A rice cooker can safely keep your food warm for up to 12 hours using the ‘’keep Warm’’ function. However, food should be kept warm for no longer than 2 hours without the keep warm function to avoid bacteria developing at room temperature.
One of the greatest benefits of having a rice cooker is that it operates without supervision. This means that you can prepare the rice while getting busy with other chores, and it is ready by the time you sit down to enjoy your meal.
But what happens when you’re not ready to eat your meal right after its preparation? Do you still have to go through the stress of heating up the rice again?
Well, many of us use the keep warm settings on the rice cooker to save the day. However, there is a question of how long your rice can stay warm and safe in the rice cooker.
If you wonder if your rice will be ok for 4 hours or more, then this article will answer all your questions about the maximum time the rice cooker can stay warm using the “Keep Warm” settings and discuss other safe storage options for longer periods.
Let’s get started right away!
What Is A Rice Cooker’s “Keep Warm” Function?
The keep-warm setting is used to keep the rice at a comfortable temperature for an extended period. It is usually set at around 150°F to ensure that the rice does not overcook, dry out, or burn, but is warm enough to prevent bacterial infestation.
Some rice cookers automatically switch to a “keep warm” mode when cooking is finished, while others require you to change the settings manually. This setting ensures your food will stay hot until you’re ready to serve.
Although many rice cookers can only keep food warm for a few hours, newer models now have an extended keep-warm function that can keep rice warm for up to 12 hours after being cooked.
Why Use A Rice Cooker’s Keep Warm Function?
Uncooked rice is never sterile and may have bacteria ( Bacillus Cereus) within it, even if you have no idea it is present. When consumed, this bacteria can cause food poisoning with symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea.
Although boiling or cooking the rice in a rice cooker kills the bacteria, spores can sometimes survive and become predominant when the cooked rice is poorly kept.
So except you eat the rice shortly after cooking, you may be at risk of unsafe food if the rice is kept at room temperature for an extended period. The maximum time your rice should stay in the rice cooker without the keep warm setting is 2 hours.
To prevent bacteria growth, you must keep your cooked rice warm or appropriately stored, and your keep warm setting is your best bet. However, I will also walk you through an alternative option to keep your rice safe for longer periods.
How To Use The Keep Warm Settings In Rice Cooker
Step 1: Cook Rice In Your Rice Cooker As You Usually Would
Every rice cooker functions differently, so follow the cooking instructions for your specific cooker. If you’re using a rice cooker for the first time, consult your product manual.
Step 2: Set Your Rice Cooker To “Keep Warm” Mode
In most cookers, the “Warm” setting is set to 140-160°F. This is the temperature above which bacteria can survive.
To set the keep warm mode:
- Simply press the “keep warm” button on your cooker to initiate the process.
However, some rice cooker models will automatically switch to “keep warm” mode when cooking is complete.
Also, Keep in mind that some rice cookers may not have a keep-warm function, and we will discuss alternative options to keep your rice safe for longer periods below.
Step 3: Pour 1/4 Cup Of Water Into The Rice Cooker For Every Cup Of Cooked Rice
Even when set to keep warm, the rice cooker can still dry out your rice.
To avoid this:
- Add 1/4 cup of water per cup of rice to keep it from drying out or becoming burnt. The amount of water you use is determined by the size of the rice in the pot.
- Also, remember If you add too much water, your rice will become mashed.
Step 4: Check The Rice From Time To Time
I recommend checking on the rice every 30 minutes to ensure it is not burning. If the rice begins to dry out, you can add more water.
Why Shouldn’t You Use the Rice Cooker’s Keep Warm Function for Too Long?
It’s common to have some leftover rice after everyone has eaten or someone who arrives late and does not meet the dining time. As a result, using the “Keep Warm” mode may be unavoidable.
But how long can the keep warm mode be used?
Keeping rice warm in a rice cooker for several days is not recommended. In fact, manufacturers advise against using the keep warm mode for more than 12 hours.
Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t keep rice warm for too long:
- The keep-warm function at 150°F aids in the prevention of bacteria growth in rice. However, if the rice is kept for more than 12 hours, the bacteria become resistant to heat and begin to grow, making your rice unsafe to eat.
- The heat from the cooker in keep warm mode can still evaporate all of the moisture from your rice, leaving it dry.
- Although rice cookers are inexpensive and use little energy. It still requires electricity to operate in the keep warm mode. Leaving the cooker on for too long will consume a significant amount of electricity. It may also cause overheating and result in the thermal fuse being burned.
Consider the alternative below if you want to store your leftover rice for longer periods and avoid wastage.
Store Rice In A Refrigerator
If you want to keep your cooked rice safe and healthy for a long time, store the rice in a refrigerator at a temperature lower than 41°F.
To use this option, simply follow these steps:
- First, allow the rice to cool completely. This should take between 15 and 20 minutes.
- Then, Pack rice in a plastic container with a tight seal.
- Finally, Store the rice in the refrigerator.
Cooked rice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month.
But why would you keep cooked rice for that long? Remember that you’ll need to reheat the rice when you’re ready to serve it.
Moreover, storing cooked rice in the refrigerator takes up unnecessary space. And there’s still a chance that your rice will change flavor and texture while in the freezer. If you notice any changes in taste or color, throw away the rice.
Quick Tip: I recommend that you do not cook more rice than you can serve at one time. After all, the rice cooker only takes about 20 minutes to cook. So you can always make rice quickly and easily whenever you need to eat it.
FAQs On How Long Can The Rice Cooker Keep Warm
Can I Store Hot Rice In The Refrigerator?
Don’t put hot rice in the fridge because it will raise the temperature and jeopardize the safety of other foods. Instead, allow the rice to cool before storing it in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Store your rice in the fridge within an hour of cooking to prevent bacteria from growing.
Are Rice Cookers Worth It?
Yes, rice cookers are worthwhile investments. A rice cooker is a versatile kitchen appliance that can help you save time while preparing tasty and healthy meals.
Aside From Rice, What Else Can I Cook In A Rice Cooker?
Rice cookers can be used for more than just rice; they can also steam meat and vegetables, make oatmeal and other hot breakfast cereals, cook mac and cheese, noodles, and much more.