Use Your Rice Cooker for Other Grains, Too

Despite the name, your rice cooker doesn't have to be a one-trick pony. You can use it to cook other grains, too, including hot cereal and other dishes.

Cooking grains in the rice cooker

The Whole Grains Council (WGC) suggests cooking millet, buckwheat, KamutR, amaranth, teff, wheat berries, spelt, cous cous and oats in your rice cooker. You also can cook quinoa, barley, lentils and beans. WGC suggests you use the white-rice setting on your cooker for grains that take less than 25 minutes and the brown-rice setting for grains that take longer. Use the same cooking time and liquid-to-grain ratio as you would use on the stovetop. Grains that take longer than 30 minutes to cook might benefit from pre-soaking for an hour or so and leaving on the keep-warm feature after cooking for 10 or 15 minutes. But you don't have to stand over the rice pot stirring every few minutes.

Cooking times

  • Amaranth: Add 6 cups water per cup of grains, and cook on white-rice setting for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Beans: Follow instruction on packet for soaking and cooking times, and use brown-rice setting.
  • Buckwheat: Add 2 cups water per cup of grains, and cook on white-rice setting for 20 minutes.
  • Bulgur: Add 2 cups water per cup of bulgur and cook on white-rice setting for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Cornmeal: Make polenta by adding 4 cups water per cup of cornmeal and cooking on white-rice setting for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Cous cous: Add 1 and 1/4 cups water for each cup of grain, and cook on white-rice setting for 5 minutes.
  • Hulled barley: Add 3 cups water per cup of barley (optimally, presoaked for 1 hour) and cook on brown-rice setting for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Hulled millet: Add 2 and 1/2 cups water per cup of millet and cook on brown-rice setting for 25 to 35 minutes.
  • Kamut grain: Soak overnight, add 4 cups water per cup of grain, and cook on brown-rice setting for 45 to 60 minutes. Leave on keep-warm setting for a further 15 minutes for best results.
  • Lentils: Follow instructions on box for cooking times and water. Generally, add 1 and 1/2 cups water per cup of lentils and cook on white-rice setting for 15 to 20 minutes for smaller and split lentils and on the brown-rice setting for 30 to 45 minutes for larger varieties of whole lentils.
  • Steel-cut oats: Add 4 cups water per cup of oats, and cook on brown-rice setting or hot cereal setting for 30 minutes.
  • Quinoa: Rinse unless the box says you don't need to, add 2 cups water per cup of quinoa and cook on white-rice setting for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Rye: Soak overnight, add 4 cups water per cup of grain and cook on brown-rice setting for 45 to 60 minutes. Leave on keep-warm setting for a further 15 minutes.
  • Spelt berries: Soak overnight, add 4 cups water per cup of spelt and cook on brown-rice setting for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Teff: Add 3 cups water per cup of grain, and cook on the white-rice setting for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Wheat berries: Soak overnight, add 4 cups water per cup of berries and cook on brown-rice setting for 45 to 60 minutes. Leave on keep-warm setting for a further 10 to 15 minutes for best results.

These times vary with the age of the grain, the ambient temperature and your altitude, so you may need to experiment to find the perfect combination of water, cooking time and setting for you. But the variety of tastes and textures you can achieve from using different grains is worth the effort.

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