When you head to the store to pick up a rice cooker, you are probably thinking of making … well, rice! But it turns out that there is a lot more you can do with a high-quality rice cooker! If you think outside the box a bit, even a relatively simple rice cooker without too many bells and whistles can handle some other pretty surprising recipes. And just as your rice cooker makes preparing rice fast and easy, it makes all of these recipes a cinch too! Let’s check it out.
1. Macaroni and cheese
Want to make delicious, creamy mac ‘n cheese the easy way? Try making it in your rice cooker using this simple recipe. All you have to do is dump your macaroni in the rice cooker along with a cup of water or chicken stock and a cup of heavy cream or half-and-half. You close the lid and push the “cook” button, and then wait. When the cooker switches to “keep warm,” you add the remaining ingredients, and you’re all set! One thing that is great about cooking macaroni and cheese this way is that you can keep it warm and ready to go for hours if you want to, just like you can with rice!
2. Quinoa salad
Rice isn’t the only grain you can cook in your rice cooker; you can also prepare quinoa for hot and cold dishes. One great idea is to try making a quinoa salad! There’s a great recipe at The Hedonista where you can discover how to make pomegranate and quinoa salad. It’s easy to make, and the advantage of using the rice cooker is that your quinoa cooks through consistently, so there aren’t any hard bits. This is a great healthy meal, and without the rice cooker, it’d be a lot more work.
Who says you need to go out and buy a bread maker to enjoy a fresh homemade loaf? You don’t have to if you have a rice cooker! You can bake in it with surprisingly little effort. What’s nice is that the rice cooker not only evenly cooks your loaf through, but also does a great job shaping it into a loaf. As with the quinoa, there really is no limit to what you can do here in terms of recipes. Here’s a great recipe to start with for cheesy jalapeno bread. Prefer something sweeter? Try making rice cooker banana bread.
Love Korean food? It turns out you can make your own delicious kimchi at home in your rice cooker! This recipe tells you all the ingredients that you need and provides you with the instructions. Note that kimchi needs several days to stand in order for all the ingredients to meld together, so your rice cooker will be out of commission for a while. But once you try your homemade kimchi, it will be worth it!
Want to try another tasty Korean recipe in your rice cooker? Bibimbap with salmon and spinach is a great recipe which you can make right in your rice cooker! I am a big fan of bibimbap, but the one time I tried making it, I found it a serious challenge. Of course, that was without the help of a rice cooker! This recipe has a lot of steps, but it looks a lot easier and faster!
6. Poached pears
Another recipe I tried once involved poached spiced pears. I’ve only had it once, because it was so much work to prepare, but I remember really liking it. And now I’ve discovered a recipe for poached pomegranate spiced pears in a rice cooker. These make for a tasty dessert, and they are so much easier to make than what I remember. An excellent treat over the winter holidays, these also will go over great at a party.
There’s nothing like a hot bowl of chili to warm you up on a cold day. This is another delicious meal you can prepare in your rice cooker. It only takes a few minutes to get ready, though you do need all the ingredients you would use for regular chili. The cook time is pretty short, and once you get everything in your rice cooker, the meal should be ready in about an hour. This can save you significant time compared to a standard chili recipe.
I love Indian food, but it’s a challenge to make. So I was thrilled when I discovered that you can make it in your rice cooker. This recipe will run down all the ingredients that you need as well as the instructions. This one takes a number of steps, but the result is worth it. This is probably one of the easiest ways you’ll ever find to make Indian food at home.
There you have it—your rice cooker is way more than a rice cooker! It’s one of the most all-around helpful appliances you can have in your kitchen. These are just a few of the dozens of surprising food preparation tasks your rice cooker can help you with. Be sure to share your favorite rice cooker recipes with us in the comments!