10 Surprising Dishes You Can Make in Your Rice Cooker

Does your rice cooker often collect dust at the back of your cupboard? Despite what the name suggests, there is far more you can do with rice cookers than steam rice. In addition to handling a wide variety of foods, they can also help you save space and time in the kitchen.

Another benefit of rice steamers is that they use less power than cooking in a pot. They are well-insulated and the heat generated only goes into the food. Whereas, a burner on the stove will naturally heat the air around the pot and waste more energy.

Check out these delicious possibilities to get you started.

1. Lentils and Beans

Rice cookers work well for all types of legumes. Beans should always be soaked for 8 hours or overnight before cooking, but at least you can skip the hours of watching them boil in a pot. Keep in mind they will increase in size as they cook, so only fill up your cooker to two-thirds at the most with soaked beans. Then top up with the usual amount of water you would add for rice.

The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook has an excellent chart for bean and lentil cook times.

Steamed vegetables

2. Vegetables

Many rice cookers come with a vegetable steaming insert tray that sits overtop your rice as it steams. Refer to your cooker’s instructions for exact details on how to use your individual insert. Typically, you’ll start your rice cooking and add the vegetables in the last 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Other Grains

Why stop at rice in your cooker? Most other grains, such as quinoa, millet, sorghum, whole oats, barley, teff and amaranth, will also do well in your rice steamer. The amount of water for each may take a bit of experimenting, but most grains will use the same amount as you would normally use for rice.

You can also mix grains or different types of rice in one batch for added variety.

4. Risotto and Polenta

A rice cooker makes both these dishes far easier than cooking them in a pot, which can be tricky and time-consuming.

As a start, try out these recipes for mushroom risotto and herbed polenta.


5. Breakfast Dishes

You can quickly throw a healthy breakfast into your rice steamer to save time during your morning preparations. These are some great options:

  • Oatmeal or other hot grains – From plain oatmeal to quinoa breakfast cereal, the choices are endless.
  • Frittata – Egg dishes are easily done in a rice cooker, or try a vegan frittata instead.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs – The rice cooker is a hands-off way to make perfect hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel.
  • Pancakes – Use your favorite pancake mix or recipe and cook a batch in the rice steamer. It will come out as one, big cake that you can slice into separate servings.

6. Meat and Fish

Similar to vegetables, meat and fish can also be cooked in the steamer insert of your rice cooker. Either place it over your rice while it’s cooking or steam your meat and fish alone. Make sure meats reach their safe cooking temperature, which you can monitor with a meat thermometer.


7. Dumplings, Tamales and Pierogies

Whether you make your own or use frozen varieties, a rice cooker can simplify the process of cooking fiddly items like these. If you’re heating up frozen dumplings, they can be easily done in your steaming insert.

And if you’re up for making your own, a couple tasty examples are Pumpkin Tamales with Cherry Mole and vegetarian steamed dumplings.

8. Pasta Dishes

Dry pasta can be cooked in a rice steamer, along with the sauce or other seasonings. It can be done with a simple marinara sauce, or try a classic dish like macaroni and cheese.

chili bowl

9. Main Courses

Many of your favorite recipes can be adapted to the rice cooker for no-fuss dinners. Chilis, soups, stews and casserole-type dishes can all work well. A few examples are:

10. Desserts

Last but not least, your rice cooker can handle all sorts of different desserts.

  • Poached or cooked fruit – Lots of variations on fruit desserts are possible, such as pomegranate spiced pears.
  • Cakes – Many of your favorite cake recipes can be done in a rice steamer.
  • Homemade applesauce – You can make a quick batch with assorted leftover apples.
  • Puddings – Some rice steamers have a pudding or porridge setting you can use for soft and creamy desserts, such as tapioca pudding.
  • Cheesecake – Simplify preparation of this classic dessert.

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Greta L
Past Member 8 months ago

thank you for sharing

David C
David Cabout a year ago


Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing .

Sachin S.
Sachin S.1 years ago

What a mouth-watering article! Pure clay pots are also great rice cookers -- thanks to this tested and certified100% non-toxic material. You get soft, fluffy and delicious rice every time without any additives. I'd like to post a link here with your permission, just in case anybody wants to know more about this healthy rice cooker: http://miriamsearthencookware.com/2013/04/25/how-to-delicious-fluffy-rice/

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Cela V.
Cela V3 years ago


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers3 years ago


Christine Stewart

Thank you! I have my own combo for a one pot wonder. I put the rice, water and a cut up onion and start the rice cooker. 15 minutes before it should be done, I add frozen/ thawed edamame. When the bell dings, I add a thawed bag of peas. Once that is hot, I stir in rice vinegar, soy sauce, siriacha. Yum!

Randy Q.
Past Member 3 years ago


federico bortoletto
federico b3 years ago

Grazie dell'articolo.