- 1 Best Rice Cooker Buying Guide
- 2 Reviews of the Best Rice Cookers (Updated List)
- 2.1 1. Instant Pot Duo – Best to Buy in 2020
- 2.2 2. Zojirushi NS-TSC10 – Best Japanese Rice Cooker
- 2.3 3. Tiger JNP-S10U-HU – Best Budget Rice Cooker
- 2.4 4. Black+Decker RC503 – Best Small(Mini) Rice Cooker
- 2.5 5. Aroma Housewares ARC-150SB – Best Brown Rice Cooker
- 2.6 Top-rated Rice Cookers Comparison Chart
- 3 Why Need a Rice Cooker
- 4 Best Rice Cooker Brands
- 5 How to Use a Rice Cooker
- 6 Conclusion
Conventional rice cookers are inexpensive, straightforward to use, and don’t take up a lot of space. They make perfect fluffy rice quickly and easily, and the rice will never be mushy or sticky.
Multipurpose rice cookers are versatile kitchen appliances. Their use extends beyond rice cooking, and may include steaming meat, baking cakes, or even cooking a bowl of oatmeal that will make breakfast almost effortless.
Whether you’re shopping for a conventional or multipurpose rice cooker, sorting through the options can be overwhelming. To help with that process, we’ve rounded up a list of the five best rice cookers in every key category.
We’ll also provide you with extensive information regarding the pros and cons of each product so that you can make an informed choice. If you’re not sure about which one to buy, our buying guide will point you in the right direction.
Best Rice Cooker Buying Guide
Here are some of the key points to consider when buying a rice cooker:
The capacity of a rice cooker is defined as how much cooked or uncooked rice can comfortably fit in the cooking pot. You will find that this ranges from 1 to 42 cups, from a small portion to multiple servings.
Note: When manufacturers are talking about uncooked rice capacity, they’re talking about their measuring cup that is included with the cooker. They are NOT talking about standard US measuring cups.
If you’re looking for a rice cooker for home use, you’ll find models that can handle from 1 cup to 10 cups of uncooked rice. For families with four members, something in the 4-5 cup range may do the job.
If you plan on using one for commercial purposes, then you should find models that can accommodate up to 46 cups at a time.
The space you have available in your kitchen is also important to consider. Normally, larger capacity cookers have larger footprints. Figure out your available counter space so that you choose the model that fits perfectly.
There are various types of rice cookers on the market, including microwave, standard, micom, and induction heating rice cookers.
Microwave rice cookers: These are BPA-free plastic containers that allow you to cook rice, oatmeal, and other grains right in the microwave. For those with limited kitchen space, these little gadgets are great options. Besides freeing a little extra counter space, they also help reduce the cooking time by 50% compared to a standard rice cooker. They’re inexpensive (under $40) and generally dishwasher-safe.
Standard rice cookers: These models are popular in most Asian countries, where many households use them. Standard rice makers have many more functions and features than microwave rice cookers. You can use them to stew beef, steam veggies, or even bake cakes. They come in different sizes to serve different purposes, from small (3 cups of raw rice) to extra large (20 cups of raw rice). If you are a fan of rice cookers and cost is a priority, a standard model is definitely worth your consideration.
Micom rice cookers: Simply speaking, micom rice cookers are standard rice cookers that include built-in micro-chips. The advantage of these microchips is that they can automatically adjust the cooking time and temperature, resulting in perfect fluffy rice every single time. They also have an abundance of cooking presets for specific foods, such as white rice, brown rice, sushi rice, or porridge—making them more convenient than conventional rice cookers.
In layman’s terms, micom rice cookers are plug-and-play appliances that will get the job done on their own, saving you precious time to tend to other tasks in the kitchen.
Induction heating rice cookers: They’re the most expensive models of all, with prices starting between $200 and $500. While standard cookers distribute heat from the bottom up, these fancy rice cookers create an induction heating zone by employing the entire inner pot as a heat conductor. This means they provide far more accurate heat distribution, thus delivering a better textured rice with lower energy consumption.
Features and Functions
Even the most basic rice cookers will include a keep warm setting, which means that you’ll have warm, fluffy rice whenever you choose to eat. This function is really handy when you don’t want your rice to get cold halfway through your meal. They may also have a non-stick cooking pot which helps to avoid scrubbing at stubbornly burned rice, making cleaning up easier than ever before.
The sealed lid feature is another standard for most rice cookers. A tight seal on the lid helps prevent steam from escaping, which maintains a stable temperature while the rice cooker is operating. It also ensures that each batch of fluffy rice is perfectly done in a reasonable amount of time.
Many affordable rice cookers come with a timer. With this property, you can delay the start of the cooking process for up to 23 hours after having put the rice and water into the pot. This is a great feature for those with little time to prepare meals. They also have steamer racks which allow users to steam any type of food, from vegetables and fish or even dessert while the rice is cooking.
