One-use kitchen tools? Boo to that! Who wants to spend precious storage space on a gadget you can use to make only one thing? (Unless that one thing is healthy mint chocolate chip ice cream!)
Luckily, the rice cooker isn’t a one-hit wonder. Yes, it makes perfect rice every time, but it can also make quinoa, pancakes, eggs,, chicken, and even chocolate cake.
Surprised? Try out these versatile rice-cooker recipes and see just how much range this tool has. Best of all, these dishes are the ultimate in set-it-and-forget-it cooking.
That means less time manning the stove and more time getting R and R. So pick a recipe, set the cooker, and relax with Netflix or reading material, knowing something delicious is minutes away.
1. Rice cooker quinoa
Whether you’re eating quinoa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or you’re new to the quinoa camp, it’s easier than ever to make. We mean, like, do-it-with-your-eyes-closed easy.
Rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear, add it to the rice cooker along with some water (double the amount of quinoa), and step away. You’re done. Make a big batch for the week and jazz it up as you go along: almonds, fresh herbs, and lemon juice are all great add-ins.
2. Vanilla almond steel-cut oatmeal
The rice cooker: not just for dinner anymore. Here, it’s making overnight oats. All the best breakfast flavors — oh hi, vanilla, almond, and maple syrup — simmer with nondairy milk and steel-cut oats. The texture is terrific too.
3. Super cheesy polenta
Polenta is the definition of comfort food: a warm-you-up cornmeal porridge that makes a perfect side dish for a Sunday roast or a veggie-based entrée. (Our advice: Put an egg on it!)
Here it gets the ultra-cheesy treatment in an easy-breezy recipe. (Tip: You can reduce the amount of cheese and it’ll still be tasty.)
4. Rice cooker risotto
This recipe cuts the fuss of all that stirring but still creates a creamy, al dente texture. OK, so there’s a little stirring in the beginning — that’s when the flavors of soft onions, wine, rice, and vegetables will first meet.
Then you add stock, stir one last time, and set the timer. Done. The blogger gives tips on changing it up with mushrooms, asparagus, or spinach. Yup, risotto’s gonna be a regular on your table.
5. Rice pudding
Four ingredients plus one rice cooker equals one awesome dessert. Even if you’ve never been a rice pudding fan, the indulgent simplicity of this sweet, vanilla-scented pudding just might sway you away from a late-night Ben & Jerry’s hookup.
6. Ginger chicken and rice
Can we even call this a recipe if it has just one step? A one-pot complete meal of chicken and rice jazzed up with coconut milk, ginger, and spinach. Dinner has never been so simple yet delicious.
7. Easy rice cooker chicken curry
Here are three great reasons to make this dish. One: This curry is out of this world. Two: It’s ridiculously simple to make. Three: It uses common ingredients — no more half-used bottles of obscure spices!
Throw the ingredients in the rice cooker after a long day, and the wafting smell of curry will revive you.
If you’re a vegetarian, skip the chicken. You won’t miss the meat thanks to the jambalaya mix, but feel free to add more veggies, beans, or mushrooms.
8. Chicken and daikon soup
Cursing flu season? When you need a cozy, healing soup, try this Chinese-inspired one. Ginger chicken and shiitake mushrooms bob around in a full-flavored broth that will warm you to your bones.
Setting the rice cooker first to “Cook” and then to “Warm” ensures that the broth gets a rich, slow-cooked taste in a fraction of the time it would take in a slow cooker.
9. Chicken chili
Good news! Chili, that slow-cooker staple, comes together just as easily in a rice cooker.
This basic chicken chili recipe is easily adaptable — add more vegetables, replace the ground chicken with beef, sneak in some crushed hot red pepper — or you can stick with the original. It’s a delicious, hearty classic.
Hint: Throw a little Greek yogurt on top as a sour cream sub.
10. Taco soup
Satisfy your Tex-Mex cravings with this hearty soup. Brown rice, black beans, chicken, and veggies make up the core. Top off your bowl with your favorite fixings, like cheese, avocado, or Greek yogurt.
11. Hard- and soft-boiled eggs
This is the ultimate rice-cooker hack. The trick here is the (little-used) steamer tray. This blogger gives lots of great tips, like how to prevent the dreaded gray-green edge around the yolk and how to stop the eggs from getting overdone (put them in a bowl of ice water after cooking).
And her roll-it-on-the-counter trick for quick, easy peeling is brilliant.
12. Frittata with summer vegetables
Frittata requires a watchful eye — unless you have a rice cooker. This elegant dish pulls together potatoes, zucchini, and peppers, first sautéed in a pan and then loaded into the rice cooker with eggs.
Tip: You can use any veggies that are chilling in your fridge, so get down with your bad self and clear out that crisper drawer.
Consider this hearty dish a major multitasker: Serve it between slices of crusty bread for a filling lunchtime sandwich or pair it with a salad for a light dinner.
13. Country-style ribs
Listen to this: Ribs cooked in beer without a grill or an oven. Did your heart just skip a beat? It turns out your humble rice cooker can give you fall-off-the-bone pork cooked to perfection.
Here it’s simmered in classic Guinness-and-BBQ sauce. Bonus: Hands-free cooking means less time mopping up sauce messes — until you’re ready to chow down. That’s when it’s time to bust out a stack of napkins.
Hint: You can reduce the amount of brown sugar by 1/4 cup and these ribs will still taste great. We like to add fresh chiles to the sauce and serve it up with coleslaw.
14. Chinese-style roast pork
Roasted pork sans oven? Get it, rice cooker. Sauté boneless pork loin in a pan and then get that roasted, slow-cooked taste while it simmers with soy sauce, sake, mirin, ginger, and garlic. The result is a juicy, tender roast. A great main dish in half the time it would take in a slow cooker.
Even better: The leftovers make awesome tacos, salads, and sandwiches.
15. Sausage jambalaya
Channel your inner Southerner by making this sausage jambalaya. Adding five ingredients to the rice cooker produces a down-home meal that’s ideal for busy — or just lazy — evenings.
The only struggle is resisting the urge to peek as the flavors of sausage, beans, and rice meld in a cloud of tantalizing aromas.
16. Rice-cooker pancake
This recipe makes a big, fluffy pancake. You know what that means? Just pour in the batter, flip the switch, and walk away. That’s a whole lot better than standing over a hot stove, flipping pancakes. Top it with fresh fruit, maple syrup, and Greek yogurt.
17. Rice-cooker chocolate cake
With no eggs or milk required, this cake is suitable for vegans — and the rest of us.
If you’d rather eat baked goods than make them, this recipe takes the cake. Ten ingredients (plus water) tossed into the rice cooker create this cushy, chocolaty cake.
Top it with your favorite frosting, a dusting of powdered sugar, or even a little nut butter.
18. Poached pomegranate spiced pears
Loaded with flavors like cardamom, cinnamon, and anise, these spiced pears make an elegant dessert for a holiday party or potluck.
Not only are they Instagram-ready gorgeous (let them sit in the poaching liquid overnight to get a bright color), but you can make them ahead of time. No need to disappear mid-party to peer nervously into the pot.
The rice cooker deserves a place on your kitchen counter for reasons far beyond the world of rice. It’s can cook everything from the perfect hard-boiled egg to a vegan chocolate cake. And you know what else? It makes absolutely awesome rice too.