If you regularly make rice, a rice cooker is one of the best investments you can make for your kitchen. Unlike stovetop rice cooking, which is wholly dependent on keeping an eye on a simmering pot to avoid burning or undercooking, a rice cooker takes the guesswork out of making perfect rice, as long as you measure correctly.
Rice Cooker Cooking 101
A basic rice cooker contains heating elements as well as a built-in thermostat that keeps track of the temperature of the pot. After you add the rice and the water, the water starts to boil and steam, and once the thermostat hits a certain temperature, the heat automatically reduces, and the device shuts itself off (or switches to “Warm” mode). Many models of rice cookers also have a steamer tray that enables you to steam vegetables at the same time as the rice cooks. No guesswork is involved because the rice cooker does all the work for you!
Use the rice cooker by adding rice and water at a particular ratio and then turning on the cooker. While this sounds relatively straightforward, you can experience different levels of success with a rice cooker. The main issue is the ratio of water to rice. Too much water, and your rice will have a wet, soupy consistency. Too little, and you risk burning the rice at the bottom of the pan.
How Much Water for a Rice Cooker?
As a general rule of thumb, use the accepted ratio of 1 cup of water per 1 cup of dry rice. Therefore, for 3 cups of rice, you would add 3 cups of water, if your cooker can hold that much. The rice-to-water ratio is tricky, though, because some rice cookers cook more quickly than others.
The first time you use your rice cooker, you should follow the directions included with your model. These instructions provide the ideal rice-to-water ratio, and you can use that as a jumping-off point. If you find that your rice cooker burns the rice at the bottom of the pan, or, on the other hand, if the water doesn’t fully evaporate, you know you need to make an adjustment.
Once you’ve experimented a few times with the rice cooker, you’ll come to an understanding of how your rice cooker works. When you discover the perfect ratio, you’ll be able to churn out perfect bowl of rice after perfect bowl of rice.
How to Cook Jasmine Rice
Other than the rice-to-water ratio, you’ll learn that certain types of rice cook more quickly than others. Long-grain rice may take longer to cook than basmati rice, for example. Cooking different types of rice is a case of trial and error.
If you're cooking jasmine rice, allow a ratio of 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry rice. Allow the rice cooker to do its work while you wait, and then after it turns off or goes to “warm” mode, instead of taking the rice out of the cooker immediately, allow it to sit and cool for about 20 minutes. Doing so helps prevent stickiness and mushiness and allows the rice to “cure.”
Most rice cookers come with a paddle, and, as you lift the lid off the rice cooker, fluff the grains with a paddle. This will prevent the grains on the bottom from getting too crushed and keep the rice in good shape as it cures.
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience writing about education for a variety of organizations and educational institutions as well as online media sites.