How to use a rice cooker to cook every type of rice

Rice, rice baby.

Credit: Oster
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What You Need:

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • A sifter

Prep Time Needed:

5 minutes

Total Time Needed:

25 minutes

Difficulty:

Easy

Rice is a universal side dish that pairs well with pretty much all your favorite foods, from chicken to beef to tofu. If you’re like us, you can’t get enough of it—and you’ll never turn down an easier way to prepare it. That's why we love rice cookers.

Anything that brings us closer to fluffy, perfect rice gets an A+ in our book. But what makes rice cookers work? And do you follow the same steps for every type of rice? The quick answers are “divine intervention” and “no,” but read on to get all the specifics.

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What is a rice cooker?

Think of your rice cooker as a smaller, uni-tasking Instant Pot that only cooks rice—and sometimes dumplings. These appliances use air pressure to boil water and steam rice, and they have built-in temperature gauges to alert you as soon as the rice is ready, typically once the cooker hits 212℉.

How to use a rice cooker

Different types of rice require specific water-to-rice ratios and cooking times. Additionally, your rice cooker may come with unique features, such as automatic timers, warming controls or settings for different types of rice. For this reason, we recommend reading the gadget’s manual before diving in.

However, to get you started, we've outlined the general steps for cooking white rice below. Seriously, it's so easy you'll wonder why you waited so long to invest in a rice maker!

Step 1: Rinse rice

Pour 1 cup rice into a sifter, then run it under cold water. Rinsing rice removes excess starch from the surface and helps make the end result fluffier.

Step 2: Combine rice and water—and any add-ins

Open the top of your rice cooker and add the rice and 1-1/2 cups of water directly into the pot. If you want to add any spices or butter, now’s the time. Once you've added everything you want, go ahead and close the lid.

Step 3: Set it and forget it

Set your cooker to the appropriate setting, then turn it on. With white rice, you’ll be waiting for about 20 to 25 minutes for it to cook. Your rice cooker will automatically switch to the warming setting when the rice is done.

Step 4: Let it rest then dig in

Let your rice rest for an additional five to 10 minutes before enjoying. This allows any excess steam to absorb into the rice for optimal fluff.

Finally, remove your rice from the cooker and serve it with something delicious. Or eat it on it’s own; it's your life!

How to use a rice cooker for different types of rice

Rice cooker brown rice
Credit: Zojirushi

Some rice cookers have settings for different types of rice.

If you’re a rice enthusiast, you know that no two grains are made equal. The steps above are for white, medium-grain rice, but if you find yourself craving one of the following varieties, tweak the steps as indicated.

Brown rice

As its name suggests, brown rice is, well, brown. However, this whole-grain variety has significantly more fiber and nutrients than white rice, making it a popular choice for those striving to eat healthier.

  • Ratio: 2 cups water to 1 cup rice
  • Cook time: 25–30 minutes
  • Additional directions: If you enjoy the nuttier flavor of brown rice, we recommend an additional step between 1 and 2: toasting. After rinsing the brown rice, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, then add the uncooked rice. Toast it for about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until you smell a nutty aroma. Add your toasted rice to the cooker with water, starting at step 3.

Quinoa

Packed with fiber and low on carbohydrates, quinoa is a favorite of health-conscious foodies. It’s gluten-free and mixes well with spices, vegetables and butter—just like rice.

  • Ratio: 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Directions: Follow steps outlined above.

Jasmine rice

This long-grain rice is perfect for pairing with stir fry and soup. Jasmine rice cooks more quickly than conventional white rice, and it has a softer, lighter texture.

  • Ratio: 1-3/4 cups water to 1 cup rice
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Directions: Follow steps outlined above.

Sushi rice

Surprise, surprise, this short-grain sticky rice is perfect for sushi, as it easily clings to the surface during rolling. In Japan, it’s known as Japanese rice, and fun fact—it’s also used to make sake! (But please don’t do that in your rice cooker.)

  • Ratio: 1 cup water to 1 cup rice
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Additional directions: Follow steps outlined above until you hit step 6. Let the rice rest as noted, but while it’s resting, combine 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a small bowl, then heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Transfer the cooked rice to a large bowl, combine with the vinegar mixture, then allow it to come to room temperature before rolling sushi.

Basmati rice

Popular in Indian cuisine, Basmati rice has a distinctive aroma and flavor that separates it from other types. This long-grain rice cooks quickly and pairs well with your favorite Indian dishes.

  • Ratio: 1 3/4 cups water to 1 cup rice
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Directions: Follow steps outlined above. Serve with ghee.

Sticky rice

Also known as glutinous rice, sticky rice is a favorite in Thai cuisine. It clumps together easily, meaning you can shovel more into your mouth without flicking pieces around.

  • Ratio: 1-3/4 cups water to 1 cup rice
  • Cook time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
  • Additional directions: Instead of rinsing your rice in step 1, combine water and rice in a large bowl and allow it to soak for 2 hours. Sticky rice needs to be pre-softened before steaming. After the time has passed, pour the mixture into your rice cooker and start back up at step 3.

How to clean a rice cooker

After you’ve enjoyed every morsel of your perfectly steamed rice, it’s time to lovingly clean your rice cooker and put her away for the next time.

First, unplug the rice cooker. Allow it to come to room temperature before cleaning it—running the pot under water while it’s still hot can warp the pan. When the pan is cool, brush off any remaining dried pieces of rice, then remove the insert and clean it with warm, soapy water. If the pot doesn't have a removable insert, simply use a sponge to wipe it down. Let it dry, then put it away until next time.

Happy steaming!

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The Best Rice Cookers of 2019
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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