How To Use a Rice Cooker as a Steamer


A rice cooker is a wonderful kitchen device that allows anyone to cook rice without much hassle. These days, many rice cookers aren’t only capable of cooking rice, but they can also cook different foods such as meats and vegetables!

Steaming food is one of the healthiest methods of cooking, particularly when it comes to meat, fish, and vegetables. The handy-dandy rice cooker can be used as a steamer to create delicious and healthy dishes conveniently. Learn how in this article.

How Do You Steam Rice in Rice Cookers?

Cooking rice using a rice cooker is as easy as 1, 2, 3! After all, in principle, a rice cooker is a very simple pot with a lid designed to boil water until it is gone. To make rice in your cooker, load up your grains in the cooking pot, add the correct amount of water, and press the cooking function on your rice cooker. Once your cooker clicks or makes a sound to let you know that it’s done, let your cooked rice rest for 5 to 10 minutes, and then serve.

How Much Water Do You Use in a Rice Cooker Steamer?

The rice-to-water ratio is highly important to ensure that your rice comes out soft and fluffy. In general, white rice has a ratio of 1:2, where 1 cup of rice needs 2 cups of water. 

Using a Rice Cooker as a Food Steamer

In recent times, the typical rice cooker has turned into a multi-use cooker that can be used to cook rice, slow-cook various slices of meat, and to steam food. Just a single appliance can help you get your daily cooking done easily and efficiently. How cool is that? 

Most rice cookers nowadays come with their own separate steam tray that fits the inner pot. Even if there are cookers that don’t have their own steam function preset, you’ll be sure to see that they still include a small steamer basket in the box. On the off-chance that you have a rice cooker without a steamer basket, worry not for you can still use your cooker to steam food.

Can I Steam Vegetables in a Rice Cooker?

One of the best ways to cook your vegetables is to steam them. Steaming vegetables in a rice cooker can save effort, time, and kitchen counter space. Moreover, when you steam vegetables above your rice, you can enhance the nutrients and flavor of your rice. 

Steaming Vegetables in a Rice Cooker

Whether your rice cooker is a basic, push-button one or one that has a steam function preset, steaming vegetables in a rice cooker is pretty easy. Most vegetables have a cooking time of 5 to 15 minutes but the actual time depends on the veggies in question and the amount of food in the cooker. 

The very first step that you’ll have to do is to wash your vegetables. Peel off any thick skins on vegetables such as squash to reduce the cooking time as well. Next, pour water into the inner pot and place the steam basket over it. Add your desired vegetables to the steam basket and close the lid. If your rice cooker has a steaming preset, simply press the button and let it cook. If your rice cooker doesn’t have a preset, you can set a timer or experiment with the cooking time.

It should be noted that larger vegetables such as squash or pumpkin will need to be steamed in more than one batch. They should also be cut to properly fit in the steam basket. Don’t worry about steaming in batches as steaming cycles are faster with a rice cooker. Multiple cycles will steam large vegetables quickly and efficiently. 

On the other hand, broccoli cooks more quickly than cauliflower. If you want to steam them together, you can make the cauliflower florets smaller than the broccoli florets. For carrots and other dense vegetables, slicing them thinly can help them cook at pace with faster-cooking veggies. 

Steaming Vegetables while Cooking Rice in a Rice Cooker

You can also steam vegetables over the rice while it is cooking in the cooker. To do this, simply add the vegetables part-way once it reaches the boiling point, otherwise, they will get over-cooked. If your cooker does not have its own steamer tray, you can place the vegetables on top of the rice once it’s done cooking. Be sure to cap the lid back on right away.

You can also place a bowl or a colander to steam vegetables in the cooker. A small wire-mesh strainer works well too. If you do use a strainer to steam vegetables, you will need to drape a clean kitchen towel on top of the cooker because otherwise, the strainer will prop the lid open and the steam won’t be trapped inside. You may also roll foil into balls, set a plate on top of them, and use that as a platform to steam your veggies.

Steaming Meat

Steamed vegetables aren’t the only things that you can make with a rice cooker. Meats, fish, and poultry can also be cooked in it. The steaming function can be a great way to tenderize meat for pulled beef or pork. 

However, unlike vegetables and other food, meats require a hotter temperature. You will need to check the meat’s temperature during the steaming process with the use of a meat thermometer to ensure that it reaches a safe cooking temperature. This is highly important, especially with chicken. If you are steaming chicken, the ideal temperature should be 165 F. Meanwhile, beef and pork should be cooked to at least 145 F.

Similar to veggies, simply place water in the pot and add your desired meat to the basket. Press the button to begin the cooking process. You can also steam meat over rice. If you are doing so, always use foil to keep the flavors of the meat from seeping into the rice. 

Can You Use a Rice Cooker to Steam Dumplings?

Steamed carrots, broccoli, beef, pork, and chicken are just some of the few things that you can make with a rice cooker. You can also steam dumplings, buns, eggs, rice cakes, pasta, and the like.


  • If you aren’t sure if your rice cooker has a preset steam setting, double-check its instruction manual. 
  • Depending on the size of your rice cooker and steam basket, you may have to cut up your meat and vegetables into smaller pieces. The larger the rice cooker, the more you can cook. 


The rice cooker is an instant pot that can cook rice, meats, fish, vegetables, and various food items. Most cookers already include a steamer basket in the box but if there isn’t one, you can use a bowl, a colander, a trivet, or even a mesh strainer. 

Looking for delicious rice dishes to serve to your family? Check out our collection of recipes.