant yeast to bubble for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and a teaspoon of brown sugar to the bowl and stir. Using a sieve, add 2 cups of flour into the bowl and knead for about 10 minutes. Add in ¾ cup of water one tablespoon at a time so that the dough will become slightly sticky and soft. Add your dough into a bowl that has been coated with oil and brush your dough with oil before covering it with a cloth to proof for 1 hour.
After the dough has doubled in size, knead it around the bowl for 1 minute or two before dividing it into smaller portions. Roll out one portion until it has reached about 8 inches in diameter which can become smaller or bigger depending on the size of your rice cooker. Wait 15 minutes before placing your dough into the rice cooker and cooking it for one cycle. Flip it over and press the On/Off button to let it cook for another cycle.
Take out the pizza, spread a light layer of oil and tomato sauce on it before adding your toppings. Place it back into your rice cooker, press the On/Off button, let it cook for 20 minutes and wait another 10 minutes after the button has been released. Remove the pizza from the rice cooker, slice, and serve.
The rice cooker can be used to poach pears for festivities. Add your juice, apple cider, orange peels, ginger, and spices into the rice cooker. Slice your pears in halves and then place them into the rice cooker with the poaching liquid. Close your rice cooker and press the On/Off button to poach pears for 50 minutes. Open the lid and turn the pears over letting them sit for 1 hour before flipping them over again and letting them sit in the poaching liquid for another hour. Serve with cream.
An additional use of the rice cooker is using it to make rice pudding. Simply add 5 ½ cups of skimmed milk, 2 cups of white rice, 1 cup of sugar, and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon into the rice cooker. Press the On/Off button after combining your ingredients and let it cook for 20 minutes. Then, add an additional 2 ½ cups of skimmed milk, stir, and serve.
Use your rice cooker to braise ribs. In a small bowl, combine your seasoning and sugar then use this to coat your meat evenly. Add oil into your rice cooker and turn on your appliance before adding your ribs into the inner container. Brown your ribs in the rice cooker on both sides before adding your beer, barbecue, and Worcestershire sauce. Press the On/Off button and let the ribs braise for a whole cycle. If you want your meat more tender after the rice cooker goes off, let it cook for another 15 minutes before serving.
A rice cooker can be used to make no-stir risotto. Saute your onions in butter inside of your rice cooker and add your rice and broth using 1 part grain and 4 parts liquid. Use the Slow or Porridge program of your rice cooker or simply turn on your rice cooker to let the risotto cook for 25 minutes. After your risotto has cooked, mix in your cheese and herbs.
Use the rice cooker to make a hearty soup. All you need to do is add your ingredients to the rice cooker and use the Soup/Stew function. If your rice cooker does not have this function, add your ingredients into the inner container, press the On/Off button, and let it cook for one cycle. You can then use the Keep Warm function until it is meal time.
You can also use the rice cooker as a steamer. Steaming your dumplings, whether you have made them yourself or bought them at your local grocery, is a great way to cook this food while preserving its flavor and nutrient content. Place a steamer basket into your rice cooker and add enough water into the inner cooking container to reach the basket. Place your dumplings into the steamer basket making sure that they are spaced out evenly so they do not stick together. Press the On/Off button of your rice cooker and steam your dumplings for 10 minutes to 15 minutes.
What are the common mistakes for usage of a rice cooker?
Even though this appliance is pretty straightforward, you can still make mistakes as you are learning how to use a rice cooker. These common errors include:
- Choosing not to replace the lid’s rubber seal. Over time, the rubber seal that helps your rice cooker shut completely expands or gets hard due to heat. You will notice this has happened when you are having trouble closing your rice cooker.
- Constantly checking on your rice. Every time you check on your rice, you let steam escape which decreases the internal temperature of your appliance. Additionally, opening up your rice cooker to stir it can break up the rice grains so you will end up with mushy, unappetizing rice.
- Forgetting to let the rice steam. After cooking your rice, let it sit in the rice cooker for 10 minutes before fluffing it and serving so that the moisture inside the appliance and be distributed evenly.
