Rice Cookers as Crock Pots?

Basic Rice Cooker
Note two settings: cook and warm

Believe it or not, you can use a rice cooker to do almost everything a Crock Pot can do. When I was living in Japan, I did the majority of my cooking the rice cooker – I used to make soups, stews, cakes and occasionally even rice with it. A lot of people are fooled by the name “rice cooker” but even Japanese people use it for more than just rice. The reason it is called a rice cooker is because it cooks in cycles designed for rice. That doesn’t mean though that it doesn’t work well for other dishes.

 

There are some obvious advantages to having a Crock Pot rather than a rice cooker. Crock Pots are often a lot larger so they can hold more food at once. You also generally have more settings to choose from on a Crock Pot, which allow you to cook a larger variety of dishes more easily. Some fancy rice cookers, however, have a surprising amount of settings. Some of the higher end rice cookers have settings for cake, soup, and porridge.

The basic rice cookers just have two settings like my trusty Black and Decker $10 black Friday doorbuster does: cook and warm. A basic rice cooker runs a cycle and then when it is done, it switches itself to warm and stays on the warm setting until you manually

Fancy Rice Cooker
A Japanese rice cooker with many settings.

turn it off or unplug it. This is one thing to be mindful of if you try to use a basic rice cooker for non-rice recipes. You can keep running it through cycles, however, you need to be present for that to work. If your rice cooker has other settings that allow it to cook for longer periods of time, then this won’t be an issue for you at all.

One thing to be mindful of is that if you have a foreign made rice cooker, it may count cups differently. In the metric system, one cup is considerably smaller than one cup in the U.S. So, if you buy a five-cup rice cooker thinking it will feed a family of five, you might be surprised. Also, if cooking rice in a foreign rice cooker, the lines on the bowl that are designed for you to easily measure how much water to add are created with metric cups in mind. It is easiest to measure out a metric cup by converting it to grams and using a food scale.

What do you think?