Best Rice Cookers Reviewed and Rated

Everyone knows cooking rice is the simplest thing in the world. Pop the rice in a pan of boiling water, and a few minutes later it’s cooked. Well, that’s the theory anyway, but in practice getting correctly cooked rice, with fluffy grains, and just the right amount of stickiness needs much more skill and judgment. We can’t tell you how many hours some of us spent cleaning pans where the rice has stuck to the bottom, or the rice itself has turned out more like little bullets that soft grains full of flavor.

If you want your rice to turn out perfectly cooked, then the pan needs constant attention, something our modern lives give us little chance to do. Rice that hasn’t been cooked long enough with be very hard and grainy, and if it is left in the pan too long rice often turns to a mushy paste that sticks to everything, especially the pan. That’s why a modern rice cooker, will take away all the uncertainty, and provide perfectly cooked rice every time. The range is enormous, with the simplest models doing everything at the flick of a switch, and the more sophisticated having settings for different types of rice ranging from basic basmati to gloriously sticky rice for sushi.

Our Top 3 Picks

Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD
  • Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Simultaneous cooking
  • Price: See Here
Oster 004722
  • Oster 004722
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Automatic shut-down feature
  • Price: See Here
Panasonic SR-DE103
  • Panasonic SR-DE103
  • 4.2 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Compact size
  • Price: See Here

Types of Electric Rice Cooker

Basically there are five types of electric rice cooker on the market today and generally come in a range of different sizes.

  1. A Simple Rice Cooker: Is a bit like the well known slow cooker. There are a simple cooking pot and a heating element, with a basic on-off control. These types of slow cookers will normally switch themselves off when the rice is cooked. Simple rice cookers are the least expensive, at around $30, so are unlikely to have non-stick inner cooking pots, or any lights to show when the cooker is on or off.
  2. A Warming Rice Cooker: Is one step up from the simple cooker and has the added facility of keeping the rice warm after it has cooked. Rice prepared in these cookers can remain at the correct temperature for eating for hours and not lose the taste. As these are likely to be a little more expensive, warming rice cookers can have non-stick pans and have other features such as the ability to steam.
  3. Digital Rice Cooker: These cookers are being more sophisticated with timers and controls that allow the rice to be kept warm at the right internal temperature for up to 12 hours. They usually have a digital display.
  4. Fuzzy Logic Tech Rice Cooker: These have all the bells and whistles any cook or chef would need to prepare perfect rice. The heating and sensor technology allows the cooker to be set for a specific type of rice, or texture and is ideal for anyone who likes to make their own sushi. These rice cookers, can also be used to make soups, and work as a passable slow cooker.
  5. Induction Heating Rice Cookers: These are the most modern rice cookers on the market, and have a reputation of being ideal of a fill and forget appliance. Whatever the type of rice, and however you like it cooked, the modern induction heating models will remove all the worry. They adjust themselves to the rice being cooked, and reviews suggest you end up with some of the best rice you’ve ever tasted.

What to Consider When Buying a Rice Cooker

To many people, a rice cooker might be just another kitchen gadget, but if you and your family enjoy rice, then it will prove itself a worthy addition to your stable of appliances on the kitchen bench. So what should you look out for when considering purchasing a quality rice cooker?

