If you thought the only thing your rice cooker could do was steam rice, think again. This small, versatile, time-saving gadget might need a new name because it has a whole lot of whole-grain possibilities to offer for meals in minutes. That’s right; basically any grain you would consider cooking on the stove (and any meal you’d consider cooking in a slow-cooker for that matter) can be made in a rice cooker without you ever manning a burner on the stove.
Before we dive into our three favorite ways to use your rice cooker, a few words of advice for rice cooker meal success. First, there are lots of rice cookers out there; some far fancier than others. A fancier type will have lots of settings for different grain options and this is important if you’re going to be bold and start cooking all sorts of meals inside. These rice cookers are quite precise and will cook any type of grain or rice to perfection. (Some will even bake a cake!) If yours is one of these, be sure to read up on all of its capabilities.
If your rice cooker is a simple, set-and-forget model, no worries, your little machine is still supremely versatile. You don’t need any special settings or timers, just the right amount of liquid and some great whole-grain ideas.
Last, to keep your rice cooker working optimally, clean the bowl, the steam catch and vent after each use. Residue from the boiling grains inside can gunk up your machine and cause the contents not to cook evenly.
Now, drumroll please! Here are three fresh, new ways to use that amazing little machine.
1. BATCH UP QUINOA FOR A WEEK’S WORTH OF DELICIOUS MEALS
Having a warm pot of protein-rich quinoa is like having an ace in your hand for a week’s worth of delicious meals. Whether you’re pouring milk over it for breakfast, mixing it into salads for lunch or making a satisfying grain bowl for dinner, eating well has never been so easy. (Plus, you’ve practically mastered batch cooking with just one step!)
How to: Simply rinse the quinoa, toss it into the bowl of the rice cooker and add water. (You’ll want a ratio of about 1:2 quinoa to water.) Then hit start. Store the cooked quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.
2. OVERNIGHT YOUR BREAKFAST
You no longer need to man the stove, or to set aside 45 minutes to make steel-cut oats with a rice cooker in your pantry. (Nor will you need to scrub scalded oats off the bottom of your slow cooker pot.) A hot pot of creamy, dreamy steel-cut oats first thing in the morning can be yours with just a little prep time the night before.
How to: Simply combine 1 cup of steel cut oats with 2 cups of milk (or almond milk,) 1 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt in the rice cooker at night, then set the timer or start your rice cooker. In the morning, top with toasted almonds, almond butter, fresh fruits, maple syrup or honey … anything you can dream up!
READ MORE > CONVENIENT COOKING HACK: RICE COOKER OATMEAL
3. WHIP UP A WICKED SATISFYING (AND HEALTHY!) DINNER
Similar to the overnight oatmeal above, there’s nothing that says your whole-grain main course can’t cook while you’re away at work during the day. Sometimes a simple, clean-eating bowl of grains, greens and eggs is just what the doctor ordered (especially if you can toss cheesy mushrooms on top).
How to: In the bowl of your rice cooker, combine 1 cup pearled farro with 3 cups water or broth (or as much or as little as you like, following a 1:3 ratio of grains to liquid!) and a pinch of salt. Set the timer on your rice cooker and let the grains cook! Before serving, sauté mushrooms in a bit of olive oil or butter, toss baby kale leaves with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Then fry an egg! Serve the quinoa into bowls, top with lightly dressed kale, mushrooms and an egg … and maybe some Parmesan or feta cheese if you like! Voila! Dinner is served!