Did you know you can use your rice cooker to make everything from macaroni and cheese to rice and beans? Grab your rice cooker and give one of these unique recipes a try!

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I’ve had a rice cooker for years and I love how it makes perfectly fluffy grains of rice every time. But I don’t love having a single-use appliance taking up cabinet space, so I started thinking about how I could use it for more than just a basic side dish. It turns out even a basic rice cooker can make all kinds of dishes! If your rice cooker has been gathering dust except for the occasional batch of rice, it’s time to dust it off and explore its full potential. Here are some surprising and delicious recipes you can whip up in your rice cooker.

New Ways to Use a Rice Cooker

How Does a Rice Cooker Work?

When you press the “cook” button, the rice cooker’s internal sensor detects the temperature and moisture inside. As the water heats up and starts to boil, it’s absorbed by the rice or grains. Rice cookers are designed to be foolproof and versatile. My rice cooker is really basic but some models come with additional settings for different types of rice, such as white, brown, jasmine, or even sushi rice. Some advanced rice cookers also have features like delay timers, steamers for vegetables, and even options for cooking other grains like quinoa. I have a very basic model with just two settings: cook and warm. That’s really all you need!

What Kind of Rice Cooker Do I Need?

You don’t need anything fancy. I have this basic Aroma rice cooker that I got on Amazon and it’s great. It’s less than $20 and it can make up to 6 cups of rice. There are plenty of expensive ones on the market, but you don’t need anything special to make rice pilaf.