How To Use A Rice Cooker As A Steamer?

A rice cooker, as the name suggests, is an appliance used to cook rice. It uses the combination of heat and intense pressure of steam to do its job. It’s a cylindrical-shaped appliance consisting of a thermostat, a cooking bowl, and a heat source. It makes the water reach the boiling point to produce steam.

This pressurized steam is solely responsible for the cooking of rice in your rice cooker. It’s a straightforward thing designed to boil water until all of it gets absorbed by the food.

However, there’s a lot more your rice cooker can do than cooking rice. The purpose of your rice cooker isn’t just to cook rice; it’s much more than that. You can quickly steam vegetables, slow-cook various kinds of soups, beans, or stews.

Let’s look at how you can use your rice cooker as a steamer and use it as a multi-functional cooking appliance. 

use rice cooker as a steamer

What Can You steam In A Rice Cooker Besides Rice?

Now that you know your rice cooker can cook more than just rice, why not discuss some of them?

While there are many foods that you can cook in a rice cooker, not all of them can be consulted here. Anyways, we’ll try to mention some of them that can be cooked in the best rice cooker in India

  • Oatmeal: You can ditch the microwave for this one. Quickly cook oatmeal in your rice cooker by simply replacing water and rice with oats and milk. Yes, it’s that easy.
  • Banana Bread: When it comes to gluten-free deliciousness, and a super-moist mouth-watering texture, very few dishes come close to banana bread. If you don’t have a convection microwave oven, use your rice cooker to get the same results.
  • Mac ‘n’ Cheese: This cheesy and delicious pasta dish is set to add a fabulous crunch to your breadcrumbs, or you can eat it directly. The rice-cooker recipe is so simple that even kids can do it.
  • Giant Pancake: Pancakes are everyone’s favorite, but no one loves to sit in front of the stove for an hour to cook them. Thankfully, you can prepare a giant pancake in a fraction of the time in a rice cooker. 
  • Spaghetti with Vegetables: The pressure and steam provide a perfect environment for cooking spaghetti in a rice cooker. You can even add some vegetables if you want.
  • Chocolate Lava Cake: Chocolate lava cake stays on top of everyone’s priority list. However, pulling off this one requires a few skills and cooking experience. The best of all is that something as delicious as chocolate lava cake can be easily made in a rice cooker. 
  • Quinoa: Quinoa is one of the easiest-to-make grains that you’ll ever cook. You can quickly cook this dish in a rice cooker. It’s fast, delicious, and has a mouth-watering texture.

Can You Steam Vegetables in A Rice Cooker?

Short answer: Yes, you can. Most rice cookers consist of a small steam basket that allows you to steam vegetables in a rice cooker. The basket is perfectly sized and fits into the pot.

The process goes as simple as putting the vegetables in the steam basket and adequately filling the rice cooker with water. Cover it with the lid and steam your vegetables until you feel right. 

If your rice cooker doesn’t have a steamer basket, you can add a small trivet, or a small bowl, or even a plate to put your vegetables in it. It works with the same efficiency as with a steam basket. 

However, note that the cooking time will be longer than the time you’ve chosen. Water takes time to boil, and the timer counts from when the water starts to boil, not the time when you close the lid and press the button.

How Much Water Should You Use To Steam Vegetables In A Rice Cooker? 

Some vegetables are a bit tougher than the others. Take the example of broccoli and cauliflower, for instance. Broccoli takes less time and less water to cook in a rice cooker than cauliflower. It happens due to variations in the toughness of the vegetables.

However, on average, 2-3 cups of water are required to cook most vegetables in a rice cooker. Just fill the steam basket or the small bowl with vegetables and position it over the water. Cover the lid and let the vegetables cook for about 20-30 mins, depending upon the types of vegetables. You can even cut the vegetables into small pieces to make the process more efficient. 

How Much Time Does A Rice Cooker Take To Steam Foods?

While you can cook lots of food varieties in a rice cooker, the time is variable. It heavily depends on which type of food you’re cooking. For instance, cooking vegetables like broccoli takes less time than cooking cauliflower.

Cooking oatmeal in a rice cooker is way faster than cooking banana bread. There is no direct answer to this question. However, on average, a rice cooker takes 30 mins to cook food, and you must leave it as it is for 10 mins and wait for the steam to be absorbed. 

How To Steam In A Rice Cooker Without A Steamer?

Although most rice cookers have a steam basket separately for cooking vegetables, some lack a steaming basket, and we can’t ignore them. You don’t have to worry if your rice cooker doesn’t have a steam basket too, regular household items and utensils will do the trick. 

Method 1: Plate On Tinfoil or aluminium foil

The method is as simple as it sounds and works magically. It doesn’t require any other utensil except a heatproof plate.

  1. Take the tin or aluminum foil and make 3-4 balls of it roughly the golf balls’ size.
  2. Fill the rice cooker with 2-3 cups of water, place the balls in the rice cooker and position the heatproof plate filled with vegetables on top of it.
  3. That’s it, now wait for 30 mins and let the vegetables cook with the same efficiency as with a steam basket.

Method 2: Use A Small Bowl

Fill the rice cooker with 2-4 cups of water as you usually do for cooking vegetables. Place the bowl filled with vegetables in the rice cooker and let it steam for half an hour. You’ll be amazed how this simple trick works wonders for cooking your vegetables in a rice cooker. 

Method 3: Steam In Water

If you’re lazy and don’t want the hassle of washing some extra utensils, you can directly add vegetables to the water.

Fill the rice cooker with water and add the vegetables; let it cook for 30 mins, and you’re done. However, this method doesn’t work well with all vegetables. Unlike the previous two methods, this one will make some vegetables taste watery.

For ex- potato tastes very bad and bland if cooked using this method. However, cooking vegetables like broccoli turned out to be just fine. We recommend you use the above two ways instead of this one for better results. 

In the following video, Coral Hoyt beautifully explains one of the above techniques.

Can You Steam Frozen Vegetables In A Rice Cooker?

The thermostat present in your rice cooker measures the rice cooker’s overall temperature, including the water and the vegetables. It heats the water until it reaches its boiling point. Adding frozen vegetables to the rice cooker won’t change this simple cooking principle in a rice cooker.

The ice on vegetables (if there is any) will melt, and the rice cooker will generally function as it would have otherwise. So, yes, you can steam frozen vegetables in a rice cooker just like regular veggies.

Can You Steam Non-Veg Food Like Meat In A Rice Cooker?

To cook non-veg food in a rice cooker, you have to get a steam rack if you don’t want to compromise with the cooked meat’s quality and texture. If you place it in a bowl or a plate, some parts will be left uncooked, which will ruin the meat’s taste.

Once you put your seasoned meat in the steam rack, please place it in the rice cooker filled with 2.5 cups of water. In the case of meat, you must avoid overcooking. The rice cooker will keep cooking the meat until the water is evaporated, resulting in overcooking. Setting a timer is the best way to prevent it.

Final Words

A rice cooker is a multi-functional cooking appliance, even though the name doesn’t support that definition. A rice cooker uses steam to cook the food; that said, you can also use it as a steamer. You can use a rice cooker as a steamer and cook several foods and vegetables, thanks to the steam’s extreme heat and pressure. 

Despite having a straightforward principle of working, the effectiveness and efficiency of a rice cooker are remarkable. A rice cooker maintains the tenderness and deliciousness of the food while being extremely energy efficient. The food cooked in a rice cooker always retains that mouth-watering texture and flavor. Fast food, vegetables, meat, fish, chicken- you name it, a rice cooker can cook it. All you need is a little patience.

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