“Slow cooker vs Rice cooker” is an old-age question, especially for those who never prepare their meals with them before. Many even wonder if they’re the same.
If you want a short answer, then no – they are different appliances with different purposes.
And more importantly, knowing what kind of foods you can cook with each of them is critical if you want to pick up the right cooker.
How they work
Slow cookers, also known as crock-pots, is a kitchen appliance used for simmering foods for a long time. This means that they will cook the foods above the poaching temperature but below the boiling point of water.
Slow cookers cook food slowly and steadily to the desired temperature and then keep it constantly there.
Instead of cooking at high temperatures as other methods like frying, boiling, and baking, slowing cookers use a gentler treatment to make sure that foods don’t break up or toughen.
What makes slow cookers unique is the cooking time, which can last up to several hours, which allows unattended cooking. This is not a feature you can easily find in any cooking appliance.
Using a slow cooker doesn’t require any complex skills. Just put food into the container and choose the setting you want. You can even go outside, go to work, or pick up your kids while waiting.
A rice cooker is another cooking appliance, but mainly designed to cook rice this time around. There are both stovetop and electric models, but for the purpose of our article, we’re going to discuss only electric rice cookers here.
Compared to slow cookers, they use electric heating at higher temperatures with shorter cooking time. Rice cookers bring foods to the boiling temperature quickly and then keep them warm until they are ready to serve.
Most modern rice cookers have a warm mode, fuzzy logic mechanism, and heat-insulating casing.
When they have determined that the rice is fully cooked, rice cookers switch to the “warming” mode. This makes sure the rice is not overcooked, and you also have warm rice when it’s served.
Using a rice cooker is very straightforward.
All you need to use is rinse the rice, add it to the inner cooking pan, and finally start the rice cooker with its “cooking” mode. It will take care of the rest. You will know when the rice is ready with the indicating lights on the body of the cooker.
Basically, while a rice cooker uses rapid heat at a higher temperature to cook rice, a slow cooker produces constant heat at a lower temperature for a much longer period.
Those differences in cooking cycle lead to different cooking times and heat settings, as you can see below.
As we have said above, using slow cookers is going to take you a longer time than most cooking methods. But this also depends a lot on which food you have, the amount of food, and what you want to do with it.
This may result in a cooking time anywhere between 1 to 12 hours. And we haven’t talked about the warming time if you need to keep the foods warm and ready before serving.
You can see a massive difference here – a rice cooker usually only takes from 30 to 60 minutes to fully cook the rice.
But like a slow cooker, the amount of rice, the quality and mechanism of your model, and finally the atmospheric pressure all make a difference in this period.
Some of the best rice cookers can even calculate the cooking time needed based on those values beforehand.
There is a striking difference in cooking time between these two appliances. While one may take hours, even half of a day, to prepare your foods, the other just needs about an hour.
Most slow cooker models on the market nowadays come with at least four modes – usually “high”, “medium”, “low”, and a separate “warming” setting.
This is an improvement over older products, which usually have no mechanism to choose and control the temperature.
A typical rice cooker doesn’t have any heat settings beside the “cooking” and “warming” mode. But more advanced high-end models feature various modes to allow many other types of foods and cooking methods as well.
Generally, a rice cooker provides no temperature control feature while slow cookers allow you to pick a prefered heat setting before they start to cook.
What can we do with them?
You can add all the ingredients needed to a slow cooker, get the right settings, and leave the house. When you come back, it’ll be ready for your lunch or dinner.
Foods to cook with a slow cooker:
- Pot roast
We don’t even need to guess what a rice cooker usually cooks. But can we use it to prepare other dishes too?
It turns out that a rice cooker is not just limited to rice!
You can have:
- Stews and soups
- Steamed fish
- Steamed vegetables
- Boiled eggs
- Hot cereal
Rice cookers and slow cookers can all help you make delicious foods.
Despite its name, a rice cooker can help you prepare many foods besides different types of rice.
On the other hand, slow cookers are an ideal tool to make a wide range of dishes, from soups, stews, braised meats to even other less common recipes such as cake or mac and cheese.
Pros and Cons
- More recipes available
- Enable handoff cooking
- More heat settings
- Much longer cooking time
- Extremely easy to use and clean
- Short cooking time
- Only a limited number of recipes
Slow cooker vs Rice cooker: What Should You Choose?
The general advice is taking a slow cooker if you want to have pulled pork, soup, stew or an appliance that can automatically cook when you’re not at home. While it’s not an all-in-one appliance to replace your deep fryer or break maker, a slow cooker still allows a wide range of food.
But keep in mind that they are not ideal for those who are too busy for meal planning or who are not comfortable about leaving a cooking appliance alone at home.
On the other hand, get a rice cooker when your family eats rice daily or several times a week.
However, if it’s within your means, why not take both?
Each of them has its own functions in your kitchen. You can take advantage of them to try more different recipes when you don’t spend on a multi-cooker like an instant pot.
At the end of the day, the choice is totally up to you.
If rice is a staple in your diet, buying a rice cooker is a no-brainer. On the other hand, a slow cooker enables you to select and prepare more types of foods if you have the time.
Which do you think is the appliance you’re going to bring to your kitchen?