Rice cookers have become a popular appliance in many kitchens. But are rice cookers really worth the investment? Let’s take a look.
What Are Rice Cookers, and How Does it Work?
Rice cookers are small kitchen appliances that automate the process of cooking rice. Basic rice cookers typically have a heating element and a thermostat that turns the heat off when cooked.
This means you can set it and forget it, which is ideal if you have other things to do while your rice is cooking.
Additionally, most rice cookers have a steaming basket, which means you can simultaneously cook other food in them aside from a batch of rice for a crowd.
Other Foods to Cook in Rice Cookers
These are not just for cooking delicious rice, such as Jasmine rice or Basmati rice. You can also use rice cookers for cooking other grains, like quinoa or barley. Additionally, you can use them to steam vegetables or fish.
Basically, if it can be cooked with steam, it can be cooked in your rice cooker. This makes them incredibly versatile appliances.
The Pros of Owning Rice Cookers
- They’re very easy to use. Choose from different kinds of rice (short-grain or long-grain rice), wash and remove the soapy water and put it in your pot, then turn it on, and wait until you have a bowl of fluffy rice. No need to watch over it or stir it constantly like you would if you were cooking rice on your stovetop.
- They can save you time. If you’re short on time, your rice cooker can be a lifesaver. You can use your stovetop for other tasks while the rice cooks, so you can get dinner on the table faster. It can also keep your rice warm for an extended time.
- They can make perfect rice every time. If you have trouble making perfectly cooked rice on the stovetop, your rice cooker will do it for you with ease. You just have to add the right amount of water and let it work its magic.
- They’re very versatile. In addition to cooking plain white rice or brown rice, most rice cookers have functions that allow you to simultaneously cook other things like quinoa, oatmeal, soup, stew, and even cake!
The Cons of Owning Rice Cookers
- They can be costly. Depending on the brand and features, they can range in price from $30 or more than $200. If you’re not sure you’ll use it often enough to justify the cost, it might be better to stick with your stovetop.
- They can take up your counter space. These are usually fairly compact but take up valuable counter space in small kitchens. If storage is an issue in your kitchen, consider whether another appliance would be more practical, or choose a compact rice cooker, ideal for a student or in a smaller space.
- You may not need all the bells and whistles. Some high-end rice cookers or expensive models come with fancy features like fuzzy logic (can identify the rice types and adjust its water and cooking time), delayed timers, and keep-warm functions that you may never use (or may not even know how to use). Stick with a basic model if you’re not sure you’ll need all the extras.
- The quality of rice cookers matters. Not all of these are created equal—some cheap rice cookers may not evenly cook the rice or have as many features as more expensive cookers—so do your research before buying one to make sure you’re getting a good quality product for your money.
Rice Cooker Substitutes
Some alternatives can get the job done if you don’t want to invest in rice cookers. You can use a saucepan on the stovetop, an electric pressure cooker, a slow cooker, or an air fryer. However, these methods require more active involvement and don’t always produce as consistent results as a dedicated rice cooker.
Tips for Buying Rice Cookers?
You should remember a few things when shopping for your rice cooker.
First, consider how much you’re willing to spend. Traditional rice cookers, to the most expensive ones, range from more than $200.
Second, think about how much space you have in your kitchen and what size would be most convenient for you.
Third, decide what features and cooking functions are most important to you. Do you want one with a timer? One that comes with a steaming basket? One that has multiple settings for different types of rice?
Once you’ve considered these factors, you’ll be able to narrow down your options and find the perfect rice cooker depending on your needs.
If you frequently cook rice or other grain dishes, investing in a good quality rice cooker is definitely worth it. Rice cookers make the cooking process easier and more foolproof, which is ideal if you’re short on time or not confident in your culinary skills. They’re extremely versatile and can be used to cook other dishes. So if you’re looking for an appliance that will make your life easier in the kitchen, rice cookers are worth considering.