Complete Meals in Rice Cookers

by Amy Chang

Complete Meals in Rice CookersRice cookers save a lot of time and energy when preparing side dishes or the rice-base to many meals. In addition to the preparation of compliments to a meal, they can be used as the pan to prepare an entire meal. There are many methods and recipes available to accomplish the more-or-less one pot cooking with a rice cooker.

The types of meals one can cook in rice cooker will depend on the model and the features. A rice cooker with a steaming basket offers a lot of flexibility but even more if it can be used while the rice or other food is being cooked inside the pot at the same time. This way, two items can cook at once.

While rice is cooking, the steamer basket can hold vegetables, potatoes, meat or a combination of these. For steaming in the rice cooker, some choices are better than others. Beef, lamb and pork do not cook thoroughly with steam so it is best to choose from poultry or fish options for the protein.

Porous vegetables such as summer squash, zucchini and mushrooms tend to discolor and become unappetizing after prolonged steaming. A heartier vegetable like cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts work much better in the steaming basket.

Meals that include red meat or pork can be prepared in the rice cooker. It is best if the meat is browned on the stove before adding to the rice cooker contents to ensure proper cooking temperature and safety.

Many people have had success with preparing pasta in the rice cooker. The cooking time is longer but several spaghetti and macaroni dishes are possible to prepare well in the appliance. One method is to break spaghetti up into smaller pieces and cook it in the sauce inside the rice cooker.

Perhaps the best meals prepared in the rice cooker come from recipes that originate in countries that traditionally use rice as a main component in the majority of meals. Asian recipes are particularly well suited to rice cookers.

Here is a list of dishes that have been found to work well in rice cookers:

Macaroni and Cheese 

Cabbage and Sausage

Chicken and Rice

Vegetables and Barley

Soup

Jambalaya

Chicken Paprikash 

Beans and Rice

Tofu and Brown Rice

Stews

Italian Rice and Peas

Steamed Salmon and Rice

Experimenting with the rice cooker is essential to figure out how to maximize its uses. When shopping for rice cookers, look for models that have a steamer basket and warming settings so that multiple items can be cooked at once. Korean, Japanese and Chinese recipes are great additions to the household menu and will help with ideas for ways to use the rice cooker. Any other recipes that call for long simmer times should be tried as well.