  1. Why do you need one? It may sound like a silly question, but a rice cooker does just that. There are some that will do other cooking tasks, but if you want a good rice cooker, you should consider it will only be used to cook rice. What sort of rice do you most often eat, white rice, brown rice, mixed rice, or do you like to vary the type of rice you prepare. How frequently do you cook rice, is it a daily staple, or something you are likely to use less regularly? Are you likely to cook just rice in the cooker, or do you like to add vegetables or meat to create a complete dish? Are you likely to prepare soups and stews in it using its slow cooker-style function? If you answer these questions, you’ll have a much clearer view of what sort of rice cooker you need to look at, and also how much you will be prepared to pay.
  2. Size: The capacity of most rice cookers is measured by the number of cups of rice that can be made at any one time. If you are on your own, or a couple, then the smaller rice cookers with a capacity of three to four cups should suffice. For a family, or a larger gathering, consider a rice cooker with a capacity of at least ten cups. The rule of thumb is that one person will eat one cup of rice a day, so if you plan on that you will not go far wrong. Of course, any leftovers can be used another day.
  3. Style: There are three basic rice cooker designs, the pot, cool-touch, and the egg-shaped. The pot is a basic cooking pan inside an outer casing which houses the heating element and is based on the original Japanese design. More often it comes with a clear removable lid. The cool-touch provide insulation between the cooking pot and heating element, and the outside of the cooker. This makes them safer for a crowded kitchen, and with a removable cooking pot easier to clean. The cool-touch often have a lockable hinged lid which in practice produces fluffier rice. The space-age looking egg-shaped rice cookers have enough room for a digital display panel, and are the closest a home cook will get to the sort of rice cooker you get in a restaurant.
  4. Fuzzy Logic: Is the buzz-word for making sure your cooker turns out perfectly cooked rice every time. The controls on a rice cooker with fuzzy logic take in all the variables such as the type of rice, and the amount to calculate the best cooking program. These machines take away most of the guesswork involved in cooking rice, and will even correct things if you don’t put in enough water or have calculated the quantity of rice wrongly.
  5. Other Features: Always look out for a rice cooker that has a non-stick cooking pot. The last thing you want to do is spend time scraping off cooked rice for the pot. Some models will come with baskets, so you can steam vegetables, which is an added bonus and adds to the versatility of your appliance.

10 Best Rice Cookers

 

1. Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD

1. Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD
If you are looking for a versatile rice cooker, with the fuzzy logic of many high-end brands, the Aroma 12-cup fits the bill. This appliance is more capable than many other small rice makers on the market and has Aroma's saute-then-simmer function, which is unique to the brand.
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The stylish modern egg-shaped design fits well in any kitchen. There is an easy-to-read digital display on the front panel, with controls for white rice, brown rice, steaming, slow cooking, and even for making oatmeal, soups and cakes. The in built delay timer means the appliance can be set to cook up to 15 hours in advance.

The fuzzy logic controls consider the outside temperature, the altitude, and even bad ingredient measurement on your part, to calculate how to cook the rice to perfection. Users report the rice is consistently cooked from the top to the bottom of the pan. The only feature this appliance lacks compared with other expensive fuzzy logic rice cookers is the ability to control the texture of the cooked rice. The model includes a steamer basket, measuring cup, and serving spoon.
Pros

Can cook two different dishes simultaneously

Compact design

Dishwasher safe

Comes with a recipe book

Cons

It has only three programmable digital functions.

2. Oster 004722

2. Oster 004722
For a small, simple rice cooker, the Oster 6-Cup offers some of the advantages of much more expensive and larger appliances. The well made machine differs from the cheaper models with an inner metal pot rather than plastic.
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The modest pot-style cooker comes with a glass lid fitted with a steam vent. This would be an ideal model to purchase as an introduction to rice cookers. The controls are simple and straightforward, with one click of the switch to start it cooking. The digital display shows when the appliance is cooking, or warming, and can be unplugged to switch off completely.

As a basic rice cooker, the Oster 6-Cup works well, and it does come with a steam tray for steaming vegetables or meat, along with a measuring cup and ladle. There is a drawback to all pot-style rice cooker, and the Oster 6-Cup is no exception. The steaming vent on the clear glass lid is prone to spitting water. So it is best to keep it away from kitchen cabinets and stand the cooker on kitchen paper or a towel to soak up any of the water.

Users describe the appliance as a step up from cooking rice in a pot on the stove, but understand its limitations, as it does not have the functions of many top-end rice cookers.
Pros

Automatic shut off option size

Can cook two separate meals at a time

Easy-to-clean

Cons

Considering the size, it is advisable only for couples.

3. Panasonic SR-DE103

3. Panasonic SR-DE103
They say big things come in little bundles, and the Panasonic SR-DE103 goes to prove that. Standing just 8 inches high, with a 5-cup capacity this appliance offers all the advanced cooking options you will need in a convenient size.
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The white plastic exterior does not have the sleek stainless steel finish of some of the higher-end machines, but it has all the functionality you need in a cooker big enough to feed a large family and more. The fuzzy logic computer controls adjust to the conditions to make perfect and consistent rice.

