Cooking Long Grain White Rice in a Slow Cooker
It can be difficult to get long grain white rice to come out properly in a slow-cooker, here's our best method for getting good results.
Long-grain white rice seems like it would be well suited to the slow cooker. But when we ran some tests (using different heat settings and varying the rice-to-liquid ratios), we had poor results: grains with shaggy, blown-apart exteriors and hard insides.
What’s the problem? In a word, heat. Rice has a lot of starch, which swells as it cooks. Our science editor explained that rice needs to reach around 212 degrees for its starch to completely gelatinize throughout all of the starch granules and produce evenly cooked rice. The starch in rice cooked at lower temperatures—as in a slow cooker, which typically doesn’t get hotter than 190 degrees—may not get hot enough to gelatinize all of the starch granules, resulting in rice that is unevenly cooked.
We tried rinsing, toasting, and microwaving the rice before adding it to the slow cooker to manipulate its starch, but none of these methods resulted in slow-cooker rice with an acceptable texture. In short, there’s no good way to cook a big batch of plain rice in the slow cooker. The best option is to add precooked rice to your slow-cooker dish (soup, stew, etc.) at the end of cooking. If you don’t like cooking rice on the stovetop, you could use a rice cooker; we highly recommend the Aroma 8-Cup Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer, which costs about $30. Or you can use instant rice, which has already been cooked to gelatinize the starch, so it can finish cooking in the slow cooker.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Avoid trying to cook long-grain white rice all the way through in the slow cooker. Instead, we suggest precooking the rice on the stove or using instant rice.