The best ways to cook lentils are on the stove, in a pressure cooker, or using a crockpot. Nonetheless, you can cook these legumes in a rice cooker as well. The main benefit of this method is that you don’t have to closely supervise the process. By adjusting the lentil-to-water ratio correctly, the results will always turn out well.
Steps to Prepare Lentils in A Rice Cooker
There are different types of lentils, and the cooking process for each of them varies slightly.
Nevertheless, the following steps are common to all the varieties, and you can follow them to prepare lentils in a rice cooker.
1. Measure and Rinse the Lentils
It’s necessary to accurately measure the lentils to add the correct amount of water for cooking them.
Rice cookers come with a measuring cup. You can use this cup to measure the lentils.
This will make it easier to choose the correct water level inside the cooking pot for the liquid.
After measuring the lentils, wash, and rinse them well to remove any dirt or dust on the surface.
2. Measure the Accurate Amount of Water
You can use the water level indicator inside the cooking vessel to find the corresponding water level for the lentils.
The other option is to go with a standard 2:1 ratio of water to lentils. So one cup of lentils will need two cups of water for cooking.
After adding the water, let the lentils soak in it. This step is optional. But soaking will soften the lentils and help them cook faster.
So you can cut down on the cooking time.
3. Transfer the Lentils to The Rice Cooker
Add the lentils and water to the rice cooker. You can replace water with broth or stock if you prefer. This will make the dish richer and more flavorful.
Avoid filling the cooking pot with more than 2/3 of the liquid. Overfilling the pot will make the liquid spill and create a mess.
After adding the liquid, season the water with salt.
If you wish to add other aromatic herbs or spices, like garlic or pepper, you can add them now. Then close the lid of the rice cooker.
Plug it in and enable the cooking function. Most rice cookers will not have a dedicated setting for lentils.
In that case, you can choose the rice setting. Alternatively, you can also set it to the “high” setting if present.
4. Stir It Halfway Through the Cooking Process
Lentils usually need thirty to forty minutes to cook. The rice cooker will automatically do the cooking without any supervision.
However, it’s essential to stir it once midway through the cooking.
So open the lid of the rice cooker and gently stir the lentils after 15 to 20 minutes of starting the cooking process.
5. Wait for The Cooker to Switch Off
When the lentils are ready and have absorbed all the moisture, the rice cooker will switch off automatically.
If the rice cooker has a “Keep Warm” function, it will shift to this mode when the lentils are ready.
You can remove the lentils at this stage and serve them hot. If you don’t need them immediately, you can let them continue in the “Keep Warm” mode.
In this mode, the lentils remain at an elevated temperature, which prevents them from spoiling.
Storing the lentils at room temperature for too long will trigger microbial growth and lead to faster spoiling.
So it’s better to enable the “Keep Warm” mode on the rice cooker to keep the lentils intact for longer.
How to Reheat Lentils in A Rice Cooker?
Apart from cooking dry lentils, you can also reheat them in a rice cooker.
This method is just as effective as heating them on the stovetop when you have stored them in the refrigerator.
The steps are as follows.
1. Place the Cold Lentils in The Rice Cooker
You may have stored your lentils in the refrigerator or freezer. If you have kept them in the fridge, you can directly reheat them in the rice cooker.
However, if you have frozen the lentils, thaw them before reheating.
The best way to thaw frozen lentils is in the refrigerator overnight. This will prevent any frozen bits from remaining.
To reheat the lentils, add a small amount of water to the base of the rice cooker.
It will create steam that will warm the lentils without drying them out. Spread the lentils on the base of the rice cooker.
2. Switch on The Rice Cooker
After placing the lentils in the rice cooker, close the lid and plug the appliance in. Enable the “Warm” mode of the rice cooker.
The dish will need 10 to 15 minutes to heat thoroughly.
Open the lid after seven or eight minutes and stir the lentils once. This will spread the moisture evenly and help the lentils cook better.
Place the lid back and continue the warming process.
3. Wait Till the Cooker Shuts Off
Most rice cookers will automatically shut down after the cooking process. If your cooker has a “Keep Warm” function, it may switch to this mode.
Once the rice cooker has finished cooking, the lentils are ready to serve.
Common Problems to Consider When Cooking Lentils in A Rice Cooker
The process of cooking lentils in a rice cooker is simple. Nevertheless, you can improve the outcome with a few extra precautions.
Let’s look at what they are.
1. Soak the Lentils
Soaking the lentils softens them because they absorb water and expand in size. The main benefit is that it speeds up the cooking process.
Firm lentils may need longer soaking than small and soft lentils.
So you can either soak them overnight or for at least an hour before cooking. This will drastically reduce the overall cooking time.
2. Use the Right Amount of Water
We recommend using lentils and water in a ratio of 1:2 for even cooking.
However, this is best for soft lentils. Harder and bigger lentils need more water to cook properly.
You can use a 1:3 ratio of lentils to water to cook them properly.
Additionally, you may also have to adjust the ratio depending on the rice cooker. Check the manufacturer instructions with the appliance for a guideline.
3. Stir Occasionally
Rice cookers will cook without any supervision. However, we recommend stirring the lentils midway through the cooking process to improve the outcome.
Stirring the lentils distributes the heat evenly. It ensures even cooking and prevents sticking or burning of the lentils.
4. Allow the Lentils to Rest
After cooking, we advise waiting for a few minutes before serving the lentils.
Keeping the lid on for a few extra minutes will allow the lentils to absorb any remaining moisture. It also allows the flavors to blend in better.
You can open the lid and serve the lentils after waiting for five to ten minutes.