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Do you really need a rice cooker?  (The answer is yes.)


As a Filipino American, a rice cooker is the # 1 appliance used in my home. Growing up, I would come home with the smell of rice cooking on the counter, and when I left my parents’ house, it immediately became obvious that I couldn’t cook rice without it. I tried cooking rice on the stovetop and ended up with a soggy mess, then tried doing it with an instant pot and got some uncooked grains.

The magic of a rice cooker is that you press a single button (although the more sophisticated ones may have multiple buttons), and in 20 to 60 minutes you have perfectly fluffy white or brown rice. There are no skills required to do this, and the pot doubles as a storage bowl if you have any leftovers.

Whether you eat rice just a few times a week or several times a day (like I did growing up), a rice cooker is a game-changer. I spoke with professional chefs to get their thoughts on the usefulness of a rice cooker (spoiler alert: it can be used for more than just rice) and what to look for when buying a.

Rice cookers greatly simplify the process of preparing rice.

If you like to eat rice and prepare it regularly, a rice cooker is a must have device. Instead of having to boil water on the stovetop, stir in the rice, cover it, and simmer (while keeping an eye on a timer), all you have to do is put in the rice and l water in the pot, place it in the stove and press a button. There’s no need to peek under the lid to make sure your heat isn’t too high or too low, or worry about keeping a pan to keep the rice at the bottom from burning. It will even keep your rice warm for hours when cooking is finished. And some versions (like the Zojirushi in our list below) have a delayed timer, which will let you program when you want your rice to cook.

“I like [a rice cooker] because it takes all the guesswork out of making perfect rice, ”said Dale Talde, chef and owner of Goose feather. “It’s a must have device, because even if you put in too much or not enough water, it adjusts to help you make perfect rice. “

For Camilla Marcus, chef and owner of the zero waste kitchen shop west ~ bourne, a pot of rice gets a lot going over the course of a week. “I love that a pot of rice offers so many options, both sweet and savory,” she said. “For days, I can turn leftover rice into a variety of delicious dishes. The versatility of rice is particularly appealing for minimizing food waste, which is a top priority in my kitchen. A rice cooker allows me to make rice on a fairly regular basis, plus it’s easier to clean and convenient to store.

Rice farmers can do more than just rice.

Maybe you just don’t like rice. That’s okay – a rice cooker can still be a worthwhile appliance. The simpler models have a button that switches to the hot setting when the rice is finished cooking, but the more sophisticated models have modes for porridge, steaming, and even baking.

Marcus regularly uses his rice cooker to make porridge (his brand, west ~ bourne, sells his). For breakfast, she will cook the grains in coconut milk and garnish them with seasonal fruits and yogurt. For lunch or dinner, she will prepare a savory version with a poached egg and roasted mushrooms.

Chris Park, CEO of Kissaki, pointed out that you can also easily prepare instant noodles in a rice cooker. A basic curry is another option.

“Just put all your ingredients together such as diced herbs, protein of your choice and the corresponding broth,” he said. “You can find curry packs in most Asian grocery stores. Just follow the directions on how much base to use. If you are using a basic rice cooker, it simply recommends starting the cooking process by pressing the button and checking it periodically. “A more modern and advanced rice cooker will have a program for curries and stews,” he said.

When buying a rice cooker, consider price, size, and functionality.

If you plan to make rice for one or two people, there is no need to buy a huge rice cooker with all the bells and whistles – unless, of course, the cost and space are. not a problem. You can find plenty of basic one-button models for under $ 50, mid-range options around $ 100 or $ 200, and high-end rice cookers that cost hundreds of dollars.

“If you’re just trying to make your life on a rice diet easier, then just the click of a button is all you need,” Park said.

“Rice cookers are great because you don’t need an expensive one to make good rice,” Marcus said. “In fact, I find the more accessible versions, which are often the smallest and make more sense for a home kitchen, are also the most durable. ”

Rice cookers operate on a fairly simple mechanism (the heating element heats the cooking bowl to the boiling temperature, then automatically turns off or off when the rice is cooked), so you don’t have to buy something too fancy to make rice.

Aesthetics is another thing to think about, especially if you plan to leave it on the counter. Talde recommends buying something modern and stylish. “It’s almost a decorative piece,” he said. “You don’t have to buy a very expensive one, but the ones that cost between $ 150 and $ 200 will last you a lifetime.”

If you want to do more than just rice, a rice cooker with multiple functions or a multicooker is your best choice. Park pointed out that a rice cooker with multiple programs and even a pressure function will be able to prepare a wide variety of foods – something that can be especially useful for those with small kitchens, freeing up space on stove or oven.

“Buying a rice cooker is like buying anything,” Park said. “Buy only the amount of rice cooker you need. Most famous brands can be reliable, but avoid obviously cheap or fragile products. Loose-top units will do the job, but a closing cover that closes is preferable. “

Buy a rice cooker? Here are some great options.

HuffPost may receive a share of purchases made through links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change.

Zojirushi Induction Heating System Rice Cooker and Warmer

Amazon

All three chefs interviewed for this story recommended a Zojirushi rice cooker, which tells us it’s a solid option.

This particular model can cook up to 5.5 cups at a time and has settings for different types of rice (sushi, brown, mixed, jasmine) and textures (regular, soft, hard). It uses induction heating on the bottom, sides and lid for even cooking. Another feature that makes it a bit more expensive than the other model we share below: it has a delayed timer setting, which means you can put your rice in the machine in the morning and tell it to start. cook one hour before starting. residence. What could be better than arriving home with a pot of freshly made rice?

“I love this brand,” said Talde. “It will last forever and make perfect rice, short grains, sushi, whatever type you cook.”

Get the Zojirushi Induction Heating System Rice Cooker and Warmer for $ 289.99.

Aroma Housewares Select Stainless Steel Rice Cooker and Warmer

Amazon

Park described this rice cooker as “a budget model that does what it does: cook rice.” It has a 3-cup capacity and a dishwasher-safe stainless steel pot for easy cleanup. This compact rice cooker has only one button and automatically switches between cooking your rice and keeping it warm.

Get the Aroma Housewares Select Stainless Steel Rice Cooker and Warmer for $ 30.19.

Black & Decker Rice Cooker

Amazon

This compact rice cooker is the one I have in my kitchen. It has a capacity of 3 cups, which is enough for our household of only two people (and I eat most of the rice). Sure, you might only have it for a meal or two, but cooking and cleaning is so easy that I don’t mind making a pot of fresh rice when the need arises. It’s best fresh anyway, unless you’re making fried rice (my favorite leftover hack).

Get the Black & Decker Rice Cooker for $ 15.03.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker and Steamer

Amazon

This rice cooker features a microcomputer that automatically adjusts the temperature and cooking time to ensure your rice is perfectly moist – not mushy or burnt. It comes with a rice measuring cup, a non-stick rice paddle and a paddle holder.

“I love everything Zojirushi does,” Marcus said. “Their rice cookers are all really beautiful and efficient, with a lot of affordable options. This version is great for all kinds of grains, and the steaming feature is a bonus – it’s great when a kitchen appliance can be multitasking. The 5.5-cup volume cooker is the perfect amount for making daily meals for my family of four, with occasional leftovers for other meals of the week.

Get the Zojirushi Rice and Steamer for $ 169.28.

Aroma Housewares 15-in-1 Digital Rice Cooker, Steamer & Slow Cooker

Amazon

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