How to use a rice cooker?
Generally considered a staple diet of half of the world’s population, rice is one of the most popular and easy to cook recipes. Also, did you know that rice has the highest protein digestibility when compared to other food grains? Hence, because of its high nutritional content and ease of cooking, people widely use it as a side dish or as a main meal. Though, cooking rice is relatively simpler than other dishes, cooking it to perfection becomes a problem for many. Either it becomes a little overcooked and sticky, or at times it remains undone and a little hard at the core of the grain. Eating rice cooked in such a way certainly does not give you any joy and becomes more of a chore.
Watch: How to use a rice cooker?
To overcome these imperfections, rice cookers were invented that require you to just put in rice and water. Plug in the cooker and you can literally forget about it. Your rice will be cooked without requiring any intervention from you. And the cooked rice will be fluffy and well done and something that you will enjoy with every spoonful.
Though, cooking rice in a rice cooker is quite simple, it does require you to know a few specifics about the cooker and rice cooking. Things like whether to wash and soak rice prior to cooking, will the water content be different if you do not wash the rice, why different variety of rice require different methods of cooking and so on, will have to be learned before you start using your rice cooker. And this is what this guide is all about. We will aim to answer questions like how to use electric rice cooker, how to cook rice in rice cooker, how to cook basmati, jasmine and brown rice in the cooker and many more. Hopefully by the end of the article, cooking the perfect rice will no longer be a mystery to you.
How to use a rice cooker?
THE WORKING OF A RICE COOKER
Rice cookers are either electric or gas. The working principle of both the cookers is the same. The water inside the cooker is brought to a boil by using either of the heat source, gas or electricity. The water reaches its boiling point and the rice inside the cooker starts cooking by absorbing water. The cooker automatically switches off once all the water has been evaporated or has been absorbed by the rice. In case of electric cooker, it simply switches off whereas in case of a gas rice cooker the gas flow is stopped making the flame in the burner to go out.
From the working principle you can easily infer that if you want longer cooking time, then you will have to put in more water. More water means more time for evaporation and absorption and hence more cooking time. This knowledge will help you to tweak rice recipes according to your specific requirements.
Coming back to rice cookers, gas rice cooker has larger capacity and is used more in commercial establishments where large batches of rice are made. It also prepares rice faster than electric rice cooker. But for households where you require only small quantities of cooked rice, an electric rice cooker will fit perfectly.
When you buy an electric rice cooker, your unit will come with its own how to use electric rice cooker instruction manual which you can use for preparing rice.
PARTS OF A RICE COOKER
Generally, a standard electric rice cooker comes with an inner cooking bowl, a rice ladle and a measuring cup. Some cookers have additional accessories like a rice cloth that makes cleaning the rice cooker much easier afterwards.
Use the measuring cup to measure out rice and water. Since, measurement is important while cooking rice hence try to use the given measuring cup only that comes with the unit. Less water or more water will result in differently cooked rice. And the cup that comes along with your unit is especially designed for your particular machine. Hence, if the instructions state “add 1 cup rice”, you will have to use the cup that came along with your rice cooker to add rice or water.
Another important point to note here is that mostly the cups that come with the rice cooker measure 180 ml. This is because rice cookers were invented in Japan, and Japanese used a Masu for measuring rice. A masu is equivalent to 180 ml. And a standard US cup measures nearly 240 ml. Hence, generally the cup that comes with your rice cooker can hold three-fourths volume that a US measuring cup can hold. This conversion will come in handy when you prepare rice recipes following US measuring conventions.
Here is a table that will help you with some measurements:
|Rice Type||Uncooked Rice Measure||Water content||Cooking Time||Cooked Rice|
|White Rice long grain||1 cup||1 3/4th cups||15-20 minutes||3 cups|
|Brown Rice long grain||1 cup||2 ¼ cups||45-50 minutes||3 1/2 cups|
|White Rice medium grain||1 cup||11/2 cups||15-20 minutes||3 cups|
|White Rice small grain||1 cup||1 1/4th cups||15-20 minutes||3 cups|
|Basmati Rice||1 cup||1 ½ cups||15-20 minutes||3 cups|
|Jasmine Rice||1 cup||1 ½ cups||15-20 minutes||3 cups|
FUNCTIONS OF A RICE COOKER
Apart from the most basic functionality of on/off, there are various other functions that are provided with different types of cookers. Some cookers have a warmer function that keeps your cooked rice warm for extended periods of time. Certain cookers have cooking functions for different varieties of rice (like brown, jasmine or basmati).
Some cookers also have a delay timer which allows you to set a timer so that you can start your rice cooking at a specific time.
Whatever functions your cooker might have, the cooking method is generally the same in every one of them.
CLEANING A RICE COOKER
Once your rice cooking is over, you will have to wash the inner cooking pot. Ensure that you wash it with non-metal brush as a metal brush will scratch the surface of your pot making it unusable. If you are using a rice cloth then cleaning becomes much easier as rice will not stick in the pot.