The cooking menu has options for white, brown and sticky rice, and the ability to work as a slow cooker, steam, or even bake cakes. We were not sure how useful the 24-hour delay timer would be, but it is one of the longest available on rice cookers. The accessories supplied with the model include a steam tray, rice measuring cup, and a spatula. Users have commented that the lid can not be removed for cleaning. However, the inside pot does have its lid which can be taken off to be cleaned. Although it might not be the best looking rice cooker on the market, the Panasonic SR-DE103 performs well above its price range.
Pros

Small size 

Good functionality

Cooks rice well

Cons

Looks cheaper than its actual price

4. Zojirushi NP-HBC10

4. Zojirushi NP-HBC10
This is probably the most advanced rice cooker available on the market today, with induction heating and fuzzy logic you are bound to get perfect rice whenever you use this appliance.
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The induction heating system evenly distributes the heat throughout the rice, so you do not get crunchier rice on the sides and edges of the heating pot, and the softer rice in the middle. The comprehensive digital display on the front of the machine is straightforward and has set for white rice, brown rice, and mixed rice.

It has a unique setting for cooking brown rice, so GABA is activated. GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid is believed to lower blood pressure, improve the workings of the kidneys, and relieve stress. To do this, the machine soaks the brown rice at 104F for two hours so it begins to germinate releasing the acid before it is cooked. This is the only rice maker on the market that has this setting.

Using the induction heating method does have a drawback in that cooking does take more time. Users have said that the Zojirushi HBC10 prepares restaurant-quality rice and that its precision is impressive, cooking consistent rice time after time. The keep-warm facility is impressive, by using a slightly lower temperature the appliance can keep rice moist for up to 24 hours.
Pros

Complete rice cooking package 

Consistent quality

Fail-safe technology

Cons

Not cheap

5. Hamilton Beach 37549

5. Hamilton Beach 37549
Reviewers praise the Hamilton Beach 37549 for it's not frills approach to cooking rice just as well as appliances ten times the price. What makes this device stand out from others on the market is the size of the machine, and how much rice it can cook for such an affordable price.
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The name Digital Simplicity says it all. The cooker has a delay start mode, and stay warm functions, along with an insulated lid and large and heavy-duty cooking pot, all features you would not expect to find on a budget priced rice cooker. With a 14-cup capacity, the Hamilton Beach is a much larger cooker than any other at this price, and with the ability to cook from 2 to 14 cups, it has the convenience of being able to cook rice for a couple, a family, or to feed guests at a cook-out or barbeque.

The solid construction of the cooker exudes a quality one would not expect at the budget end of the market. Users say this is one of the quicker rice cookers on the market, with the ability to cook white rice in a little over 30 minutes, which is faster than most of the competition. The main criticism of the appliance appears to be that some users have problems with rice sticking to the bottom of the pot, which can eventually become hard and burned.
Pros

Highly functional

Versatile

Large capacity

Keeps your food warm

Cons

The appliance appearance is not as attractive as its functions are

6. Cuckoo CRP-10105F

6. Cuckoo CRP-10105F
The majority of the well known high-end brands of rice cooker come from Japan. However, you might not have heard of the best-selling brand from South Korea, Cuckoo.
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We have included this appliance because of its pressure cooking, which reduces the cooking time considerably, making it probably the fastest rice cooker on the market. Speeding up the process with increased pressure does not compromise on taste or texture. Users say the texture and flavor of the rice from the Cuckoo CRP-G1015F is unsurpassed by cookers at a similar price. The pressure cooking is the key to this appliance's success in preparing consistently aromatic and textured rice in next to no time.

White and brown rice can be cooked in less than 30 minutes, which is faster than any of the quick-cook settings on other appliances. Rice, like pasta, cooks from the outside in. So the outside of the rice grain can get soft and mushy before the inside is properly cooked if the process is not done correctly. The pressure system forces the water to a higher temperature, and thus 'flash-cooks' the rise inside the pot. The Cuckoo G1015F is another neat egg-shaped designed rice cooker, with a digital display on the front fascia.

