Is a Rice Cooker Worth it?

Cooking can be quite tasking, especially if you are cooking for the whole family or guests or trying to make different dishes or side dishes for a meal. However, if you cook often, you will agree that rice is one of the go-to dishes in many homes worldwide.

Rice is a popular dish that can be eaten in many forms, such as boiled rice, fried rice, Chinese rice, rice porridge, rice pudding, etc. In many countries, plain rice is usually eaten with different vegetables, stews, and soups. 

Due to its popularity, you may think rice is that easy to prepare; on the contrary, many people still find it challenging to prepare perfectly boiled fluffy rice. As a result, different types and models of rice cookers have been designed and produced to reduce the stress of cooking rice in a pot.

But the question is, “is a rice cooker worth it?” Do you want to get a rice cooker but still wonder if a rice cooker is worth it? Then it would be best if you didn’t skip this article. You don’t want to spend your money purchasing an item and later find out it isn’t worth it, do you? So, read on to find out if having a rice cooker is worth it or not; you’d be glad you did!

Is a rice cooker worth it?

Yes, a rice cooker is worth it, especially if you cook rice often. Recently, the market has become flooded with different types of rice cookers with single or multiple functionalities.

Apart from cooking rice, some of these rice cookers can also be used to prepare other meals such as oatmeal or other grains and soups. A number of them even have a basket placed at the top of the cooker, which can be used to steam vegetables, dumplings, etc.

Benefits of a rice cooker

Different types of rice cookers have different capabilities in the market today. Therefore, one rice cooker may have more functionalities than the other, making it more beneficial in your kitchen. Here are the benefits of a good rice cooker.

  1. It is convenient to use 

Cooking rice is more convenient and less stressful when using a rice cooker. A rice cooker is designed to make the rice cooking more straightforward.

When cooking with a rice cooker, all you need do is to add your rice along with the required amount of water (as instructed) and a little butter or oil, then press a button to turn on the cooker and another button to choose the type of rice you are cooking. And that’s it. Wait a few minutes for your rice to cook.

  • It cooks rice automatically

A rice cooker is automated; that is, it cooks rice automatically. Therefore, when using a rice cooker, you don’t have to check your rice now and then, unlike when using a stove pot.

After putting your rice and water, set the lid and turn the cooker on; the rice cooker will automatically turn off its cook mode when the cycle is complete. So, you no longer need to wait for your rice to cook while watching every minute to ensure it doesn’t boil over. A rice cooker eliminates the need for that.

  • It works for different types of rice

Rice cookers work for different types of rice, whether short-grain, long-grain, or medium grain. Each type of rice has different cooking times, which a rice cooker has already taken care of. So, whether you are cooking basmati rice or sushi rice, it will be perfectly cooked using the settings in a rice cooker. 

  • It cooks rice uniformly

Rice cookers cook rice to a uniform texture without burning your rice. They come with built-in temperature sensors, making it virtually impossible for your rice to burn.

  • It keeps rice warm till you are ready to eat

Rice cookers help to keep your rice warm after it is cooked. So, even if you are not ready to serve your rice, the rice cooker will keep it warm until you are ready.

  • Some rice cookers can cook other meals

Several rice cookers, especially recent models, have added functionalities and can cook other meals like oatmeal, soups, lentils, beans, and other grains. Some even come with a steamer basket which can be used for steaming vegetables.

  • It can be cleaned with ease

Many rice cookers have components that are safe to put in the dishwasher. This can be a relief, especially if your rice boils over when using a stove pot and you always have to clean your stove. 

How do rice cookers work?

You have probably wondered how a rice cooker cooks hard, little rice grains to make them soft, fluffy grains. Well, that is where water and heat come into play. Let’s see how!

Rice cooks in 4 stages; first, you add water to your rice. Next, the water starts to boil as the temperature increases, and the rice grains absorb water. Finally, the rice is allowed to rest before serving when the water dries off. Rice cookers are built to take rice through those cooking stages automatically.

After switching on your rice cooker, the heating element begins to boil the water. The built-in temperature control sensor in the heating element monitors the temperature inside the cooker and triggers the thermostat when the temperature reaches 212℉ (boiling point of water).

Then the thermostat turns off while the rice continues to cook. When the rice is fully cooked, the rice cooker automatically switches to “warm setting.” You can then serve your rice when you are ready.

How long can rice stay in a rice cooker?

Rice can stay in a rice cooker for 10-12 hours. But your rice is only safe for that period if the “keep warm” function of your rice cooker model keeps the rice at a temperature above 140°F.

If the model you use does not maintain such a high temperature, your rice may not stay for that long. Instead, it will stay for about 8 hours or even less.

However, if you manually turn off the “keep warm” mode, your rice can only stay in the rice cooker for two hours without risk. 

Rice Cooker vs Rice Steamer – Differences

Both rice cooker and steamer can be used to cook rice; however, they have different modes of operation. A rice cooker typically consists of a pot with a lid, a heating element with a built-in temperature control sensor, and a thermostat. It works by boiling the rice in water, and once the rice is cooked, it automatically turns off and switches to the “keep warm” mode.

A steamer often consists of a metal bowl with a pan of boiling water underneath it. It is usually used for steaming fish and vegetables, etc. 

You might have heard someone talk about using a steamer for cooking rice, but you have no idea how a steamer works or the differences between a steamer and a rice cooker. Here are some attributes that differentiate a rice cooker from a steamer.  

  1. A rice cooker is used primarily to cook rice, although many modern rice cookers are now accompanied by a steaming basket that can be used to steam vegetables.

A steamer, on the other hand, is primarily for steaming foods. A steamer can serve other uses, including cooking rice, but it is less versatile than a rice cooker.

  1. A rice cooker is usually better for cooking different types of rice, as it allows you to adjust the settings depending on the type of rice you are cooking. 
  2. While a rice cooker cooks rice by induction heating, a steamer cooks rice using steam from boiling water. 
  3. A rice cooker will cook rice at a constant temperature. On the other hand, a steamer cooks at the boiling point of water. 

Best types of rice to cook in a rice cooker

Rice cookers work for different types of rice, whether short-grain, long-grain, or medium grain. Each type of rice has different cooking times, which a rice cooker has already taken care of. So, whether you are cooking basmati rice or sushi rice, it will be perfectly cooked using the settings in a rice cooker. 

If you make rice regularly, you cannot ignore the need for a rice cooker. Cooking rice in a stove pot can often go wrong; you might end up with soggy or mushy rice or even non-fluffy, dry rice. With a rice cooker, however, you can hardly go wrong.

First, it is automatic, plus the graduated marks on the side will help you know the exact amount of water to add to your rice, thus never encountering mushy rice. So, yes! A rice cooker is worth it.