Rice cookers are easy and convenient. You can use them to cook rice perfectly and steam frozen vegetables. The next time you grab a bag of vegetables from your freezer, consider steaming them in your rice cooker!
Your rice cooker can steam almost any frozen vegetable. Most rice cookers come with a steamer basket, but you can also make one yourself. Add water to your rice cooker, add the frozen vegetables to the steamer basket, and set your rice cooker to “Steam.” In about 20 minutes, you’ll have a healthy side for your meal!
Which Frozen Veggies Can You Steam in Your Rice Cooker?
You can steam any frozen vegetable in your rice cooker, so the only choice for you to make is which vegetables you enjoy eating! There’s no need to thaw your veggies; you can put them directly into the rice cooker frozen. Steaming vegetables is an easy way to ensure you consume vegetables daily, which is helpful since the USDA recommends that adults consume 2-4 cups daily to stay healthy.
Frozen Vegetables and Approximate Steaming Times
You’ll find my suggested steaming times for popular frozen veggies below. Frozen vegetables are usually blanched, meaning they are partially cooked before frozen. As a result, frozen vegetables generally cook faster than fresh veggies. Adjust the times below based on your preferences.
- Asparagus: 12 minutes
- Broccoli: 15 minutes
- Carrots: 15 minutes
- Cauliflower: 20 minutes
- Corn on the Cob: 25 minutes
- Green Beans: 12 minutes
- Mixed Vegetables: 15 minutes
- Peas: 15 minutes
- Spinach: 10 minutes
How to Steam Frozen Vegetables in Your Rice Cooker
Always check the user manual for your rice cooker; your instruction manual should have instructions for your exact device model. The basic process is as follows:
- Add water to the inner pot of your rice cooker. My cooker calls for 2 cups of water.
- Place the steamer basket on top of the inner pot.
- Add your frozen vegetables.
- Close the lid and push the “Steam” button.
- Once the cooker finishes steaming, carefully open the lid.
4 Tips for Steaming Vegetables in Your Rice Cooker
Read on for my favorite tips for steaming vegetables in your rice cooker.
Chop Large Vegetables to Similar Sizes
If you want to ensure your vegetables steam evenly, make sure the pieces are all similar sizes. Frozen broccoli, for example, often varies considerably in size. I let my broccoli thaw for a few minutes, then I chop the florets so they are close in size. This way, they cook evenly.
Add Tender Veggies Later
Vegetables’ density and texture vary, which causes a variation in their cooking times. For example, leafy Spinach and thick green beans must steam for significantly different amounts of time. If you want to cook a combination of vegetables with significantly different cooking times, start with the vegetable that takes the longest to cook. For example, start your green beans first, and then 2 minutes later, add your spinach.
Avoid Filling Your Steamer Basket Too Full
I’m guilty of this error from time to time. I always think, “Can’t I add just one more handful?” However, I have learned that overcrowding your rice cooker means the vegetables won’t cook evenly.
Instead, it’s better to have only one layer of vegetables in your cooker. I try to ensure I fill the basket halfway rather than up to the top. If you’re cooking vegetables for a crowd, you may need to steam them in batches for best results.
Check Your Vegetables Before Serving
Once your vegetables finish steaming, carefully open the lid of your rice cooker. Use a knife or fork to test that your veggies are cooked to your preference. The first time I steamed veggies in my rice cooker, I overcooked them. I should have checked on them sooner.
The next time, however, I tested my green beans about halfway through the cooking process. I noticed they were steaming faster than I anticipated. I stopped cooking in time for perfectly al dente green beans!
What If I Don’t Have a Steamer Basket?
If your cooker doesn’t have a steamer basket, you can order one. Amazon has a wide variety of rice cooker steamer baskets. Check the size of your rice cooker before you order.
DIY Steamer Basket
If you don’t have a steamer basket and don’t want to buy one, you can make one. You’ll need aluminum foil and a disposable pie pan that fits the size of your rice cooker.
- Roll three sheets of aluminum foil into balls and place them in the inner pot of your rice cooker.
- Add about 1 ½ cups of water.
- Poke 10-15 holes in the bottom of your pie pan.
- Place the pie pan on top of the aluminum balls.
- Place your frozen veggies in the pie pan and close the lid of your cooker.
- Select the “Steam” setting and let your cooker work!
Benefits of Steaming Vegetables in Your Rice Cooker
Steamed vegetables have a better taste and texture than boiled or roasted veggies. They also retain more Vitamins B and C. These vitamins leach out into your cooking water when you cook your vegetables in a pot, but when you steam your veggies, those vitamins stay in your food.
Steaming in your rice cooker is easy. Once you set your pot to “Steam,” you can walk away. The cooker steams your food for you with no further attention required.
When you steam your veggies, there’s less cleanup. You don’t have oily pans or splatters on the stove. Simply wash your steamer basket and the inner pot of your rice cooker. That’s it!
What Else Can You Steam in Your Rice Cooker?
Use your rice cooker to steam meat, dumplings, or buns. Add salmon, tofu, chicken, or beef to your steamer basket for a delicious main dish. You can also steam potatoes, apples, or pears to complement your meal. The possibilities are endless!
Though rice cookers are made to cook perfect rice, they are also great for steaming food. Steaming vegetables helps them retain more nutrients, making them the healthiest choice for you and your family.