The extensive controls allow for different types of rice and cooking variations. Some people may not think the pink color of the outside case would match the decor of their kitchen, or the Korean voice activation. However, although the voice activation can be switched off, the color can not be changed.
Pros

Speedy cooking 

Good quality cooking

Variable controls

Cons

Pink color may not appeal to everyone

7. Proctor Silex 37533N

7. Proctor Silex 37533N
You're looking for something that is a no fuss pot-style rice cooker; the Proctor Silex can not be beaten. It's a modest appliance at a modest price for the cook who is looking to prepare rice on a budget.
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This is the very basic of rice cookers. No digital controls, no menus, just a simple on-off switch and lights to tell you when the rice is cooking, and when it is being kept warm. The removable pot is non-stick for easy cleaning, and the appliance comes with a measuring cup and a rice paddle and is available with or without a steam basket for added versatility.

There are no settings for different types of rice, so you will have to vary the amount of water used if you are cooking anything other than plain rice. Some users report there is an inconsistency in the way the rice is cooked, with overcooking at the bottom and undergone at the top of the pot. The advice for many of these budget models is to stir once or twice during the cooking process to make sure the heat is evenly spread throughout the rice. The lid, cooking pot, and accessories are dishwasher safe.
Pros

Low price 

Simple operation

Cooks enough for a family

Cons

Needs tending for best results

8. BLACK+DECKER RC1412S

8. BLACK+DECKER RC1412S
Although this is one of the simplest rice cookers to control, it has the extra safety feature of being a cool-touch pot. The design of the Black & Decker 12-cup is a basic sleek stainless steel look that will fit into most kitchen environments. The lid locks in place, and there is an excellent condensation catcher to collect moisture after the rice has cooked and it is being kept warm.


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The controls could not be simpler, with a switch on the front of the machine to start it going, and lights to tell when it is cooking and when the rice is being kept warm. Like similar models in this price range, the RC1412S comes with a steam basket, measuring bowl, and serving spoon as added accessories. As with other cool-touch models, there is now way to control when the cooker switches to warm mode from cooking.

For white or basmati rice, this should not be a problem, but for brown rice which needs a longer cooking cycle, you may need to restart the cooking process to make sure the rice is properly cooked. This can be done by unplugging, and replugging the machine, and flicking the switch to restart the cooking process. Having said that the rice is consistently cooked, and has a great flavor. The inbuilt carrying handle makes it easily portable and can be stowed away in a kitchen cupboard when not in use.
Pros

Fast and efficient cooker

Keeps your meal warm

Compact size

Good price

Cons

No override for warming

9. Progressive GMRC-220

9. Progressive GMRC-220
Not everyone wants another appliance in their kitchen, often due to a lack of space or budget, so here is an option that turns your microwave into a rice cooker, pasta cooker, or steamer.
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The 17-piece set comes with all the accessories you will ever need to cook rice or pasta to perfection. The rice cooker and all the other parts are made of BPA-free plastic so perfectly safe to use in cooking. All the accessories fit inside the rice bowl for easy storage. The lid clamps on the cooking pot to give a tight seal, and the rice comes out fluffy and full of flavor, and doesn't stick to the bottom.

The instruction booklet that comes with the set gives estimated times for cooking varieties of rice, and pasta is depending upon your microwave. This is a viable option for anyone who does not want another appliance cluttering up their kitchen worktop. The quality of the rice cooked is very good, and it has the bonus of being able to cook pasta and steam vegetables using the same system. The manufacturers recommend you wash the rice to remove some of the starch before putting it into the rice cooker.
Pros

Low budget option 

Space saving

Good quality rice

Cons

Lack of control in cooking

10. Kotobuki 190-803

10. Kotobuki 190-803
The traditional way to cook rice is on the top of the stove, but to take it to a new level, may we suggest the Japanese Kotobuki rice cooker.
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This is a classic earthenware cooking pot used for cooking plain fluffy rice that can be used in many Japanese dishes. The inner lid on the pot creates pressurized steam during the cooking process. The container will hold about 1.5 cups of rice, making about four cups of cooked rice.

In Japan rice with added ingredients is known as 'takikomi gohan'. This usually starts with the rice being cooked in a broth rather than water, and sometimes include a little soy sauce or sake for flavor. Vegetables or meat are then added and cooked in the earthenware pot. The attractive matt black design means the pot can be used at the table, however it is not dishwasher safe, and must be washed by hand.
Pros

Traditional cook pot 

Easy to use

Classic design

Cons

Can not be put in dishwasher

How to Make Entire Meals with a Rice Cooker

Rice cookers have been steadily gaining popularity in the United States, however, they are still not considered standard equipment in the kitchen. Regardless, many have found new and interesting ways to make some of their favorite dishes using a rice cooker. From cooking dishes like Puerto Rican arroz con gandules, to biriyami, as well as chawan mushi, there seems like there is nothing a rice cooker cannot do.

