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8 surprising foods that you can cook in your rice cooker



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David Priest / CNET

The rice cooker is perhaps my favorite little appliance, because – you guessed it – I eat a lot of rice. But these countertops can do more than you think. I've done everything from pancakes to ribs in mine, and it's all thanks to their simple design, which keeps the heat high and the moisture mostly trapped until they reach a certain temperature, usually just over 200 degrees.

below tests, I used two of best basic rice cookers around ̵

1; $ 25 Oster and the larger, impressive version $ 113 Tiger . I went for one-button units because not everyone has the same type of stove, and checking for all special settings on a Zojirushi or Instant Pot Instant Zest would not be practical.

So what unexpected meals can you make in a basic 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, half an onion beer, a cup and half of your favorite barbecue sauce, and a cup of broth. Rub some seasoning on the ribs – again, your choice – and toss the portion in the rice cooker. Turn it on for an hour and you end with soft, tasty ribs.

Eggs

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

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

Pancakes

David Priest / CNET

Pancakes in a rice cooker are a revelation. Make the mixture as usual and pour a liberal scoop into the bottom of the stove. For thinner cookies you don't have to turn it around; you only get a crispy-on-one-side-soft-on-the-other pancake. Turn thicker and you will end up with a pillowy breakfast cake like nothing you get from the frying pan. My kids especially loved these because they had their own mini leaves to carry with them in the morning.

Oatmeal and other grains

David Priest / CNET

This seems obvious, but many of us do not try other grains in our rice cookers, even though they cook according to very similar processes. Oatmeal is a good breakfast option, and quinoa and farro are good, healthy alternatives to rice. Just follow the basic water-to-grain ratio in the instructions, and you would get a solid result. If you do this often, you can also fine-tune 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 done, let it cool for a few minutes while mixing sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and coconut milk. I eyeball the ingredients, but usually shoot at a rice-condensed-evaporated-coconut ratio of 4-2-1-1. Throw in a cinnamon stick, a strip of lemon zest (a big one so you can fish 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 set your stove to "warm", wait 45 minutes or so until you have the perfect rice pudding, mix in some cinnamon and serve.

Lenses

David Priest / CNET

Okay, take a break from the delicious and extremely unhealthy rice pudding to consider something a little kinder to your body: lenses. Most legumes do not work well in the rice producer because they need a lot of time to soak and simmer, but lentils actually cook really well in a base cooker. Throw them in with the water suggested in the package, and you should end up with a bowl of simple lentils. Again, depending on your device, you may want to adjust the conditions over several attempts, and adding a bay leaf, a little salt and pepper is not a bad idea to liven up the dish.

Soup and chili

Speaking of living dishes, what is better to pack with flavor than a nice soup or chili. Rice cookers are a little perfect for this type of food, as they are built to cook. That means you will definitely cook through turkey or beef, and if you taste every 15 or 20 minutes you can cook quite a lot of soup you can think of in its best form.

Apple Sauce

David Priest / CNET

My favorite rice cooker is apple mash. It is tasty, good for children and super easy to make and customize. I've adapted this recipe – which basically consists of cored and quartered gallal apples and water – to add some extra flavors like cinnamon, lemon, raspberry and more.

Want more surprising recipes? Check out our recommendations for Instant Pot .


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