BEST RICE COOKERS | NOVEMBER 2017
Do you find yourself constantly burning the bottom of your rice when cooking on the stovetop? If you’re the kind of person who wants to simplify your cooking experience, a rice cooker might be the way to go. Set it and forget it, and never burn rice again. The ReviewLab team researched the myriad rice cookers on the market today to give you the low-down on the best options available. Below, you’ll find a buying guide to help guide you through your selection process as well as individual reviews for each model that we’ve selected to appear in this guide. Read more about our methodology.
Our top pick is a rice cooker that checks all the boxes. The Hamilton Beach 37548 cooker is not necessarily the most advanced unit or the most expensive. We’ve chosen it as best overall because it cooks rice well, has a few extra features, and is sold at an affordable price point. You’ll be able to cook a variety of grains in this cooker and steam vegetables as well.Read full review.
The Oster CKSTR61K-TECO Rice Cooker is an affordable unit that cooks rice quickly. You won’t have to grapple with a complicated interface when using this rice cooker. The simple controls make this a perfect unit for the beginner rice aficionado.Read full review.
Rice Cookers BUYING GUIDE
It’s important to choose the right size rice cooker for your needs. Units vary widely in terms of their overall cooked rice yield. The largest cookers can yield a total of 14 cups or more. Keep in mind that usually, the more rice you get, the larger the unit. Those feeding larger families will want to choose an appropriate option that can yield enough cooked rice. You’ll also want to pay attention to whether the advertised capacity is referring to uncooked or cooked rice.
Many cookers come with a bevy of extra features and can perform extra tasks in addition to cooking the perfect bowl of rice. If you enjoy steamed vegetables, it may be beneficial to look into a unit that comes with a steamer tray attachment. Some cookers come with a tray that can be used while your rice is cooking. Some units even come with more than one steamer tray.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a rice cooker chances are you may have gotten rice stuck to the bottom of your pots and pans before. It’s also likely that you are purchasing such an appliance to simplify your life. Choosing a unit that comes with a nonstick interior pan is important if you want a quick cleanup. Most interior pans can be cleaned easily with warm water and soap and non-stick construction makes cleaning a much easier task.
Fuzzy logic rice cookers are often more expensive than other models but they tend to cook rice more evenly and precisely. These types of units include a special microchip that can sense what type of rice you’re cooking and calculate cooking time by taking into consideration multiple variables.
Rice cookers vary widely in price. The most basic cooker with a simple on/off function will cost you less than $40. Some of the lower-priced units will also feature a ‘keep warm’ setting. These types of units are perfect for those who cook rice on occasion and tend to cook only white rice. Higher-end models, like induction and fuzzy logic cookers, are more precise and, usually, cost more than $100. These units are best for those who eat rice on a daily basis and those who often cook brown rice or other grains. Most units above $50 include some a delay-start feature as well. There are some rice cookers that range in the hundreds of dollars but for this list, we’ve made sure to pick affordable units that perform well.
FULL product reviews
We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.
The Hamilton Beach 37548 Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker is sold at an affordable price and has a variety of features that make it a good value buy. It can steam vegetables, cook porridge, and even cook brown rice. The unit is compact enough to be stored easily, or sit on your countertop without taking up too much space. Despite its small size, it can yield up to 14 cups of cooked rice. This makes it great for families and couples alike.
Why We Recommend It
- Compact size makes this unit easy to store. The unit can make up to 14 cups of cooked rice but it’s still small enough that it will easily fit in most kitchen cabinets. It’s also fairly lightweight so you won’t have a problem toting it around your kitchen when mealtime comes around.
- Can keep your rice warm while you finish cooking the rest of your meal. The Hamilton Beach 37549 cooker can cook your rice fairly quickly. But don’t worry, once it’s finished the cooking process, it easily switches to a keep-warm mode so you can continue making dinner without having to worry.
- Comes with a steamer basket. This unit comes with a steamer basket so you can cook vegetables at the same time as you cook your grains. The cooker can be used to steam vegetables, and fish alone. You won’t need to purchase a separate steamer appliance to do that job.
- Features 3 options for cooking grains. It can cook plain rice, store-bought rice packets, as well as brown rice. The unit can also cook porridge and with its delay-start, you can have your oatmeal ready for the morning.
- Steamer basket included is not suitable for rinsing rice. The basket that comes with this cooker has large holes so it cannot be used to pre-rinse your rice. It’s also not great for steaming small vegetables.