Rice Cookers Then and Now

In the 1950s, the first rice cooker models were sold in Japan to impersonate the shape and slow cooking technique of the old-fashioned Japanese rice pot. The new age rice cookers that come with digital menus as well as fuzzy logic setup are generally less accommodating than the one button operation. These new age rice cookers have its own designs regarding white rice, brown rice, sushi, porridge, and more. The machines can create flawless outcomes however; they entail patience and peace to accomplish their work.

Fuzzy Logic

For those who do not know what fuzzy logic means, it is a means of explaining circumstances which cannot be defined in givens such as true or false, and yes or no, regarding white or brown rice. Fuzzy logic is generally used in computerized machinery that must detect and regulate for several reasons.

Fuzzy logic, specifically in rice cookers, is capable of taking into reason the kind of grain, as well as its age and resistance, and its preferred evenness. Frequently, people who cook rice that perform with a diversity of grains as well as having sufficient space on their countertop will not be dissatisfied by the function of these mechanisms.

fuzzy logicWhile cooking meals in a rice cooker may seem unconventional, you will find that the best approach to achieving this is with persistence and inquisitiveness. Various people may use their rice cookers to prepare their meals in because they may not have any other option. For instance, they may live in a small space that does not accommodate a stove or they simply cannot afford to purchase one.

How These Cookers Work

Many standard rice cookers consist of a nonstick metal bowl which rests inside a metal and/or plastic housing that also has a heat source at the base. It functions by making the rice to boil, then decreases the heat to an extended simmer, and lastly adjusts to a very low programming that is used to keep the cooked rice at warm serving temperatures.

However, how does the rice cooker know when the rice is ready? Each rice cooker consists of an integral thermostat. This thermostat monitors the temperature of the effervescing mixture of rice and water. As the water boils and becomes steam, the temperature of the pot starts to increase, which indicates the cooker to change to the warm setting.

Nonetheless, you will find that it is extremely simple to outweigh the appliance’s trivial intelligence and make risotto, grits, or any grain by using the immersion technique by merely adding more liquid and stirring regularly. The machine has a sufficient amount of built-in guards for the cook which contains the temperature not ever becoming too great, the nonstick coat, and everything happens by slowly cooking.

There are several recipes for rice cooker meals which can be found on the Internet as well as in books. However, many of these recipes include steaming or other appliances to achieve. The most fascinating recipes are those that have been established either out of need or interest, exclusively for the rice cooker.

Meals That Can Be Cooked Using Your Rice Cooker

There are many things you can cook in your own rice cooker. Anything from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you will surely not be disappointed by the results of your machine.

meals cooked with a rice cooker

One such breakfast food you can use your rice cooker for is boiling eggs. However, it is not really boiling; it is more like steaming. This approach will not save you time; however, it will provide you with hands off method to making your favorite eggs. Even so, the end result will be soft, medium, or hard boiled eggs, depending on your preference.

Hot breakfast cereals as well as oatmeal can also be cooked using a rice cooker. In order to do this, you will need to soak the oats in your rice cooker overnight and then turn it on in the morning. The meal should be done in approximately thirty minutes. When it is complete, you can add fresh fruit, brown sugar, cinnamon, or any other spices or flavors you desire. An advantage to making your hot breakfast cereals in a rice cooker is the fact that the nonstick pot is easier to clean out.

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One more thing that you can definitely try to make for breakfast is a pancake using your rice cooker.

Maybe for lunch or dinner, you can try making macaroni and cheese too. Using your machine for this is perfect because you are provided with an easy cleanup as well as minimal effort. No worries about the cheese being burnt or stuck to the rice cooker pot either!

macaroni and cheese in a rice cooker

The rice cooker is also capable of steaming meats as well as vegetables. The rice cooker has also been known for steaming a whole fish before; sausages have also been used in the rice cooker this way.

steaming meat with rice cooker

As an added bonus, you can also use your rice cooker to make your favorite snacks and desserts!

