Oatmeal lovers, I have good news for you: If you got excited when overnight oats were added to your groat repertoire, you might not be able to contain yourself when you find out there is yet another way to prepare them. It turns out that oatmeal can be easily prepared in most rice cookers. (Provided you have some time on your hands.)
Why cook oatmeal in a rice cooker?
This cooking method is a great solution for multitaskers and folks on a tight morning schedule, and it’s particularly wonderful if you’re looking to feed a group of three to six or if you’re meal-prepping a large batch. Be aware, this works best with a more advanced rice cooker that has several settings (we’ll talk more about that later).
Cooking oats in the rice cooker is helpful since it’s a hands-off method, making it perfectly safe to walk away from while it’s working. It’s easy to set up and enables you to fully immerse yourself in other tasks while you wait for breakfast.
How do you make oatmeal in a rice cooker?
I have a small rice cooker that makes about four cups of cooked rice. Oats act similarly to rice in that they continually absorb water until they burst and break apart. This being the case, plan enough room for the oats to swell as usual, and be just as accurate in measuring your ratio of liquid to oats. I used Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats (Golden Spurtle fans amirite?) and followed the cooking ratio listed on the back of the package. One cup of oats to two and a half cups of water worked well for me, although you can cut down on the liquid by up to a half cup if you prefer a stiffer porridge.
Cooking oatmeal in a rice cooker works, with one downside
The resulting oatmeal was as perfect as it gets—tender and piping hot, with a pliable yet thick consistency. However, I hit a couple of snags along the way. As I mentioned earlier, I have a small rice cooker. It’s old. Also, it’s very basic. My rice cooker offers a choice between “on” and “warm” and until I threw oatmeal into it, those were all the settings I needed.
Naturally, I set it to “on” and walked away. I happened to be browsing my spice cabinet 20 minutes later when I heard a distinct sizzling and gurgling sound. Turns out my rice cooker was spewing out starchy oat juice. If you’ve ever boiled potatoes, pasta, or other high-starch foods and accidentally covered it with a lid for too long, then you know what it looked like: the bubbles from the boiling water become starch bubbles, which build upon each other and eventually push themselves out of the pot. You must boil uncovered, or at least semi-covered, to avoid this, but that’s not really an option for a rice cooker, since it relies on contained steam to ensure even cooking. This makes the rice cooker method work best for newer machines with medium to low-temperature options—more settings than just“on” and “warm.” (Some now offer literal “oatmeal” settings, which is nice.)
If you have an old rice cooker like I do, you have two options. You can cook it on high (which is “on” for me) for 10-20 minutes, while keeping a close eye on it, and then reduce the heat to “warm” (to avoid the oat volcano) for an additional 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. The other option is to set it to “warm” from the start, and wait for a sizable portion of your life to creep by before you get to enjoy your oatmeal.
As you can see, this method of cooking oatmeal isn’t as fast as making it in a pot on the stovetop. Ultimately, I think it makes the most sense for leisurely preparing a bulk breakfast. Although I won’t be filling my basic rice cooker with groats again, I could see this method being a boon for some oatmeal enthusiasts out there.
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