As you can probably tell by now, cooking rice is an art form. That’s why the top sushi chefs in Japan spend years perfecting the rice before they can move up to the fish. Speaking of Japan, you may notice that most of these rice cookers are Asian brands, particularly Japanese and Korean. Well, that’s because they’ve been perfecting the craft of rice for centuries. When you want the best pasta, you look to the Italians. When you want the best Indian food, a good chance it will be found in India. When you want the best rice and rice-related products, Asian countries know what’s up.
There are a few more things to note before diving into the best rice cookers you can buy. According to rice industry standards, a cup of rice is 6 ounces, not 8 ounces. So keep in mind that the overall capacity of your rice cooker will be slightly less than you’re used to. Also, when marketed, the cup capacity of rice cookers is that of uncooked rice. You can figure that the cooked volume will be around double the advertised amount. Finally, you can count on the fact that most rice cookers will automatically come with a measuring cup and rice scoop at the very least.
Check out our guide on how to cook rice if you want to learn how to cook perfect rice from start to finish. If you’re ready to start making some at home, check out this roundup of the best rice cookers to buy in 2021.
Best Overall Rice Cooker: Zojirushi NHS-10 6-Cup Rice Cooker
Zojirushi is one of the most trusted rice cooker brands across Asia and the world. It’s straightforward, with a single-lever power switch, and can be counted on to produce quality rice every time. This model has a 6-cup max capacity and a 3-cup minimum capacity. If 3 cups is more than you need, they make the same cooker in a 3-cup max capacity. Another nice thing about this rice cooker is this Zorirushi is more affordable than other high-end models.
Best Budget Rice Cooker: Aroma Housewares Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker
If you’re unsure how much rice you may be making, at $30, you can’t beat this four-quart capacity rice cooker. It also comes with a few more features, like a 15-hour delay timer, white rice, and brown rice settings.
Best Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker: Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer
Fuzzy logic isn’t your decision making a few beers deep. It’s essentially algorithms created for rice cookers so that they can better sense temperature changes and react quickly so that your specific type of rice isn’t over or undercooked. This is an oversimplified explanation of some very technical stuff. All we know is that it makes great rice faster than your standard model rice cooker.
Best High-End Rice Cooker: Zojirushi Induction Heating System Rice Cooker and Warmer
Zojirushi comes through again with this state-of-the-art rice cooker with more features than you can shake a stick at. The induction heating allows for faster cooking at more precise temperatures. It boasts a triple heating system (top, sides, and bottom) and has multiple rice presets. The company (and many product reviewers) claims that this makes the best jasmine rice, thanks to its special cooking flow that considers the unique properties of the rice. The GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is said to activate brown rice, increasing its nutrients by 1.5 times, by keeping it at 104 degrees for two hours.
Best Small Portion Rice Cooker: Amazon Basics – Mini Rice Cooker
If all of these high-tech cookers have got your head spinning, let’s take a step back to something more simple. If you’re cooking rice for one and don’t want leftovers, this Amazon Basics rice cooker is for you. This rice cooker will make four cups of rice with a single button press and won’t hurt your brain or pocketbook.
Best Commercial Rice Cooker: Cuckoo 30 Cup Electric Commercial Rice Cooker
This Cuckoo 30-cup rice cooker is perfect if you have a large family, live in a frat house, or are thinking of opening your own sushi restaurant. Cuckoo has been a trusted Korean name brand for over 40 years, and this rice cooker lives up to the name. If you are looking for a rice cooker for commercial use, this one is certified by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation).
Best Travel Rice Cooker: DCIGNA Electric Lunch Box- Travel Rice Cooker
You might be thinking that no one would ever need to travel with a rice cooker. Yet, travel rice cookers exist, which means people do. I can also confirm this to be true after going on trips with my Asian in-laws. This DCIGNA rice cooker has a short power cord and handle for easy transport. It also comes with a steam tray if you need more versatile cooking options on the go. This little guy doubles as a lunch box. We’ll see who’s making fun of who when you have delicious, fresh-cooked rice and veggies while Ron in the cubicle next door is stuck with a ham sandwich once again.
Best Splurge Rice Cooker: Cuckoo Induction Heating Twin Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer
Perhaps you believe if something is expensive, it must be good. In this case, with the Cuckoo induction rice cooker, you wouldn’t be wrong. Unlike the Instant Pot, this machine is a rice cooker first and everything else second. It as too many great options and features to list. Still, one of our favorites, which is unique to Cuckoo, is the inner pot with a 60-degree curved bottom edge. It is said to promote convection cooking by creating less friction and resistance, in turn making better textured and more flavorful rice.
How To Cook Rice
Many of us find out the hard way that cooking rice is much harder than we expected. We’re not talking about those single-serving seasoned rices out of the box. We’re talking jasmine, short-grain (sushi), brown, black, wild, and any other type of rice you can think of. An excellent rice cooker will do all the hard work for you, but there are some steps you need to take before you add the ingredients to the pot.
- Rinse Your Rice: If you’ve thought you got everything right when cooking your rice, but it still comes out a mushy blob of goo, chances are you didn’t rinse your rice. Rinsing rice removes starch build-up from the outside of the rice grains. For less starchy forms of rice, like brown or wild, this isn’t totally necessary, but it can’t hurt. Rinsing rice also gets rid of any residual pesticides or grime. However, if you’re trying to make glutenous rice, skip this step.
- The Right Ratio: The most essential step to having yummy rice is making sure the liquid to rice ratio is correct. The hard part is, the ratio for most every rice is different. Google is your friend in this regard.
- Don’t Dive Right In: A mistake that many people make is they open the cooker right after it indicates the rice is done. Thermal sensors inside the rice cooker cause it to turn off once it reaches a specific temperature. However, it’s good to let the rice to marinate in the steam for another 10-15 minutes. Doing so will let all of the moisture soak in, giving you drier, fluffier rice.
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