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How Long Does It Take For Rice To Cook In A Rice Cooker?

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Unlike when I was learning to cook back in the 1950s and 60s, when we had one method of cooking rice, today’s cooks have options. In fact, they have many options. There are now multi-function cookers that are made solely for the purpose of cooking rice. For us old-schoolers, knowing how long to cook the rice in these “new” contraptions is a common question.

The length of time it takes for white rice to cook in a rice cooker typically ranges from 25 to 35 minutes, and brown rice and wild rice usually take 45 to 50 minutes, all depending on the amount of rice being cooked and the type of rice cooker you are using.

In this article, I will discuss the top 3 types of rice cookers and how they work, including how long it takes for the entire process in each one.

Note: For the purposes of this comparison, I will use as an example the process and the length of time it takes to cook 1 cup of long-grain white rice. I will also include some information for cooking different types of rice such as brown, basmati, jasmine, and wild rice, and on the basic methods of cooking rice without a rice cooker.

The Three Types of Rice Cookers and How They Work

1. Microwave Rice Cookers

Microwave Rice Cooker

Microwave rice cookers work by producing steam which cooks the rice evenly throughout the cooker.

The ratio of rice to water used by most microwave rice cookers is 2:1, or 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice. This ratio produces 2 cups of cooked rice.

Microwave rice cookers can also be used to steam vegetables and to reheat cooked rice. In addition, other grains such as polenta and most types of pasta can be cooked in a microwave rice cooker.

Directions for cooking white, basmati, and jasmine rice in a microwave rice cooker:

  1. Measure 1 cup of white rice and 2 cups of water.
  2. Rinse the rice well using the method described below until the water runs clear, and drain it well.
  3. Pour the rice into a microwave rice cooker and add 2 cups of water. 
  4. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine.
  5. Secure the lid/lids to the rice cooker. (Some microwave rice cookers have an inner lid and an outer lid.)
  6. Microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce power in the microwave to 50% and cook rice for 15 minutes.
  8. Let the rice stand in the microwave for five minutes.
  9. Remove the lids and fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Directions for cooking brown and wild rice in a microwave rice cooker:

  1. Measure 1 cup of brown or wild rice and 2 cups of water.
  2. Rinse the rice thoroughly using the method described below until the water runs clear, and drain it well.
  3. Pour the rice into a microwave rice cooker and add 2 cups of water. 
  4. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine.
  5. Secure the lid/lids to the rice cooker. (Some microwave rice cookers have an inner lid and an outer lid.)
  6. Microwave on high for 10 minutes. 
  7. Reduce power in the microwave to 50% and cook rice for 20 minutes.
  8. Let the rice stand in the microwave for five minutes.
  9. Remove the lids and fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Most microwave rice cookers cook rice within the following time periods:

  • White, Basmati, and Jasmine Rice: 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Brown and Wild Rice: 30 to 40 minutes.

How Rice Type Affects Cooking Time

If you are cooking brown rice or wild rice, you will need to adjust the times:

  1. Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice because brown rice has not been processed as much as white rice and still contains layers of bran which significantly increases cooking time.
  2. Wild rice takes longer to cook than white rice because wild rice is not a type of rice at all, but is instead a mixture of four types of aquatic grass that produce seeds which are harvested and combined to make what we know as wild rice because it looks like rice and cooks similarly to brown rice.

In case you want to pick up one of these types of cookers, here is the one I recommend on Amazon.

2. Electric Rice Cookers

Electric rice cookers, like this one found on Amazon, work by bringing the water and rice to a boil very quickly at the beginning of the cycle, during which time steam builds. When a temperature of 212℉ is reached, the thermostat shuts off, and the steam cooks the rice.

For the ratio of rice to water to be used in electric rice cookers, use the directions on the rice package. However, a good rule of thumb for the ratio of rice to water when cooking white rice in an electric rice cooker is 1.5:1, or 1.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.

Most electric rice cookers cook rice within the following time periods:

  • White, Basmati, and Jasmine Rice: 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Brown and Wild Rice: 40 to 50 minutes.

