The Versatile Rice Cooker

what rice cooker can doRice cookers are much more versatile than the name lets on.

Whether you’re a rogue chef experimenting with new kitchen tools or a college student looking for a be-all and end-all appliance, this gadget might be everything you need and more.

Basic electric rice cookers work by heating liquid in an inner pot to steam or boil the contents. Then, once the rice cooker senses a certain temperature, it reverts to a low temperature “keep warm” function. The most basic rice cookers have just two settings: cook and keep warm. Some are more complex, with options for slow cooking and precisely adjusting the temperature. Others — in our opinion, the ultimate rice cookers — sing a song to you when your rice is ready.

Having a rice cooker is like having a little sous chef sitting on your counter. Just pile in the ingredients and leave it to do its thing — it will turn off on its own, so there’s no need to stand by to watch it.

Things you can make in a rice cooker that aren’t rice.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Use the steam basket that comes with your rice cooker to “hard boil” eggs. The eggs will take 20-25 minutes, depending on how you like them cooked.

Oatmeal

Depending on the oatmeal consistency you prefer, you may have to experiment with the ratio of water to oats. Use the directions on the oatmeal packaging as a starting point, and once you find the perfect combination, the process can’t be more simple.

Once you’ve measured your oats and water, pour them into the inner pot, stir to combine, turn the rice cooker on and wait for it to be done. Simple as that! Add in fruit and spices for a more exciting breakfast.

Mashed Potatoes

First, steam potatoes in your rice cooker until they are tender. (You can either place them in the steaming basket, or directly in the pot.) Then, mash the potatoes with butter and milk until they are the consistency you prefer.

Steamed Vegetables

Most rice cookers come with a steaming basket, which is an easy way to consistently achieve steamed veggie perfection.

You can also throw veggies on top of a batch of rice as it cooks for a healthy alternative to fried rice.

Click here for a venison chilli recipe.

Chocolate Fondue

Melt down chocolate in your rice cooker for the perfect pot of fondue. The warming function will keep the chocolate consistently melted and deliciously silky. Break out the skewers and let the dipping begin.

Macaroni and Cheese

This mac and cheese recipe is super easy (and cheesy). After you cook your pasta in the rice cooker and throw in the remaining ingredients, the magical gadget will do the rest of the work for you.

 

Find out what the best rice cooker is for a family is in 2016.