The Best Rice Cooker
A rice cooker is one of those small appliances you think you don't need, but once you own one you realize that they make life so much easier. Originally developed in Japan, rice cookers steam rice automatically without the need for constant monitoring. Rice is a staple meal component in many cuisines such as Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and more. Rice cookers tend to improve the overall quality of the rice, offering consistent results that are better than what many achieve with just a pot at home. Many include steamer trays where you can multitask by cooking vegetables, tofu, and meat for a complete meal.
Rice cookers aren't limited to just cooking rice. A quick search on Amazon for "rice cooker cookbook" comes up with 3,000 results. Looking at the table of contents for some of the cookbooks, there are recipes for desserts, pastas, soups, appetizers, and a variety of grains. There are a wide variety of rice cookers with various functions and features, with prices that can suit just about every budget. When you purchase a rice cooker, consider how much you think you'll make use of it. Rice cookers come in a number of sizes. You can get a small personal one if you're a single or a larger one if you're cooking for a family. You want it to produce delicious rice every time. It should be durable over time, easy to clean, and intuitive to use. Additionally, you want your rice to cook in a decent amount of time. If you want to make more than short- to medium-grain white rice (such as brown rice, quinoa, long-grain rice, barley, or other grains), you'll want a rice cooker that is up to the task.
Our Favorite: Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker
This Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker is a budget-friendly pick. Sure, there are cheaper options out there but under $40 we found that you just don't get anywhere near decent quality. This rice cooker comes in several sizes with maximum rice-cooking volumes of 8, 14, or 20 cups so you can choose the one that best suits you. The product dimensions of course vary depending on which capacity cooker you purchase. While the rice isn't the same quality as produced by an over $200 rice cooker, the Hamilton Beach rice cooker surprisingly still produced delicious, satisfying rice. It does tend to do better with white rice versus brown or longer grain rice, so that is something to consider. It includes a steamer basket that can also be used for rinsing your rice. Reviewers love the up to 11-hour delay start function! Even better, the cooker automatically turns on its "warm" function so your food won't be cold by the time you get to it. Reviewers note that it indeed was able to keep food warm for hours. The 14-cup and 20-cup models have six cooking modes: white rice, quick rice, whole grain, heat/simmer, steam cook, and hot cereals. The 8-cup model has white rice, whole grains, steam, and hot cereal settings, which is still plenty for a lot of people. Cooking time was good, with reviewers noting that 8 cups of white rice cooked in under 35 minutes. The plastic components of this cooker are of course all BPA-free. The lid liner can be removed for washing by hand, while the steamer basket and interior pot are thankfully dishwasher safe. There is also a measuring cup for your rice and a serving paddle for all of your delicious creations, whether rice, hot cereal, steamed vegetables, meats, or whatever else you desire! Hamilton Beach offers a limited 1-year warranty.
Best Quality Rice: Cuckoo 10-Cup Electric Pressure Rice Cooker
The Cuckoo is a more expensive rice cooker than our other choices, but reviewers were wowed by it. Cuckoo is a Korean company that makes a number of rice cookers with more or less functions, but they all produce high quality rice. We have a personal affinity to this sweet pink number. It measures 17.5 inches by 26.7 inches by 13.9 inches. You can make up to 20-cups of cooked rice at one time with this impressive rice cooker! Whether white, brown, GABA, jasmine, or any other type of rice you choose, you'll be pleased with this cooker's results. It features fuzzy logic technology, meaning that a computer chip can make judgment calls and adjust factors like cooking time and temperature on its own to cook better quality rice for you, rather than simply running on a set time/temperature no matter what. This makes it more practical. Its fuzzy logic technology helps to ensure that you get the best rice each time. Reviewers found this rice cooker produced the softest, most flavorful rice out of all of the cookers tested. Menu settings include programs such as sushi rice, mixed/brown rice, porridge, chicken soup, multi-cook, and more. A warming function allows you to set the cooker to a low temperature at specific times to keep your rice warm. You can also preset a cooking start time so your rice can be ready and waiting when you get home from work. The delay time is up to 12.50 hours, though we wish it was 24 hours. Cooking time was faster than both the Hamilton Beach and the Zojirushi. It comes with a cup for the rice cooking measurements (1 cup = about 3/4 of a US cup). It has 12 safety features such as a lid locking device, pressure control device, and automatic temperature control. The stainless steel detachable inner lid is easy to clean, and the inner pot can be removed and cleaned with a soft kitchen sponge. Cuckoo offers a 1-year warranty on this product. If you just don't desire a pink appliance on your kitchen countertop, consider this option instead.
Also Great: Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer
Zojirushi is a Japanese company that, among other products, manufactures rice cookers. Their Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer is a reviewer favorite. It measures 10-1/8 by 14 by 8-1/2 inches. It features fuzzy logic technology so it adjusts itself to different variables, greatly improving the quality of rice it produces. You benefit from a variety of menu settings on this cooker: white/sushi, mixed, porridge, sweet, brown, cake, steam, and quick cooking. You can make up to 10 cups of cooked rice at one time with this Zojirushi model. Keep in mind that the cup size is based on Japanese measurements, in which about 3/4 of an American cup equals 1 cup. It comes with its own rice-measuring cup so no need to memorize this information. A steamer basket is also conveniently included. The steaming basket is BPA-free and the inner lid is detachable for cleaning. This 610-watt rice cooker also comes with a spatula and spatula holder. To clean the inner cooking pan and accessories, wash with a soft sponge and mild kitchen detergent. Reviewers loved the quality of the rice produced (including brown and long-grain rice) but found the cooking time to be longer than desired. Despite this, it received rave reviews, and the time didn't matter so much when you can set a delay timer. Rice is fluffy every time, it is easy to clean, and reviewers were impressed with its versatile features. Zojirushi offers a 1-year warranty on their products.
The Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker scored highest, thanks in part to it's very budget-friendly price, versatility, and the fact that parts of it are dishwasher-safe. Keep in mind however that if you want to cook brown rice and longer grain varieties, the Hamilton Beach doesn't excel in that area and we'd suggest instead that you splurge on one of our two other picks. The Cuckoo 10-Cup Electric Pressure Rice Cooker is our most expensive pick, but the quality is extremely impressive. Whatever the type of rice we used, the result was heavenly. We love the warming function, delay start time, and since it relies on pressure cooking, all of the safety features gave reviewers peace of mind. If you don't want to splurge on the Cuckoo but still want a step up from the Hamilton Beach, consider the Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer which also produces excellent quality rice, comes with a steamer basket, and has a delay start time. Cooking time was longest with the Zojirushi, but when you can set it and forget it, we don't really mind. Whatever your budget, we've found the perfect rice cooker for you. You're now on the fast track to fresh, wholesome, delicious meals starring your rice cooker! Soon, you won't know how you lived without one for so long!