- Some reviewers had issues with rice sticking to the bottom of the pot. Adding more water and pre-rinsing your rice before adding it to the cooker can solve this problem. Some reviewers also commented that adding oil to the bottom of the pan helped. This is a common issue with many rice cookers.
The Oster CKSTR61K-TECO rice-cooking appliance is a good option for someone new to the rice cooker world. Its basic controls make things simple for the user. At such a low price, it’s a good introduction to the world of rice cookers. Its small size means it’s easy to store and is perfect for small families and couples. It’s a good option for individuals who eat rice on occasion and don’t want to deal with boiling water themselves.
Why We Recommend It
- Easy to use with simple controls. There are no extra bells and whistles on this unit. Plug it in, click the switch, and your rice will start cooking. It will automatically go to a keep-warm setting when your rice has finished cooking, so you won’t have to worry about using a timer.
- Comes with a steamer basket. The unit’s steam basket allows you to cook vegetables as you cook your rice. This makes it a 2-in-1 appliance.
- Glass lid lets you check on your rice as it cooks. You can keep a watchful eye on your food as it cooks with the unit’s handy glass lid. It’s a nice feature that not all similar units have.
- PFOA & PTFE free nonstick pan. This is one of the only units available with this kind of pan. There are limited options out there for cooks that want to avoid these kinds of chemicals. The pan included with this rice cooker features a DuraCeramic coating to ensure your rice does not stick.
- No button to turn it off. The cooker only has one switch that starts the cooking process. To shut the machine off, you need to unplug it from the wall.
- Keep warm feature needs to be monitored carefully. Some reviewers found the keep warm function ran a bit hot and leaving the rice too long after it was finished cooking produced a burnt layer on the bottom. It’s best to use a timer with this cooker, just in case.
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Best Basic Rice Cooker
A basic rice cooker is your best bet if you cook rice only occasionally. Basic units have simplified controls, no fancy pre-programmed options, and no timers. These types of cookers are best suited for cooking plain, white rice. They’re a good option for those wanting to free up stovetop space during dinner prep. If you want a no-frills appliance for a budget price, this is the way to go.
The Aroma Simply Rice Cooker is a great option for cooks looking to simplify their meal prep. The unit has basic controls and lacks the complicated interface of many other rice cooker appliances. It does a good job of cooking plain white rice and can even cook other types of grains quite well.
Why We Recommend It
- Stainless steel pot contains no harmful chemicals. The stainless steel pan is actually surgical grade and is great for those concerned about chemicals leaching into their food. Very few basic rice cooker models come with this kind of inner pot.
- The small sized unit is great for cooks short on space. The rice cooker yields up to 6 cups of rice so it’s a great option for individuals or couples living in tight spaces.
- Features a glass lid that allows you to see what’s going on inside. You can keep a watchful eye on your rice. This is a welcomed feature since the unit does not have a timer.
- Simple, easy to use controls. This rice cooker only has one switch so you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to operate it. Simply fill the pot with rice and water according to the instructions, and switch it on.
- Does not come with a steamer tray. Most rice cookers do come with steamer attachments so this is a downside to this model.
- Needs to be unplugged to shut it off. There is no off-switch for this appliance. It will automatically set itself to keep warm, but will need to be watched carefully at it will not shut itself off on its own.
- Sometimes rice sticks to the bottom of the pan. This is a common complaint for many rice cookers but in this case, it’s a trade off considering the stainless steel pan is not made of non-stick materials.
Best Mini Rice Cooker
Mini rice cookers often come with paired down controls and features because of their small size. This makes them perfect for those living in small apartments or for those with limited storage space. If you plan on using your cooker everyday and want to keep it on the counter, these units won’t hog counter space. They are good for couples or individuals wanting to make small quantities of rice.
Zojirushi NHS-06 Rice Cooker yields up to 6 cups of cooked rice. The small unit is attractive enough to sit on top of a kitchen counter without taking up too much space. The rice cooker comes equipped with a rice paddle and measuring cup, and cooks enough delicious rice for 1-2 people.
Why We Recommend It
- Comes with a steamer attachment. The rice cooker comes with a stainless steel steamer tray so that you can prepare steamed vegetables or fish with your rice. Keep in mind that use of the steamer tray leaves less room for rice.
- Handles are heat safe. The handles on this unit do not heat up. This means that you can transport the cooker without having to worry about finding your oven mitts.
