Rice is a staple food in the gastronomy of many countries, and it’s one of the most nutritious grains known to humankind. With almost 40,000 varieties of grains, rice-based dishes are practically endless. If your love for this hearty grain has motivated you to invest in a rice cooker, you might be wondering how to cook rice in a rice cooker when there are so many rice types available.
First of all, your first instinct is right: not all rice types need the same kind of preparation. Knowing the cooking needs for each type is crucial if you want to nail every dish you make. Your second instinct is also correct: a rice cooker will increase your success rate of getting the recipe perfect.See the Best Rice Cookers
A rice cooker can get you a long way. You can’t walk away from a stove once you turn it on. On the other hand, you can trust a rice cooker to turn itself off as soon as the cooking finishes. This little gadget also creates the perfect environment for the grain to cook perfectly and evenly in terms of temperature, heat distribution, and steaming time. No more sticky, mushy, watery, or burnt rice.
To get all these impressive results, you need to know how every type of rice is different from the other and then learn the best way to cook it in a rice cooker.
What Are the Different Types of Rice?
Rice has different categories depending on size, color, and most importantly, starch composition. After you start noticing the differences, you will never look at rice the same way again!
By Starch Composition
Two kinds of starch molecules make up the rice grain: amylose and amylopectin.
The starch molecular structure of the rice affects the physical, textural, and pasting properties of the rice when cooking. These molecules break down when cooking and form a gel, either making the rice fluffy or sticky.
Grains that contain amylose tend to cook fluffy and separately and harden after they cool down. You can find it in long grain white rice.
Grains containing amylopectin become sticky after cooking, making it perfect for risottos, salads, rice pudding, and sushi. You can find it in medium grain rice.
We can classify rice in different sizes short-, medium-, and long-grain. Here is how they are different from one another:
- Short-grain is plump and almost round shaped. This rice has a soft and sticky culture when cooked. It’s best for sushi and Asian cuisine.
- Medium-grain is longer than a short grain and about two to three times longer than its width. It has a tender structure and chewy texture that sticks together when cooked.
- Long-grain This kind is four to five times longer than its width. It has a firm and dry texture when cooked. It’s best for salads and pilaffs.
Rice is not only an ultra-nutrient grain, but it also offers a visual appeal with the different colors it comes in. The final color depends on how the grains were processed.
White rice is the most common rice we know. Some people call this kind polished or milled rice. It has a soft texture and doesn’t contain much fiber and protein, so it is advised to pair it with vegetables and protein sources. However, it is perfect for a post-workout to replenish the lost sugar and carbohydrates.
Brown rice is one of the healthiest grains you can find. It is rich in vitamins and minerals. It also takes more time to cook.
Black rice is high in nutritional value, has a mild nutty flavor, and becomes sticky when cooked. Mix it with white and brown rice to make a colorful and visually appealing dish.
Each type needs different cooking methods. Knowing what each type requires will help us know how to cook rice in rice cooker no matter what type it is.View Rice Cooker Reviews
How to Cook Rice in a Rice Cooker
The basis of cooking rice in a rice cooker is almost the same for all types of rice, except when it comes to the amount of water to add and cooking time. Here is what you need to know about these two variables to make the perfect rice dish every time you turn that rice cooker on!
1.) Water Measurements
You can measure your rice with a cup or with a scale. Either way, keep these water to rice in mind.
- White short-grain rice: 1:1 ratio. Ex: 1 cup of water for every 1 cup of rice.
- White medium-grain rice: 1.5:1 ratio. Ex: 1,5 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.
- White long-grain rice: 1.5:1 ratio. Ex: 1 1/2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.
- Brown long-grain rice: 2.25:1 ratio. Ex: 2 1/4 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.
- Jasmine or basmati rice: 1.5:1 ratio. Ex: 1 1/2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice. Use only 1:1 ratio if you wash the rice beforehand.
- “Parboiled” rice: 2:1 ratio. Ex: 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.
These measurements are recommendations and not an exact science. The settings on rice cookers can differ so always try them out then tweak them until they fit your case.
