Best rice cookers reviewed for white rice, brown, sushi or even quinoa

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  December 10, 2021

17 easy recipes anyone can make...

All the tips you'll need to get started in Japanese cooking with, FOR A LIMITED TIME, FREE as our first email: the complete Japanese with ease cookbook.

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

A rice cooker is an automated electronically controlled kitchen appliance that cooks rice by boiling or steaming it.

Its main parts include a metal container with a circuit board that controls the thermostat and heat source, a cooking bowl, and a glass or metal lid with a small depressurization hole on it.

The thermostat is preset to measure and control the temperature of the metallic cooking bowl in order to cook/steam the rice perfectly every time.

Best rice cookers reviewed

Some rice cookers have more complex systems and sensors which may have more than just one function.

My absolute favorite after testing is this Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker because of its idiot-proof system. The “Fuzzy” is actually a logic IC chip that prevents you (me especially!) from adding too much rice or water in the mix. Therefore, it’s almost impossible not to cook the perfect rice each time!

Here’s a video review on the “Fuzzy”:

I’ll get to the complete review in a minute, as well as some others that are great in different situations you might need them for.

Of course, it wouldn’t make this article complete without discussing the most recommended electric and other types of rice cookers out there, now, wouldn’t it?

Having said that, we’ve reviewed 10 electric rice cooker brands and specific models and determined that they should be on your shopping list if you ever plan to cook Asian recipes at home.

We’ve also set the requirements on how a rice cooker will be considered in this list plus we also did some tests to see how well they can cook rice.

Keep reading to find out more about it!

Here’s the top 10 list in a quick reference table:

Best rice cooker Images
Overall best rice cooker: Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Overall best rice cooker: Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer

(view more images)

Best rice cooker with steamer basket: TIGER JBV-A10U Best rice cooker with steamer basket: TIGER JBV-A10U 5.5-Cup

(view more images)

Best budget rice cooker: Aroma Housewares ARC-954SBD Best budget rice cooker: Aroma Housewares ARC-954SBD
(view more images)
Best value for money rice cooker: Toshiba with Fuzzy Logic Best value for money rice cooker: Toshiba with Fuzzy Logic

(view more images)

Best mini rice cooker for one person & best portable: Dash Mini Rice Cooker Steamer Dash Mini Rice Cooker Steamer (view more images)
Best large rice cooker: BLACK+DECKER RC5280 Best large rice cooker- BLACK+DECKER, White RC5280

(view more images)

Best sushi rice cooker & best for other grains:Cuckoo CRP-P0609S Cuckoo CRP-P0609S 6 Cup Electric Heating Pressure Rice Cooker(view more images)
Best rice cooker with app: CHEF iQ Smart Pressure Cooker CHEF iQ Smart Pressure Cooker (view more images)
Best induction rice cooker:Buffalo Titanium Grey IH SMART COOKER Buffalo Titanium Grey IH SMART COOKER(view more images)
Best microwave rice cooker:Home-X – Microwave Rice Cooker Home-X - Microwave Rice Cooker(view more images)

In this post we'll cover:

Rice cooker buying guide

Rice cookers are more complex than they look. That’s why there are many features you need to look out for before spending your money.

It all depends on your needs, how many people you cook for, and what kinds of smart features you want.

Speed

Having a rice cooker appliance around can be a lifesaver as you can cook rice quickly and cook it correctly, especially when you’re in a hurry to prepare the dinner table.

Consider how long it takes to cook a batch of rice. The rice cooker’s speed is very important because not all of them are efficient.

In general, most rice cookers take between 20 – 30 minutes to cook rice, depending on the brand and model. This is a good speed to look for. After all, you don’t want to waste too much time waiting for the rice to be well-cooked through.

Some rice cookers take a lot longer though. The Zojirushi actually takes between 40-60 minutes per cycle but there is no burnt or stuck on rice at all and the fluffy texture is perfect, so the wait is worth it!

However, it has been confirmed that cooking rice on a stovetop is faster than cooking it in a cooker.

It only takes 18 minutes for the rice to cook on a stovetop while it takes up to 30 minutes for it to cook in an electric rice cooker and some rice cookers take longer to cook.

The automatic electric rice cooker’s saving grace though is that you don’t need to monitor it constantly when compared to cooking it on the stovetop.

One wrong move and your rice could end up a lump of half crispy charcoal at the bottom and tasting all burnt.

Size & number of cups it can cook

Most household and commercial rice cookers have the capacity to cook between 3 – 10 cups of raw rice.

