If You're Not Using a Rice Paddle When Cooking Rice, It's Time To Make Life Easier

Yes, it makes a difference.

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Rice Paddle
Getty Images/Koshiro Kiyota

One of the most underrated pieces of kitchen equipment in the world is a rice cooker. It often gets less attention than its flashier counterparts like the air fryer, slow cooker, and Instant Pot, but it's a workhouse that won't ever let you down. In the South, we eat a lot of rice. It goes with quintessentially Southern dishes like smothered pork chops, gumbo, and Hoppin' John. Yet, it's not quite as easy to master the side dish as it seems. Mushy, dry, or burnt at the bottom, rice can turn out badly, which is why how you prepare it is of the utmost importance.

What we're talking about today is actually the accessory that comes in the box with the rice cooker: the rice paddle. It's the ultimate finishing touch for cooked rice, and if you're not using one, it's time to start. The plastic paddle looks a lot like a miniature spatula, but with a shorter handle, more rounded head, and thinner construction. Sometimes, they're made with wood or bamboo in lieu of plastic. (Your rice cooker is nonstick, and metal utensils can scratch the coating.) If you're not a rice cooker fan overall, you can purchase rice paddles separately on the cheap, too.

Rice paddles (traditionally known as shamoji in Japanese culture) are better than any other utensil when cooking rice, because they don't mush down or disturb the rice when you're fluffing, stirring, or serving. They help you to artfully scoop rice and pad it down into the perfect fluffy mound on your plate, and they're nonstick, which makes it extra easy and more efficient to maneuver rice without any mess or rogue grains.

After rice is done cooking, no matter if you're using a rice cooker or your trusty pot, you can use the rice paddle to gently fluff rice to ensure there is no moisture trapped underneath the surface. This helps prep the rice for serving without smashing the grains together. Then, use it to scoop and lightly pat down onto your plate or into your bowl. You'll find that it looks much prettier when served with the rice paddle, and you're able to control portion size with ease. Really, it's the only way to properly serve rice, especially if you're making it often. If you're not, explore 30 Times Rice Saves Us From a Boring Meal, and you might get inspired.

If you're ready to start using a rice paddle (we promise you won't go back), we've got the quickest $4 purchase you'll ever make from Amazon, plus two other highly reviewed rice spatulas. Shop below.

Inomata Rice Paddle

Rice Paddle Spatula

This is what you'll find that most rice paddles look like, and the nonstick plastic is always a dependable choice. Choose from two sizes, or snag the set!

BUY IT: $4.10; amazon.com

FAAY 9-Inch Teak Wood Rice Paddle

Rice Paddle Spatula

Slightly larger and made from moisture-resistant teak wood, this rice paddle features a bit more counter appeal.

BUY IT: $9.79; amazon.com

Williams Sonoma Prep Tools Rice Paddle

Rice Paddle Spatula
Williams Sonoma

Fans of nonstick silicone kitchen tools will love this durable rice paddle.

BUY IT: $14.95; williams-sonoma.com

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