Can You Leave Rice Cooker On All Day, Overnight, Or Unattended?

Image of a rice cooker left on all day

One of the greatest benefits of having a rice cooker is that it operates without any supervision. Just place the ingredients and plug it in. The appliance will automatically cook perfectly, fluffy rice. The “Keep Warm” feature on most rice cookers adds to the convenience as it keeps the rice at an optimal temperature until you switch off the rice cooker. Nonetheless, the question is whether it is safe to leave the device unattended for long and if the rice will be good enough to consume after several hours. So, can you leave a rice cooker on all day, even at night, and unattended?

Technically, yes. Rice cookers either turn off or switch to “Keep Warm” when the rice is done. There’s a very remote possibility for the device to cause a fire or short circuit during this stage. However, the cooked rice will start spoiling and be unsafe for consumption if you leave it for too long.

Let’s take a detailed look at this brief explanation now.

Is It Safe To Leave A Rice Cooker On Unattended?

Many people use the keep warm option of the rice cooker to retain the freshness of the rice till the next meal. The convenient plug-in-and-leave feature also makes it possible to leave the ingredients to cook while you are away. So, you can return home to warm rice after an errand or day at work. Most of the time, it is safe!

Your rice cooker is unlikely to suffer any damage unless there are faulty wiring or improper installation issues. Even in the event of an unexpected power surge, the inbuilt protection mechanisms will protect the appliance. In the worst case, it may damage the plug.

When the device functions as expected and you fill it according to its capacity, the risk is nominal. However, overfilling it can cause the water to spill out. Hot water can cause a short circuit if it comes near the power cord. It can also damage the device.

If you take the necessary precautions, the rice cooker is a hassle-free appliance.

However, we do not recommend leaving a rice cooker unattended for hours at a stretch because of what happens to its contents. Rice spoils fast. The longer you leave it outside, the higher the chances for it to harbor bacteria and lead to food poisoning.

Related Further Reading:

How Long Can You Leave Rice In A Rice Cooker?

Did you know that uncooked rice contains bacterial spores? These spores survive cooking and cause cooked rice to spoil quickly.

Most varieties of rice take less than 20 minutes to cook in a rice cooker. The exact cooking time will depend on the power mode and other settings of the device.

Once the rice cooks, the rice cooker automatically turns off. If the device has a “Keep Warm” feature, it will be activated, and the rice will stay warm in the pot until you cut the power.

Now, suppose you store the cooked rice at room temperature. Bacteria start to develop in cooked rice in less than two hours. Leave it at the same temperature for any longer, and the bacteria will rapidly multiply and release toxins that spoil the food. Even if the rice looks fine, it is no longer safe to eat.

The deterioration becomes evident in a few hours. The rice will be tough and crumbly. If there is excess moisture, it turns slimy. As time passes, the color changes to yellow.

If you consume this rice, you will most likely end up with food poisoning. So, the best thing to do is toss it.

Now, you can preserve rice for longer in a rice cooker than when you leave it at room temperature. The Keep Warm feature of rice cookers will allow you to store it safely for a few hours. Nevertheless, the maximum time that rice can remain safe in a rice cooker without spoilage is 11-12 hours. By this time, the texture of rice will start to change.

When the cooker is in the “Keep Warm” mode, the heating element keeps the inner pot hot. This constant exposure to heat will cause the moisture in the grains to evaporate. The rice will dry and crisp up. As time progresses, the rice will spoil and become unfit for consumption. So, you can leave the rice cooker on for the entire day and even unattended at night. However, it is a health risk to eat the rice that has been left out for so long.

Related Further Reading:

Will Reheating Rice Make It Safe To Eat?

We do not recommend reusing leftover rice. The bacteria that cause spoilage are resistant to heat. Even if you reheat the rice, it will continue to exist in the food.

So, it is not a good idea to let the rice stay in the rice cooker for too long or to reheat and consume it.

If you wish to store cooked rice for future use, refrigerate it after it cools down. Place it in an airtight container or zip lock bag in the refrigerator. Reheat the stored rice in a steamer till piping hot.

Can You Damage Your Rice Cooker By Leaving It On For Too Long?

Rice cookers are automatically designed to stop cooking when no water remains in the inner pot. When all the moisture is lost, the temperature of the pot increases. It signals the sensor to stop cooking and either turn off or trigger the “Keep Warm” mechanism.

Due to the operational nature of this device, there is no risk of damage to the inner cooking pot. Whether it has a non-stick coating or is made of metal, it will be able to withstand the operating temperature. It will not affect the Teflon coating.

Most rice cookers use a smaller amount of power in the “Keep Warm” setting. It can continue in this mode for as long as you need it. Although the quality of the rice cooker contents will deteriorate, the device will not be damaged.

Interesting Further Reading:

Final Thoughts…

The rice cooker is a brilliant invention as it eases the entire process of cooking rice. All you must do is place rice and enough water in the inner cooking pot and switch on the device. While it does the cooking, you can attend to other work. Once the rice cooks, the device automatically shuts off. So, you can leave it unattended while going about a task and return to warm, fluffy, ready-to-eat rice. It makes meal preparation a lot easier and hassle-free.

To make things easier, most modern rice cookers have a “Keep Warm” feature that keeps the rice piping hot till you are ready to eat it. The added advantage of this feature is that it helps to preserve the rice for a long time. Since rice spoils quickly, this feature proves to be very useful.

Nonetheless, we do not recommend leaving the rice cooker on all day or overnight. Although the appliance will remain intact, the quality of the contents may be compromised. Rice is prone to deterioration when you leave it out for more than a few hours. It can cause food poisoning and is unsafe for consumption. If you wish to save the rice for later use, take it out of the rice cooker and promptly refrigerate it.