How to Use Your Rice Cooker

Rice in a rice cooker, and uncooked rice
The Spruce
  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
116 Calories
0g Fat
26g Carbs
2g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 116
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 196mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 2g
Calcium 13mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A rice cooker can be a very handy kitchen gadget, especially if you like to make (or eat) a lot of rice. It works by bringing the liquid in the rice recipe to a boil very quickly. Because the rice cooker environment is sealed, it reduces the air pressure over the liquid so it boils faster. A temperature sensor within the machine monitors the heat inside the cooker; when it starts to rise above 212 F (the boiling point of water), that means that the rice has absorbed all the liquid. The cooker will automatically switch to a warm setting. The whole process typically takes about 20 minutes or less.

It's important to read the instructions that come with your rice cooker and follow them to the letter. These instructions were developed by the company for your specific rice maker. Doing so will ensure you get good results every time.

Not all rice is the same; different textures will produce different outcomes when they are prepared in the rice cooker. For example, short-grain rice such as arborio rice (used for risotto) and sticky rice (in Asian cuisines) has a lot of starch (also called amylopectin). This starch is highly branched and tends to stick together so that rice will always be stickier and less fluffy than other varieties.

Long grain rice should be fluffy and not stick together because it has more amylose, a starch molecule that is long and straight. The molecule doesn't get tangled up with other molecules when the rice cooks. Medium grain rice should be fluffy but with a slightly stickier texture, since it has roughly equal amounts of amylose and amylopectin. 

Based on the finished texture you prefer, choose the right rice for your eating preferences. When following the rice cooker instructions, make sure you prepare the rice as dictated by your specific variety. You will also need to measure the rice accurately; most rice cookers will come with their own measuring cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 cups rice, depending on the type
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Rice and rice cooker
    The Spruce
  2. Follow the instructions that come with your rice cooker for the type of rice you are preparing. For most rice cookers, combine 1 cup of rice with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of liquid; this will yield about 3 cups rice or enough for 6 (1/2 cup) servings.

    Adding water to rice cooker
    The Spruce
  3. Turn the rice cooker on and let it cook according to the instructions.

    Rice cooker on a countertop with measuring cup
    The Spruce
  4. Most rice cookers can keep the cooked rice warm for hours without burning. Check to see if your rice cooker has a specific warming setting or if it will activate automatically. Enjoy with your favorite recipes, or on its own.

    Cooked rice in a bowl
    The Spruce

Can You Cook Things Other Than Rice in a Rice Cooker?

Yes. Any grain can be cooked in a rice cooker, such as quinoa, barley, farro, rice pilaf, risotto, polenta, or grits, for example. Your rice cooker manual may even have instructions for these items. You can even steam foods such as vegetables in the rice cooker.

How to Store and Freeze Rice

  • If refrigerated properly, rice can keep for up to 5 days. Sometimes it's helpful to add a little bit of water before you reheat it if it feels dry to the touch.
  • Rice also can be frozen for up to 4 months. Seal any leftovers in freezer-safe, zip-close bags or freezer-safe containers.