If you’re planning to buy a rice cooker anytime soon, then consider first how many people will you be cooking for?

When you want a rice cooker for one, you can get away with a small rice cooker that makes 3 cups of rice at once.

If it’s just less than 5 people, then buy the 6-cup rice cooker but if it’s more than 5, then buy the 10-cup cooker (be sure to ask the store clerk before you choose though, so you’re better informed about the product that you’re buying).

There’s even a 20 cup extra large rice cooker on my list for small businesses or very large families.

Fuzzy Logic

Fuzzy Logic is a type of mathematical algorithm based on “degrees of truth” rather than the usual “true or false”.

But, in relation to automatic rice cookers, this translates to manufacturers using an IC (integrated circuits) microprocessor that enables the rice cooker to detect (or sense) any human error such as unbalanced rice and water ratio and automatically adjusts its cooking parameters to compensate.

Less advanced and basic cookers do not have any intelligent microchips in them and cannot do what cookers with Fuzzy Logic can.

Needless to say that cookers with cutting-edge Fuzzy Logic technology are sold at least more than $100 on top of the basic rice cooker’s normal price tag.

Non-stick cooking bowl

Manufacturers mostly use aluminum or stainless steel with ceramic coating non-stick element as it cooks the best fluffy rice and is easy to clean and maintain.

But there are cookers with a plastic steamer basket too! However, they do not last very long and are therefore not cost-effective in the long-term prospect.

Steamer basket

If you’re going to cook things like homemade baby food, you need to have a rice cooker with a steamer basket.

This metal basket is located and placed on top of the water and rice so the hot steam and vapors can steam the fruits and vegetables in the basket.

Even cooking

An ideal rice cooker should be able to cook a batch of fluffy rice evenly, from the grains around the cooker’s edges to those in the middle.

If it can’t do this, then the result will be an unevenly cooked pot of rice that has a mushy center and crispy edges, or either soggy grains at the bottom of the pot o undercooked grains on top.

Consistent quality between batch sizes

An ideal rice cooker should be able to cook with the same consistency of fluffy rice whether the user will only cook a single cup of rice, or use up the maximum capacity of the rice cooker.

Multi-grain cooking

Typically, all-electric rice cookers have the ability to cook rice, but only the choicest ones can cook all sorts of grains including brown rice, long-grain white rice, quinoa, millet, and other fancier grains with finesse and aplomb.

You should also be able to cook other foods like oats.

Lid

Maintaining the temperature and pressure in the cooking bowl is crucial to making the perfect fluffy rice; if the lid doesn’t seal the bowl properly, then the rice cooker is no good.

So, you need a tight seal lid that won’t spew steam or hot liquids.

Quick-cook setting

While using this feature will compromise the rice texture a little, having a quick-cook setting in your automatic electric rice cooker can help you prepare a meal for yourself or your guests in no time.

Keep-warm feature

Essentially anyone who has owned a rice cooker will tell you that this feature is very advantageous as it helps keep the rice warm for hours and fresh in case it finishes cooking before the other recipes have.

Or if one of your family members or guest is still on their way to dine with you and you want to offer them warm rice to eat.

The best rice cookers have heating elements around the sides and bottom of the pot to gently warm the rice from all sides. These features allow the rice cooker to cook rice perfectly all the time.

Plastic rice paddle

This tool is always included in the rice cooker you’ll purchase and because it’s made of plastic it doesn’t scratch any of the non-stick coatings on the cooking bowl.

Alert or musical tone

A minor feature but helpful nonetheless as it lets you know when the rice has cooked completely. This way you don’t have to keep track of cooking times and you’ll know as soon as the rice is cooked.

Warranty

Most electric rice cookers have a 1-year warranty from their manufacturers, although they are built to last much longer than that.

Some of the features that we’ve included here below are noteworthy but do not play a crucial role in making great fluffy rice.

Induction heating

This process creates heat all over the cooking pot where stainless steel is available as it reacts to the electromagnetic field, and is believed to heat up and cook the rice evenly on all sides.

There are a few very high-end rice cooker models that combine pressure cooking with induction cooking in order to cook the rice quicker and also enhance its texture and flavor.

However, these models are extremely expensive and ordinary people would shy away from it just by looking at the price tag alone of at least $400 a piece.

Learn more about induction cooking and how it compares to gas cooking here

Mobile app & Bluetooth

The latest rice cooker models, especially the high-end ones, include smartphone interaction via a mobile app, which allows you to control the cooking from your phone even if you’re far away from the kitchen.