You can actually use your rice cooker to make chocolate cake. This type of recipe usually does not require milk or eggs. It is generally done within an hour.

rice cooker chocolate cake

Cheesecake can even be made using a rice cooker. By mixing all of the ingredients into the pot and then cook it using the regular rice cooking setting. This is probably one of the simplest ways to make your favorite cheesecake!

Use your rice cooker to even make banana bread! After mixing all of your ingredients, in approximately an hour and a half, you can have some of the most delicious banana bread ready to eat!

rice cooker banana bread

FAQs

How to Best Cook Rice in a Rice Cooker?

  • Measure the amount of rice you are going to cook. Depending on the variety, one cup (240ml) of uncooked rice will make from 1.5 cups (360ml) to three cups (720ml) of cooked rice.
  • Rinse the rice and drain to remove any impurities on the outside of the grains or excess starch.
  • Measure the cold water you will need. This will depend on the type of rice you are cooking. For white long grain rice, for example, 1.75 cups(420ml) of water per cup of rice (240ml).
  • You may want to soak the rice for 30 minutes before cooking and is a personal preference.
  • Add optional flavorings, such as herbs and spices, salt, butter or oil.
  • Place everything in the rice cooker, making sure that all the rice is submerged under the water using a wooden or plastic utensil. Try not to stir things too much as this will release starch.
  • Put on the lid and switch on your rice cooker.
  • Don’t lift the lid on your rice cooker to check how it is going, as this will hamper the cooking process.
  • When the rice cooker automatically switches off allow the rice to rest for 10-15 minutes before taking off the lid.
  • Fluff up the rice, serve and enjoy.

How Do I Look After My Rice Cooker?

A rice cooker is a relatively simple appliance, and need little maintenance other than regular cleaning. When new it is best to wash the inner pot and lid, along with any of the accessories you are going to use before your first cook. Cleaning up after you’ve cooked up a batch of rice should be relatively simple as the non-stick nature of the components means they can either be put in a dishwasher or quickly washed by hand in warm soapy water. Check your manufacturer’s handbook for the optimal cleaning program. Don’t forget that most machines have a steam catcher that needs to be emptied and cleaned after every batch of rice. The little cups can get moldy if they are not cleaned regularly. Remember, do not use metal utensils on your non-stick cooking pot, as any scratches will cause the rice to stick and burn, and be not very nice at all.

How Do I Prepare Japanese Rice?

Rice cookers originated in Japan, so most people think of rice for Japanese dishes such as sushi when they think of one. In Japan, chefs have to spend years learning the art of rice cooking before being allowed to prepare it in sushi restaurants. No-one expects you to take years, so here are the tips from the experts on getting the best Japanese rice from your cooker. First, you need to wash the rice to improve the flavor and texture thoroughly, and that means using your hand to gently stir the rice in water, and rinsing it a number of times. Then, it is best to let it soak for some minutes at room temperature or cooler. If you don’t want to go to that extreme, rinsing the rice under running water for a minute, and then letting it drain will be enough to improve the texture and flavor.

How Big Do I Need It to Be?

Getting the right size rice cooker for you and your family can be tricky. The size of most rice cookers are based on the amount of raw rice you can put in to cook. The volume of cooked rice is usually double the volume of raw rice you started out with. So best to work out how many people you are likely to want to feed, and allow at least one cup of rice per person, and from there you can calculate how big you need your rice cooker to be.

How to Measure Rice for a Rice Cooker?

This can be the confusing part as the rice industry standard for measuring a cup, differs from the standard US measure. A standard US cup is 240ml, whereas the rice industry standard cup is 180ml. The measuring tools you get with your rice cooker will normally be based on the rice industry standard NOT the US standard. If you use that measure for rice and water, you should not have any trouble.

How Do I Use It to Steam Veggies and Meat?

A lot of rice cookers on the market come with a steaming basket, which makes them ideal to steam vegetables and meat. It means you can steam vegetables while you are cooking the rice. This will enhance the flavor of the rice. Just place washed and cleaned vegetables in the steam basket. If you intend to cook meat or fish, then line the steam basket with foil to keep int the flavors. Vegetables usually take about half the time it takes to cook rice, so add the basket midway through the cooking process.