“Cook” and “Warm”.
Using these 2 simple mechanisms, a rice cooker delivers you perfect rice every time, no matter what kind of grain you toss in it!
Love having risottos, hate the stirring exercise?
Add sautéed onions, 1-part Arborio rice, 4-part liquid and put down the lid for 25 minutes to reveal a creamy risotto that you will love for sure!
Craving for some healthy snack on a Sunday brunch?
A simple poached pomegranate spiced pears recipe cooked in a rice cooker should do the trick for you!
You can also make oatmeal with milk/water by using the warm function in the cooker and keep your breakfast from getting cold until you are ready to eat!
Despite what the name sounds like, this device does a whole lot more things than just preparing rice. But we can’t help but ignore the hefty price that tags along with the higher-end products either! Is it worth that much in reality?
Let’s find out!
How Does A Rice Cooker Work?
Ever wondered how a rice cooker magically transforms those hard, little grains to big, fluffy morsels we are comfortable eating?
Well, to understand that, first, you have to understand how this device works.
A rice cooker comes with an inner cooking pan inside its main body. When you pour water and rice (2:1) into this pan and plug it in, the heating plate on the bottom of this device warms itself up and brings the mixture to a boil.
To gauge the temperature inside the pan, there is a thermal sensing device that’s installed in the bottom part of the cooker.
Water starts to boil at 100-Degree Celsius, right?
As long as there’s still water inside the pan, the temperature would stay stable. However, once all the water is absorbed by the rice, the temperature will start to increase with time. And that’s when the thermometer senses the change and switch it off/turn it into the “warm” cycle.
Your food is ready to be served now!
Why Use A Rice Cooker?
A rice cooker is an electrical device with an automated function. Ergo, you don’t need to watch whether it’s getting burnt or undercooked from time to time!
In addition, it keeps the meal nice and warm until you are ready to sit down for relaxed dinnertime after cooking.
Rice cooker is also good for people who love living a minimalistic life.
You might think how can such a big appliance that takes so much space be a minimalist’s favorite, right?
Well, the best part is that it’s a multitasker which can cook a pizza, bake a cake, prepare dinner and many more surprising things if you just know how to play your cards right!
Benefits Of A Rice Cooker
Rice cooker saves you from the trouble of purchasing multiple cookware. You can bake, fry eggs, steam veggies, make bibimbap and cook giant pancakes in this device!
Once you are done with preparing all of those awesome meals, you can just toss the cooker in the dishwasher to clean as most of these devices are dishwasher-friendly.
- Nutritional Value
People who have trouble with their bowel movement can benefit from using this device.
As the rice cooker lets the water absorb all the nutritional value of the grain, the prepared meal becomes a good source of insoluble fiber. This fiber helps fight constipation and gives you more energy by providing you with protein, vitamin-B and carbohydrate.
Measure the water and rice properly, plug in the device and forget about it!
Your device lets you know when it’s ready by switching off the “cook” mode and serve you with a warm meal without having to fuss over it as you would do with a saucepan!
As the whole process is automated, there is less chance of getting the food burnt/undercooked.
- Energy Efficient
Rice cooker helps conserve energy by switching off or adjusting the power to “warm” when the cooking process is done. The internal sensor that monitors the temperature allows you to enjoy soft, well-cooked rice at the shortest time possible. It also consumes less electrical energy compared to devices like hot plate.
- Ease Of Use
Most of the devices come with 2 buttons: warm and cook.
The whole mechanism of this machine is so simple that even your grandparents can use it without an issue! In fact, it’s probably a better option for them as it requires less time and effort to prepare a meal.
- Better Output
One of the biggest advantages of a rice cooker is that it uses nonstick technology to give you the best possible output every time you cook in it!
The mechanism is made in a way that every grain gets separated from the others and gives you a pleasant eating experience.
However, as the interior is typically made of nonstick material, it’s best to avoid metal utensils to help prolong its lifespan.
- Extra Features
Done with cooking your meal of the day, but have a deadline to meet to finish up your assignment before eating?
Rice cookers come with a “warm” feature that allows you to keep your food nice and hot for a long time! However, keep in mind, this feature should never exceed a 12-hour time period at any cost.
Disadvantages Of A Rice Cooker
- Inconvenient Size
If you have a small kitchen, then a rice cooker might not be the best option for you. The large size of the cooker does pose a challenge to store in small countertops. Unless you like to cook cooker-based recipes most often, purchasing this device just for cooking rice would be a waste.
- Expensive Price Range
These devices are a bit on the pricier side, especially the good-quality ones. The higher-end cookers can cost as much as 200 dollars, which is a lot more than your traditional cooking pots may cost.
Are Rice Cookers Worth It? Let’s Compare It To Its Contenders!
Rice Cooker Vs. Stovetop
If you want to cook rice on the stovetop, then you need to constantly look at the pot to make sure it’s not getting burnt/overcooked.
Also, you need to intervene and do several tasks in between like allowing the water to boil, turning the heat down, covering it for 10 minutes in the end etc.
A rice cooker allows you to complete the whole thing in one single step: just put all the ingredients together in a pot and let it cook itself automatically!
Rice Cooker Vs. Instant Pot
Instant pot actually works similar to a pressure cooker. It requires less liquid to rice ratio(1:1), whereas you need to use at least 2:1 ration in a rice cooker.
Most of the instant pots come with multiple programmed options for you to choose from. they have built-in functions for different types of foods including bean/chili, sauté, poultry, steam, meat/stew, soup/broth and many more options like these.
Rice cooker, on the other hand, features 2 options: warm and cook. However, the latest models do feature some extra options like a temperature regulator, timer, hard/soft texture option etc.
Rice Cooker Vs. Pressure Cooker
A rice cooker and a pressure cooker behave almost similarly. They both cook food by using steam that’s trapped inside the container.
However, both of these devices have different components.
A rice cooker has a heating pad, thermometer, a lid that’s used to rise up the temperature inside to boil the water.
A pressure cooker comes with a pressure sensor and a lid that can be sealed. The sealed covering helps build up the pressure inside and thus turns the rice soft while cooking.
If you prefer cooking foods while keeping the flavor, texture and aroma intact, a rice cooker is the best option. Pressure cooker, on the other hand, is good for cooking food faster while using less liquid inside the pot.
Rice Cooker Vs. Steamer
Food steamers are primarily used for steaming fish and vegetables. While some of the models come with an extra bowl to cook rice, they are mostly used for steaming veggies and fishes while preserving their nutrients.
As you already know rice cooker is used for cooking grain-like dishes, baking and steaming purposes. In this case, a rice cooker is a clear winner as it can cook multiple dishes along with steaming foods!
What do you think?
Are rice cookers worth it then?
Judging from the comparisons with other mechanisms, we certainly seem to think so!
A rice cooker clearly takes the least amount of effort to cook and prepare delicious meals for your friends and family. Even if you don’t eat rice every day, you can use this device to make other food items like hot cereal for breakfast, chicken chili as comfort food and Taco soup to satisfy your Tex-Mex cravings!
Granted, it takes up quite a big space in a small apartment. However, seeing how much of a multi-tasker this device can be, we think it deserves a place on your kitchen counter nevertheless!