What a mess! The rice cooker’s boiled over, and now your rice cooker and the countertop are covered in a sticky, starchy film. It’s annoying and frustrating but completely preventable.
To prevent your rice cooker from boiling over, make sure you’re using the right amount of water for the amount of rice you’re cooking. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, then also make sure you are sufficiently pre-rinsing your rice. You can also try adding oil or using a different type of rice.
If you’re still having trouble with your rice cooker boiling over, you’re not alone. It’s a fairly common problem. Keep reading to learn how to keep your rice cooker from boiling over once and for all.
How to Stop Rice Cooker from Boiling Over
There are several different things you should try when attempting to keep your rice cooker from boiling over. Let’s take a quick look at them now before we go more in-depth:
- Make sure you’re using the right amount of water and rice according to the rice cooker’s instructions. If it’s still boiling over, you can try reducing the amount of water.
- Rinse your rice with cold water until the rice runs clear.
- Add a tablespoon of olive oil, coconut oil, or butter during cooking or spray the top of the rice with cooking spray.
- For small spills, place a paper towel over the hole in the rice cooker’s lid or place the rice cooker on a cookie sheet.
- Try different kinds of rice.
Any of these things could solve or reduce the problem, let’s take a closer look at how you can implement each of these potential solutions.
1. Adjust the Amount of Water in Your Rice Cooker
One of the most likely reasons that your rice cooker is boiling over is that there is too much water for the amount of rice being cooked.
But how much water do you need for rice? It’s not as complicated as you might think. Cooking rice isn’t like baking. You’ll see all sorts of answers online recommending a certain ratio depending on the type of rice you’re using, but a little more or a little less will still yield perfectly edible rice.
Your rice cooker should have come with a manual that recommends a certain amount of water for each “cup” of rice you put in the cooker. It is important to note that the cup that comes with rice cookers is usually not an actual cup’s worth of rice. It is usually more like three-quarters of a cup.
We recommend following the directions that come with your rice cooker exactly and seeing if that fixes your boil over woes. If it doesn’t solve the problem, you should try adjusting the amount of water.
If you threw your rice cooker’s instructions away, or if you just can’t find them, it’s typically pretty easy to find a digital copy of the instructions online. I would start by googling something like this:
[Brand name] [Model name] rice cooker instructions.
This almost always works for me when I’m looking for lost instructions for a kitchen appliance. However, if that doesn’t work, you can also try the following:
- If you bought it online, go to the retail website where you bought the rice cooker (e.g. Amazon.com, Walmart.com, etc.), you can often find the instructions saved as an attachment on the product page
- If that doesn’t work, you can look on the manufacturer’s website and either find the instructions there, or request a digital copy through their “contact us” form or email address
Now, here are some tips you can try when reducing the water you add.
Ways you can reduce the amount of water in your rice cooker:
- Reduce the amount of water by half a cup or a whole cup at a time. You do need enough water that rice cooks properly, so don’t reduce too much.
- Reduce the amount of water so that the water just covers the rice. This is the absolute smallest amount of water you want to put in the rice cooker. It may not properly cook all types of rice.
- Reduce the amount of water so that when you rest your finger on the top of the rice, the water reaches your first knuckle. (This is a tried and true traditional method, but it might not work if you have very long fingers.)
2. Rinse Your Rice Before Cooking
Rinsing rice is an important part of making the perfect, fluffiest, and most nourishing rice. Rinsing rice also removes starch from the rice, which is the reason you get those nasty looking bubbles pouring out of the vent in your rice cooker.
There are basically two ways to go about rinsing your rice.
- Run water over the rice: Pour the amount of rice you want to cook into a fine-mesh strainer and allow water to run over it until the water runs clear. You will remove more starch if you swirl your hand around in the rice so that the grains rub against each other.
- Put the rice in a bowl of water: Place the rice in a bowl and fill the bowl with water. Swirl the rice around with your hand. Drain and repeat until the water is clear.
We prefer the second method, as do many regular rice cookers, because it seems to waste less water and do a more effective job of removing starch.
With the starchiness removes, your water will be less likely to boil up and out of the rice cooker! This step alone solves many people’s rice cooking woes, including gummy rice.
It’s also interesting to note that rinsing rice can reduce the arsenic levels in the rice according to Scientific American.
3. Add Oil or Butter to the Rice
Adding oil or butter to rice helps keep the grains of rice from sticking together, but it also weighs down some of that frothy bubbling action that can happen even with the best-rinsed rice.
We recommend the following sources of fat for rice mostly due to the flavors they impart:
- Coconut oil: Not only is this one of the healthier options, but it gives the rice a hint of coconut flavor that pairs nicely with many Asian-inspired dishes.
- Olive oil: This is another healthy option, but it has a more neutral flavor compared to some of the other options.
- Butter: Buttery rice is delicious, of course. If you already intend to put butter on your rice, this would be a great option.
Although seasoning rice with sesame oil is a great way to prepare rice, it is not best to cook rice in sesame oil as it tends to burn easily.
4. Protect Your Counter for Easy Clean Up
If your rice cooker is still boiling over, you can be more proactive about handling the mess. As long as the rice comes out cooked, then the boiling over is just an inconvenience.
Here are some options that may work with your rice cooker:
- Place a cookie sheet under the rice cooker to keep the mess off your countertops. You’ll still have to clean the cookie sheet and the rice cooker, but it makes cleaning up a little easier. This is a great option if you only experience boiling over occasionally.
- Place a paper towel over the vent. The paper towel will not create an airtight seal, so your rice cooker will still be able to vent, but it will catch a lot of the water and starch as it comes out. This will only work if your rice cooker only bubbles out in small quantities.
Be wary of placing your rice cooker on a thick towel or in something that does not provide a level surface or stability. Most rice cookers work best when the cooker is level, and you don’t want it tipping over!
5. Try a Different Kind of Rice
If you’ve tried tips 1-4 above already, and it hasn’t stopped your rice cooker from boiling over, then try using a different kind of rice.
How rice cooks and the amount of starch it contains varies depending on the style. Brown rice, for example, tends to be starchier than white rice. It will need to be washed more thoroughly. Sticky rice and short-grain rice also tend to be heavier on the starch.
So branch out a little and try something new. Long-grain rice like Jasmine rice will go with any meal, and it is less likely to cause boiling over due to starch.
If All Else Fails…
Try these five methods to prevent your rice cooker from boiling over. It’s likely that one of them (or a few of them in combination) will fix your issue.
However, if after trying all of the above tips, your rice cooker is still boiling over regularly, then you should consider replacing it.
Rice cookers are generally pretty inexpensive, and if it’s causing you a lot of trouble/stress, then it might be worth it to buy a new one.
If you do decide to buy a new one, it would be a good idea to check the reviews of the new model you’re considering buying, to see if boiling over is a common problem or only an occasional issue (which could point to user error).