Readers Request: Rice Cooker 101

I use my rice cooker multiple times a week.  Second to the coffee maker it’s probably the number one appliance in our kitchen.  But every time I post about it I get a million follow up questions in the comments section…I have no clue why it’s such a mystery to others, but I’ve been trying to answer questions as best I can in order to reassure you all that it’s truly an idiot proof machine.  Promise!

What can you use it for?

Everything.  I use it for quinoa more than anything else, but you can use it for all grains, beans, legumes, etc.  You can even steam veggies WHILE cooking grains.


What ratios do you use?

This is the most common question.

Here’s where I think the confusion (slash room for error) lies: rice cooker cup vs. standard US measurement cup <– they aren’t the same!!

A “rice cooker cup” is measured with that little plastic cup that comes with your rice cooker.  It’s actually about 3/4 a traditional cup – but that’s what I use to portion out the amount of dry grains/beans into the machine.  However, I don’t use the same plastic cup to measure the liquid.  For the liquids, I use the premeasured lines on the inside of the bowl.

Example: Add 2 rice cooker cups of quinoa then fill to the “2” line in the rice cooker bowl.

That said, there’s a huge margin for error.  The machines are so smart!  They cook until the liquid is gone (by sensing the steam) so you can really get away with a wide range of over/under ratios.


What setting do I use for non-rice?

I have a fairly fancy rice cooker, but I pretty much use the same setting for everything (white rice/mixed).  My mom has a rice cooker with every possible button on Earth, from porridge to potage.  Ok, it doesn’t actually make French soup, but it’s got an excessive amount of settings.

Since my machine cooks white rice and mixed rice on the same setting, I’m fairly certain any grain can be cooked with any setting and it will turn out.

Worst case scenario, you get sticky quinoa.  Is that so terrible?  No.

So there you go!  Ready to get your rice cooker on!?!


Just in case you still have questions, here are a few ratio charts for you to reference.





Follow up questions?  Ask away!

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Comments (45)

  1. Jocelyn @ Peace Love Nutrition

    My cousin who’s Japanese had a rice cooker in out Apt when we were roommates in college. I loved it!

  2. TeenyLittleSuperChef

    Awesome post, Elise! I’m definitely one of those people who always have questions about how to use a rice cooker every time you post a recipe with it. This pretty much cleared up most of my curiosity. I still haven’t purchased one yet, but I have a feeling I’m just going to have to suck it up and buy one. They really should rename it a grain cooker, instead of just rice. I bet they’d sell better if people knew they could cook more than just rice in it.

  3. Courtney

    Thanks for sharing this! I have been thinking of getting a rice cooker and this definitely helped to answer some of my questions. 🙂

  4. BroccoliHut

    So I think I need to add a rice cooker to my registry…

  5. Shelby

    Have you ever cooked groats or amaranth in the rice cooker? I tried both and both were an epic fail…too sticky and mushy! I used the traditional plastic cup and “fill to the line” measurements, so maybe the measurements for these are different?!?!?

  6. Fran @ vegansmarties

    I love the rice cooker, favourite and most used kitchen appliance!

  7. sarah

    Got a cheap 20 buck one from Walmart. It has become my most favorite appliance ever! It has an on off switch and warm. I have never been able to mess up white/brown rice, quinoa or oats. Makes my meals times so much easier!

  8. Elise (Post author)

    doooo it.

  9. Elise (Post author)

    uh, yes. definitely. itll be your favorite gift.

  10. Elise (Post author)

    never made amaranth, but now you have me intrigued. ill get back to you once i try it, okay?

  11. Lindsay

    Do you soak your beans overnight before cooking them in the rice cooker?

  12. Elise (Post author)


  13. Stephanie

    Thank You for the info!! I’m a Korean and we Koreans use special type of rice cooker – “electronic pressure rice cooker.” I use it all the time for cooking kabocha squash (whole thing) and such. Now I know the right ratios for grains and others!! 😀

  14. Angie

    Great post thanks! What book did you get those ratios out of?

  15. Elise (Post author)
  16. Angie

    Awesome I’m putting it in my cart today! LOL Thanks!

  17. Amanda @ CreativeRamblings

    So you CAN use a rice cooker to cook dried beans as well? I have a fairly basic slow cooker, and was thinking of also buying a rice cooker but couldn’t justify buying something that only cooked rice. Great to know they can steam vegetables at the same time AND cook beans as well. I think I’m looking at a similar rice cooker to the one you have, same brand anyway but maybe fewer options. I’ll definitely be adding that cook book to my cart if I end up purchasing! Thanks for sharing!

  18. Meagan

    Alright, I feel like this must be a stupid question since no one else has asked it, but it’s late, so I’ve given up trying to figure the answer out myself. 🙂
    On that bean-cooking chart, there is no measurement for the beans, only for water. Is it assuming you’re using a whole bag? Or would it be rice-cooker-cups full in an equal ratio to cups of water?

  19. Elise (Post author)

    rice cooker cup measurements for beans. and the water cups listed.

  20. Meagan

    Equal to water cups? So like, for Adzuki, 3 rice cooker cups of beans? Like I said, I’m sure these are stupid questions, I’m sorry!! 🙂

  21. Elise (Post author)

    i dont really understand what youre asking. the amount listed is the same as rice cooking. the ratio of rice to water is just beans to water instead. the amount of water in the chart shown is for 1 rice cooker cup of whatever legume it lists. for adzuki beans it says 1 cup beans with 3 cups water.

