IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Beyond rice: How to make dinner in your rice cooker

Chef Vivian Aronson said she's cooked everything from cakes to chicken wings in her rice cooker.
Pink rice cooker on yellow background
It's time to get creative in your rice cooker.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Over five million TikTokers have watched chef Vivian Aronson (aka @cookingbomb) create a stunning "one tomato lazy rice" dish in her rice cooker.

In the video, Aronson, who was on the tenth season of "MasterChef," combines rice with colorful vegetables and Chinese sausage, tops it with a whole tomato and lets it cook in her rice cooker before stirring it together and plating the delicious-looking dish.


If you are lazy this recipe is for you😂 so easy! Dinner is ready when you get home! ##chinesefood ##rice ##ricecooker

♬ Blade Runner 2049 - Synthwave Goose

Aronson, who grew up in Sichuan, China and moved to the U.S. in 2005, says rice-cooker cooking is a go-to in her house simply because of how easy it is.

"In China, every family has a rice cooker," Aronson told TODAY Food. "I think they got popular in the '90s. Before that, everyone cooked rice on their stove top or in a bamboo steamer."

"People come up with recipes to cook in a rice cooker because in China no one has ovens, people may buy a little oven to put on their counter, but it's not like here in Western countries where the oven is built into the wall and really big," she continued. "Those ovens exist in China, but they're not popular."

Aronson, who appeared on season ten of "MasterChef," says she uses her rice cooker to prep dinners in advance.
Aronson, who appeared on season ten of "MasterChef," says she uses her rice cooker to prep dinners in advance.Vivian Aronson

Rice cookers do not cook rice more quickly but they do eliminate the need to stand over a pot in the kitchen. Simply add the correct ratio of rice and water to the appliance and turn it on: When the water has come to a boil and the rice has cooked through, the device indicates it's time to eat.

If you're interested in cooking in a rice cooker, Aronson, who shared both her tomato rice recipe and a Japanese curry rice cooker recipe with TODAY, said the first thing to do is decide what size appliance you need.

One Tomato Lazy Rice

One Tomato Lazy Rice

Vivian Aronson

"Start with picking a good rice cooker that's easy to use," Aronson said. "It also depends on how much rice you need to cook every day. For me, I got the biggest one because I cook for a lot of people in my house, six people, and we eat rice every day. But if you've got one or two people eating, get a smaller rice cooker to start."

And it's not just for rice: The Minnesota-based chef said she's cooked everything from cakes to chicken wings in her rice cooker.


No stove required! This $20 mini rice cooker can make you a dish in 30 minutes😱 Japanese chicken curry! ##curry ##japanesefood ##ricecooker

♬ original sound - Vivian Aronson 袁倩祎

"It's really easy to add things to it, as long as you add enough water and get the proportions right," she said. "You just add a little meat or vegetables in there and you can make all different kinds of rice dishes."

Aronson said the more advanced rice cookers on the market have settings for different types of rice, such as brown or sushi rice. Aronson also likes to make congee, a rice-based Chinese breakfast porridge, in hers.

"The newer ones can keep rice warm overnight," she explained. "I like to make my congee the day before and then my kids and I get up in the morning and have it for breakfast."

Mini Rice Cooker Chicken Curry

As a busy mom, Aronson said she also uses her rice cooker in the same way as she'd use a slow cooker, putting dinner in earlier in the day and going about her daily duties until it's time to eat.

"It's so easy and I can have rice ready any time," she said. "The traditional way of making rice, you have to be there, you have to be home. But with a rice cooker you can turn it on and go to work and come home and have rice ready. Just put vegetables and meat in and when you come home you’ve got dinner. It saves a lot of time, which is good because people are busy."