If you eat a lot of rice with your meals, or if you feel plagued by a rice-cooking hex, then a rice cooker is a must-have in your kitchen. It turns out perfectly cooked rice, night after night, meal after meal. Almost more than any other kitchen gadget, this one is all about making one thing in your life easier. Here's how to use one to make a pot of rice tonight.
Start by Checking Your Manual
The instructions we have here are fairly general and universal for most rice cookers. Even so, it's good to dig out your manual and double check the instructions before you begin.
Most rice cookers use the ratio of one cup rice to one cup water. Use this same ratio to scale up when cooking larger batches. Smaller batches are also possible, but the water won't absorb at quite the same rate, so you might need to do some experimenting to find out what works best with your rice cooker.
Rice cookers can also vary somewhat, even between models of the same brand. Start with this basic ratio and the technique we give here, and adjust based on your experience with your personal rice cooker.
Add Your Rice and Go
The beauty of the rice cooker is that it literally does all the work for you. Once you add the rice and water, and close the lid, it will heat things to the proper temperature, monitor the steam and pressure inside the cooker, and turn itself off when its done. Most rice cookers just have an on/off button, so you don't even need to think about cooking time. (If your rice cooker does have cooking time options, consult your manual for directions.)
Two Key Factors for Perfect Rice-Cooker Rice
First, rinse your rice under running water before transferring it to the rice cooker; this washes away excess starch and helps make the rice less sticky.
Second, let the rice rest after cooking for at least 10 minutes with the lid on before serving. This resting time helps cook off the last of the steam and makes the rice fluffier, with distinct grains.
Cleaning Your Rice Cooker
To clean, scoop out all the rice and then leave the lid open to let the inside of the cooker dry out. Any leftover bits of rice will easily brush off and you can wipe the inside clean with a sponge or dishcloth.
If your rice cooker has a nonstick coating (which most do), be careful not to use any metal utensils or you can scratch the coating.
How To Make Rice in a Rice Cooker
Serves 4 to 6
What You Need
short-, medium-, or long-grain white rice
Wood or rubber spatula (not metal)
Rinse the rice: Place the rice in a large strainer or colander and rinse it thoroughly under cool water. The water running through the rice will usually look milky at first, but will then become clearer. It's fine if there's still some haze in the water. There is no need to dry the rice before cooking; a bit of moisture on the rice is fine.
Combine the rice and water in the rice cooker. Stir in the salt. If you skipped the step of rinsing the rice, add a few extra tablespoons of water now.
Cook the rice: Turn on the rice cooker and, if needed, select the correct cooking option according to your rice cooker (check the manual). The rice cooker will cook the rice automatically and turn off when done. Check your manual for estimated cooking times.
Let the rice rest in the slow cooker for 10 to 15 minutes: Once the rice is cooked and the rice cooker shuts off, let the rice rest for another 10 to 15 minutes. Keep the lid on while the rice sits. This helps prevent the rice from being overly sticky or getting mushy. You can also leave the rice in the cooker for up to 30 minutes or so, until ready to serve.
Fluff the rice and serve: Use a wooden spatula to fluff the rice in the rice cooker, then serve straight from the rice cooker or transfer the rice to a serving bowl. Serve while warm.
Follow this same method for other kinds of rice, but check against your manual for specific water-to-rice ratios and cooking times.