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How to use a rice cooker: Our guide to perfect rice, every time

Our guide is here to answer all the questions you might have about using a rice cooker.

A rice cooker is a great addition to any kitchen, allowing you to cook delicious, fluffy rice with the press of a button. Whether you’re looking to lessen the time spent hovering over your pans, want to experiment with different rice dishes or simply want your rice cooked well beyond what you think your skills are capable of, an electric rice cooker is the perfect tool for the job.

What’s more, these handy appliances can often cook more than just rice.

Even the most basic cookers can usually be used for steaming fish, making your morning porridge or for whipping up delicious desserts. You can also add some extra zing to your rice as it cooks with things such as stock cubes, seasoning or even vegetables to make eating your greens more exciting.

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If you’ve never used a rice cooker before or you’re looking to put the one you have to better use, we’ve put together this helpful guide to teach you all the basics so you can be confident you’ll produce perfect rice every time.

Do I need to prepare my rice before cooking?

Rinsing the rice

If you want your basic white rice to have the best taste and texture, it’s always advisable to rinse it thoroughly before cooking. Doing so gets rid of excess starch and prevents your rice from becoming too gummy or sticky. It’s also advisable to rinse other types such as brown or wild rice in order to clear off any unwanted starch or particles. Rinsing the rice can also help prevent any excess sputtering from the lid, which can occur with many rice cookers.

If you’re using cooked rice for a dessert or in a more complex dish, however, it might not be necessary or even advisable to rinse it. Therefore, it’s always worth double-checking your recipe first.

Soaking rice

It can be beneficial to soak your rice in water for a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking. For white rice, soaking can speed up cooking times, and may help you achieve a fluffier texture. Brown and other types of rice have a more robust outer layer, so they usually take longer to cook. Soaking it beforehand will help to speed up the cooking process and leave you with a better end result.

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How much rice do I need per person?

Most rice cookers use a 1:1 measurement system, meaning one cup of water to one cup of rice, but it should be obvious from your cooker’s pot and instructions how much rice and water you’ll need. Many cookers also come with their own measuring cup, which simplifies the business of measuring.

Be sure to read the instructions carefully and don’t overfill or underfill your cooker, as this can cause issues such as the water bubbling out or the rice being badly cooked.

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Do I need to take any precautions while cooking?

Much like cooking rice in a saucepan, removing the lid of your rice cooker during cooking is not recommended and can disturb the process. Depending on the type of rice cooker you have, some lids might sputter liquid when cooking, so it’s best placed on a countertop where there aren’t any sockets or electricals nearby.

It’s also recommended to let rice rest after cooking for the best flavour and texture.

Most manufacturers recommend a wait time of five minutes, but you can experiment with rest times to find what works for you.

Which setting should I use on a rice cooker?

On cheaper models, you’ll find there are usually just one or two different cooking options for white rice, and the cook time is based on the change in weight or via a thermostat. Many basic models also have a “keep warm” function, which automatically starts after your rice has finished cooking and keeps it at an adequate temperature until you’re ready to eat it.

More advanced models have a variety of adjustable cooking modes, such as specific settings suited to specialist rice. They will also be able to cook a wider variety of other dishes with greater precision.

Some cookers, such as the ​​Yum Asia Bamboo Induction, use computer chips to sense the progression of cooking, constantly adjusting the timings for the best results. However, these “smart” rice cookers can be on the pricey side. The model you choose will ultimately be dependent on how much you want to spend and how much rice you eat on a weekly basis.

The Tefal RK302E15 Multicook 8-in-1, featured on our best rice cooker page, is a good all-rounder for most rice lovers. It’s a multi cooker, rather than a dedicated rice cooker, but has specific settings for white rice, brown rice, grains and porridge, allowing the cooker to distinguish between rice types.

How do I know when my rice is ready?

Some cookers will beep or play a jingle when the cooking time is up, others simply “click” – a sound that will become recognisable after a few uses.

When it comes to texture and flavour, the consistency of your rice should be slightly firm to the bite. It shouldn’t be soggy or crunchy but rather puffy and slightly sticky. If your rice isn’t quite right, you might have used the wrong volume of water or an incorrect setting.

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Which rice cooker is best?

If you’re looking for an affordable rice cooker with the added option of steaming and minimal cleaning, the Russel Hobbs 19750 Rice Cooker and Steamer is a great choice for most people. It’s sleek, easy to operate and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

If you happen to be a rice connoisseur and want to perfect your rice dishes or try something new, the Yum Asia Bamboo Induction does a great job with a variety of rices, including short grain, and even has a specific setting designed to release more nutrients from brown rice.

For even more tried and tested rice cooker recommendations, head over to our best rice cooker page, where we’ve done the hard work for you to find the very best rice cookers you can get your hands on right now.

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