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Rice Cooker vs Slow Cooker: What’s the Difference and Which is Better?

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Whether you’re moving to a new place or simply want to increase your arsenal of cooking equipment, it’s always reasonable to know which kitchen appliances to get. The technological advancements and the multitudes of devices available in the market today may make it difficult to choose, but it all comes down to what you truly need and what you’ll be able to use frequently.

Ideally, it would be good to have a rice cooker and a slow cooker, as each appliance functions differently and can cook different kinds of food. You can savor a slow-cooked meal and also enjoy fluffy rice with excellent taste. However, in a rice cooker versus slow cooker scenario, which one should you get?

If you don’t have enough space in your kitchen or the budget is too tight for both a rice cooker and slow cooker, it’s best to examine your lifestyle to see which one is the best fit for you. As a food writer, I’m here to help you with that.

The Similarities

Before we delve into the different functions that make rice cooker and slow cooker appliances unique from each other, let’s first examine their similarities. A slow cooker and a rice cooker operate on the same mechanism. Their heat settings are different but they both emit heat from the bottom, moving up to the sides of their inner pot.

Rice cookers and slow cookers both require little to no supervision, unlike stovetop cooking. Simply put in your ingredients, set your time and mode, and simply walk away. These similarities allow you to use them interchangeably with some recipes like soups and stews.

The Differences

While rice cookers and slow cookers both both units offer fuss-free cooking, the majority of their functions are drastically different. A rice cooker is made to quickly cook grains, letting you serve your perfectly cooked white rice in a little over 20 minutes. 

In contrast, a slow cooker — as per the name — is made to slowly cook food using low heat over a period of time, generally 4-8 hours.

Things to Consider When Choosing

A slow cooker and a rice cooker can be a wonderful addition to your kitchen. However, it is important to determine if they’d fit your household depending on several factors, including:

Your Time

Are you a stay-at-home wife/husband or an on-the-go individual? Do you prefer to spend time in the kitchen cooking rice or would you rather have a stress-free cooking experience? 

While both appliances can be left alone, both are built for different foods. A rice cooker is meant to be unplugged after a few hours of cooking in it, while a slow cooker is meant to keep your food warm for hours on end.

The Food You Eat on a Daily Basis

How often do you cook grains and rice? Do you prefer slow-cooked meals? It’s important to take your diet into consideration before making any purchase, simply because it’s illogical to buy a rice cooker if you only cook rice once in a blue moon. 

But note that there are various functions in a slow cooker and rice cooker — cook meat, stew, veggies, and more.

Your Lifestyle

Do you often have friends over? Are you almost always the host for large gatherings and parties? This is also an important thing to remember when choosing which model to buy after you’ve decided which appliance suits you. 

Features such as capacity, design, and portability must be considered. This is how you find whether an Aroma rice cookerZojirushi, Instant Pot, or Hamilton Beach can serve your needs best.

Rice Cookers

Rice cooker vs slow cooker: rice cooker

Most rice cookers nowadays function with fuzzy logic, which is an innovative technology that lets your unit know what type of grain it’s cooking. This is why grains cooked in a rice cooker have excellent consistency and taste and can avoid too wet or dry rice, whether it’s white, wild, sushi, brown rice, or other grains

Instant Pot and other versions of rice cookers can also be used for other foods such as enchiladas, meatballs, spaghetti bolognese, banana bread, cakes, pancakes, porridge, pot roasts, steamed veggies, and so many other options! It can be used to reheat leftovers like pork roast and other meaty dishes. The food options are endless.

Not all rice cookers are the same, however. Some models, such as the Instant Pot, have pressure cooking and programmable modes. Other models are portable with handles and a glass lid, while others can be bulky with a digital interface and 17 function modes. 

The majority of expensive units come with an induction heating element, where heat is evenly distributed throughout the inner pot of the model. An Instant Pot can even be used as a replacement for a pressure cooker in some recipes. The smallest capacity is at 3 cups of uncooked rice (6 cups cooked), with the largest at 10 cups of uncooked rice (20 cups cooked).

