Why Do Rice Cookers Take So Long to Cook?

Rice is my comfort food. It is my go-to food after a long, tiring day.

As I have no time or patience to cook on a stovetop, I decided to invest in a rice cooker.

But it seems to take a pretty long time to cook. I began wondering if there is something wrong with my technique or a defect in my rice cooker.

Why Do Rice Cookers Take So Long to Cook? 

The time duration depends on the type of rice.

Some rice varieties take a long time while some get done in 20-25 minutes. 

Another reason why your rice cooker may take a long time to cook rice is that it is not maintained well.

Allow me to expand and simplify the reason why your rice cooker takes forever to cook. 

Let us first understand how a rice cooker operates.

How Does a Rice Cooker Operate? 

According to instructions, for normal rice, you need to use double the amount of water for one cup of rice. This translates to a 2:1 ratio. 

Once the raw rice and water mix are inside, place the lid and switch your cooker on. 

Once the power is switched on, the heating element below the rice bowl begins to heat up.

The thin material of the rice bowls allows quick heat transfer from below. As the temperature increases, the bowl heats up and at 100° C (214° F), the water starts to boil. 

As the boiling starts, you will notice steam rising from the top of the cooker. The rice begins to expand by absorbing water. 

When there is no water left, the rice cooker automatically switches off. 

The whole process takes roughly about 20-25 minutes depending on the type of rice, quantity, and the maintenance of your cooker. 

Let us now proceed towards the types of rice and the duration of cooking in a rice cooker. 

How Long Does it Take to Cook Rice in a Rice Cooker? 

The rice cooker calculates the time required according to the temperature it detects inside the bowl. The temperature indicates the quantity of water left inside the rice bowl. 

The rice that takes a long time to absorb water and expand will increase the cooking duration. 

Once all the water has been absorbed and evaporated as steam, your rice cooker will shut down and rice is ready to eat.

White rice can take anywhere between 25-30 minutes. Brown rice may take longer, about 45 minutes.

It boils down to (literally) your choice of rice. White rice takes a comparatively shorter time than brown rice. 

Rice that has been boiled before is called converted rice. You can find different varieties of converted rice in the market. It is also called boiled rice.

This type of rice takes less water and less time in a rice cooker. 

Rice that isn’t completely polished white and is partially brown takes longer than white rice but less than whole brown rice. 

Similarly, long grain rice takes longer compared to rice with short grains. 

As a rule, some people suggest leaving the rice for additional 10 minutes inside the cooker to get a crisp consistency. 

If you prefer your rice soft, remove the rice as soon as it is done and enjoy.

Why Is the Rice Cooker Taking a Long Time to Cook? 

At times, your rice cooker may take a long time to cook rice.

Here are the possible causes and quick fixes : 

Rice Grains are Hard 

Certain grains of rice takes a long time to soften down and absorb the water. One example is whole grain rice as they contain bran and germ

along with endosperm. Polished rice is devoid of bran and germ. They cook faster as they contain only the endosperm. 

Quick fix  

Soak up your whole grain rice. Let it soak in a generous amount of water overnight or six hours.

Soaking before cooking gives your rice enough time to soak up water. Once you place soaked rice in your rice cooker, your rice will cook faster. 

It will reduce 15 minutes of your cooking time.

For example, if your rice was taking 45 minutes to cook, it will now take only 20 minutes!

Too Much Rice and Water 

The time it takes for your rice to cook in a rice cooker depends on the quantity of rice.

For example, one cup of rice will take less time compared to five cups of rice.  Adding a lot of water increases the time taken by the rice bowl to heat up.

Quick Fix 

For a lump sum preparation, cook rice in batches. Remember the rule, less rice, less time. More rice, more time. 

Poor Maintenance of the Rice Cooker

This is another major cause why your rice cooker is taking a long time to cook rice.

If there is leftover rice or grease stuck inside the rice bowl or areas of wetness beneath the bowl, it slows down heat transfer and messes up the temperature detection by the rice cooker. 

Delayed acknowledgments cause delayed results. Water can also seep inside the heating element causing it to malfunction 

Quick Fix 

Keep your rice bowl clean. Make sure to wipe it down dry before placing it inside your cooker.

Remove all leftover rice traces as this can interfere with even heat transfer.

Soak the water bowl in soapy water and use a soft sponge to dislodge stuck rice grains. Wipe with a wet cloth and allow the rice bowl to dry out. 

Sometimes you may face a situation where your rice cooker does not turn off automatically as it used to.

You will keep coming back to check and will find it still in the cooking phase for a very long time.

Why Does the Rice Cooker Not Turn Off? 

It could be that you have applied the wrong settings or used the wrong cooking technique, or it could be a technical malfunction of the appliance itself. 

Wrong Settings

You may have entered the wrong settings. Certain settings like keep warm settings will not cook your rice.

It will just keep it warm.

When you press the keep warm setting, your cooker will not shut down and remain on. 

Wrong Cooking Technique

This is another common reason why your cooker is not switching off. You may have added a lot of water.

Read the instructions on your particular rice to correctly add the right amount of water. In general, use two cups of water to one cup rice ratio.  

As the cooker detects water through the temperature of the rice bowl, too much water will cause the bowl to heat up slowly.

The more water, the more time your cooker will take to switch off. You can also check online if you are not sure how much water you should use for particular rice.

You can also reach out to the brand directly. 

Technical Malfunction

An average size cooker usually lasts no more than five to six years.

Depending on the brand model and your usage frequency, the lifespan may increase or decrease by a year or two. 

If you are using an old rice cooker and it malfunctions, it is better to invest in a new cooker instead of shelling out cash for the repair.  

Here are some frequently asked questions: 

What Is the Perfect Ratio of Rice and Water? 

It depends on the type of rice you choose.

  • Small-grained white rice may only require a 1:1 ratio while long-grain white rice needs a 1:2 ratio of rice and water. 
  • Soaked or boiled (converted) rice needs a 1:1.5 ratio of rice and water. 

When you are in doubt, follow the universal 1:2 ratio of rice to water. 

How Long Can You Keep the Rice in Warm Setting Inside Rice Cooker?

Most of the rice cookers are designed to keep rice warm for a few hours. Rice starts to go bad after 11-12 hours inside the rice cooker.

I would personally recommend not to let rice remain inside the rice cooker for more than six hours. 

Why Is My Rice Mashed Up? 

This happens when your rice cooks with too much water for a long time.

The grains split up making it gooey and mashed up.

The only solution is to soak it up in milk and make a rice pudding.

Can I Add Flavour to the Water Inside the Rice Cooker? 

Yes, you can use flavors, butter, spices, and even meat broths to cook your rice. Just make sure to use the correct ratio of liquid and rice.

As a rule of thumb, use a 1:2 ratio of rice to water. 


I hope now you are clear about why rice cookers may take a long time to cook rice. 

The time duration depends on the type of rice, the quantity of rice and water, and the correct temperature assessment by the rice cooker.

Follow the quick fixes to cook your rice quickly inside the rice cooker.

I have also mentioned the reasons why your rice cooker may not be switching off.

It could be an operational malfunction from your end or a technical malfunction of the rice cooker.

In case your cooker is really old, it is best to get a new one instead of spending money trying to repair the technical fault. 

Now you will be able to get your rice bowl without waiting for a long time. Boil away and eat rice while it’s still hot to enjoy a soul-lifting experience!  

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I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on cookeryspace.com. In my articles, I share time-saving techniques, appliance wizardry, and health-friendly recipes to bring taste and wellness to your table. So raise a glass (or a spatula) with me, to good health and good food, made easy!