Your rice cooker can do much more than cooking just rice. It can steam, broil, and even slow cook soups and beans. While in-built functions are common in an electric cooker, many simple rice cookers only have an on and off switch. But that does not mean you cannot use a simple 3 or 6-cup instant rice cooker for steaming. Plus, steaming vegetables in a rice cooker is no biggie. You need to take of few things and you can serve yourself a healthy batch of goodies.
People who are afraid to use stovetop cookers can go for an electric instant pot. They are extremely easy to use and maintain. Almost all models come with a user manual to help you understand your appliance better. While many of them come with a recipe booklet that contains delicious rice cooker recipes. The booklet also informs you about the cooking time of the different types of rice and water required. So whichever type you prefer, white, brown or jasmine, a good quality rice cooker can prepare it for you perfectly. But let us find out what else you can do using a rice cooker at home?
Steam Vegetables in a Rice Cooker(With Basket)
Rice cookers come with a steam basket that is ideal for steaming vegetables. The perforated stainless steel steam basket helps to tenderize veggies perfectly without overdoing them. If not steel, many models include a silicone steam basket. These baskets are designed in such a way that they are easy to fit and take outside from the instant pot.
According to the size of your cooker, add in the recommended amount of water. Usually, it takes 2-3 cups to steam vegetables perfectly in a small rice cooker. But you need to add more water if you own a big unit with 6 or 8-cups capacity. Then, fill in the steam basket with your favorite vegetables and carefully place it inside the cooker.
Now select the steam function and set the timer. If your instant pot does not have a timer then not to worry. In this case, you’ll have to do the guesswork and simply turn the machine on for 5 minutes. Increase time if there are a lot of vegetables to be steamed. Although it sounds intimidating, it is very easy to steam vegetables in a rice cooker that comes with a basket.
Steam Vegetables in Rice Cooker(Without Basket)
First of all, you need to check whether you can double your rice cooker as a steamer. If the manual says yes, then you can buy a small trivet that fits perfectly inside your instant pot. You can directly put the vegetables on the trivet to steam them. Or if the size of veggies is small and can probably fall out of a trivet then you can lay a sheet of foil over top. This will let you steam small vegetables in the rice cooker that does not come with a basket.
Nowadays there are a lot of collapsible steamer baskets available in the market. Instead of silicone, go for a steel steamer basket. It will last longer, plus, it will not hold stains of turmeric-based foods. And best of all, many steel steamer baskets are dishwasher-safe. So you can simply pop it inside the dishwasher after use for effortlessly cleaning.
What Foods can you Steam in a Rice Cooker?
There are a lot of other food items that steams well in a rice cooker. Below is the list of some common veggies that people usually steam in their instant pot. We’ve also mentioned the approximate time they take to steam.
- Broccoli florets – 5 min
- Carrots – 8.5 min
- Asparagus – 5-6 min
- Green beans – 4-5 min
- Small potatoes – 12-18 min
- Cauliflower florets – 6-7 min
- Brussel sprouts – 10-12 min
- Peas – 2-3 min
- Spinach – 3-5 min
How to Prepare Vegetables for Steaming?
Small vegetables like peas and baby broccoli can be added directly into the steamer basket. However, big veggies like cauliflower and carrots need some preparation before you add them to the steamer. You need to cube carrots, floret cauliflower, cube big potatoes, and slice mushrooms for proper steaming. But certain veggies like artichoke can be added as a whole. Just make sure to trim artichoke properly. Besides, green leafy vegetables like spinach can go in as a whole without cutting or trimming.
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Can you Steam Frozen Vegetables?
Yes, you can steam frozen vegetables in the rice cooker. In fact, steaming frozen veggies is the best way to preserve water-based nutrients. Plus, it will not take much time to steam frozen vegetables.