- Not reading the manual. Most rice cooker malfunctions happen because owners do not take the time to learn about their appliances. Read about the different features, capacity, and functions of your rice cooker to use it properly for the use cases above.
- Overfilling the container inside your rice cooker. Adding too much rice or other ingredients into the rice cooker can cause it to cook longer than it should which overworks your appliance. Learn about the proper capacity of your rice cooker and use it accordingly.
- Purchasing a poor quality rice cooker. Using a second-hand or cheaper rice cooker can cause it to malfunction more often or break down completely after a few uses. Invest in a higher quality rice cooker so that you can use it for a long time.
- Treating all rice equally. Different rice grains will need specific water to rice ratios and cooking times. Before using the rice cooker, make sure you are using the right measurements and cooking time for white, brown, red, or wild rice.
- Using too little water to cook rice. If your rice sticks to the bottom of the internal container, you may not be adding enough water. With high heat and not enough water, the rice will stick and possibly become crunchy or burn.
Avoid these mistakes when using the rice cooker for different types of rice or the use cases above.
What is the history of usage of rice cookers?
What is a rice cooker in today’s day and age? While rice has been cooked for at least 12,000 years, the first attempt in developing a rice cooker was from 1912 to 1926. Centuries before this, the Japanese had a kamado which was a stove dedicated to cooking rice. Later, in the 1940s, Sony designed the first electric rice cooker which was made out of wood and had electrodes attached to its ends. However, this was not released into the market.
It was in the year 1955 that Toshiba released their version of the rice cooker which was user-friendly and used electrodes to make the water warm and cook rice. More developments were made in the 1960s where the popular Keep Warm feature was introduced. There was another breakthrough in 1983 where Zojirushi became a pioneer of fuzzy logic technology. The invention of these miniature computers made it possible for your rice cooker to make rice perfectly every single time. Rice cookers today now come in a variety of sizes and utilize different types of technology to remain competitive.
Do the use cases of a rice cooker change based on type?
Yes, the use cases of a rice cooker change based on what type of rice cooker your own. Depending on how much rice you will need, you can purchase an electric or gas rice cooker. Electric rice cookers are easy to maintain, operate, and can cook small quantities of rice. On the other hand, a gas rice cooker is powered by liquid propane or natural gas which preheats big batches of rice grains via direct flame and cooks them with high pressure.
There are standard rice cookers that have not changed much since they were introduced to mass markets and are known for their On/Off button, non-stick inner container, and detachable power cord. This is the most affordable option that comes in a variety of sizes. Then there are improved rice cookers that have a few additional settings for different types of rice or programs like steaming or extended warming functions.
Multifunctional rice cookers have delay settings and reheat cycles in addition functions for a variety of food. This is a more expensive choice but the use cases make this type of rice cooker worth the investment. Finally, there are induction-heating rice cookers which are the most expensive on the market but cook all types of rice perfectly every time. These rice cookers are the least energy-efficient and are the most expensive but offer to cook other types of food in addition to the different rice varieties.
Which rice cooker is best for cooking rice?
The best rice cooker for cooking rice is an induction-heating rice cooker. Induction-heating rice cookers heat the interior container using a magnetic field which results in even heat distribution and perfect rice all around. Additionally, the temperatures inside this type of rice cooker are more accurate than other types.
Does a rice cooker have more use cases than a slow cooker?
No, a rice cooker does not have more use cases than a slow cooker. Rice cooker vs. slow cooker? The slow cooker wins with its multiple cook modes which offer more flexible programming and use cases than a rice cooker.
What are other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a rice cooker?
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a rice cooker include:
- Slow Cooker: This appliance uses electricity to create moist heat that will cook or heat up food over a long period of time.
- Multi-Cooker: A multi-cooker automates pressure cooking, making yoghurt, steaming food, or cooking rice.
- Pressure Cooker: This kitchen tool will use steam in a sealed pot to build up pressure that will cook food.
These appliances have similar uses to a rice cooker but use cases that are specific to the kitchen tool. You can learn more about the 5 different use cases of these 3 kitchen appliances here.