You must have come across a number of infomercials promoting a staggering number of kitchen appliances. I can assure you that many of those items will not make a great difference to your cooking experience. The slow cooker and the rice cooker, however, can safely count as exceptions. Each of these appliances is quite versatile and would make a great addition to your kitchen.
Let’s talk about the differences between the two and see how each can come in handy.
The fundamental difference
The main difference lies in the speed of preparation. Rice cookers are built to bring food contents to a boil in the shortest possible time possible. Slow cookers, on the other hand, are built to cook the food slowly, bringing it to the desired temperature, and spreading the heat evenly within the pot.
Rice cookers are primarily used for preparing rice and other grains, such as quinoa, millet, and oatmeal, as well as veggies. Their speedy manner of preparation affords us more time to focus on other dishes we want to prepare. In contrast, slow cookers will slowly simmer our roasts, soups, and stews to perfection.
Slow cookers: pros and cons
One of the main advantages with slow cookers is the hands-off cooking experience. We can easily set up a mix in the ingredients in the morning before going off to work and come home in the evening to a warm, fully- cooked meal.
Slow cookers also handle a wide variety of recipes. They’re especially useful for tenderizing meats. To prepare a stew, for example, we just need to cut up the ingredients and optionally brown them before mixing them all in and let the cooker work its magic slowly.
The main disadvantage with slow cookers is, of course, the lengthy cook time. As it will take hours to fully cook your meals, it might not be your ideal choice if you’re always in a hurry.
Rice cookers: pros and cons
Rice cookers have a quick cook time, allowing us to prepare grains quickly. Many of them come with steamer attachments for steaming veggies or fish in addition to cooking grain.
Many also include a warming feature to keep the food warm long after it’s cooked. This makes them ideal for students/bachelors who only need to prepare or reheat small amounts of stew or soup at a time.
The disadvantage with rice cookers is that we are limited to a few types of dishes—grains (rice, oatmeal, millet) and some vegetables. We must also be careful about using leaving the warming feature on for too long as it could dry out the food in there.
Which should you choose?
Both slow cookers and rice cookers have their place in the modern kitchen. As they work fundamentally different and are suited to different dishes, there’s no reason we can’t have both working side by side. Using both items can help us streamline our efforts in the kitchen—while you’ll enjoy a slow-cooked stew, roast or soup, the rice cooker is will prepare side dishes quickly to go with the main course.