One of the oldest cereal grains in the world, rice has been consumed as a staple food for thousands of years. Particularly popular in Southern and Eastern Asia, its popularity has also been growing in the Western countries due to its versatility, and health benefits in the recent years. Though there have been many debates on its true origin, there is evidence to believe that all forms of Asian rice comes from a certain domestication up to 13,000 years ago in China.
Before we go on to talk about the differences between an Instant Pot and a Rice Cooker, let’s go over some basic facts about rice.
What is Rice?
A cereal grain, rice is the seed of various grass species. Depending on the exact species, rice can exhibit a variety of tastes, textures, and nutritional value.
Typically grown in Asia, rice is usually planted in a flat field with lots of water; in fact, this process is often referred to as “flooding.” Prior to cropping, the water is drained. From there, farmers are able to harvest and mill the crop; next, it goes through various milling processes.
The Different Types of Rice
As mentioned earlier, there are many different types for rice, depending on its grass species. Generally, the cereal grain can be classified into three groups according to size; we’ve listed them below.
Long Grain Rice: As its name implies, it’s roughly four times longer than it is wide. This type of rice includes Basmati rice, Jasmine rice, and American white and brown rices. Known for its firm and dry texture as grains, it typically stays separate and fluffy after being cooked.
Medium Grain Rice: True to its name, it is shorter and wider than its long-grain counterpart. Tender and moist, the grains generally stick together once its cooked. Some typical medium grain rices include Valencia, and Arborio (often used in dishes such as risotto).
Short Grain Rice: Named for its short length, short grain rice is almost as long as it is wide. Plump in appearance, it generally ends up being tender and soft after being cooked. The most common type of short grained rice is sushi rice.
Aside from size, the staple ingredient can also be categorized based on its color.
White rice: White in appearance, white rice has its germ, bran layer, and husk removed. As a result, it generally contains less nutrients than its red, black, or brown counterparts. For one thing, it has very little fibre due to the absence of the husk. Examples of white rice include: Basmati, Doongara, and Jasmine rice.
Brown rice: In contrast to white rice, which has its germ and bran layer removed in the milling process, brown rice is whole grain, that is, only the outer hull has been removed. Chewier with a “nutty” flavour, it is generally more nutritious with 3.2 grams of fiber per 100 gram.
Black Rice: Earthy, with a distinct nutty flavour, black rice takes much longer to cook than the previous two rices. Known for its lower glycemic index, it releases its sugars “slowly” in the body, which keeps you fuller for a longer period of time. Incredibly nutritious, it contains 9.1 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Red Rice: Known for its reddish-brown hue, red rice boasts a variety of antioxidants. Available both hulled or unhulled, it contains 7 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Health Benefits of Rice
As one of the most widely consumed staple foods in the world, it’s not surprising to know that rice has a number of health benefits. Not only does it provide essentials vitamins such as B1 to the human body, but some studies have also shown it to be beneficial in metabolism, and digestion. Below, we’ll be going over some of the health benefits of rice.
Rice is a Great Source of Energy
Due to the fact that it is a carbohydrate, rice is capable of acting as fuel for the body. The way it works, is that these carbohydrates are metabolized into expendable, functional energy by the body. The different vitamins and minerals contained in rice also further increases energy level.
Rice can be Used to Prevent Obesity
Rice does not contain any sodium, cholesterol, or harmful fats on its own; this means that it has the potential of being an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Rice can be Used to Help Control Hypertension
Incredibly low in sodium on its own, rice is usually considered a safe option for those experiencing hypertension. This is due to the fact that sodium is the prime agent responsible in causing arteries and veins to constrict (which subsequently increases blood pressure).
Rice can be Beneficial in Skincare
According to some studies, powdered rice has been shown to be beneficial when used topically on the skin. For instance, some species of wild or brown rice is said to have phenolic compounds, which boast anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to that, antioxidants present may also delay the appearance of aging and wrinkles.
Rice can Help to Improve Metabolism
The vitamins and minerals (e.g. calcium vitamin D niacin, iron, riboflavin, etc) present in rice helps to boost the body’s metabolism, as many are necessary for the body’s organic processes.
Rice can be used to Prevent Anemia
Due to the fact that it contains iron, rice can be helpful in the formation of hemoglobin, which is essential for transporting oxygen in the blood.
Rice is easy to digest
Easy to digest, especially when made into a porridge, rice is typically a good option for those who are recovering from being sick.
How Do You Cook Rice?
Rice is fairly simple to make. Ultimately, it just needs to be cooked with water. When cooking rice however, one thing is important to remember- the rice to water ratio. Depending on the type of rice that you’ll be making, you’ll want to add a different amount of water to the grains.
When rice is cooked with liquid (i.e. water), it will expand. Ultimately, this is due to the fact that the granules swell and burst when heated.
