For The Creamiest Oatmeal, Break Out Your Rice Cooker

Oatmeal and fruit in a bowl
Oatmeal and fruit in a bowl - Alvarez/Getty Images

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If you check in your pantry right now, chances are there's a big container of dried oats that are just dying to become breakfast. Perhaps they're left over from a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, or maybe you went through an overnight oats phase, but now they are just taking up space on your shelves. Overnight oats are great for meal prepping and taking your breakfast on the go, but sometimes you really want a bowl of creamy, satisfying hot cereal that you can only get from making oatmeal on the stove. The problem is, you've got to stand there and stir it or it'll get lumpy.

There's a better way, as long as you own a rice cooker. Rice cookers are designed to cook rice perfectly every time, hands-free, but you can actually cook any dried starch in your rice cooker, like polenta, cream of wheat or cream of rice, and definitely oatmeal. As a bonus, when you make a batch of oatmeal in the rice cooker it will come out super smooth and creamy with no lumps in sight.

Read more: The Best Kitchen Gadgets You Can Buy

Cooking Oats In A Rice Cooker

Rice cooker on a countertop
Rice cooker on a countertop - New Africa/Shutterstock

Ask any chef what their favorite small kitchen appliance is and many will say a rice cooker. It's not that making rice on the stove is hard, it's that rice cookers will do all the work while you're off doing other things in the kitchen. And the rice comes out perfect every time as long as you follow the proper rice-to-water ratio. When you fill the machine with water and rice, the machine turns on and sets the temperature to boil. When the water is all absorbed into the rice, the temperature will start to rise in the pot and trigger a heat sensor to either turn the machine off or change to a warming setting.

When you make oatmeal, it works exactly the same way. All you have to do is measure out the oats and the cooking liquid (water or milk, or both), and a pinch of salt. Put the lid on the rice cooker and use the "porridge" setting, which cooks things a little lower and slower than the other settings. And that's it! You're free to walk away and make a cup of coffee, brush your teeth, read the paper — whatever your morning routine might be. The porridge setting for most rice cookers will take about 45 minutes to an hour, so jump in the shower and get dressed, and your breakfast will be ready when you are.

Creamy Oats, Easy Cleanup

A woman eating oatmeal
A woman eating oatmeal - Milan Markovic/Getty Images

The difference in creaminess between cooking oats on the stove and in a rice cooker all comes down to indirect heat. When you cook oatmeal on the stove, it receives direct heat from the burner, which will cause some of the grains to gelatinize faster than others and cause clumps. In a rice cooker, the heat is indirect and lower than it is on a burner. The mixture of oats and water gradually heats up to a slow boil, which ensures that each grain gelatinizes at the same time. The results are smooth, creamy oats that you can't get on the stove unless you stand there and stir the whole time.

You can keep oats in the rice cooker for several hours on the warming setting, so if people in your house eat breakfast at different times you can leave the machine plugged in for latecomers. Another nice thing about cooking oats in a rice cooker is that most newer models of rice cookers have nonstick bowls, so it's really easy to clean up after breakfast. If you've ever cooked oatmeal on the stove and then had to scrape away dried oats, a rice cooker will be your new best friend.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.