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There are several methods to cook rice but two methods that are highly popular are stovetop cooking and using a rice cooker. Some people prefer making rice over the stove, while others just prefer to let a rice cooker do all the cooking.
If you’re torn between the two, don’t worry, you aren’t alone! Many individuals also go between cooking rice on the stove or using a rice cooker. Read on to find out which one is better and which one can help you nail that perfect rice recipe!
Rice cooker vs using a stove top to make perfectly-cooked rice, which one is better? Let’s take a closer look at the factors that one has to consider when making rice and the different advantages and disadvantages of the two methods.
Between stove-cooking rice and using a rice cooker, clearly, the rice cooker method is the easier and more convenient way to cook rice. If you’re cooking rice on the stove, you have to monitor it at all times because you have to check the water level inside the pot and occasionally stir it to prevent the rice from sticking or burning. If you don’t keep an eye on it, your rice on the stove can become overcooked or undercooked.
In contrast, using the rice cooker takes less effort. There’s a reason why rice cookers tout the “set it and forget it” tagline. All you have to do is toss your rice in the inner pot, pour the correct amount of water, close the lid, and then press the button for it to start cooking. When it’s done, it automatically switches to the Keep Warm function which lets the rice stay warm and delicious for several hours after cooking. Most modern rice cookers even have delayed start timers that let users prep meals ahead of time all without needing to monitor the timer or adjust temperatures.
The stovetop method takes longer in cooking compared to using the rice cooker. This is because you have to bring the water to a boil first before adding in the rinsed rice. On the other hand, with a rice cooker, you don’t have to wait for the water to boil before you start the rice cooking process. You simply add in the water along with the dry rice grains and then press a button to let it cook.
You also don’t have to worry about overcooking your rice in the rice cooker. Once the rice is cooked, the rice cooker automatically turns the heat down or switches to the Keep Warm mode to ensure that you have fluffy rice even hours later. Over the stovetop, you have to switch the burner off right away once it is cooked or else you risk burning or it turning the grains mushy.
When you’re cooking over the stove, you’ll need to taste the rice from time to time to make sure that it’s on the right track. And even then, it can still be difficult to tell whether you’ll end up having rice that has the perfect consistency or a pot that can’t be served for dinner. There are also times it will taste a little burnt, especially if you weren’t able to lower the heat at the right moment.
If you use a rice cooker, you don’t have to worry about how the rice will taste once it’s cooked. You can be certain that your rice will be perfect both in texture and flavor as cookers have consistent heat and can adjust the temperature on their own.
You may think that it’s odd to have an appliance that’s solely dedicated to cooking only one thing but here’s where you’re mistaken. A rice cooker is highly versatile and can cook other foods aside from rice. You can use it for steaming vegetables, fish, and meat, baking bread and cakes, making porridge, and a whole lot more.
Modern rice cookers even offer program buttons that allow them to function as slow cookers, steamers, and yogurt makers. Some cookers, such as an Instant Pot, can even function as a pressure cooker. These functions let anyone cook vegetables, meat, bread, stews, soups, and other meals perfectly. Some also have specific functions to cook different types of rice such as white rice, brown rice, sushi rice, glutinous rice, GABA rice, and more.
The stovetop method is also highly versatile because you can simply use your favorite cooking pot or change it up with another pot depending on your preference. You can even use a wok to cook the rice using broth and sauces. White rice, brown rice, wild rice, black rice — you name it, you can easily make it on the stove.
Cooking over the stove top also allows for various methods such as boiling, steaming, or simmering, depending on what you like. You can make a pilaf-style meal too by sauteing onions and garlic before adding broth and letting it simmer with the grains until it’s cooked.
Making large quantities of rice can be difficult on a stovetop pot. It requires a bit of strength and time to stir the mixture, especially once the rice has risen. There’s also a risk of the cooked rice becoming mushy at the bottom and dry at the top, especially if the water collects at the bottom of the pot.
If you want to prepare large amounts of rice, using the rice cooker is the way to go. Rice cookers come in different sizes and many of them can handle larger volumes without constant attention. Some rice cookers can even hold up to 60 cups of cooked rice. If you’re cooking for large families, or parties, or doing bulk weekly meal prep, a cooker can get the job done.
Perfectly-cooked rice is easier to achieve with a rice cooker vs stovetop cooking. With rice cookers, you don’t risk burning, overcooking, or undercooking your rice as they can automatically adjust the temperature and cooking time. Even if you add a little too much water or forget to rinse your grains, this handy kitchen appliance will yield consistent results every single time.
Cooking rice in a pot on the stove is more difficult and the results can be very inconsistent. This is because the heat of the pot only touches the bottom. You’ll have to adjust the temperature often, lift the lid every now and then for the entire thing to cook, and even make sure that the boiling water doesn’t spill out of the pot. Also, even if you keep an eye on your rice on the stove the entire time, you can still end up with soggy or undercooked grains.
A rice cooker offers many advantages compared to the stovetop method of rice cooking. If you have a busy schedule, you can save time and effort with a rice cooker as you can just set it and forget it — it will do the rice cooking all by itself. Most cookers have the Keep Warm function to prevent them from burning or turning mushy. Plus, there are even rice cookers that you can set a timer on and they will start the rice cooking at the specified time.
Aside from convenience, you’re guaranteed to get perfect rice every time when you use a rice cooker. Rice cookers automatically adjust the heat according to the amount of grains and water in the pot. Rice done on the stovetop can be inconsistent and, more often than not, become soggy and unappetizing.
Additionally, a cooker can make more than just rice. It can double as a steamer or a slow cooker. There are even cookers that come with various programs that let you make yogurt, porridge, oatmeal, and baby food.
Rice cookers are handy to have but they aren’t absolutely perfect as they have one big disadvantage: counter and storage space.
If you have a small kitchen, you may not have the counter space or storage space that a rice cooker requires. If you only cook rice a number of days a week, you’ll need some cabinet space to store your cooker in and when you do need to use it, you’ll need to carve out some space on your counter for it. Additionally, you have to make sure that you’ll have to situate your cooker in a spot closest to the electric socket.
Cooking rice on the stove can be very challenging: you have to let the water boil first before adding the rice, let it simmer, keep an eye on it, mix occasionally, lower the heat, and more. Even if you do all those steps, you’re not guaranteed to have a perfectly-made bowl of rice at the end of the process.
Having a rice cooker can take out all that frustration. All you have to do is to put the correct measure of rice and liquid, and the appliance will do all the cooking for you. It can even keep your food warm for hours after. Furthermore, this handy appliance can also be used as a steamer or a slow cooker. If you want absolute convenience in the kitchen, there’s no doubt that you should get a rice cooker.
Stumped on what meal to prepare for your family? Whether you use a cooker or cook via stove top, browse through our recipe collection for some inspiration!