  22. Meagan

    Okay, that’s all I was wondering — how many cups of beans. There is no measurement listed on the table, and so I didn’t know what the implied measurement was. That’s all I was asking. 🙂 Thank you for you patience.

  23. Elise (Post author)

    no prob. glad you go it sorted out 🙂

  24. Crystal

    I’m so excited! I finally broke down and ordered the rice cooker that you have! I’ve had one for a few years now but hardly ever used it because it never turned out right then yesterday I made brown rice and it was burnt on the bottom so I immediately got online and ordered it!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Elise (Post author)

    yay! youre gonna love it 🙂

  26. Laura

    Hi, a follow up to Meagan’s questions. With the example used of Adzuki, when you say 1 rice cooker cup to 3 cups water, is that 3 rice cooker cups of water? 3 regular measuring cups of water? Or the coordinating line in the pot? Thanks

  27. Elise (Post author)

    Hi Laura. It’s the line in the pot.

  28. Shea

    What model do you have? Really thinking about buying one. Thx! Love your blog

  29. Elise (Post author)

    Zojirushi. Love it.

  30. Beth

    Hi Elise, in another post you said you don’t use the white rice setting for the quinoa. But in this one you said you use the white rice setting…so I’m a little confused. Just wanted to ask again! Thanks so much.

  31. Elise (Post author)

    i use the white rice/mixed setting for everything – even brown rice. i use that same setting for quinoa, millet, beans, etc.
    the only time i use another setting is if im making grits or steel cut oats – then i use the porridge setting.
    hope that helps!

  32. Beth

    sure does. Many thanks!

  33. Claire

    Don’t worry, I was wondering the same thing!

  34. Alison jauss

    I’m sorry, but I’m one of those of you who’s confused about the bean measurements. It may be the kind of rice-cooker I have. There’s no “line in the pot” in mine. It shows what 2 cups are, what 4 cups are, and 6 cups, and 8 cups. Then splintering off on the other side of the “cups” it goes from 0.4 to 0.8 to 1.2 to 1.5. I had to seriously guesstimate on the cups line as to how many kidney beans I needed to put in my soak. I know you have a fancy rice-cooker but I would have liked to be told how many regular cups of water are equal to “the line in the pot” that I personally do not see in my rice-cooker. I will have wasted about 11 hours and half a bag of kidney beans if my measurement didn’t work, as I was unable to find cooking kidney beans in a rice-cooker info *anywhere else.* Also, I think it’s a really bad idea to not soak your beans first. You won’t get as many nutrients from the beans and you’re a lot more likely to get that sick, bloated Mexican restaurant feeling. It sucks and takes a long time, but no nutritionist recommends not soaking your beans. If I don’t receive an answer on here or can’t find one elsewhere and my “1 rice-cooker cup of kidney beans” guesstimate turns out badly, I will probably end up just having to cook my beans the regular way, which is pretty disappointing!

  35. Alison

    Also, I never got a plastic rice cooker cup with my rice cooker…so I don’t have that either. I’m going to just have to hope this first try works out.

  36. Joan

    @Alison Jauss- I know this is an old post, but it looks like you never answer to your question… it outlines what a “rice cup” and a “water cup” is on the Rice chart.
    @Meagan – Thank you fro asking the question about the bean measurements. I was SOOOO confused by the bean chart.
    @Lindsay- thanks for asking the soaking question.

    @Elise- Thank you writing this, I have been wondering just this information. I am cutting sodium out where ever I can, so that means kicking the “cans” out of recipes.

  37. Elise (Post author)

    Thanks Joan!

  38. Dani

    Hey. This may be a crazy idea, but have you ever cooked the rice and beans together? I assume the cook time wouldn’t work and the rice would cook too long…but I’m always trying to find ways to simplify dishes. Thanks!!

  39. Elise (Post author)

    I have and while it’s not perfect (for the reason you said) it works out fine enough. I do rice and beans together when I’m making bulk burritos to freeze because when they are wrapped up together with a bunch of other ingredients it doesn’t really matter if they’re slightly mushy or whatever, ya know? Aesthetically the beans do turn the rice a dark color though so be aware of that in case you were wanting to serve it in a dish that needs rice to look like, well, rice.

  40. Beth

    I know you said in this post you use the white rice setting for everything, but didn’t you change this to the brown rice setting for everything?

  41. Beth

    And what model make ricer do you have? Thanks much.

  42. Beth

    Never mind about the make and mode. What I was wondering though, is when you make a batch of grains, what method do you use to reheat them? Thanks!

  43. Elise (Post author)

    When I make a big batch, whatever isn’t used up I store in a glass tupperware (I have a bunch of pyrex ones). To reheat I microwave with a lid on (if I re-heat the whole portion). While the turnover is fairly quick in our house, if something does manage to make it longer than a few days without getting eaten, I add olive oil to it too so it’s not too dried out.

  44. Elise (Post author)

    I use the brown rice setting for brown rice and occasionally quinoa (which are the two things I cook the most frequently with the rice cooker). But I’ve also cooked quinoa with the white rice/mixed rice setting and it turns out fine. Basically I forget to look and it stays on whatever setting you used last so sometimes I do things on the wrong setting. I pretty much use the white rice/mixed rice for everything that’s not brown rice. But seriously, the machine is idiot proof because I am not remotely precise about using it and my beans/grains turns out perfect every time.

  45. Monique M

    So glad I found this blog tonight. A rice cooker may seem idiot proof once you’ve been using it for awhile but, having just used mine for the first time, this “idiot” definitely needed a few pointers! Want two cups of rice? Fill the cup that’s not a cup twice and the water up to the 2 line! Code = cracked! Thank you! 🙂

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