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Updated September 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best rice cookers

In the world of culinary tasks, the stovetop rice-cooking process may not be the most difficult endeavor, but when you’re in a pinch or cooking for multiple guests, a rice cooker can save you some much-needed time and free up one of your burners. Rice cookers are also handy for preparing other foods, such as beans and oatmeal, and other grains, including quinoa and risotto. Perhaps best of all, these affordable kitchen gadgets are easy to use and known for their ability to produce wonderful results.

Are you shopping for a new rice cooker? Before you decide which one is right for your kitchen, you’ll want to consider its capacity, presence of a delay timer, preset functions and settings, and ability to cook other foods. Some rice cookers are actually part of a larger and more sophisticated pressure cooker that can saute, steam, and warm foods. Rice cookers range in price, from models for the budget chef to models packed with features and designed for home cooks with heftier budgets.

rice cooker
After your rice cooker finishes its process, allow your cooked rice to sit covered for about 10 minutes. Then, fluff it with a fork for the best results.

Why should you buy a rice cooker?

If you're deliberating about whether you need a rice cooker or not, let’s find some clarity. Below, we examine some of the advantages a rice cooker can bring to your kitchen.

  • Save time and effort while preparing meals. If you cook rice-based meals frequently, a rice cooker can save you a lot of time and effort over the years. The process of cooking rice to perfection could not be simpler: just add the right amount of water and rice to the reservoir, press the button, and wait until your rice is ready.
  • Enjoy consistent success every time you make rice. Rice cookers tend to render much better and more consistent results than most people get when cooking rice in a pot on top of the stove. There is less chance of burning or undercooking the rice, especially if you get an appliance with neuro-fuzzy technology.
  • Prepare other foods in your rice cooker. You can use some rice cookers to prepare other types of foods, such as steamed veggies, dumplings, and quinoa. In fact, many rice cookers come with a steam tray for the sole purpose of steaming foods inside the appliance.
  • Free up space on your stovetop. Using a rice cooker will free up space on your stove to cook other dishes. What’s more, the cooker doesn’t have to sit on your countertop all the time, either — many are compact enough to neatly tuck inside a cupboard or pack on a pantry shelf.
  • Set it and forget it. You can preprogram a rice cooker, set it up with rice and water, and simply leave it to do its work. No need for constant checking or stirring. And many rice cookers have delay timers, so you can set yours in the morning and come home to a pot of fluffy rice in the evening.
rice cooker
Expert Tip
A good rice cooker should also be able to make other grains just the way you like them.
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Top considerations when selecting a rice cooker

Cooker capacity

The capacity of a rice cooker is often described by the number of measuring cups it can hold. This can be confusing because some companies tell you how many cups of cooked rice you can prepare at once, whereas others tell you how many cups of uncooked rice you can prepare at once. Notably, some manufacturers also list the machine’s capacity in gallons. For some, this might make the machine’s potential a little easier to visualize.

Think about how much rice you might want to make at any given time. For instance, if you have a large family or want the ability to prepare big batches of rice and store the leftovers, you'll require a much larger cup capacity (perhaps a 14-cup rice cooker or even a large-capacity 20-cup rice cooker) than if you only want to cook one or two cups of rice at a time.

Intelligent cooking

High-end rice cookers aren't just glorified electric steamers; they have microchips inside that survey and assess the temperature and other conditions inside the cooking pot. Using this information, the appliance adjusts accordingly so your rice turns out perfectly every time. Most rice cookers use one of two technologies for this: neuro-fuzzy logic or induction heating. The latter may be considered slightly superior, as the chip can adjust for measuring errors while still rendering excellent results. However, rice cookers equipped with neuro-fuzzy logic are still far more effective than entry-level rice cookers.

Rice cookers with intelligent cooking capabilities are worth it if you have cash, but a basic rice cooker is good enough for most home cooks.

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Inner pot material

Rice cookers tend to have inner pots constructed of stainless steel or a nonstick-coated aluminum material. If you are familiar with different types of pots and pans, you probably have developed a preference already, but both materials have positives and negatives. For the sake of durability, we tend to gravitate toward stainless steel over aluminum. Stainless steel may be harder to clean if rice gets burned onto the bottom, but this shouldn't happen if you use your rice cooker correctly. A nonstick inner pot offers easy cleaning, but the material is not as long-lasting as stainless steel, and some people question whether or not it contains harmful toxins.

Timer

Many rice cookers feature a delay timer that allows you to add your ingredients and then postpone the start of the cooking cycle for up to 23 hours before you want the finished product. This is ideal if you have a limited amount of cooking time because it allows dinner to come together much more easily, especially if you arrive home late from work. It also makes breakfast preparation a breeze, as the majority of rice cookers can also be used to prepare porridge.

