Why I consider the rice cooker a kitchen essential

March 31, 2010 | By | Comments (8)

I was in my 30's before I even knew rice cookers existed.  It was a Korean friend who clued me in when she was teaching me some Korean cooking.   Doubtless her dependence on her rice cooker was because her family ate rice at almost every meal.  We eat rice 3 times a week or so, but I wasn't sure we needed one.   But remembering the fact that at least once a week my rice pot boiled over, I decided to give it a try.  It might be just the help this scatter-brained cook needed.   Sure enough, it produced effortless, perfect rice, leaving me free to focus on other dishes.

All you do is add normal proportions of rice and water, turn it on, and walk away.  When the rice is perfectly cooked, it switches to warm, keeping the rice ready and waiting for the rest of the meal to be complete. You can cook either white or brown rice.  You can also cook lentils, quinoa, barley, grits, and other small grains.  Most models have steamer baskets that allow you to steam fish or egg rolls right along with your rice. 

But the real dealer-sealer for me is that you can use the rice cooker to cook your morning oatmeal.  Dump oats and water into your rice cooker in a 1:2 ratio  (1 cup of oats for every 2 cups of water), click the on button, and walk away.   In 20 minutes you have perfect breakfast oatmeal.  Add sugar, butter and vanilla.   Stir and serve.  Almost everyone has time for that little bit of fuss on busy mornings!


You might also like: a New York Times story touting the versatility of the rice cooker


  1. PaperCrank

    I think it’s a necessary item as well, but I never thought to make oatmeal in it! I can’t wait to try it in the morning!

    March 31, 2010 at 3:23 pm
  2. Tammy

    I use a crock pot as a rice cooker, also for oatmeal. Check out crockpot365.blogspot.com. I cook brown rice in a 2 quart crock pot for an hour and 40 minutes on high. 1 1/2 cups brown rice and 2 1/3 cups boiling water. The proportions of water to rice is from Cook’s Illustrated. I’m not affiliated with either, they just have good recipes.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:36 pm
  3. Aunt LoLo

    Oooh…brilliant to use it for oatmeal! I married into a Chinese family, and we eat rice at least 5 nights a week. I could not FUNCTION without a rice cooker. On super busy days, I chop up some lean pork, marinate it with some soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and cornstarch, and then dump it into the rice with some veg about ten minutes before the rice is done. When the rice cooker beeps, you’ve got a great one-pot meal!

    March 31, 2010 at 9:17 pm
  4. in a world surrounded by men

    Officially on my want list! I need all the help I can get in the kitchen :-).

    April 1, 2010 at 7:21 am
  5. Carla

    Hi, Mary. I’m in the market for a good rice cooker. My question: Can you recommend a specific type/brand name, or maybe even several? Thanks.

    April 1, 2010 at 8:27 am
  6. Mary Ostyn

    I had an Aroma rice cooker that lasted about 10 years. Just last year I bought a Rival that so far seems to be working great. Both of mine have been the lower-end models, less than $40 or so. Some of the upper end ones have a lot of insulation, and hinged lids. That is nice, but not essential, in my opinion.

    April 1, 2010 at 9:34 am
  7. cassie-b

    I love my rice cooker. Thanks for the hint about oatmeal. what a great idea.

    April 7, 2010 at 6:01 am
  8. Geneva Morgan

    I used to have a rice cooker. But I got rid of it because the pot was made of aluminum. I was afraid to the pot’s material tainting the food. Am I crazy?! Is it safe to cook from aluminum cooking vessels?

    April 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm

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