Can I Cook Rice in the Slow Cooker?

335SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/24/2012 2:00 PM   :  20 comments   :  58,930 Views

Nothing makes me crazier than investing money and time in a recipe only for it to fail. Even chefs aren't immune to kitchen disasters. I took upon a challenge to come up with some simple recipes for cooking grains in the slow cooker.  Well, after lots of testing, reading about how other people do it and talking to my "chef" friends, I've come to the conclusion that cooking plain rice or pasta all day long in the slow cooker is not a good idea.


But if you're a slow cooker lover, don't fret. Not all hope is lost.  I was able to cook brown rice in the slow cooker using a "stalling method," and I found that oats and quinoa steam nicely in the slow cooker, too.
 
The slow cooker provides a moist environment for cooking.  It's wonderful for simmering cheaper cuts of meats that have tough connective tissue; I love it for keeping warm mashed potatoes, and its genius for making soups that are waiting for you as you walk in the door after a long day. 
 
That cozy, warm, moist environment is exactly what made it a bad choice for cooking whole grains. Brown long grain rice after three hours was sticky and clumpy--a real mess. 

So what does work? If you soak brown rice for one to two hours, then place it in the slow cooker with boiling water and some seasonings set on low, it is perfect after 2 hours.  Chef Meg's Seasoned Slow Cooker Brown Rice cooks without much attention from me, which is a huge help on busy nights.
 
Nutrition tip: Dietitian Becky tells me that soaking all grains and rice makes more of the nutrition available for your body!
 
I have named this technique the "stalling method."  It's perfect for those days that you come home and then have to rush out for a couple of hours before dinner.  Soaking the brown rice opens the outer layer of the bran and allows the rice to cook evenly.  Word of caution: Don't soak rice for more than 24 hours unless you want it to sprout.  And another word of caution: Spray the inside of your slow cooker insert with nonstick cooking spray. You'll thank me when you do the dishes. It makes clean up much easier.
 
Give my slow cooker brown rice a try on a day that you are heading out to the gym after work and want a rice side to go with dinner a couple of hours later. (This is also a great task to entrust to tweens and teens after school. All they really have to do is boil water and turn on the slow cooker.)
 
(No slow cooker? Soaking rice for 6-8 hours before you cook it on the stovetop can cut 15-20 minutes off the cooking time, meaning it will take about 30 minutes instead of 45 or 50.)
 
Question: When do the slow cooker and grains get along? 
Answer: Here are my top 3 slow cooked grain techniques.
 
Rice
When adding rice to a dish at end of the cooking process. 
 
If I want to add rice to a slow cooker recipe before serving, I use instant brown rice.  Because it has been parboiled, the bran will already be open and the end result will be light and fluffy. This is a great way to soak up excess liquid in a slow cooker recipe.   Measure out your rice, stir it into slow cooker, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Quinoa
Quinoa and the slow cooker do get along nicely, but it also needs a little help from its friends.  Use at least one cup of quinoa and two cups of water plus 2-3 cups of added vegetables. Cook on low for 2-4 hours. (You can use more quinoa, but keep a 2:1 water-to-quinoa ratio.) 
 
Oats
Morning will go much smoother when you preplan the night before with a hot oatmeal cereal prepared in the slow cooker.   Key step: spray the liner with non-stick pan coating! 

Chef Meg's Apple and Cinnamon Slow Oatmeal is so fluffy and creamy, thanks to the evaporated milk, that you'll think you're eating pudding. This is one breakfast that the whole family will enjoy.
 
Do you use your slow cooker for grains? Which ones? Do you have any tips to share?
 
Want more healthy recipes from me and fellow SparkPeople members? Be sure to subscribe to SparkPeople's Recipe of the Day email. Click here to sign up!
 
Did you know SparkRecipes is now on Facebook? Click here to "Like" us!
 
Like this recipe? Then you'll love "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight."
 


Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
 

NEXT ENTRY >   Food Showdown: Which Fish Sandwich is the Best Catch?