In case you are not using a rice cloth then you can soak the pot with water in order to loosen the rice inside the pot. Some people also recommend heating the empty pot inside the cooker for a few minutes so as to harden the rice grains that are inside the pot. Once hardened and dry, they will fall off easily. Whichever method you use, ensure that your rice pot is completely clean before you cook your next batch of rice.
Now, that you know all about how to use electric rice cooker and the use of the various accessories of a rice cooker, you can start learning how to cook rice in rice cooker.
How to cook rice in rice cooker?
Cooking rice involves the following basic steps:
- Adding water
- Adding other ingredients (optional)
- Setting the timer (if required)
- Pushing the start button
Here are the detailed instructions on how to cook rice in rice cooker.
WASHING RICE PRIOR TO COOKING
Wash rice thoroughly under water to remove any dust or impurities. Washing is also done to remove any pesticides from the rice grains. Washing it properly for about 3 times is enough to remove any unwanted elements from it. By the third wash you will start getting near clear water. Washing rice also removes starch from the rice making it less sticky when cooked. But, if your rice is nutrient laden then washing it will remove the vitamins and minerals also from it. Hence, it is important to read the instructions on the rice packet that you bought. Clean and hygienic packing will reduce the need of washing the rice.
Another important thing to remember here is that if you do not wash rice then you will have to add a little more water for cooking. Since washed rice will have some water content in it hence, you will have to adjust your water measurements for the unwashed rice accordingly. Our measurement table is made assuming that rice has been washed prior to cooking.
If your rice cooker inner pot has Teflon coating then it will not be wise to wash the rice in it. It might get scratched and become unusable. Wash rice in a separate pot and then you can transfer the contents into the cooking pot.
Soaking rice is not an essential prerequisite for cooking rice. Some electric rice cookers have soaking mechanism pre-programmed. This program lets the rice soak for a certain time period before starting the cooking process.
There are certain varieties of rice like basmati that require soaking them in cold water for a couple of hours before cooking. It helps the rice to retain its flavor and also makes it fluffier. Other types of rice might not require soaking and you can skip this step and directly start cooking.
Here is a small tip for those who want to soak their rice, before cooking. Soaking rice in water and then discarding the water might remove important vitamins and minerals from it. What you can do instead is to use the water in which you soak rice for cooking. This will help to retain the nutrients of the grain.
Soaking also reduces cooking time as some water is already absorbed by the rice grains through the soaking process.
ADD WATER, RICE AND OTHER INGREDIENTS
Now, you can add water to the cooking pot as per the instructions given. You can also refer our measurements table in this article to know how much water needs to be added. Next, add the rice. Make sure that all the rice grains are under water and that no grains are sticking on the pot’s inside walls. Any grain that is not in the water and is on the walls of the pot will burn during the cooking process.
Next, you can add butter, salt and any other spices like cardamom or bay leaves to your pot. All this will add to the flavor and taste of your cooked rice.
SETTING THE TIMER AND SWITCHING ON THE COOKER
Now, you can cover your rice cooker and switch it on. You can also set a delayed timer that will start the cooking process only after a specific amount of time. After cooking is complete, the cooker will automatically switch off. Some cookers also go into warming mode after cooking.
As soon as your cooker switches off, do not open the rice cooker cover. Let the rice remain inside the cooker for 10-15 minutes. It helps to evaporate all the water and makes the rice fluffier. Some cookers also have warming mode in which your rice will remain warm without burning. This way you will get fresh, warm cooked rice during your lunch or dinner.
Hopefully, by now you have learnt how to use electric rice cooker to cook regular white rice. Let us now see how to cook other varieties of rice in a rice cooker.
How to cook basmati rice in a rice cooker?
Basmati is an aromatic variety of rice. It is long grain rice having a different flavor and aroma. Basmati comes in both varieties- white as well as brown. It is mostly imported from Asian countries and is quite expensive.
So, how to cook basmati rice in a rice cooker? Well, cooking basmati rice is not much different from cooking the regular white rice. There are a few tips that will help you get the perfectly cooked basmati rice.
- If your rice has been packaged in a clean and hygienic environment then you should not wash it. Washing might reduce the aroma of the rice.
- Most people recommend soaking the rice in cold water for 30 minutes to 2 hours. It helps to cook the rice faster and makes it fluffier too. But if you do not have that much time then you can skip this step.
- If you do soak the rice then after soaking, drain the water and add rice to the rice cooker pot. The water measurement for rice is – 1 cup rice will require 1.5 cups of water.
- Additionally, you can add salt, butter and other spices.
The rest of the steps are exactly same as the instructions on how to cook rice in rice cooker discussed above.
How to cook jasmine rice in rice cooker?
