3 Easy Vegetarian Dishes You Can Make With Your Rice Cooker

A Dessert, Sauce and Mulled Wine

By Maia Stewart
January 12, 2018
Food & Drink

So you thought your rice cooker can cook only rice? Wake up and smell the cake… and the sauce.

Rice cookers are staples in Japanese kitchens. After using them in China, and now in Japan, I’ve discovered how versatile they can be. Many people believe that you can only make rice in a rice cooker, but just because the name tells you so it doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. There are loads of simple dishes and drinks that can be made in a rice cooker in under an hour. Here are three of my favorite rice cooker recipes perfect for the cold season.

1. Spiced French toast casserole with azuki (red bean) spread

A great recipe that can be eaten for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Serves: 4  Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients for the French toast:

  • 4 slices of white bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 375ml of soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of mandarin orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon of mandarin orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar (white sugar is okay, too!)

And for the azuki spread:

  • 64 grams of azuki paste
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon of cinnamon

Cooking method: 

  1. With a sharp knife, cut the bread into small, square pieces.
  2. Next, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract, mandarin orange juice, mandarin orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and light brown sugar.
  3. Then, place the bread into the same mixing bowl as the mixture. With a spoon, evenly coat the bread with the mixture.
  4. Pour the bread into the rice cooker bowl and allow it to sit for five minutes.
  5. While the bread is in the rice cooker, place the azuki paste, unsalted butter, light brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  6. Stir the ingredients together until the azuki paste is light in color.
  7. Evenly spread the paste over the bread.
  8. Cook the casserole for 45 minutes on the nikomi (煮込み) setting, or until the bottom of the casserole is browned and the spread has melted.
  9. Serve while hot.
  10. Optional: Top the casserole with fresh whipped cream.

2. Red sauce with shiitake mushrooms

An easy red sauce that can be served with most pastas.

Serves: 4 Cook time: 30 minutes


  • 128 grams of dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon of pink Himalayan sea salt (regular iodized salt is okay, too!)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of basil
  • 2 teaspoons of parsley
  • ½ teaspoon of light brown sugar
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 18 grams tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 64g of white onion (diced)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)

Cooking method: 

  1. Place the ingredients in the rice cooker bowl and stir until well combined.
  2. Cook the red sauce for thirty minutes on the nikomi (boil, 煮込み) setting.
  3. When the red sauce is done cooking, stir it with a spoon.
  4. Add your favorite pasta to the sauce and serve.

*Make it vegan by replacing the butter with two tablespoons of olive oil and sweetening it with 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup instead of sugar.

3. Mulled Cabernet with shiso leaves

A simple cold weather drink that can be kept warm for hours in a rice cooker.

Serves: 6  Cooking time: 20 minutes


  • 1 bottle of cabernet
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 2 pieces of cinnamon bark
  • 64 grams of light brown sugar
  • 3 shiso leaves
  • 1 mandarin orange (peeled) (you will only use ½ of the mandarin orange)
  • 2 pieces of ginger

Cooking method: 

  1. Take the mandarin orange peel and slice it lengthwise. You should have about eight slices of the peel.
  2. In the rice cooker bowl, combine all of the ingredients with a spoon.
  3. Cook the wine for twenty minutes on the nikomi (boil, 煮込み) setting.
  4. When the mulled wine is finished, stir it together.
  5. Serve it hot in a mug or heat-resistant cup.

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