Directions for cooking white rice in an electric rice cooker:

  1. Measure 1 cup of white rice and 1.5 cups of water. Measure exactly, preferably using the same measuring cup for both rice and water.
  2. Rinse rice well using the method described below until the water runs clear and drain well.
  3. Pour the rice and water into an electric rice cooker.
  4. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine.
  5. Secure the lid to the rice cooker. 
  6. Switch the rice cooker to the on setting. Many rice cookers only have an off and on switch, which makes it simple. If your rice cooker has other options, follow the instructions for your particular cooker.
  7. Most types of white rice, which includes basmati and jasmine rice, take between 20 to 30 minutes to cook.
  8. Unlike other types of rice cookers, once the cooker shuts off, you should open the cooker immediately to prevent the rice from becoming overcooked.
  9. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Directions for cooking brown or wild rice in an electric rice cooker:

  1. Measure 1 cup of brown or wild rice and 1.5 cups of water. Measure exactly, preferably using the same measuring cup for both rice and water.
  2. Rinse rice well using the method described below until the water runs clear and drain well.
  3. Pour the rice and water into an electric rice cooker.
  4. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine.
  5. Secure the lid to the rice cooker. 
  6. Switch the rice cooker to the on setting. Many rice cookers only have an off and on switch, which makes it simple. If your rice cooker has other options, follow the instructions for your particular cooker.
  7. Most types of white rice, which includes basmati and jasmine rice, take between 40 to 50 minutes to cook.
  8. Unlike other types of rice cookers, once the cooker shuts off, you should open the cooker immediately to prevent the rice from becoming overcooked.
  9. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Pro Tip: Electric rice cookers can cook rice using less water than traditional stovetop methods because there is less evaporation in the rice cookers.

3. Multi-Function Rice Cookers

Multi-Function Rice Cooker

When cooking rice in a multi-function electric cooker such as an Instant Pot, the rice to water ratio will be different, 1:1, or 1 cup of water for every 1 cup of rice, because very little evaporation takes place during the process.

Most multi-function electric cookers like the Instant Pot cook rice within the following time periods:

  • White, Basmati, and Jasmine Rice: 15 to 25 minutes.
  • Brown and Wild Rice: 20 to 30 minutes.

Directions For Cooking White Rice In An Instant Pot:

  1. Rinse the rice thoroughly using the directions listed below.
  2. Put 1 cup of rice, any type of white rice, basmati, or jasmine, and 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot.
  3. Add ½  teaspoon of salt if desired.
  4. Secure the lid.
  5. Select the “rice” option on the front of the machine.
  6. The rice option will cook for 3 minutes and will release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the rice from the cooker as soon as the Instant Pot has finished its pressure release cycle.
  8. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Directions For Cooking Brown Rice In An Instant Pot:

  1. Rinse the rice thoroughly using the directions listed below.
  2. Put 1 cup of brown or wild rice and 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot.
  3. Add ½  teaspoon of salt if desired.
  4. Secure the lid.
  5. Select the manual option on the front of the machine and pressure cook on High for 15 minutes.
  6. Select the 5-minute quick release option.
  7. Remove the rice from the Instant Pot and fluff it with a fork before serving.

Original Method Of Cooking Rice On A Stovetop

There are actually two methods of cooking rice in a boiler or saucepan on a stovetop, the covered method, and the uncovered method. Both are excellent methods that, if done properly, can result in perfect rice every time.

Cooking rice using the covered method:

  1. Measure 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water exactly using the same measuring cup for water and rice to avoid getting the wrong rice-to-water ratio.
  2. Rinse the rice using the method mentioned below.
  3. Pour the water into a 3-quart saucepan, and bring the water to a full rolling boil on the stovetop over high heat.
  4. Add 1 cup of rinsed white, basmati, or jasmine rice and ½ teaspoon of salt to the boiling water and stir well.
  5. Allow the contents of the saucepan to come back to a full rolling boil.
  6. Stir again, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot with a lid.
  7. Cook for 20 minutes.
  8. When the 20 minutes are up, remove the rice from the heat source and let sit for at least 5 minutes.
  9. Salt can be added either during the cooking process or after it is done.
  10. Fluff the rice with a fork immediately before serving.

