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8 surprising foods you can make in your rice cooker



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David Priest / CNET

The rice cooker may be my favorite little machine, because – you guessed it – I eat a lot of rice. But these countertop appliances are capable of more than you think. I've made everything from pancakes to ribs in mine, and it's all thanks to their simple design, which keeps the heat high and usually retains the moisture until they reach a certain temperature, usually just over 200 degrees.

For the Under the tests, I used two of the best basic tubes around ̵

1; the $ 25 Oster and the larger, impressively performing $ 113 Tiger . I chose the one button appliances because not everyone has the same type of cooker and controlling all the special settings on a Zojirushi or Instant Pot Instant Zest would not be practical

So what unexpected meals can you make in a simple rice cooker? Here are some of my favorites:

Ribs

David Priest / CNET

Yes, ribs. For a simple rib recipe that takes about an hour to cook, grab a rack of baby back ribs, a pint of beer, a cup and a half of your favorite barbecue sauce, and a cup of broth. Rub some spices on the ribs – again, your choice – and throw the lot in the rice cooker. Turn it on for an hour and you end up with tender, tasty ribs.

Eggs

You may want something simpler than ribs. After all, rice cookers are all about convenience. For a quick breakfast hit in the morning, crack eggs and turn on the stove. The Oster rice cooker gave me a medium sized egg in two or three minutes.

Alternatively, you can use the steamer to get a perfect medium boiled egg. 15 minutes in the steamer provided a good egg for me, but depending on your preferences and the specific stove you may want to add or subtract some time.

Pancakes

David Priest / CNET

Pancakes in a rice cooker are a revelation. Make the mix as usual and pour a generous spoon into the bottom of the stove. You don't have to turn it around for thinner cakes; you just get a crispy-on-the-side-soft-on-the-other pancake. Flip thicker and you get a pillowy breakfast cake like nothing you get from the pan. My kids especially loved it as they each got their own mini bread to carry around with them in the morning.

Oatmeal and other grains

David Priest / CNET

This seems obvious, but many of us don't try other grains in our rice cookers, even though they cook by very similar processes. Oatmeal is a great breakfast option, and quinoa and farro are great, healthy alternatives to rice. Just follow the basic water-to-grain ratio in the directions and you should get a solid result. If you make it often, you can also adjust the measurements to taste.

Rice Pudding

David Priest / CNET

I love making rice pudding in the rice maker because it is the same as making rice with a simple extra step. Start by making a batch of white rice. When it's done, let it cool for a few minutes while mixing up sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and coconut milk. I look at the ingredients, but generally shoot for a 4-2-1-1 rice-condensed-evaporated coconut ratio. Toss a cinnamon stick, a strip of lemon zest (a large one so you can take it out later) and a dash of nutmeg to taste. Mix everything together and pour it into the rice cooker with the cooling rice. Then put your stove on "warm", wait about 45 minutes until you have the perfect rice pudding, mix in some cinnamon and serve.

Lentils

David Priest / CNET

Okay, take a break from the delicious and extremely unhealthy rice pudding to consider something nice for your body: lentils. Most legumes don't work well in the rice maker because they take a long time to soak and simmer, but lentils actually cook very well in a basic cooker. Toss them in with the water suggested in the package, and you should get a bowl of effortless lentils. Again, depending on your appliance, you may want to adjust the proportions over multiple tries, and if you add a bay leaf some salt and pepper is not a bad idea to spice up the dish.

Soup and chili

Speaking of vibrancy, what better to pack with flavor than a tasty soup or chili. Rice cookers are perfect for this type of food because they are built for cooking. That means you're definitely cooking through ground turkey or beef, and if you taste every 15 or 20 minutes you can cook just about any soup you can imagine in its best form.

Apple sauce

David Priest / CNET

My favorite rice cooker is apple sauce. It's tasty, great for kids, and super easy to make and personalize. I've adapted this recipe – which basically consists of cored and quartered gala apples and water – to add little extra flavors like cinnamon, lemon, raspberry, and more.

Do you want more surprising recipes? Check out our recommendations for the Instant Pot .


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