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Equipment Guide

A Guide to Rice Cookers

01 February 2022

Rice Cooker

Curious about rice cookers? Here’s the lowdown on this convenient kitchen gadget.

While we all know it’s more than possible to make great rice without a rice cooker— either in the oven or on the stove — there’s something about this unassuming machine that tends to spark our inner chef’s interest.

Devotees describe it as a tool that you’ll treasure once you take the first forkful of fluffy, plump and perfect rice. So good, in fact, that once you give this clever piece of kitchen kit a go, overcooked grains will officially be off the table for good.

With this guide to getting to know the rice cooker, we’ll be arming you with tips and tricks for whipping up rice so delicious that it will give you a whole new level of love for the nation’s favourite grain. But first, a little history lesson.

Rice cooker history

The electric rice cooker was originally conceived by one of the world’s biggest tech companies (back when they were just budding inventors) in the mid-20th century. But it was thanks to the wisdom of one Japanese housewife that changed the art of making rice in an electric cooker forever.

For centuries, the cooking of rice was a task that would often take up a large portion of the day, and one that required constant attention. So when a young engineer, Yoshitada Minami (one of the founders of Panasonic) was tasked by his boss to invent an electrical device that would cook rice without needing to be watched all day, Minami turned to his wife Fumiko, their household’s primary cook and, therefore, rice connoisseur.

With Minami’s expert engineering and his wife’s extensive knowledge and experience, the pair invented the “bimetallic strip”, which allowed the pot to turn off once it had reached perfect temperature and humidity. And so, the modern electric rice cooker was born! The couple cracking the code on this missing piece of the puzzle created the blueprint for the kinds of rice cookers you’ll find in homes and professional kitchens today.

This innovation transformed the way people cook and enjoy rice forever, but to really appreciate how, let’s look at the difference between this versus cooking on the stove.

Rice Cooker 2

Knowing the difference

We know the labour of love that goes into stirring rice in a pot on the hob — it’s an art really. But for those times when you wish you could be getting on with other things, a rice cooker is a real friend.

With a rice cooker, you have the benefit of being able to switch it on and walk away, confident that the device will take care of it all. That’s not to say that you have to keep things simple — quite the opposite! With a rice cooker, you can get creative, experimenting with different settings and recipes to enhance the flavour of each grain.

But how does a rice cooker compare to other appliances?

Slow cooker vs rice cooker

A slow cooker does not cook the same way as a rice cooker and vice-versa. So how do they both work?

Slow cookers are designed to distribute heat evenly, whereas a rice cooker is equipped to cook rice rapidly. As a result, a slow cooker generally takes 2-3 hours to cook your rice, whereas, in a rice cooker, it only takes between 25-35 minutes for perfectly cooked, steaming hot rice.

Instant pot vs rice cooker

An instant pot is a multifunctional appliance designed for a range of different purposes and cooking types, whereas a rice cooker focuses purely on cooking rice. So, although instant pots are generally faster at cooking rice than rice cookers, the results aren’t always as good as a rice cooker.

Rice cooker vs pressure cooker

At first glance, a rice cooker and a pressure cooker look pretty similar. And they both
cook rice really well at impressive speeds. However, rice cookers have been specifically developed to cook the perfect rice, with minimum effort and maximum flavour. So, if you cook rice more than 2/3 times a week, it’s a great tool for your kitchen.

Of course, if you are looking for a versatile appliance that you can use to cook up a range of different dishes, including (but not limited to) rice, a pressure cooker is likely to be more practical for your needs.

How does a rice cooker work?

As mentioned, this clever bit of kit takes the leg work (well, arm ache) out of waiting for rice to cook. But how exactly does it do it? In short, it all boils down to a built-in temperature control sensor that lives inside the bowl insert.

Once the correct amount of rice and water have been put into the bowl and the cooking has begun, the heating element fires up, activating the sensor. Then, when the pot reaches the optimal temperature, the water turns to steam and the thermostat turns off, allowing the rice to cook in the steam.


How to use a rice cooker

Each electric rice cooker will have its own unique functions and capabilities, but with this rough method as a guide, you can take your favourite rice dishes into a whole new world of flavour.

Measure out your rice

First, select the right rice for the right dish, and measure out the amount you need. Be sure to check the capacity your cooker holds, as you don’t want the rice to be overcrowded.

Rinse your rice thoroughly

Next, time for a rinse. The key to fluffy, distinct rice is all in the rinsing, so be sure to run your grains through water to remove the excess starch that tends to make the rice clumpy. Keep washing and rinsing until the rice grains are visible through the water.