Cooking rice using the uncovered method:

  1. Measure the rice exactly.
  2. Rinse the rice using the method mentioned below.
  3. Add enough water to a 3-quart saucepan so that it is three-quarters full.
  4. Bring the water to a full rolling boil on the stovetop over high heat.
  5. Add 1 cup of rinsed white rice and ½ teaspoon of salt to the boiling water and stir well.
  6. Allow the contents of the saucepan to come back to a full rolling boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil, stirring occasionally.
  7. Cook for 20 minutes.
  8. Place a colander or strainer into the sink.
  9. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the colander or strainer and rinse the rice with hot tap water.
  10. Place the colander or strainer on top of the saucepan and set it aside to drain completely.
  11. Salt can be added either during the cooking process or after it is done.
  12. Fluff the rice with a fork immediately before serving.

Here is a video where I talk about cooking covered vs. uncovered:

What Is The Best Way To Rinse Rice?

The best way to rinse rice is:

  1. Combine the rice in a bowl with enough water to cover the rice.
  2. Swirl the rice in the water until the water turns cloudy.
  3. Pour the rice through a colander or strainer.
  4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 until the water is clear.
  5. Combine the rice with enough water to cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 4 of the rinse process.
  7. After the rice has been rinsed, use package directions to cook the rice.

Benefits Of Using A Rice Cooker

  1. Rice cookers consistently cook rice perfectly.
  2. Rice cookers eliminate some of the requirements of cooking rice on a stovetop such as timing the cooking process and adjusting the burner to the right temperature.
  3. Cooking rice in a rice cooker frees up a burner on the stovetop for other foods that are being prepared.
  4. Cooking rice in a rice cooker eliminates the danger of a rice pot boiling over on the stovetop.
  5. A rice cooker also cooks other types of grains like polenta, barley, grits, and quinoa successfully.

Disadvantages Of Using A Rice Cooker

  1. Some rice cooker models take up quite a bit of space on the kitchen countertop.
  2. Some rice cookers are harder to wash than just a standard saucepan.
  3. Brown rice doesn’t cook well in all rice cookers.
  4. Rice cookers come in different sizes, and it is often difficult to know which size is right for you until you have used one or two different models.

What Should I Look For When Buying A Rice Cooker?

There are quite a few options to look for when buying a rice cooker. They include:

  • Cooking Capacity – Since rice cookers come in many different sizes, you must decide which size best fits your needs, for example, how much rice do you normally cook, 1 cup or 3 cups?
  • Versatility – Will rice be the only thing you will cook in the rice cooker, or will you be able to use the cooker for other things such as cooking other grains or steaming vegetables?
  • Ease of Cleaning – Does the cooker have a detachable inner liner, or is it made in one piece that can’t be submerged in water?
  • Special Functions: Does the rice cooker have other special features that will be useful to you such as does it have an option to keep the rice warm for a period of time, and does it have a retractable cord that will make it easier to store?

Final Thoughts

While the times listed in this article for how long it takes for rice to cook in a rice cooker will generally be what you will experience when cooking rice, different types, brands, and models of cookers, like microwave ovens, will not all be equally powerful and may vary in the length of time they take to complete the rice-cooking process. And, if you are cooking a large batch of rice, it will almost certainly take a little longer to complete the cooking cycle than just a one-cup batch.

Even though modern cooks have the benefit of all the different types of rice cookers that are easy to operate, the new cookers do not necessarily save time because the “old-fashioned” ways of cooking rice only took 20 to 30 minutes for white rice and 45 to 50 minutes for brown rice. The primary benefits of having the new rice cookers is that they more consistently produce perfect rice because they have fewer variables to contend with, and they offer a more “hands-free” operation for the cook than traditional methods.

Thanks for stopping’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss How Much Rice and Water to Put in a Rice Cooker By Rice Type.

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