How To Use A Rice Cooker As A Steamer?

As the name suggests, a rice cooker is an appliance designed to cook rice. It uses a combination of heat and intense steam pressure to do its job. The steam generated by applying heat in a rice cooker is solely responsible for cooking rice.

On the other hand, food steamers produce only steam used mainly for steaming vegetables and fish. Although some steamers come with rice cooking baskets, they are not as efficient as the best rice cookers for your home.

The purpose of your rice cooker isn’t just to cook rice; it’s much more than that. You can quickly steam vegetables and slow-cook various kinds of soups, beans, or stews. Most rice cookers also come with a steamer tray or basket. Let’s look at how you can use your rice cooker as a steamer and multi-functional cooking appliance.

use rice cooker as a steamer

How Can You Use Your Rice Cooker As A Steamer?

Most rice cookers have a steam basket separately for steaming vegetables and other foods. The process is even easier than steaming vegetables in traditional ways. Follow these steps to use the rice cooker as a steamer-

  • Step 1: Pour 2-4 cups of water into the cooking bowl inside the rice cooker. The quantity of water depends on the number of vegetables and the cooker’s capacity.
  • Step 2: Cut and wash the vegetables, fish, or meat properly. Next, put them on the steamer basket inside the rice cooker and close the lid.
  • Step 3: Choose the “cook” option and press the button to start steaming foods in the rice cooker. You may also like to set the timer for an appropriate period.
  • Step 4: After completion, remove the food from the basket and serve.

This is the best process of steaming food in a rice cooker, as most rice cookers come with a steamer basket. However, if you know the alternative ways, you don’t have to worry, even if your rice cooker doesn’t have a steam basket.

using rice cooker as steamer with the steamer basket

Alternative Ways Of Using Rice Cooker For Steaming Food

If you cannot steam vegetables with the above method, do not worry, as there are a few more ways to use the rice cooker as a steamer.

Method 1: Steam While Cooking Rice

This is the best alternative way of steaming vegetables in a rice cooker. When adding raw rice and water to the rice cooker, include vegetables like potato, okra, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Simply operate the rice cooker as you do for cooking rice. However, this process involves more boiling and less steaming.

Method 2: Use Aluminum foil

The method is as simple as it sounds and works magically. It doesn’t require any other utensil except a heat-resistant plate, preferably made of ceramic.

  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 heat-resistant plate filled with vegetables on top of it.
  3. Now wait for 10-20 mins and let the vegetables cook with the same efficiency as with a steam basket.

Method 3: Use A Small Bowl

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

In the following video, Coral Hoyt explains one of the above techniques to use your rice cooker as a steamer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Steam Vegetables in A Rice Cooker?

Yes, you can. Most rice cookers consist of a steamer basket or tray that allows you to steam vegetables. The process is as simple as putting the vegetables in the basket and filling the cooking bowl adequately with water. Cover it with the lid and steam your vegetables until you feel right. You can also follow the alternative ways to steam vegetables in your rice cooker.

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

Though the quantity of water for steaming vegetables varies, you need 2-4 cups of water on average. Some vegetables are a bit tougher to boil than the others. For instance, take the example of broccoli and cauliflower. Broccoli takes less time and less water than cauliflower to cook in a rice cooker. You can even cut the vegetables into small pieces to make the steaming process more efficient.

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

Like the quantity of water, the time required to steam foods varies for different vegetables. Usually, running the rice cooker for 15-30 minutes is enough for steaming all hard and soft vegetables. Steaming non-vegetarian foods like meat and fish may need more time, depending on the type.

What Can You Steam In A Rice Cooker Besides Vegetables?

Apart from steaming vegetables, you can use your rice cooker to steam fish, meat, and vegetables like potato, capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, etc. Wrapping the meat in aluminum foil will enrich the flavor after steaming.

Can You Steam Frozen Food In A Rice Cooker?

Yes, you can steam frozen food in a rice cooker like the standard process mentioned above. The ice on vegetables (if there is any) will melt, and the rice cooker will function as it would have otherwise. However, the flavor can change if you abruptly change the frozen food’s temperature. Melt the icy parts of frozen foods by rinsing them into tap water for the best result. When there is no frost left, steam the food in your rice cooker.

A rice cooker maintains the tenderness and deliciousness of the steamed food while being energy efficient. The vegetables steamed on the steamer basket of a rice cooker always retain that mouth-watering texture and flavor. Follow our step-by-step guide and alternative methods to use your rice cooker as a steamer. As alternatives to rice cookers, electric pressure cookers are pretty similar in the function of cooking and steaming foods.


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