I got stuck in a motel for three weeks with only a microwave oven for heating food. I have a strong bias in favor of the stove top or a regular oven for most cooking, but a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do when on the road. I often eat steamed rice--nothing fancy, some rice, water, and butter steamed in a covered saucepan. A quick search revealed there was no shortage of microwave rice cookers. I read up on them, and tried one while stuck there. Here's what I learned.

The Testing Begins

I tried the Prepsolutions Microwave Rice Cooker--a six cup rice maker. It was reasonably priced, about $6, give or take a buck. It did what it said it would do. Clean up was very easy, there was no sign of warping or discoloration of the plastic after repeated use. It's basically a deep plastic bowl with a locking, but vented lid. Also included are plastic rice paddle, and a measuring cup. The resulting steamed rice seemed more like rice made by boiling than by steaming. That is, it didn't come out in a gluey-starchy, all stuck together state. I actually like rice even when it's sticky-starchy but most folks don't, so I consider this a plus. Cooking time was about two-thirds that of the stove top method.

Steamed Rice in Wooden BowlCredit: http://www.sbcounty.gov/uploads/dph/dehs/Depts/EnvironmentalHealth/EHSDocuments/SushiRiceHACCPPlanPacket.pdf

Going Low Tech

Next up it was just a nice heavy, oversize soup bowl with a dinner plate on top of it. After a bit of experimenting with water to rice ratios, I got a good result, close to what I got with the Prepsolutions cooker, but... the dedicated cooker never burned my finger tips. If you decide to go the low-tech route, I have two pieces of advice for you. One, be very sure, you don't use a locking lid that's not vented--exploding cookware is a bad thing. Two, use oven mitts when taking your ad hoc rice cooker out of the microwave--ceramic bowls sometimes get very hot.


The microwave rice cooker delivered on its promise. It saves on cooking time. It's easy to clean. It's inexpensive, and I think you should keep one around if you have the room for another piece of dedicated-use cookware. But even with all the advantages of the microwave cookers, I remain a stove top kinda guy. That probably says more about my stodgy ways than it does about the rice cookers.