Use Your Rice Cooker For More Than Just Rice
Let’s get beyond thinking of the rice cooker as a simple one trick pony. Of course it can make perfect rice and that’s reason enough to have it as an essential appliance in your kitchen. But it is capable of doing so much more. The rice cooker is a multi-tasker and can perform as a slow cooker, food steamer, or crockpot. For those who are new to rice cooker experience you may wish to check out our article on How To Use A Rice Cooker. The following list moves beyond simply cooking rice to focus on new ways to use your rice cooker but it is by no means comprehensive. There are many, many more uses for the rice cooker and people are discovering new uses for it all the time. We will explore other ways to use a rice cooker in future posts but for now let’s look at this list of 8.
Steaming Vegetables in a Rice Cooker
Using your rice cooker is the perfect way to steam vegetables – both fresh and frozen and it’s very simple. First, put water in the rice cooker appropriate to the amount and type of vegetables you are going to steam. Next, place your vegetables in the steamer basket. Most rice cookers come with a steamer basket but, if yours didn’t, you can purchase one suitable for your cooker. If you like you may season your vegetables with a little teriyaki sauce or spices prior to steaming. Then, just close the lid and start your cooker. Obviously larger quantities and/or denser types of vegetables will require a longer time to steam and thus will require more water. You will need to do a little experimentation to discover what the right amount is. The easiest way to start is to simply place more water than required in the cooker and then just check your vegetables and remove from the cooker when they have reached the desired tenderness. Here’s a quick easy way to steam squash.
Dumplings, Pirogues, Small Stuffed Breads, etc.
During my time in Asia I often purchased frozen Chinese dumplings and also small frozen round breads stuffed with meat or vegetable fillings. Of course these were quite common in the places I lived in Asia, but you can also find them in the freezer section of Asian grocery stores in the US as well as larger chain supermarkets in areas with a sizable Asian population. There are other items similar to these created by other cultures such as pirogues which, though traditionally boiled, also work well steamed in the rice cooker. Simply add sufficient water to your rice cooker, place your dumplings or other items in the cooker basket and steam.
Make Cakes In Your Rice Cooker
Yes! You can make cakes in the rice cooker. There are numerous recipes available for making cakes in your cooker. We recently posted a recipe for a dark chocolate truffle cake on our recipe page. We also have a great carrot cake recipe. If you have your own favorite cake recipe for the rice cooker please share it with us.
Rice Cooker Breads
Of course you can make bread in your rice cooker! Now, if you have a 3 cup rice cooker you’ll be making a fairly small loaf so it’s best to have a decent size cooker for this. There are lots of great bread recipes out there for the rice cooker and we’ve posted several on our rice cooker recipes page. Try a cornbread recipe in the rice cooker, or banana bread works great too. You can also check out this post and it’s link to a recipe and video clip for making rice cooker bread.
Make Soup in a Rice Cooker
Soups are incredibly easy to make with the cooker. Follow one of the many recipes available – or not. I often simply make a stew as a way to improvise a meal using leftovers. Anyone can make a soup in a rice cooker. Here is a recipe for an unique watercress soup. You can use canned soup if you like, or use that as a base and get creative from there. Or be bold and just start from scratch.
Rice Cooker Stews
Stews are really just a thicker form of soup to my way of thinking. They have a little more meat and/or vegetables and a little less liquid. If you can make a soup, you can make a stew and if you’ve done it before in a crockpot then you’re practically an expert already. Here’s a basic rice cooker stew recipe that’s perfect for dorm room cooking or anywhere you may have limited cooking facilities. We also have a great recipe for seafood gumbo.
Reheating Food In Your Rice Cooker
Using the rice cooker is a great way to reheat food. Just place a small amount of water in the cooker and the food to be reheated in the steamer basket, close the lid and start. I have never been too happy with the results of reheating foods in the microwave. I invariably get it far too hot or I think it is done only to discover lukewarm or even cold portions where it wasn’t heated evenly. The rice cooker heats everything nicely, never getting it too hot.
Cook Grains in a Rice Cooker
You’ve already used your cooker to make rice, right? Well there are a whole lot of other grains out there that can be cooked just as easily: Oatmeal, barley, quinoa, millet, amaranth, etc. If you have experience cooking grains before on the stovetop then a good rule of thumb is to use the same amount of water to grain that works well for you there. This is especially great for those on a gluten free diet. Here’s an easy way to make gluten free quinoa in the rice cooker. Be sure to check out our post on breakfast millet as well. If you don’t have a good source for gluten free grains near you, you can buy millet, amaranth, quinoa and other gluten free grains from Amazon.
There you have it. A list of eight new ways to put your rice cooker to use. And, as I’ve said, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll be talking about more ways to use your rice cooker in future posts. Let us know what your own favorite or unique use is and don’t forget to take a look at our rice cooker recipe pages.
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