Add the water

Once the rice has been rinsed, it’s time to add it, and the water, to the rice cooker. Getting the right amount is key to cooking up the perfect rice! Use a measuring cup and follow a 1 to 1 ratio – so add one cup of water for every cup of rice. This should create fluffy, but slightly sticky, rice.

Turn the rice cooker on

Close the lid to your rice cooker and set it on its way. Remember, once you’ve started the cooking process, don’t open the lid – this will let all the steam out and ruin your rice.

Let it rest

Once the machine has let you know the rice is done (yes, it does that for you!), you’ll need to let the rice sit and rest for 5 to 10 minutes.


When it’s time to serve, open the lid of the rice cooker and fluff it up using a rice paddle. Now, all that’s left to do is tuck in and enjoy your perfectly cooked rice!

Rice cooker tips

Even with the helping hand of an electric rice cooker, there’s still a little TLC required post-meal. To ease that process, here are a few hacks that make tidying up less taxing.

First, remove the internal pot and soak it in warm, soapy water to get almost all the grains gone. While that’s happening, take a soapy cloth and wipe down the lid, making sure to remove any soapy residue. Next, take a scouring pad and gently remove any dried-on food from the hotplate – be sure to only do this once the hotplate has totally cooled. Finally, mix a half-and-half mixture of white wine vinegar and water and wipe away any leftover food, dirt, or splashbacks with a cloth.

Of course, just as the method of cooking varies from machine to machine, as does the cleaning, so always be sure to read the instructions for your specific product.

Rice cooker measurements

When you’re getting to grips with your rice cooker, the measuring can be confusing. The good news is, it won’t take you long to cook up a storm in no time at all with our handy tips.

The majority of rice cookers come with a handy rice cup measure and product manual which you should utilise and always keep on hand!

Most rice cookers are also very easy to use. Simply measure the rice with a measuring cup and put it into your cooking pot.

As a general rule of thumb, you can follow a 1:1 ratio of water to rice for any type of grain size. If you want to make more rice, you can adjust the recipe easily. For example, if you use 2 cups of rice, you know that you will also have to use 2 cups of water.

Brown rice in a rice cooker

If you’re cooking brown rice in a rice cooker, you may need to adjust the ratios of water and rice slightly. This will also depend on the type of brown rice grain, as short-grain brown rice cooks differently to long-grain brown rice. The general guidance, however, is 2 ¼ cups of water for each cup of brown rice.

If your rice cooker has different settings, you may also find that brown rice requires longer to cook than white rice, check your manual for details.

White rice in a rice cooker

Follow these simple steps to cook white rice in your rice cooker:

• Rinse your white rice grains with cold water
• Carefully place 1 cup of rice into a rice cooker bowl
• Add 1 cup of water
• Start cooking in the rice cooker

Long-grain white rice in a rice cooker

If you are cooking long-grain white rice, follow these simple steps:

• Rinse the white rice grains with cold water
• Place 1 cup of rice in a rice cooker bowl
• Add 1 ½ cups of water per cup of rice
• Fire up your rice cooker!

Basmati rice in a rice cooker

Basmati rice is beautifully fragrant and flavourful. If you are cooking basmati rice, there are a couple of changes you can make to the cooking process to make your rice even better:

• Rinse your rice (it may require more rinsing than other types of rice)
• Add 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice
• Soak the rice for approximately 15-30 minutes
• Add any additional flavourings
• Turn on your rice cooker
• After cooking, always let your rice rest

Jasmine rice in a rice cooker

Jasmine rice has a unique aroma and taste. But to get the most from this rice, and ensure you get perfectly soft, sticky rice every time, it’s important to cook it correctly:

• After washing your jasmine rice, be sure to drain off all the water
• Place your rice into the inner pot of the rice cooker
• Add your water – one cup of water to every cup of rice
• If your rice cooker has different settings, select the white rice setting
• Leave the rice to settle for 10-20 minutes after cooking and then gently fluff before serving

How to care for your rice cooker

To get the most out of your rice cooker, you need to care for it well. Here are our tips for caring for your rice cooker:

• Always read the manual carefully before operating it to avoid any mistakes. Don’t be tempted to experiment with your appliance if you don’t know what you are doing.

• Only use the cleaning agents suggested by the manufacturer.

• Avoid using sharp objects which could potentially damage the non-stick coating and glass cover.

• The rice cooker should never be operated without the inner pot.

• Always fill the water up to the scale provided in the cooker and use your measuring cup.

• Keep your rice cooker clean, especially the lid and inner pan.

• Dry the cooker thoroughly before it is used again.