Yes, the appliance name tells you it makes rice, but rice cookers actually make so much more. These beginner rice cooker recipes help you begin to understand the machine while you make delicious food.

A boon for penny-pinching college students, or simply a great gift for anyone who eats grains regularly, the rice cooker is a kitchen tool that deserves your countertop space. If you received one underneath your Christmas tree or opened one at a house-warming shower, then you'll be happy to know that you can do so much more than just cook rice in this handy appliance. Everything from chicken thighs to mac and cheese can be created easily (and deliciously) within the rice cooker.

All rice cookers will come with instructions for making a basic pot of rice. Follow their advice, as they've likely mastered the perfect rice in their own machine. But for other dishes you can make in a rice cooker, we've rounded up our favorite recipes to introduce you to the appliance's versatility.

Easy Rice Cooker Mac 'n Cheese
Credit: Rebekah Rose Hills

Easy Mac 'n Cheese

The ultimate dorm room dish, mac and cheese is even easier with a rice cooker. In Terri Gage Foster's recipe for Easy Mac 'n Cheese, macaroni noodles are cooked down in milk and broth, then a trio of cheeses are stirred in at the end. If you're looking to go beyond the basics, many reviewers suggested adding seasonings like garlic or onion powder, dried mustard, and red pepper flakes.

Muffin Cake

A rice cooker can help you skip heating up the house with the radiant warmth of an oven. But you won't have to give up baking, as the rice cooker can create delicious baked goods, too. This Muffin Cake by cynthri makes one large cake that can be cut into muffin-sized portions for breakfast or snacking. The real advantage of using this method is that is keeps the cake extra moist after baking.

Rice Cooker Black Beans
Credit: Baking Nana

Rice Cooker Black Beans

The "porridge" setting on your rice cooker can easily cook soaked dried beans. Chantal's recipe for Rice Cooker Black Beans creates perfectly creamy black beans, ready to be used in burritos, soups, black bean burgers, and more. There is no seasoning, so you can easily dress it up with a dash of chili powder and cumin, or keep them plain for a batch of black bean brownies.

Rice Cooker Chicken

While it might go against your better instincts to put chicken thighs in your rice cooker, the rave reviews for Rice Cooker Chicken prove that it's possible to make a meal with this method. By letting chicken marinate for an hour in a soy-sesame blend, STARDUST_331's recipe has flavor in every bite. If you're worried about ensuring the chicken is cooked through, invest in a handy meat thermometer for peace of mind.

Super Easy Southwest-Style Quinoa
Credit: KimmyVee

Other Grains

Rice isn't the only grain that can be made in a rice cooker. Other types can easily cook up. You just need to find the right setting and duration for your specific variety. Most user manuals will have clear guidelines for cooking grains other than rice, too. Some great grain recipes in the rice cooker include breakfast-ready Oats, Super Cheesy Polenta, and Southwest-Style Quinoa.

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