Jasmine rice is another variety coming from Asia, specifically from Thailand. This rice has a slight jasmine aroma and a nutty flavor. It has a little shorter grain length than that of basmati rice grain. After cooking, the jasmine rice is a little sticky whereas basmati rice is fluffy and dry. Basmati rice grains also increase dramatically in size after cooking.
The instructions on how to cook rice in rice cooker for cooking Jasmine rice are quite simple.
- Wash the rice to remove any dirt particles. Wash it in cold water till you get somewhat clear water. It will mean washing it at least 2-3 times.
- Now put the rice in the cooking pot of the rice cooker.
- Add water to the pot. The measurement for water is – 1 cup rice will require 1.5 cups of water.
- Add salt, butter and so on.
- Cover the cooker and switch it on.
- After the cooking is over, let the rice rest in the cooker for 5-10 minutes before taking it out. It will make it fluffier.
Hopefully, that sufficiently answered the question how to cook jasmine rice in rice cooker. Now, let us also take a look at the cooking process of one of the healthiest rice- the brown rice.
How to use a rice cooker to cook brown rice?
The rice variety that has its barn layer intact is called the brown rice or the “unpolished” rice. When its barn layer is removed it becomes “polished” rice or white rice. Because the barn provides extra fiber, the brown rice is more nutritious than the white rice. Cooking brown rice is also a little different than cooking white rice. So, let us learn how to use a rice cooker to cook brown rice.
Brown rice takes longer to cook because of its barn layer. Since, it will take longer to cook you will have to ensure that there is enough water in the cooker for cooking rice to perfection. This is the reason brown rice requires more water to cook than white rice. Here are the cooking steps.
- Take one cup brown rice in a container and wash it 2-3 times to remove dirt.
- You can soak brown rice for 20-30 minutes, but this is optional. During soaking, rice grains absorb water. This makes cooking faster.
- After soaking the rice, you can drain the water and add the soaked rice to the cooking pot.
- Add 21/4 cups of water for each cup of uncooked brown rice. Because of the bran, it takes longer for the water to reach the core of the grain. This increases the cooking time by nearly 2 times.
- Cover the cooker and push the start button.
- Once the cooking is complete, the cooker will switch off automatically.
- Let the rice rest for few minutes before opening the cooker.
Rice cookers work perfectly for brown rice, though they might take a little more time than white rice.
How long does it take to cook rice in a rice cooker?
Different rice varieties take different cooking time. As a general rule, white rice cooks faster than brown rice. If 1 cup of white rice takes about 20 minutes to cook, then brown rice takes nearly 45-50 minutes to cook. You can take a look at our table to know the different cooking time for different varieties of rice.
Soaking rice prior to cooking can reduce your total cooking time. During soaking, rice grains absorb water and expand a little. When you actually put them to cook they take less time than usual because of the already absorbed water.
Cooking time also varies from appliance to appliance. And, that brings us to our next section.
To buy a rice cooker or an instant pot
Till now, we have looked into using electric rice cookers and cooking different varieties of rice in it. Other than rice cookers, you can easily cook rice in other electrical cooking appliances like the slow cooker or the latest one, an instant pot.
Instant Pot Benefits
In an instant pot you can cook a variety of other dishes than just rice. If you are the kind of person who does not eat rice frequently, then this multipurpose cooking unit will be of great help to you. It not only occupies less space but it has various pre-programmed recipes. You can cook beans, chili, soup, broth, porridge, yogurt and many such dishes using its pre-programmed functions. And you can cook rice in it as easily as you can cook in a rice cooker. It will take about the same time as an electric rice cooker. It has an additional delay timer that lets you decide the cooking start time. This is highly convenient for working parents as they can set the timer in the morning and come back home to a prepared, fresh hot dinner.
Rice Cooker Benefits
Rice cooker on the other hand, is extremely useful for people you eat rice often, maybe even daily. For them the rice cooker provides the ease of cooking rice without having to preside over the cooking process. Once the rice is cooked the cooker automatically switches to the warm mode keeping the rice warm for many hours. Additionally, it has a steamer tray that lets you steam fish or vegetables. It does not have a delay timer and is not as versatile as an instant pot, but it certainly gives you an affordable way to cook your rice quickly and perfectly.
Depending upon your eating habits and requirements you can get any one of the two. Both make good quality of rice quickly and easily. Get an instant pot if you have multiple cooking requirements as it better than buying many different cooking appliances. But, if you are looking for something that cooks only grains or rice then buying a rice cooker is more economical.
A rice cooker is a cook’s best friend as it not only saves him/her some time but also saves them from the various hassles of rice cooking. How to cook rice in rice cooker is also a very easy process and its success rests just on one factor and that is correct measurements. Hence, just make sure that you use the right measuring cup and the right quantity of water for each rice type and you can be sure of getting the perfectly cooked rice every time. There are lot of different recipes to try. We will share with you more recipes soon, and how you can use stir fry and rice. Catch up with you soon!