High-end models often feature smart controls, which let users monitor the cooking progress via an app. Some even have an alert or musical tone that informs you when the rice is ready to serve. These are nice extras, but we don’t think they are entirely necessary.
Reviews of the Best Rice Cookers (Updated List)
At last, we’ve arrived at our most important feature – our selection of the best rice cookers.
- Instant Pot Duo – Best Overall of 2020
- Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT – Best Japanese Rice Cooker
- Tiger JNP-S10U-HU – Best Budget Rice Cooker
- Black+Decker RC503 – Best Small (Mini) Rice Cooker
- Aroma Housewares – Best Brown Rice Cooker
Here’s our picks for the Best Rice Cookers.
1. Instant Pot Duo – Best to Buy in 2020
There are currently five versions of the Instant Pot Duo, including the Duo, Duo Crisp + Air Fryer, Duo Evo Plus, Duo SV, Duo Plus, and Duo Nova. Depending on which model is chosen, they may be available in 3-, 6-, 8-, or 10-quart sizes.
Among these five versions, the Instant Pot Duo and Duo Nova are the two most popular models, as they’re practical, inexpensive, and straightforward to use. Both feature the latest third-generation microprocessor technology which is able to regulate temperature and pressure, while adjusting the heat using built-in monitors to improve the quality and consistency of the food.
These pressure cookers come at a very competitive price without compromising on quality or sacrificing essential functions. Designed with a multitude of options, Instant Pot pressure cookers allow users to cook all types of rice using either manual settings or by choosing the preset on the control panel.
Besides cooking rice, they also excel at sauteing, reheating, slow cooking, and pressure cooking. One of their most useful features is that when cooking frozen food, there’s no need to defrost it first. These models can defrost and cook all at once, saving you a ton of time in the kitchen.
The stainless steel inner cooking pot, which is dishwasher safe, is a win-win for reliability, durability, and ease of cleanup. No matter what you’ve cooked, there’s no chance of hazardous substances chipping off and getting into your food, since there’s no surface coating.
These models are built based on North American Electrical Standards. Even when the machines are working at the highest temperature setting, their exteriors always stay cool to the touch to protect careless fingers from burns. When releasing pressure manually, users need to remember that the steam is very hot, and should make sure their hands aren’t in the path of the steam.
The Instant Pot Duo vs Duo Nova: What’s the Difference?
At first glance, these two products appear almost identical, but they are actually different.
While the Duo is now available in 3 different sizes (3-,6-,8-quart), the Duo Nova offers more size options, from the mini to extra large (10-quart), making it well suited to every need.
The 2019 Nova version also has some significant improvements in design and functionality over its predecessor. One of the welcome new features is a smart steam release valve, which automatically closes when the lid is closed, so there’s no need worry about the valve being accidentally left in the venting position.
When the cooking process has ended, the pressure cooker does beep ten short times. However, the alarm sound is too low, you may not hear it.
The Instant Pot pressure cookers come with all the conveniences: multiple programs, intuitive controls, stainless steel inner pot, and more. If you’ve been toying with the idea of buying a pressure cooker that can also cook rice, these models are definitely worth a look.
2. Zojirushi NS-TSC10 – Best Japanese Rice Cooker
Zojirushi is one of the biggest rice cooker manufactures not only in Japan, but also in the world, and for good reasons— it makes some pretty good rice cookers, combining a wide array of features with long-lasting performance. The manufacturer also impresses its users with stylish designs and unique cooking technologies which help differentiate its products from the competitors.
Among many incredible models, the NS-TSC10 is simply the best micom rice cooker that this Japanese company has ever produced. Though the rice cooker is quite more expensive the Instant Pot Duo, it’s worth the extra money for its high quality, long-lasting inner pot and practical microcomputer technology.
A Rice Cooker and a Slow Cooker Combination
Although the machine is a fairly basic rice cooker, it provides more useful features than you’d expect. It can bake cakes, steam veggies, and yes it’ll be the best replacement for your old-fashioned slow cooker.
The computerized Fuzzy Logic technology makes adjustments to cooking time and temperature according to what type of rice you’re cooking. This means you’ll get the perfect outcome without constantly keeping an eye on the cooking process. The Zojirushi rice cooker is designed to do all the thinking for you.
Features and Settings
All the settings work terrifically well. The easy-to-use LCD screen and digital display offer you the opportunity to personalize your cooking options. Set the timer for when you want the rice cooker to start cooking and a musical alert, which is loud enough for you to hear from other rooms in the house, will alert you when your meal is done.
The power cord is firmly connected to the back of the rice cooker. The added value is that the cord can be retractable for neat storage. Thanks to this property, users can also customize the cord length to fit their different demands.
