These days, the versatility of rice cookers is becoming more accepted. After all, these appliances are designed to boil water, so any kind of cooking that boils water is theoretically possible. However, many people want to know if it is safe to use the pot included with your rice cooker on the stove; after all, it’s just a pot, right?
While you can use a rice cooker pot on the stove it isn’t recommended due to safety reasons from scolding and burns to the pot becoming damaged. You may also find it hard to replace the pot for the rice cooker itself. This depends on the intended use on the stovetop.
In this article, I am going to talk about how you can use a rice cooker pot on the stove, if it is safe and what you need to know before you start cooking with your rice cooker pot.
Is It Safe To Use A Rice Cooker Pot On a Stovetop?
When people ask about the safety of using a rice cooker pot on the stove, they often wonder if doing so could cause a fire, which is a valid concern.
According to the Tufts University Department of Public Safety, one of the most common causes of kitchen fires is food left unattended while cooking on a stove. Whether you cook the food on an open flame stove or an electric one, there’s still a chance of fire.
There are plenty of other alternatives that can do that same job as a rice cooker pot on the stove which are safer to use and are designed to be used in that format where the rice cooker pot was designed to be used in the rice cooker.
Metal Rice Cooker Pots Don’t Have an Elevated Fire Risk
There have been times when cooking food has set off the smoke alarm in our homes for most of us, whether we have an electric stove or a gas one. The food might become overcooked, or it could spill out of the pot and get burned on the range top.
No matter what kind of pot you are using, this is still a risk.
On the other hand, a metal rice cooker pot is unlikely to melt or break. Most rice cookers have aluminium inner pots, often with a nonstick coating, which are similar to an ordinary cooking pot, but with a different design.
Ceramic Rice Cooker Pots Are Dangerous on a Hot Stove
Some rice cookers have ceramic inner pots. Any ceramic dish has a risk of cracking and breakage due to the sudden temperature changes on a stove.
Cracked pots on a stove can be very dangerous, and while you probably can get a pot with smaller cracks off the cooking area quickly, you have a big mess if the pot breaks. The mess can involve more than the cut risk of broken pottery.
Instead, the food can catch fire, and if the food got hot before the pot broke, it could burn you.
Rice Cooker Pots Lack Safety Handles
While your typical slow cooker pot has a relatively large “lip” at the top, which acts as a handle, rice cooker pots are challenging to remove from the heat. In particular, both metal and crockery pots have a slightly rolled top that fits inside the cooking chamber.
The pot top has a slight overlap, and it does little more than holding the pot in place.
Safety Handles Are Essential When Cooking
Under ordinary cooking conditions, most of us grab the pot using some type of handle. On Dutch ovens and stock pots, there is typically one short handle on each side.
On the other hand, saucepans usually have a single, long handle, which is put on pots intended for stovetop use.
Why are handles important? Simply put, they are cooler than the side of your pot after use. While potholders and oven mitts help absorb even more heat as necessary, handles are a fundamental safety feature during cooking and serving food. Without them, we risk burning ourselves on the side of the pot.
Safety Handles Also Help When Removing the Pot From the Heat
Besides helping the cook avoid burns, safety handles on pots designed for stovetop use make things easier when you must move them.
While you should always be careful about moving a heated pot, it’s sometimes necessary when placing food on plates. Grab the handle, and pick it up, and if the handle is hot, you can use a potholder.
But either way, it’s easy to grab onto handles.
On the other hand, the pots that come with rice cookers and many similar devices can be challenging to move. Other blog articles, such as this one, feature pot removal tips.
While the focus of the example article is removing the pot from the cooker, it illustrates this point. To move a hot rice cooker pot that’s been on the stove, you have two options: use potholders (and hope they hold up), or get creative.
A Rice Cooker Pot on the Stove Increases Your Risk of Steam Burns
Burning yourself with the pot itself isn’t the only risk that’s increased when you use a rice cooker pot on the stove. Since grabbing hold of the pot to scoop out rice is more complicated, steam burns are a significant concern.
Look at it this way: If you’re grabbing a pot using only potholders, or a sling like the article mentioned above suggests, then you carry the pot closer to your face and hands. This brings the hot steam closer to your skin and increases the chance you’ll get burned.
Not convinced that steam burns are a problem?
They can make you drop the pot out of pain, and in turn, dropping the pot can result in hot food getting spilled. Such spillage creates a huge mess. Worse, any hot food can burn your skin. People have been horribly burned during kitchen accidents, so it’s always wise to be careful.
Rice Cooker Pots Can Get Damaged if Used on the Stove
Another reason why using a rice cooker pot on the stove is a bad idea is that it can damage the pot.
While most cookware is susceptible to getting damaged by a stove, this is a bigger problem for rice cooker pots. Let’s look at how these pots can get damaged by the stove.
Stains and Deposits
Whether you have an electric or gas stove, stains can develop on the outside of cookware, which is a result of permanently baked-on food and natural discoloration from heat. However, with a gas stove, this problem is more serious.
Like any other open flame, gas burners produce soot and other residues, and over time, these get deposited on any pots used.
Even with diligent cleaning, it’s hard to keep them at bay. Not only are they unsightly, but they can be combustible. If you then put the pot back into your rice cooker, there’s an increased fire risk.
This risk is why manufacturers recommend that you ensure pots are completely clean and dry before using them in the cooker.
Warping Can Occur From the Heat
Next, there’s the age-old problem of warped pots and pans, which is a familiar problem for most of us. As cooking vessels are used on the stove, they become misshapen.
Either a portion of the bottom moves toward the center or pokes out from the original base. In extreme cases, warping can even happen on the side of your pans. These problems also occur on baking sheets placed in the oven.
But why does this happen?
Simply put, the high heat and sudden temperature change cause the hot metal to expand. If you use suitable pots for the burners, this temperature change is very even, and the pot keeps its shape. However, when you have too big or small pots for the burner, you increase the chance of warping.
Worse yet, rice cooker pots are more susceptible to warping than some other pans. The reason for this is twofold.
First, aluminum cookware is more prone to warping, which is what most rice cooker pots are made of. Second, the aluminum used tends to be relatively thin because of the lower temperatures of a rice cooker than a stovetop.
Don’t Use Damaged Rice Cooker Pots in Rice Cookers
Here’s the thing: once your rice cooker pot gets warped, you won’t want to use it in the rice cooker anymore.
It’s a well-known fact that warped pots won’t heat evenly, which is the case both on the stove and in the cooker itself. Pots need to contact the heating element or burner to heat evenly, and uneven heating hurts your cooking results.
Warped pots in a rice cooker won’t fit into the cooker properly, and at that point, we have a situation similar to the square peg in the round hole. Even if you get the peg into the hole, it won’t function properly.
You’ll ultimately risk the overall performance of your cooker.
Manufacturers Warn Against Using Rice Cooker Pots on the Stove
Finally, manufacturers recommend that you not use a cooker pot on the stove.
For instance, the manual for a foodservice-grade rice cooker cautions against using the pot for anything other than the cooker. They also counsel against placing the pot on an open flame, like you would on a gas stove.
Similarly, users of household-grade cookers are advised not to use the pot on the stove. In this case, the manufacturer also mentions that the warranty is voided by “misuse.” Depending on their definition of misuse, using a damaged pot in the cooker may void the warranty.