- Safety feature ensures your rice does not burn. The rice cooker shuts off automatically when it senses there is no more moisture. This helps to keep rice from sticking to the bottom and potentially burning.
- Compact and easy to store. This Zojirushi rice cooker is small enough to be stored in small kitchens and it makes enough rice to generously feed a couple.
- There is no keep warm feature. You cannot prepare rice too far in advance with this cooker. Instead, the unit shuts off when there is no more water left inside.
Best Rice Pressure Cooker
Pressure cooker units are not necessarily dedicated rice cookers but they are able to cook a nice batch of rice regardless. They allow an individual to cook rice much quicker than other types of cookers. These types of appliances use pressure to efficiently cook your batch of rice. These units tend to be more expensive and usually, they are not dedicated rice cookers.
The Instant Pot LUX60 6-in-1 Pressure Cooker is not a dedicated rice cooker but it can indeed cook rice for you. There’s definitely a learning curve involved with this machine but the fact that it can do the job of various appliances means that you’ll likely just have to contend with one unit. It’s a great option for home cooks looking for an all-in-one appliance. It might not be the best option for the daily rice eater but its versatility can’t be beat!
Why We Recommend It
- It can do the job of several kitchen appliances. With the Instant Pot LUX60, there’s no need to stuff your cabinets with different kitchen gadgets. This unit can pressure cook, brown your meat, sauté your vegetables, slow cook stews, cook rice, steam fish, and warm up your dinner.
- Includes 10 Smart Programs. These smart programs take the guesswork out of using the device. You can press a button and use the appliance to easily make rice, porridge, and even cake!
- Produces very little steam and keeps smells at bay. Because the unit does not produce a lot of steam, which means you won’t have to contend with smells lingering around your home. It may be nice to come home to the smell of a slow-cooked stew, but when that scent sticks around for days after, it’s not that appealing anymore.
- UL & ULC Certified. The unit has various built-in safety mechanisms to ensure you can cook without worrying about your well being. Some of the safety features include, a lid-lock when the appliance is pressurized, temperature controls, and pressure controls.
- This is not a dedicated rice cooker. Although it cooks rice quite well, it’s not a standalone rice cooker. There are other units available that may be better suited for those who are particular about their rice.
- Takes a bit of getting used to. This appliance is not at all basic. It includes a variety of preset programs, several cooking options, and a delay start timer. This makes it versatile but it might also be complicated for some users. It may take a while before you find yourself getting the most out of it.
- Fairly bulky. It’s not a compact appliance so it’s not well suited for small kitchens or for those with limited cabinet space.
Best Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker
Fuzzy logic rice cookers utilize a special microprocessor to provide you with the best tasting rice. The advanced technology in these types of cookers essentially enables the appliance to ‘think’ on its own. It can adjust itself accordingly to ensure you get a delicious batch of rice at the end of the cook cycle. Fuzzy logic cookers are often more expensive and more complicated to use, but they are quite popular when it comes to the world of rice cooking.
Best Induction Rice Cooker
Induction cookers use an altogether different technology to cook your rice to perfection. These units heat up using conductive material. This results in a pot of rice that’s cooked very evenly. Induction cookers do not heat rice from the bottom, so there is less of a chance that your pot of rice will stick and burn to the bottom of its pan. Cookers with this technology cook rice quickly but are much more expensive than other types of units.
The Tiger JKT-810U-C cooks rice by induction heating and does it exceptionally well. Since induction cooking is a fairly advanced technology, it also puts this cooker on the higher end of the pricing scale. For those wanting the perfect pot of rice, there’s no better technology than induction heating.
Why We Recommend It
- Induction heating technology cooks rice evenly. While fuzzy logic technology cooks rice quite well, induction cooking definitely wins out. Induction heats the pot of rice evenly and won’t burn rice at the bottom of the pot. Induction also adjusts quicker than fuzzy logic technology. It also cooks rice faster.
- Includes various preset programs. The unit comes with different pre-programmed settings and can cook different types of rice including, white rice, jasmine rice, and brown rice.
- The lid is removable. So is the steam cap so both can be easily cleaned. The removable metal pan is also easy to clean.
- Includes a special ‘ultra’ mode for cooking rice. This unique function cooks rice slightly longer and results in a sweeter tasting, sticky rice.
- Display is difficult to read. The display background is orange-colored with black text in the forefront. This unusual color contrast is aesthetically pleasing but it’s not easy to read the display panel because of it.