A rice cooker, which is also known as a rice steamer, works like a slow cooker. You can turn on the rice cooker and it'll use moist heat to cook food while trapping the flavors in the pot, so you can come home to food that's ready to enjoy. To select the best rice cooker for you, take into consideration the size you need. Also note the capacity of each rice cooker refers to the number of cups of dry rice it can accommodate.
If you’ll be cooking for a family, or plan on using the rice cooker to prepare foods other than rice, you’ll probably want to go with a larger capacity. If you’ll only be preparing rice for yourself, a mini rice cooker, three-cup rice cooker or an even smaller cooker is big enough. As you start searching for the right rice cooker, keep in mind that a larger unit might have trouble properly preparing small amounts of rice.
As part of the selection process, consider the appliance's physical dimensions and where you're going to store it. A small rice cooker might fit nicely on the counter and may even complement your kitchen decor. For instance, if you select a stainless steel rice cooker, it could pair nicely with a stainless steel can opener, coffee maker or toaster.
For larger models, it might be best to store them out of the everyday flow and in a pantry or nearby closet. Once you’ve determined the size and finish of the rice cooker, you may want to consider other features that add convenience. Many people find a keep-warm setting useful. A removable pot and non-stick interior can be helpful for clean-up while safety features such as a cool-to-the-touch exterior, locking lid and auto shut-off may provide you with peace of mind. For meal preparation, a timer and delayed-start feature can be a big help.
Surprising uses for your rice cooker.
Did you know a rice cooker can cook other grains like oats, grits, quinoa, rice pilaf, risotto, polenta, and wheat berries? It can also help make a variety of dishes and meals. Also, a rice cooker pairs well with other appliances, which can make the process of cooking several different types of dishes easier.
If your meal will include steamed items like vegetables, fish or shellfish, winter squash, or tomatoes, you can select a rice cooker with steamer. You can also select a rice cooker without one and get a separate steamer to handle that part of the meal. A food processor can be handy to create sauces that will add a finishing touch to your meal.
Your rice cooker may also be able to prepare eggs, frittatas or even oatmeal. They can make mac and cheese, beans, soups, your favorite chili recipe, and more. Plus, your rice maker can make desserts like puddings, banana bread, and cheesecake.