In the end, there are many different ways to prepare and cook rice. While some may choose to make it on the stovetop, others prefer to use a dedicated rice cooker for the job. On this page, we’ll be looking at the differences between the Instant Pot and the Rice Cooker.
Using the Instant Pot to Cook Rice
A multi-purpose cooker, the Instant Pot can easily be used to cook rice. In fact, all of the models come with a “Rice” function that makes the entire process even easier. Not only is it capable of cooking white rice to perfection, but it can also be used to make other varieties of rice- all you need to do is adjust the rice to water ratio.
The process is incredibly simple, we will be outlining it briefly below.
1.) Measure the desired amount of rice, and set aside
2.) Add the same amount of water to the inner pot (you’ll want to use a 1:1 rice to water ratio for white rice)
3.) Rinse the dry rice with water, drain the water, and add it to the inner pot
4.) Close and lock the lid, with the steam release valve set to “sealing”
5.) All that’s left is to set it to cook- to do this, simply press the “Rice” button
Tip: The “Rice” button is designed with white rice in mind; if you’re cooking brown rice, you may wish to manually input 20-25 minutes as the cooking time
As you can see, the Instant Pot is extremely handy when it comes to cooking rice.
Using a Rice Cooker to Cook Rice
True to its name, a rice cooker is an automated appliance that is designed to steam or boil rice. Ultimately, it consists of a thermostat, a cooking bowl, and a heat source. Depending on the quality of the cooker, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to cook rice. As it is, most rice cookers are made in Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China.
Note: Japanese rice cookers tend to be popular for its wide range of functions, compared to the standard American rice cooker.
When compared to cooking rice with an Instant pot, the general process is the same. After rinsing the rice, you’ll want to add the grains into the inner bowl, close the lid, and input the cooking time/select a cooking setting.
Differences between an Instant Pot and a Rice Cooker
When it comes to cooking rice, it doesn’t really matter whether or not you’re using an Instant Pot or a dedicated Rice Cooker. In the end, both appliances essentially do the same thing- use water to cook the rice grains. With that said, depending on the model of the rice cooker, some are capable of preparing other rice dishes with the press of a button such as congee.
To put it simply, the only difference between an Instant Pot and a Rice Cooker is the different features that the former includes. While the latter is designed solely to boil or steam rice, the multi-purpose cooker is exactly that- it is designed to accomplish a number of features, from cooking rice, to making yogurt, to sauteing food.
Functions that an Instant Pot has that a Rice Cooker does not:
– Due to its pressure cooking capabilities, an Instant Pot is able to cook a variety of foods up to 70% faster than traditional methods
– Most models, with the exception of the Lux, boasts a Yogurt function which can be easily used to prepare your own dairy treat at home
– Aside from rice, it is capable of preparing a variety of ingredients including meat, desserts, soup, cakes, pasta, etc.
– It can be used to cook food at a delayed time using its programmable start function
So Should I get an Instant Pot or a Rice Cooker?
Considering all that’s been discussed above, the decision is ultimately a question of preference. Will you be purchasing an Instant Pot solely for the purpose of cooking rice (aka, you will not be making use of any of its other functions)? Will you be using the multi-purpose cooker to prepare other dishes? Are you looking to invest in a 7-in-1 appliance that can easily do the work of other kitchen gadgets?
Another thing to consider is perhaps, the price. Generally speaking, Instant Pots sell anywhere from ~$80 to $150+ per unit. Considering its wide range of functions, this is a fairly reasonable investment. With that said, there are many affordable rice cookers that can be bought for under $20. If what you’re after is a cheap, affordable option for cooking rice, that may be a better option for you- this is especially true if you are not planning to use any of the Instant Pot’s other functions.
In addition to that, you also want to ask yourself- how much counter space do you have? If your kitchen is already filled with various gadgets, and you have no wish to replace them, perhaps just go with the rice cooker. On the other hand, if you’re looking to clear some space by purchasing a 7-in-1, the Instant Pot is the way to go.
Next, ask yourself- how much rice will you be cooking on a regular basis? How many will you be feeding? Will you simply be preparing a portion of rice for yourself? If that’s true, there may be no need for you to purchase an Instant Pot, which typically comes in two larger sizes- 6 quart and 8 quart. Instead, you may wish you purchase a miniature rice cooker that is capable of making ~3 cups of rice (these can easily be found for under $30).
Instant Pot vs Rice Cooker – The Bottom Line
Remember, both appliances essentially work the same way to cook rice. The big question then is, are you looking to just make rice? Or are you looking for a multi-purpose cooker that’s also capable of making rice? If you want a 7-in-1 gadget that’s capable of multiple functions, go for the Instant Pot. If not, perhaps getting a rice cooker is a better option. In the end, it’s all about preference and what you’re after.