To some, a rice cooker might seem like a uni-tasker, which is not necessarily a bad thing if you eat a lot of rice. But it can also serve many other purposes, whether you're stuck in a kitchen-less studio, need an extra "burner," or just want the convenience of making dishes with minimal supervision. Read on for five good uses for a rice cooker, and share your own experiences in the comments! • Steel-cut oats. If your rice cooker has a porridge or congee setting, you can use it to make steel-cut oatmeal, too. You'll probably have to play around with the ratio to get it just right, but you might start with 1 part oats to 3 parts water. Add nuts, dried fruit, or cinnamon, if you like (just clean the pot thoroughly as it might flavor your next batch of rice). Soak the oats overnight and then turn the cooker on in the morning while you're getting ready – or set the timer if the cooker has one, and you'll have breakfast as soon as you wake up. Here's a recipe from the Zojirushi site: Steel Cut Oatmeal.
• Polenta. Like risotto, polenta usually requires a lot of stirring, but you can use a rice cooker for more hands-off cooking. Here's a recipe for Rice Cooker Polenta with herbs.
• Beans. The exact time and proportions will depend on the beans and your model, so you might have to play around a bit. We make lentils in the rice cooker using a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part beans. You can also use the low heat of the rice cooker to simmer bean soups and stews.
• Frittatas. Use your rice cooker to make an easy and filling brunch or dinner. Here's a recipe for Frittata in a Rice Cooker.
Have you ever made these or any other non-rice foods in a rice cooker?
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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