How to Use Your Rice Cooker

Cooked rice in a rice cooker next to a bowl of uncooked rice

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
68 Calories
0g Fat
15g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 68
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 180mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 18mg 0%
*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 cooker. 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 to 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.


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"This recipe includes excellent instructions and a description of how a rice cooker works. I made the rice with 1 cup white jasmine rice, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and it was soft. For firmer rice, use less water. Check your cooker’s manual for the correct ratio of rice and water." —Diana Rattray

How to use your rice cooker tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 to 2 cups rice (depending on the type)

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for basic rice recipe gathered and a rice cooker

    The Spruce Eats

  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 of cooked rice or enough for 6 (1/2-cup) servings.

    Water being poured into rice cooker with rice

    The Spruce Eats

  3. Turn the rice cooker on and let it cook according to the instructions.

    Rice cooker with the lid on placed on a countertop

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  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.

    Fluffy cooked white rice piled up in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats

How to Store and Freeze Rice

  • If refrigerated properly, rice can keep for up to five 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 four months. Seal any leftovers in freezer-safe, zip-close bags or freezer-safe containers.

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.