Cooking Tips

The Secret to Better Slow-Cooker Rice: Use Instant

When in doubt, grab the red box. 

Published Sept. 19, 2023.

Rice thats been cooked in a slow cooker couldnt be more flavorful.

Why? It absorbs all those rich flavors of the cooking liquid plus other ingredients that have been simmering for hours.

But cooking rice successfully in your slow cooker can be tricky. It doesn’t always cook evenly and is often blown out and mushy by the time your chicken or beans are done. 

That’s why we opt for instant rice in many of our slow-cooker recipes. (Yes, we’re talking about the red box minute rice.)

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Rather than adding rice at the start, simply stir in your instant rice in the last 20-30 minutes of cooking, cover, and walk away. 

The result? Evenly cooked rice that still holds its shape.

Instant rice is rice that has been precooked, so it requires less cooking time and doesnt blow out in the slow cooker. Other rice such as basmati, long-grain, and wild rice takes 2 to 3 hours in the slow cooker to achieve the same doneness but with inferior results.

Not only does instant rice cook evenly, but its slightly starchy texture helps to thicken slow-cooker soups and stews and bind casseroles together.


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This method doesn’t apply to all slow-cooker dishes. There’s no shortcut for recipes that call for grains such as arborio, brown, and wild rice—they require the full 2 to 3 hours to cook.

Instant rice works best for dishes where it plays a supporting role. Take these slow-cooker recipes, for example:

Perfectly cooked rice in an instant . . . ish

(It is a slow cooker, after all.)

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