Slow cookers and air fryers get a lot of attention, but don’t forget about rice cookers. These appliances aren’t limited to cooking rice. Thanks to a unique cooking method, rice cookers can make moist, flavorful, and tender dishes perfect for any meal of the day. Here are some of our favorite ideas.
Cook All Kinds of Grains
Rice isn’t the only grain you can make in your rice cooker. This appliance works well for cooking many other grains, including quinoa, barley, bulgur, and more.
Simply add the grain and water in the recommended ratio, turn on the cooker, and let it do the work for you. Start with the same water-to-grain ratio that you would use in a pot and adjust the water level or cooking time on the next round if necessary. This recipe by Sweet Peas and Saffron shows you how to cook perfectly fluffy quinoa in your rice cooker every time.
Make Soups and Stews
Rice cookers provide a slow, steady heat, so they work well for making a variety of soups and stews. Preheat it and sautee your vegetables in the pot before adding liquid to stew everything together.
Note that soups with a lot of starch, like potato soup, may thicken excessively and stick to the bottom of the cooker. If you want to make this type of soup, you’ll need to stir it occasionally. For a hands-off experience, stick to water- and broth-based soups. We love this chicken noodle soup recipe by BakeSpace.
A steaming basket is all you need to make perfectly tender steamed vegetables in your rice cooker. Add just enough water to touch the bottom of the steamer basket, throw in your vegetables, and let them cook until the water has evaporated.
You can also steam vegetables while cooking rice or grains, by adding them to the steaming tray or basket on top of the rice or grains, and letting the steam from the rice or grain cooking to cook the vegetables. The cooking times of the vegetables may vary, so you should check them frequently when trying out a new recipe. This simple recipe by Southern Kissed teaches how to make perfectly steamed broccoli.
Poaching fruit, or slowly cooking it in its own juices, is a great way to bring out the natural sweetness of fruits like pears, apples, and peaches. These can be served with ice cream, granola, or other pairings for breakfast or dessert.
To poach fruit in a rice cooker, simply add your cut fruit to a cooker with some form of liquid, whether it’s water, juice, or maple syrup. Then cook the fruit until it is soft and tender, which will typically take 15-20 minutes, depending on how much you’re cooking. We love this recipe for poached pomegranate spiced pears by Jeanette’s Healthy Living.
Serve Warm Breakfast
Oatmeal is a great breakfast choice for large families because it’s affordable, easy to make, and can be customized to the taste preferences of every person. Oatmeal is even easier to make in a rice cooker—just add oats and water to the cooker, turn it on, and let it do its thing.
For a super simple breakfast, set out a few different toppings and let your kids add whatever they want to their oatmeal. A rice cooker also keeps things warm after cooking, so no one will have to worry about cold oatmeal if they wake up late. This recipe by The Herbeevore explains how to make perfect oatmeal in the rice cooker every time.
Yes, rice cookers can even make pancakes! When using a rice cooker, you don’t need to worry about flipping them at the right time or even pouring endless amounts of batter on the griddle.
Instead, use this appliance to make one giant, fluffy pancake that can feed at least two people. This recipe by Kirbie’s Cravings shows you exactly how to do it. Top with syrup, fruit, or whipped cream for a tasty morning treat.
Create a Fluffy Frittata
When the price of eggs isn’t at an all-time high, a frittata is a budget-friendly, hearty meal. Made with eggs and filler ingredients like potatoes, vegetables, and cheese, frittatas are relatively simple to make, but can be even better in a rice cooker.
A rice cooker allows your eggs to stay super moist and fluffy, whereas they might get dry and overcooked in an oven. We like this recipe by Just Bento, but you can customize your frittata with whatever ingredients you have on hand.
Don’t limit your rice cooker to only cooking rice! This handy appliance can be used to poach fruit, prep breakfasts, and make delicious soups. Here are some of our favorite alternative ways to use your rice cooker this year.