Great Stories from around the Web

Comments

  • 20
    @runningoma, that's exactly the way my great-aunt has been cooking rice for over 60 years! she also doesn't measure, she eyes everything for every recipe she's ever made that i remember! plus, she uses cast-iron (that was her grandmother's) for everything :) - 3/27/2012   10:54:23 AM
  • 19
    I found a great way to cook rice. Put your water and rice in a pot, bring to a boil and turn it off. You can do this the night before, or I do it before leaving the house and come home to fully cooked and not overcooked rice. It takes the same amount of time as cooking it the entire time as it requires on the package. Works for potatoes and eggs too! I love saving energy and having nothing ever boil over creating a mess. - 3/26/2012   12:27:52 PM
  • 18
    My experience has been don't bother trying. Get a rice cooker. In my house also known as Dad's Oatmeal machine ... steel cut oat get set up tonight for oatmeal tomorrow. ALso good for barley, quinoa, and any of those whole grains that I need to pay attention to for 30 minutes on the stove. (I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disor ..... oooh, look at that butterfly!) - 3/26/2012   8:48:30 AM
  • 17
    Steel cut oats in crockpot are delicious!!! (SP recipe) - 3/25/2012   10:31:03 PM
  • 16
    I use my rice cooker, perfect BROWN rice every time! - 3/25/2012   5:40:49 PM
  • 15
    I have a rice cooker and it does a great job. We can make the rice ahead of the meal and leave it on warm. The machine automatically switches to warm mode after the rice is cooked. - 3/25/2012   1:12:52 PM
  • 14
    I generally cook white rice in our rice cooker and pot roasts and soups in the crock pot. I never tried other grains in the rice cooker. - 3/25/2012   11:27:46 AM
  • STEPFANIER
    13
    I updated the link for the slow cooker oatmeal. It works now! Thanks for your patience. - 3/25/2012   10:00:05 AM
  • 12
    I don't own a slow cooker (I have a weirdness about leaving appliances on when I leave the house!) but often use the soak overnight method for hot cereals and whole grains. We use a rice cooker for all our grains - with presoaking it never takes more than an hour and you get perfect results every time. - 3/25/2012   9:57:19 AM
  • 11
    I soak my brown rice over night. Then I cook in in my microwave. I have a high power microwave and I do this with 2 exact servings. It works for us. Pat in Maine. - 3/25/2012   8:55:57 AM
  • GWENS8
    10
    As a farmer, health food store owner, and organic Earthmother for 50 years, I can tell you the best way to cook grains for best nutrition, taste and texture is to sprinkle them slowly into boiling water to let the cells literally burst with flavor. There is a perfect way to cook everything and mother nature should not be fooled with. - 3/25/2012   8:08:04 AM
  • 9
    Since the link is broken, I Googled the Apple and Cinnamon Slow Oatmeal. I tried to post the link, but I'm getting a message that says I can't use HTML. I'm not, I'm only trying to post the link. But since I can't, I suggest you Google the recipe. Looks yummy!!! - 3/25/2012   2:43:15 AM
  • 8

    I have two automatic rice cookers so I use those instead of a slow cooker. I use my mini crock pot to preset oatmeal or other grain cereals for breakfast/ - 3/25/2012   12:51:00 AM
  • 7
    I use my rice/vegetable steamer for rice and quinoa but I do use a slow cooker for many other things.

    Slightly off topic - I'm wondering, you said "Don't soak rice for more than 24 hours unless you want it to sprout." So, would brown rice make good sprouts? I've been trying to get into growing sprouts. - 3/25/2012   12:12:40 AM
  • 6
    The link is broken to the cinnamon apple oatmeal recipe. :( Sounds good though! - 3/24/2012   10:03:20 PM
  • 5
    Interesting article! I've found a great way to cook breakfast grains for porridge (I usually do millet or buckwheat, but it works for rice, too).

    Method 1: The night before, rinse the grain and put it in a pot with two to three times the amount of water. Bring it to a boil, let it boil for a minute or so, cover it with a tight lid, and turn off the heat. Let it sit, covered, all night. When you get up in the morning, just cook it for 10 minutes, and it will be done to perfection.

    Method 2: Same thing, but let it cook for 10 minutes before you go to bed, then cover, turn off heat, and let sit. It will be done in the morning, and all you need to do is warm it up. - 3/24/2012   10:00:30 PM
  • JULIA1154
    4
    Mellybean, if using quinoa that does NOT say it's been rinsed, do this first (just rinse well in a strainer or colander). Otherwise, it will be bitter and you'll wonder what other people see in it :D - 3/24/2012   3:14:42 PM
  • 3
    Interesting. I have a rice cooker and it doesn't take all that long for me to steam rice. 2 hours in a slow cooker still seems like a long time. I guess it would only be good if you want to step away from it for awhile and not have to watch it. From what I understand of this article, there's still basically no good way to cook rice in the slow cooker then. - 3/24/2012   3:13:10 PM
  • 2
    I love my slow cooker and have never thought of cooking oats or rice in it. Thanks for the tips. - 3/24/2012   2:40:01 PM
  • 1
    I have never tried quinoa, I am going to try it today using the slow cooker. :) - 3/24/2012   2:37:25 PM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Join SparkPeople.com

x Lose 10 Pounds by November 1! Get a FREE Personalized Plan