2.) Cooking Time
Some types of rice take more time to prepare than others. Your rice cooker instructions should cover this area. In case it doesn’t, here are some indications on how much time different rice types require to cook:
- Short-, medium-, and long-grain white rice grains take about 15 minutes to cook.
- Brown grain rice takes about 40 and 45 minutes to cook.
- Jasmine or Basmati rice takes about 25 minutes to cook.
- “Parboiled” rice takes about 20 minutes to cook.
3.) Cooking Instructions
You got the water measurements and cooking time figured out, now is the time to get to work and get cooking!
- Wash your rice if you’d like to remove any contaminants or any bad grains floating on the surface. However, white rice sold in the U.S. is required to be enriched with some vitamins and minerals (powdered iron, niacin, thiamin, or folic acid). You might remove these nutrients if you wash the rice. The choice is yours, depending on the brand of rice you’re using and where you purchased it.
- Add your rice to the rice cooker pot and pour the recommended amount of water. Let it soak for thirty minutes if you want to make it stickier.
- Season your rice right away if you’re whipping up a flavorful dish. You can add salt, pepper, turmeric, oil or butter, bay leaves, or herbs. It all depends on your recipe.
- Stir the pot two times and push the grains to the side and under the water level. Stirring for too long can release excess starch and make the rice stickier and clumpier. Don’t let any grain float, Otherwise, the rice might burn during cooking. If there is a grain that keeps on floating back, take it away using your spatula. Use a wooden or plastic utensil so that you don’t damage the pot or scratch it.
- Close the lid on the rice cooker, plug your rice cooker in, and turn it on. You will hear a clicking noise and see the switch button light up. If you have a rice cooker with many settings, choose the ones that are most suitable for your rice. We will go over these options in depth in our next section.
- Leave the rice alone while it cooks. You don’t need to keep checking on the rice or open the lid to examine it. The rice cooker will turn itself off when the water vaporizes and the temperature inside the pot exceeds water’s boiling point.
- Keep the rice for an additional ten minutes after the cooking finishes. Unplug the rice, then open the lid. The water should be all gone, and the rice should be cooked.
- Take the pot off or transfer the rice to another big bowl and break the clumps using a wooden utensil. This will release the steam and fluff the rice.
- Serve and enjoy.
With all that being said, not all rice cookers are manufactured the same. Basic rice cookers have a switch button to turn them on and a few options, while more advanced ones could be considered the Iron Man of kitchen gadgets. Here are a few features to know.
4.) Rice Cooker Settings and Options
Basic rice cookers: On a basic level, rice cookers should be able to do what their name says they do. Many models are inexpensive and quite intuitive to use. They are usually pot-style cookers with a one-button operation.
Advanced rice cookers: Advanced rice cookers are a wonder of technology. They may include an automatic timer, built-in steam trays, a “keep warm” mode, and even choose the variety of rice you’re cooking. If you want the brown rice setting, the cooker will add a heated soaking period to decrease the overall cooking time. The “keep warm” option is helpful for many reasons. It keeps the cooker rice warm after it cooks. Don’t keep the rice in the device from more than 12 hours, though. This may lead to food poisoning.
5.) Setting Your Own Cooking Rules
You might run into some issues the first few times you use your rice cooker. Don’t worry, though. You can work out its kinks and adjust your water measurements and settings.
If your rice is too mushy, reduce the water you’re using. This way, it’ll absorb less water and be a bit firmer. Don’t throw away the overcooked rice. Numerous recipes use mushy rice, including sweet desserts, soups, and baby food.
On the other hand, if there is extra water in the pot, this may mean that the rice cooker is defective. If this happens, test the rice for doneness. Transfer firm rice with the water to a pot and cook on the stove. If the rice is cooked, drain the water and serve.
For those who find their rice burnt, remove it from the cooker as soon as it is done. Don’t leave it on the “warming” mode.
Now that you know how to cook rice in a rice cooker, we have some fantastic news for you: rice isn’t the only thing you can cook on a rice cooker. You can prepare full breakfasts, steam veggies and meat, and even bake cakes with it!
Read our next article to scoop out the tasty options the rice cookers have to offer!