Rice cookers come with additional accessories upon purchase such as a measuring cup, a steam plate or steamer basket, and a rice scooper.

Rice Cooker Benefits

A rice cooker, vs. other appliances, cooks rice and grains with exceptional results. They are ideal if you cook rice several times a week and have a quick cooking time if you need to serve it quickly. They can also keep your rice warm several hours after cooking, letting you enjoy your food at its best serving temperature. The versatility of these units is a major plus. 

The cooking cycle is usually around 20 minutes to about an hour, though some models can accomplish this in a much lesser time.

Is It Worth It Getting a Rice Cooker?

If you love Asian cuisine, eat rice regularly, and would like to own a multi-functional appliance you can use to cook multitudes of dishes, then yes. There are several models that offer different functions and cup capacity, simply look for a unit best suited for you. To get you started, you can check out our rice cooker reviews and guides here.

Slow Cookers

rice cooker vs slow cooker: slow cooker

Perfect for stews and soups, slow cookers provide you with a gourmet meal experience without the fuss. While it isn’t ideal for steaming vegetables or cooking rice, a slow cooker can keep your food warm throughout the day. This is particularly ideal for when you want to spend less time cooking in the kitchen when hosting a party or gathering.

A slow cooker’s heat setting allows you to cook your food without fear of coming home to a burned house. One thing to consider though is that cooking options are usually limited to recipes with broth.

Slow cooker vs rice cooker models are either programmable or manual. Programmable units allow you to set a cooking time, while the manual models only have low, medium, and high settings. This means you’ll have to check your food once in a while and turn it to the Warm function manually. 

Their inner metal pot is usually made of ceramic, with a glass lid to provide you a view of the simmering food. As opposed to cooking quickly, food in slow cookers takes a long period to yield the best results.

Slow Cooker Benefits

Slow cookers are primarily used for hands-off cooking which allows you the freedom to do other things as your meal slowly simmers. No need to worry about burning your culinary masterpieces as you chat with your guests.

The slow-cooking method also brings out the full flavor of the dish, leaving you with a rich and delicious meal. They’re particularly great for tenderizing tough cuts of meat. You can serve warm food throughout the day without having to fret about your unit breaking down.

Is It Worth It Getting a Slow Cooker?

If you are a busy, on-the-go person but would still like to come home to a warm, slow-cooked meal or you simply need an appliance to ease your stress during gatherings, then this is for you. There are also plenty of slow cooker recipes you can try, like lasagna and pork roast. 

Can a Rice Cooker Be Used as a Slow Cooker?

rice cooker vs slow cooker: rice cooker

Yes, a rice cooker can be used as a slow cooker. However, remember that these appliances work in different ways. A rice cooker’s cooking temperature is set to generate heat faster to cook food quicker. Preparing slow-cooked recipes in a rice cooker may need supervision to ensure your food doesn’t dry out during the cooking process.

Slow cooker rice is also not a common meal to use with this appliance, so if rice is a staple food in your home, you should opt for a rice cooker instead.

The Verdict

A slow cooker and a rice cooker are both ideal additions to a kitchen. However, in terms of your time and the meals you normally eat, one might be better than the other. 

Choose a rice cooker if:

  • rice is a staple in your household
  • you like cooking steamed vegetables, pot roast, dumplings, and other similar dishes
  • you want to have a multi-functional device you can use.

A slow cooker is a must-have if:

  • you’re normally out of the house
  • you want to enjoy gourmet meals but you don’t have the time
  • if you like to entertain guests more than you like to spend time in the kitchen.

No matter which appliance you choose, both are meant to reduce the stress of cooking food.

Happy cooking!

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Hui Yin

Hui Yin moved from Hong Kong 🇭🇰 to the USA 🇺🇸 when she was just 8 years old. Now in her late 20's she enjoys writing and taking long walks in the park to burn off the copious amounts of rice she eats for dinner.

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