For one meal, it yields up to 6 full cups of cooked rice to feed at least 5 people.
Although this cooker can keep rice warm for up to 24 hours, some people reported that the rice might dry out after 2-3 hours of staying warm.
On first using the pot, many users noticed a strong burning plastic smell from the unit. It’s likely the odor is from manufacturing oils or solutions on parts that are not likely to be accessible to users and isn’t anything to worry about. Like any cooking appliance, it makes sense to clean all the parts that come in contact with food before starting with your first batch of rice.
Zojirushi NS-TSC10 vs. Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH
The NS-TSC10 seems to be virtually identical to the NP-HCC10XH, with some slight differences in terms of price and design. But in fact, these two models are very different, especially in how they work.
As mentioned above, the NS-TSC10 is a micom rice cooker featuring the computerized Fuzzy Logic technology to heat the inner cooking pan. This results in its ability to make proper temperature and cooking time adjustments necessary to cook different types of rice.
Costing twice as much as its peers, the NP-HCC10XH is an induction heating rice cooker, which works by using the inner cooking pot as a heating element. This means that the device cooks the rice from the outside in rather than from the heating plate at the bottom of the external vessel like most conventional rice cookers.
Thanks to the Induction Heating technology, this premium rice cooker can be more responsive to temperature change so as to make quick and precise alterations as needed. That’s why the machine often cooks faster and produces better results than the NS-TSC10. The only issue is that it usually consumes more energy, thus increasing the power bill.
There are also some differences between these two models in terms of specifications. While both allow users to cook a wide range of rice, the NS-TSC10 can also be used for steaming and baking. Having two more additional functions makes this rice cooker more versatile than its counterpart.
All things considered, cost aside, the main difference between the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 and Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH is how evenly and quickly the rice can be cooked. With many offered benefits, the more expensive model is definitely a no brainer. But if price is your priority, go for the NS-TSC10, which is significantly cheaper but still good enough to prepare flawless rice every time.
If you’re still not sure about whether this product is worth the extra money, consider its quality as well as the quality of rice it produces, and it’ll be a no brainer.
3. Tiger JNP-S10U-HU – Best Budget Rice Cooker
This is one more product from a Japanese company that deserves a big round of applause for its outstanding performance. Able to accommodate 10 cups of uncooked rice at once, this machine has the capacity to cook enough rice for those with large families or those who love to host cozy dinner parties.
Most people love the stainless steel finish which offers good looks and a durable finish. There’s no doubt that this product will fit right in with your kitchen decor.
The cooker itself is decently made with a good seal and a tight fitting lid that plays an important role in keeping the rice fresh. Thanks to the latest technology in the keep warm function, your rice will stay hot and fluffy for up to 12 hours after it’s cooked.
Tiger is known as the workhorse of all the rice cookers, and many of the are still in use after 20 years. So if you’re looking for a product that will stand the test of time, this brand should be your number one choice.
With this single-button rice cooker, you can get a bunch of useful accessories, including an easy-to-read spatula and rice measuring cup. The device is also equipped with a retractable cord which has a feature similar to the automatic rewind cords on older vacuum cleaners, making storage hassle-free.
The steam vent can be removed for cleaning and is extremely easy to hand wash. Just keep in mind to reinsert it carefully to make sure the vent is properly aligned.
This model does not cook mixed rice very well, despite the fact that it always makes a perfect batch of brown OR white rice individually.
Also, as confirmed by many long term users, while the latch for the lid is metal, the catch for this latch is hard plastic that has been known to break.
If you are looking for a rice cooker that will be with you for the long haul, the Tiger should be close to the top of your wish list. Even though the pot is relatively expensive, it’s worth every penny for a durable product from a well-known brand.
4. Black+Decker RC503 – Best Small(Mini) Rice Cooker
The Black+Decker RC503 mini rice cooker is an ideal option for singles, couples, or small families. It’s not an advanced product but offers enough quality to support your cooking needs and perhaps make them a little less time-consuming.
Ease of Use
The beauty of this mini rice cooker is that there seems to be no secret to it. In other words, there’s nothing you need to know to get good results.
Simply rinse the rice, put the rice and the correct amount of water into the pot, press the switch down, and it turns on. 20 minutes later, cooked rice comes out impressively nice and pretty much evenly cooked. It’s even a little faster than the directions say.
Beyonds serving as a rice cooker, this baby is also a good food steamer. Many users have even tried to make soup, stews and oatmeal, which is really an unexpected extra for the price and size.
Like other one-touch control rice cookers, once the rice has been cooked to perfection, the indicator light will change color and the machine will automatically switch to the keep warm setting, meaning you don’t have to worry about overcooking your rice.
Furthermore, all removable parts are dishwasher friendly, including the non-stick inner pot, tempered clear lid, and plastic accessories (measuring cup and serving spoon).
