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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.
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℉.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.