Rice texture settings

Everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to rice type and texture. Furthermore, some dishes or types of rice call for specific textures. For instance, rice that’s meant to go with Thai food should be soft and sticky, whereas an Indian curry might go better with a slightly firm Basmati. High-end rice cookers tend to offer a larger array of texture settings, allowing you to prepare rice to suit a variety of dishes.

How much do rice cookers cost?

Basic rice cooker

You can buy a perfectly reasonable basic rice cooker for not much more than the price of a family-sized takeout meal. An entry-level rice cooker with just a few features, such as a timer and white and brown rice settings, should cost between $25 and $60, depending on the brand and the cup capacity. For many consumers, a basic rice cooker is all that’s needed..

Mid-range rice cooker

A mid-range rice cooker should cost roughly $80 to $120. Expect to see appliances with more that come from well-known brands. You can also find multicookers with rice settings in this pricing category.

High-end rice cooker

A top-of-the-line rice cooker with induction heating or neuro-fuzzy logic, plus all the texture settings and other features you could hope for, should cost anywhere from $120 to $400. Many of the rice cookers in this price range offer a large capacity; some are suitable for commercial kitchens.

rice cooker
Did you know?
Many rice cookers have steamer inserts, so you can steam vegetables at the same time as cooking your rice.
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Tips

  • Understand how to prepare brown rice versus white rice. Different types of rice require different cooking approaches, and brown rice is perhaps the second most popular type of rice in the Western diet. The required water measurements for cooking brown rice and white rice differ: White rice requires about 1 1/2  cups of water for every cup of uncooked rice, whereas brown rice requires 1 3/4 to 2 cups of water for every cup of uncooked rice.
  • Take note of the cooking pot capacity. Check the instruction manual to learn how high you can fill the cooking pot of your rice cooker, or look to see if it has a maximum fill line. When rice cooks, it expands quite a lot. As such, filling your rice cooker with too much liquid and uncooked rice could result in a boiled-over mess.
  • Don’t forget to investigate the porridge function. Many rice cookers have a porridge function. This was designed to cook traditional Asian rice porridge, which is eaten for breakfast in many countries but can be used for regular porridge, too. For example, you might try a recipe for congee, a breakfast porridge served in China that is also eaten by people in Japan, Europe, and other areas of the world.
  • Take advantage of the timer, which can accommodate a busy lifestyle. A rice cooker with a timer is a superb option for busy working people or anyone who'd like to come home to a pot of freshly cooked rice. In this way, a rice cooker can be a lot like a slow cooker, providing the ultimate in convenience at the end of a busy work day.
rice cooker
Think about how often you'll use a rice cooker. If it will be an everyday kitchen gadget for you, it's probably worth spending out on a higher-end model.

FAQ

Q. What happens to the quality of my food if I don’t eat my cooked rice right away?

A. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes, you might plan your dinner timing perfectly but still end up with your rice cooked 30 minutes before your main entree is ready. Or, something else might come up that pushes back your dinner time. The question becomes, with such delays, how do you keep your rice warm and fresh? Don't worry; your meal needn't be ruined. Most rice cookers have a "keep warm" function that keeps your cooked rice warm without burning or overcooking it.

Q. Which is preferable: a rice cooker with a glass lid or a metal lid?

A. While the lid material probably shouldn’t be a primary deciding factor, we note that a glass lid can be useful for keeping an eye on how your rice is cooking. If you’re stuck between two models you like equally, one with a metal lid and one with a glass lid, we suggest that you strongly consider the one with the glass lid.

Q. Can I prepare sushi rice in a rice cooker?

A. Yes, you can prepare sushi rice in a rice cooker. You may want to obtain a recipe first; you can find a lot of mouthwatering recipes online. Sushi rice differs from “traditional” white rice: It is a short Japanese grain with a sticky consistency that makes it ideal for creating your favorite sushi rolls. Sushi rice can be easily prepared in a rice cooker. Note: It can also be prepared in an Instant Pot (pressure cooker) or on a stovetop.

Q. Can I cook anything other than rice in my rice cooker?

A. This depends on the make and model of rice cooker you choose. Often, the more basic rice cookers are better at cooking non-rice foods than ones with neuro-fuzzy logic or induction cooking, as these are specially designed to "know" how to cook perfect rice. Non-rice foods that you might be able to make in your rice cooker include other grains, steamed vegetables, steamed dumplings, soups, stews, and risotto.

 

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