The machine itself does not have an off button. Users can only turn it off by unplugging it.
The Black & Decker rice cooker offers terrific value for money in a compact, powerful rice cooker. Though it’s not too advanced, it gets the job done and is a great choice if you live alone or with a partner.
5. Aroma Housewares ARC-150SB – Best Brown Rice Cooker
The Aroma Housewares takes our vote for the best rice maker for cooking brown rice.
This item appeals to many users not only because of its price and brand, but also because it includes a steaming function, a slow cooking function and a keep warm setting.
This pot can yield up to 20 cups of rice of any type. It has separate buttons for white and brown rice, ensuring that the rice is cooked perfectly every time.
This product has a 15-hour delay timer ensuring that the rice is always ready to serve when it’s needed.
This rice maker isn’t good at keeping the rice warm for long periods of time. When left too long the rice gets dry and even brittle and hard. This usually doesn’t happen with the more expensive rice cookers, proving that you get what you pay for.
The difficult-to-clean lid that cannot be removed from the body of the rice cooker is another awkward downside. This part is less than practical, as you must clean it while trying not to wet any other part of the rice cooker, which is a bit inconvenient.
If you’re in the market for a rice cooker that can cook just about any type of rice, then this multi-function rice cooker should be on your shortlist. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot better than you would expect at the price.
Top-rated Rice Cookers Comparison Chart
|Smart Built-In Programs||Warranty|
|Instant Pot Duo|
|Zojirushi NS-TSC10||Stainless Steel||5.5-cup|
|Aroma Housewares||Aluminum||10-cup||Yes||1 year|
Why Need a Rice Cooker
A good rice cooker cooks rice perfectly every time. It will save you the disappointment of mushy or crunchy texture of overcooked or undercooked rice. While rice cooked on the stovetop would not usually have a subtle nutty flavor, rice cooked in a rice cooker often does.
When cooking rice on the stove, it requires more attention, but with a rice cooker, that babysitting is unnecessary. That means less time and effort you’ll have to spend in the kitchen.
Best Rice Cooker Brands
These are intelligent electric pressure cookers that give you the functions of several cooking appliances, including a pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, and warming pot.
This Japanese company is famous for manufacturing conventional and digital rice cookers but at higher price tags. So if your budget is flexible enough, then this trusted manufacturer deserves your investment.
Aroma Housewares is another popular and trusted brand in the industry. If you’re seeking a reliable standard rice cooker, then this brand is certainly worth your consideration. Solid yet powerful, Aroma standard rice cookers deliver a good performance for their price range.
The company also has a reputation for producing programmable multi-cookers. Though these smart cookers are not as fancy as Instant Pot or Zojirushi, they’re still versatile enough to handle a variety of cooking tasks.
Many Oster rice cookers are budget-friendly and straightforward to use, thanks to their simple design and intuitive controls. These devices often come with a vegetable steamer tray, which allows users to steam fish or vegetables while cooking rice.
How to Use a Rice Cooker
For a closer look at how to efficiently use a rice cooker, here, we bring to you the step-by-step instructions that will help you make an ideal bowl of rice.
- Use the measuring cup that comes with the rice cooker to measure the amount of rice you plan to cook. The fill lines in the cooking pot are standardized to that measure.
- Put the rice into a strainer and rinse the rice carefully until the final drained water runs almost clear.
- Transfer the rice into the inner pot.
- Measure the amount of COOL water needed and pour it into the pot. Keep in mind that how much water you add depends largely on what type of rice you’re using. For example, usually, 1 cup of white rice will require 1 to 2 cups of water.
- Soak the rice for about 30 mins so as to shorten the cooking time. You can skip this step if you wish.
- Place the pot into the rice cooker body, make sure that it’s dry on the outside. Then cover it with the lid, plug the machine in and switch it on.
- After the rice has been cooked, open the lid and stir the contents thoroughly. It’s now ready to serve.
- While the cooker is running, do not open the lid or stir the rice unless you want to prolong the procedure.
- Most rice cookers will automatically switch to a keep-warm setting once the rice is completely cooked. So there’s no need to constantly keep a close eye on the process. Just turn it on and forget about it.
- Most high-end products nowadays have a wide range of settings to deal with different types of rice.
Now that you have an overall idea of how to use a rice cooker effectively, the next step is to figure out which one is right for you.
That is our list for the best rice cookers this year. We make sure these models reviewed offer the best combination of price, quality, and versatility. Just keep in mind that whatever product you choose, it should meet your needs and budget. Also, you’ll want to make sure that your rice cooker is simple to use and compact enough so that it won’t take up too much counter space. If you’re a beginner looking for a reliable rice cooker, we recommend that you should find something that works straightforwardly and allows for easy cleaning, like the Instant Pot Duo.