Repurpose Your Rice Cooker To Make Tasty One-Pot Meals

If you've got a rice cooker stashed in a cabinet somewhere, you seriously need to haul it out and put it to work. It can make you some amazing one-pot meals in no time flat.

Photo by Corsica_JP.

Despite their name, rice cookers are essentially giant steamers, so anything that benefits from moist cooking does great in the contraption. Fish, chicken, dumplings, vegetables — all kinds of good stuff. In fact, ethnic food like Caribbean or Middle Eastern cuisine make some of the tastiest dishes around. The New York Times explains:

Domingo Guillen uses his to make vast batches of Puerto Rican arroz con gandules, rice and peas, before a weekly domino game at his apartment in the Inwood section of Manhattan. Fairuza Akhtar, a restaurant owner in Jackson Heights, Queens, who was born in Pakistan, has developed a quick method for making fragrant, creamy biriyani with whole spices and bites of chicken, at home in her rice cooker. 'My mother would fall down in a faint,' she said, referring to the traditionally reverent attitude toward biriyanis in Northern India and Pakistan. 'But rice cookers are the way of the modern world.'

Real Simple has a few other ideas on using a rice cooker to put together steamed veggie side dishes and cool desserts like poached fruit. According to them, soups and hearty stews are also a great bet.

Give your rice cooker enough liquid and time and it will create long-simmered dishes without scorching or boiling over (the way slow cookers sometimes can). Try split-pea soup with ham, or put beef (that's been browned on the stove) and vegetables in the cooker with tomatoes, wine, and herbs for a hearty dinner.

I make all kinds of cool (and sometimes weird) stuff in my rice cooker. Bean dishes are a snap and perfect for softening pintos for refried beans. Salmon wrapped in a foil pouch is awesome, and you can cook long-grained wild rice right underneath it so everything's done at once. Or, snap a pound of pasta noodles in half, cover with water, and let your cooker take over. I've even made a cake with my trusty cooker — just mix all the ingredients right in the rice pan and turn it on.

I know Lifehacker readers are a clever bunch, so let's hear your ideas for meals and sides in the comments. Now, go forth and cook.

The Steamy Way to Dinner [NYT]

5 New Cooking Uses for Your Rice Cooker [Real Simple]


    Just to clarify for anyone else that may get caught out by this: A "Rice Cooker" that they refer to here is NOT one of the microwavable containers. It's a whole self-contained gadget.

    Personally, I've never heard of a rice cooker as a gadget before, only ever as the plastic containers you put in the microwave... Oh well, lots to learn!

      That's funny, I only know of rice cookers as the article's picture shows (sans cat). I'd just call a plastic container for rice that you put in the microwave a... plastic container.

        Haha, it basically is just a plastic container, but it's packaged and marketed as a "Rice Cooker" - they're designed just like the gadget's, they trap the steam, and cook that way, but use the microwave for power.

        Like I said, there's always lots to learn! :)

    I tend to prefer a slow cooker (aka crock pot) over steamers.
    This has given me some ideas though!

    Even though I like my risotto from scratch, I have on occasion used a rice cooker & they are great... Chuck it all in, make sure you have enough stock & add your vegies & whatever else in...(whatever the amount of rice, have the stock up to the first knuckle of your little finger)

    i do this all of the time, it's great!

    Excuse me for asking, but why is there a cat in the rice cooker?

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