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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Can cook two different dishes simultaneously Compact design Dishwasher safe Comes with a recipe book It has only three programmable digital functions.
1. Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD
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.
Can cook two different dishes simultaneously
Comes with a recipe book
It has only three programmable digital functions.
Automatic shut off option size Can cook two separate meals at a time Easy-to-clean Considering the size, it is advisable only for couples.
2. Oster 004722
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.
Automatic shut off option size
Can cook two separate meals at a time
Considering the size, it is advisable only for couples.
Small size Good functionality Cooks rice well Looks cheaper than its actual price
3. Panasonic SR-DE103
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.
Cooks rice well
Looks cheaper than its actual price
Complete rice cooking package Consistent quality Fail-safe technology Not cheap
4. Zojirushi NP-HBC10
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.
Complete rice cooking package
Highly functional Versatile Large capacity Keeps your food warm The appliance appearance is not as attractive as its functions are
5. Hamilton Beach 37549
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.
Keeps your food warm
The appliance appearance is not as attractive as its functions are
Speedy cooking Good quality cooking Variable controls Pink color may not appeal to everyone
6. Cuckoo CRP-10105F
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.
Good quality cooking
Pink color may not appeal to everyone
Low price Simple operation Cooks enough for a family Needs tending for best results
7. Proctor Silex 37533N
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.
Cooks enough for a family
Needs tending for best results
Fast and efficient cooker Keeps your meal warm Compact size Good price No override for warming
8. BLACK+DECKER RC1412S
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.
Fast and efficient cooker
Keeps your meal warm
No override for warming
Low budget option Space saving Good quality rice Lack of control in cooking
9. Progressive GMRC-220
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.
Low budget option
Good quality rice
Lack of control in cooking
Traditional cook pot Easy to use Classic design Can not be put in dishwasher
10. Kotobuki 190-803
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.
Traditional cook pot
Easy to use
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.
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.
While 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.