How To Make A One Portion Rice Cooker

I am sharing the benefit of my wisdom because I have spent HOURS OF MY LIFE searching for a single-serving microwave rice cooker and have come to the horrifying conclusion that they don’t exist. Naturally I wanted to know why this was, and spent quite a while obsessively designing ever-more elaborate possibilities while honing my Dragon’s Den pitch for when I inevitably produced a whole “system” of individual rice blah de blah blah.

Anyway it turns out that you have to have some kind of CAD skills or indeed skills at all for the route I was contemplating, but after several experiments with a Sistema soup mug and several hockey pucks of burnt rice in the bin I’ve got this nailed.

But first: why the heck is there no rice-to-water ratio calculator online? I don’t mean those flimsy recipe things where they tell you it’s “about two cups of water to one of rice”, we dwell in the Metric Zone in this house and precision matters. Also cups are inconsistent and confusing and a weird way to measure solids. And one cup of dried rice makes far more rice than one person wants to eat.

For example.

2:1 my ass. Our sample size is 35g of dried rice (because that works out at 100 calories). Two of that is 70, which in the language of water is 70ml.

Put that in the microwave for 9 minutes and you too could have a startlingly compact hockey puck of rice.

Maybe the ratio is 3:1.

In this instance, 105ml of water, which is also insufficient.

Read my lips

At this point more research reveals that the steaming process after microwaving is very important, but we’re still ending up with some chewy hard rice.

At last! A correct quantity.

200ml water to 35g dried rice (at 7 1/2 minutes)

The next gruelling step is to figure out how to take away some of the elements of measuring from this, because it’s not always feasible to have a measuring jug. Obviously I’m going to draw a line on my rice cooker – I’d have a ridge in the plastic but aforementioned lack of CAD skills, 3-D printers, and confidence – at the point the water is meant to come to.

For some mad reason I decided to calculate this, instead of either a) pouring in the correct amount of water, seeing how high it came, and marking it or b) looking up the capacity of my container and dividing it up until I got to the appropriate quantity.

What I have mainly learned from this is that I am no good at geometry.

I spent a while trying to work out the relationship between the rice and water, but I think it might be logarithmic. Certainly while 35g/200ml makes sense as around 5.71428 (that is, rice is 5.71428 times less than water), once you increase the amounts linearly it stops working.


the line for the water, about 4cm up/down
the line for the water, about 4cm up/down

This is a Muji 400ml microwave tub with a wee vent on the top for steam. I figure there’s a larger margin for steam than in a 250ml version of the same thing, but not so much additional space (as with the 625ml Sistema mug I did the first experiments in) that the rice looks sad and forlorn at the bottom. Basically, you can pop in your rice (and in this case, dried seaweed and soy) and also eat it out of the thing afterward.

the end result


35g basmati rice
200ml water
800 watt microwave
7.5 minutes at full power, 5 minutes standing without being disturbed (so the steam continues to cook it).

And just to appease my sad, sad desire for the whole supermarket/vending machine system of sachets and flavour things that will never be (they could have been branded so nicely!):

Rice vinegar, soy sauce, lea & perrins, oxo cube, mini fork from muji, plastic jar of rice with measuring line for 35g. The spice and dried veg pots don't fit in the tub, but the contents would easily fit in the rice tube.
Rice vinegar, soy sauce, lea & perrins, oxo cube, mini fork from muji, plastic jar of rice with measuring line for 35g. The spice and dried veg pots don’t fit in the tub, but the contents would easily fit in the rice tube.



2 thoughts on “How To Make A One Portion Rice Cooker

  1. Hmmm…as someone who regularly cooks 2-3 cups of rice just so she can have leftover rice, I can’t relate. There are so many yummy things you can do with leftover rice. Sometimes I cook rice just so I can make fried rice the next day. Also, you can freeze leftover rice.

    1. Much as I love fried rice, my ongoing attempts to shrink myself back down to a size doctors won’t cry over means I have to keep my portion sizes teeny, hence the need for Tiny Rice!

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