Slow cooker rice is my secret to getting dinner on the table with minimal fuss. Making rice in the slow cooker means you’ll have half of dinner ready without any effort! Save yourself the time slaving over the stove by making perfect rice in the slow cooker or crockpot.
Where do you stand on the whole rice thing?
Are you a white rice fan, or a brown rice fan?
Or, are you of the belief that all grains are the devil, and should be avoided?
Me, I’m proud to have recently relocated to Camp Most Grains Are The Devil (from Camp All Grains Are The Devil) and my bunkmate in Camp MGATD has been white rice.
For most of my life, I didn’t appreciate white rice.
I believe in eating whole grains over their “white” counterparts for the nutritional benefits, but only to a point.
White rice may be higher glycemic (which means it makes your blood sugar rise and fall more rapidly), but it is also much easier to digest – as grains go – than brown rice (which, for me, is still pretty tough to stomach), and I love (LOVE) sushi. So, though I still eat a fairly low carb, paleo-friendly* diet, when I need a major (gluten free) carb infusion, I love white rice.
*Actually, many Paleo Powers That Be have embraced white rice in the last year or two, so I’m not alone here.
The only problem – with any rice (besides rumblings of arsenic in it, which are much lower in white rice than brown, and lower still if you buy Asian-grown rice vs. US-grown. Not that you should be worried about arsenic in your rice, but I understand that some of you may be.) – is the time it takes to cook.
I have this strange memory from childhood of my parents cooking rice slowly, over low heat, very carefully, stirring almost constantly. When I make rice on the stove top, I tend not to have that kind of patience and end up with an unevenly cooked, possible-slightly-burned-but-I’m-not-admitting-to-anything batch.
Which brings me to yet another love letter to my slow cooker.
Rice does need to cook “low and slow”
And if you cook your rice in the slow cooker, it doesn’t burn or cook unevenly the way it does on the stove. I’m sure there’s some very rational explanation about the heat distribution or something, but all I care about is that I can make a big batch of rice with almost no effort.
Plus, using your slow cooker saves you the trouble of having to buy and store a rice cooker. I have a small, city kitchen with limited storage space, so I try to rely on as few gadgets as possible!
Don’t skip the rinse before your rice goes in the slow cooker
It takes a little bit of effort, but it is worth it! Rinsing your rice thoroughly before cooking removes excess starch, allowing the rice to cook up into tender, fluffy individual grains. If you skip the rinse, that excess starch clinging to the grains will cause your rice to stick together in one big clump, creating a final product that resembles rice pudding more than the fluffy base or side dish you were going for.
So take those few extra minutes to rinse the rice before you throw it in the slow cooker with the water, walk away and return to batch of perfect rice.
Not just for white rice
This method works for wild rice or brown rice too. Add scant 3 cups water and a pinch of salt for every 1 cup of (rinsed) wild or brown rice. Cook on low 2.5 – 3 hours until water is absorbed, and the grains have burst and are tender. Fluff with a fork, then serve.
If you have trouble tolerating brown rice, you may want to try sprouted brown rice. The sprouting step breaks down the outer husk, producing an easier-to-digest grain, and making some of the nutrients inside more bioavailable (easier for your body to access and use).
And finally, a few readers have asked what size and model slow cooker that I used for this, because it has some bearing on cooking time. This 4-quart model is the one I use.
- What variety of rice should I use? I’ve found that long grain rice works best for this. I especially recommend Jasmine or Basmati. As I mentioned above, you can also use brown rice or wild rice.
- How can I flavor my rice? You can add any seasoning you prefer, to taste. Add it with the raw rice and water, give it a stir, and then cook according to the method below. If you don’t have a particular recipe or cuisine in mind, you can just replace some or all of the water with chicken stock, and add a pinch of garlic powder and/or freshly ground black pepper. That will season the rice without adding any flavors that might clash with your meal.
- Can I make this a one-pot meal? You mean by adding a protein? Yes, but don’t just wing it. There a plenty of healthy recipes on Google and Pinterest for a slow cooker meal that uses rice as the base and all cooks together. Take your pick!
- What slow cooker do I use? I use this Cuisinart 4-quart multicooker, which also has a high and low slow cook setting, as well as steaming and sautéing settings. I highly recommend it!
Serve it with…
There are plenty of ways to use slow cooker rice in your kitchen, but here are a few suggestions:
- Under curry, Mexican food, slow cooker chicken shawarma, easy crockpot pork chops with apples and onions, or slow cooker beef and broccoli (just a few ways we use it around here; meals served over rice are a family favorite!)
- In this cold entree with shrimp
- With cashew chicken
- Stuffed in a bell pepper with meat or in an acorn squash without
What will you use it for?
PS: Check out more slow cooker recipes here!
Perfect Rice in the Slow Cooker
- 1 cup medium or short grain white rice
- 1 pinch fine sea salt optional
- 2 cups water
- Thoroughly rinse rice in a fine mesh sieve until the runoff turns from cloudy to clear.
- Place the rinsed rice in the bowl of your slow cooker and sprinkle salt over the top.
- Pour water over the rice.
- Cover and cook on low 2-2 1/2 hours until rice is tender.
- Uncover, fluff rice with a fork, and then serve.
- This method works for wild rice or brown rice too. Add scant 3 cups water and a pinch of salt for every 1 cup of (rinsed) wild or brown rice. Cook on low 2.5 - 3 hours until water is absorbed, and the grains have burst and are tender. Fluff with a fork, then serve.
- For more flavor, replace some or all of the water with chicken stock (which, incidentally, you can also make in your slow cooker!)
- 1 serving: 1/2 cup cooked rice
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
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