What are the advantages of a rice cooker vs pot on the stove? Typically, there are two types of home cooks; one that loves the convenience of a rice cooker, and the other that prefers the simplicity and efficiency of cooking rice in a pot. We’ll see the pros and cons of each cooking method to help you choose.
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What is a Rice Cooker?
A rice cooker is an automatic cooking appliance specifically designed to steam rice. However, many modern models also come with additional functionalities, such as for cooking porridge, soups, dumplings, or sponge cakes. A rice cooker has three basic parts, which are the heat source, the thermostat, and the cooking bowl. A more advanced model may come with other sensors and components to serve the additional functionalities. See also: Rice Cooker vs Crock Pot.
To cook rice with a rice cooker, you need to put the rice into the cooking bowl along with some water. Usually, water is added until the surface is about one centimeter above the rice. As explained by Wikipedia,the cooking bowl is heated at full power to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit). At the end of the cooking process, there will be no water left. Most water has been absorbed by the rice, some has been boiled off.
As the heating continues, the temperature will increase past the boiling point. This will trip the thermostat. While a cheaper model will just switch off, most models nowadays can switch automatically to a warming mode which keeps the rice heated at a safe temperature of about 65 degrees Celsius (150 degrees Fahrenheit).
Features of a Rice Cooker
Many modern rice cooker models nowadays come with additional features. For example, a rice cooker may come with a special setting for making congee (rice porridge). Other models can cook soups and stews, maintain the ideal temperatures for the fermentation of bread dough or yoghurt, bake bread, and make sponge cakes. Some other models can also be used as slow cookers or steamers. So, you can choose the most suitable model that suits your cooking needs and preferences.
Pros of a Rice Cooker
First of all, one advantage of a rice cooker vs pot is that it can cook perfect rice all the time. Unlike cooking rice manually with a pot, a rice cooker can automatically stop cooking and switch to heating when there is no water left in the bowl. It ensures consistent cooking results. As long as you use a suitable amount of water, neither too low nor too much, you won’t have to deal with mushy or watery rice.
Many people believe that a rice cooker is a lot more convenient and practical than cooking rice manually with a pot. This is because you can just switch on the device and leave it to cook, while you are doing other things.
Finally, a rice cooker can be a versatile cooking device. Depending on the model that you choose, you can also use it for cooking other dishes, such as porridge, soups, stews, sponge cakes, or bread. Considering that a rice cooker is usually quite affordable, it offers a great value for the money.
Cons of a Rice Cooker
The first disadvantage of a rice cooker vs pot is that it requires a dedicated countertop area. This may be a problem for a tight kitchen. Also, consider that the steam vent of a rice cooker may cause condensation. So, don’t put it near anything that should not interact with hot steam or condensation.
Second, cleaning a rice cooker may take more time and effort than cleaning a simple pot. In addition to the cooking bowl, you also need to clean the inner lid, steam vent, and exterior of the rice cooker. You may also need to clean the area with condensed steam.
Advantages of a Pot
Some people prefer to cook rice manually with a pot. The process is actually similar to the mechanism of a rice cooker. You put the rice into the pot along with some water, close the pot with a lid, put it on a stove, and turn the stove on.
Cooking rice with a pot is very simple and straightforward. You don’t need to purchase any additional tool. You don’t need to prepare a dedicated space for another kitchen appliance. So, it is nice for a small kitchen with limited space.
Such manual cooking also gives you more control. You can have more hands-on control to get the desired results. This is especially important for some recipes, such as risotto and paella. These types are more difficult to cook. They are generally better cooked manually than with an automatic rice cooker.
Finally, cleaning a pot is definitely very easy. Some pots are even dishwasher-safe. Still, manual washing by hands is more recommended in order to get rid of the rice that sticks to the surface.
Disadvantages of a Pot
There are three essential disadvantages of cooking rice with a pot. First, it requires high levels of control and attention. If the heat from the stove is too high, the water will boil and spill over and create a mess. If the heat is too low, it will take a long time to cook.
Second, it is dangerous to leave a stove turned on. So, you should not leave the stove to do other things when you are cooking rice manually. This may be inconvenient for busy people. Third, a pot is definitely not as versatile as a modern rice cooker which can cook soups, stews, sponge cakes, and bread.
Rice Cooker vs Pot
|- Automatic operation, can be left to cook unattended||- Manual control, you should not leave a stove turned on unattended|
|- Consistent results||- Requires careful and precise control over the stove heat|
|- Needs a dedicated space||- No need for additional tool or appliance|
|- Modern models can cook soups, stews, sponge cakes, and bread||- Suitable for specific recipes that require manual cooking such as risotto and paella|
If you have enough space in your kitchen, we highly recommend you to choose a rice cooker. It is very convenient and versatile. You can just leave it to cook your rice while you are doing other things. It is also suitable for cooking many kinds of foods. You can always revert back to a pot when you need to cook specific recipes, such as risotto and paella.