It is possible to fill up the cooker with rice and water, then go to another room in your house, and switch it on and let it cook the rice automatically; although it doesn’t improve the quality of the rice in any way.

Bluetooth technology makes cooking rice from a distance a real-time saver!

Voice navigation

A nifty feature that tells you which button does what in a pre-recorded voice can be a bit of help, especially those people with failing eyesight or visually impaired.

However, there seems to be no rice cooker model that speaks English in their audio recordings and only Korean cookers have this feature.

Presets

The most basic rice cookers only have one button: ON/OFF.

But, more advanced cookers have presets. So, you can set the device to cook the type of rice you want.

These presets are for different types of rice. Some also determine the cooked rice’s texture.

This is the best rice to water ratio in a rice cooker for white, jasmine, basmati rice

Top 10 rice cookers reviewed

Now, let’s get into the in-depth reviews of these rice cookers so you can see if they are suitable for your cooking habits.

a bowl of rice

Overall best rice cooker: Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy

  • # of cups cooked: 5.5
  • Speed: 40 – 60 minutes per cycle
  • Fuzzy logic: yes
  • Steamer basket: no
  • Steam-function: yes
  • Timer: yes, LCD

Overall best rice cooker- Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy in the kitchen

(view more images)

The reason you want a rice cooker is to have evenly cooked rice that is chewy, glossy, and not perfectly sticky without burning, clumping, or getting stuck to the pot.

Now, imagine owning an intuitive rice cooker that can get the texture right each time without having to do any guesswork on your part!

The Zojirushi Japanese rice cooker is the top product for perfectionists because this appliance is a state-of-the-art kitchen appliance.

It cooks well, fluffy, restaurant-quality rice at the touch of a button.

This rice cooker is built with fuzzy logic technology which means it can detect how much rice and water there is in the pot and cook it accordingly.

It’s because of this technology that your rice is cooked evenly and uniformly throughout.

If you compare the Zojirushi with its main competitor Tiger, the Zojirushi cooks better rice because it gives each grain the right amount of stickiness and the rice ends up being much more soft and fluffy.

Zojirushi takes longer to cook the rice though than many other rice cookers. I think this is the only weak point.

But, unlike some other models, it doesn’t leave any uncooked or overcooked grains so you don’t need to worry about hard rice grains cracking in your mouth.

You can steam rice and other foods and cook brown rice as well as some other grains with the Zojirushi.

It’s especially good at cooking basmati rice in about 45 minutes and it even cooks rinse-free rice, which is a bonus for people who can’t be bothered with too much prep work.

This mid-priced model doesn’t have smart features like Wifi and Bluetooth or a steamer basket like some of the $400 rice cookers but it’s up to you to decide if you really need that.

Using this rice cooker is so simple, all you do is add the water and rice and let it cook for about 40 to 60 minutes and it does all the work for you, offering fluffy rice the family will love. It’s great for making your own onigiri and even glutinous sushi rice.

Just a heads up, this rice cooker doesn’t show the total cooking time, only when it’s almost done so you might have to keep checking – it’s a bit annoying, I admit.

Also careful when removing the cooked rice as the interior handles tend to overheat and may burn your hands.

There’s a keep warm feature as you’d expect but it goes one step further because there’s an extended keep warm button too. Therefore, you can make your rice before bed and enjoy it the next day for lunch.

Overall, the Zojirushi is a great family-sized rice cooker with a compact design and LCD display for easy operation.

Built with an auto-adjust cooking ability (thanks to the fuzzy logic IC chip) that will prevent you from making rice and water measurement errors (even when you’ve already made them) plus a keep-warm, extended keep-warm, and reheat features make cooking rice like a walk in the park.

There’s a slightly cheaper Zojirushi model (NS-TSC10) but it didn’t make the list because it seems to malfunction more frequently so I recommend spending an extra $20 for the better one.

Check the latest prices here

Best rice cooker with steamer basket: TIGER JBV-A10U

  • # of cups cooked: 5.5
  • Speed: 25-30 minutes per cycle
  • Fuzzy logic: no
  • Steamer basket: yes
  • Steam-function: yes
  • Timer: no

Best rice cooker with steamer basket: TIGER JBV-A10U 5.5-Cup

(view more images)

There’s nothing quite as handy as a rice cooker with a steamer basket if you want a versatile cooker that can make quick brown rice, healthy food, and baby food.

That’s where Tiger’s 5.5 cup rice cooker comes in – it cooks rice fast in less than 30 minutes, but it’s super versatile and cooks other foods too. The white rice cooking speed is this cooker’s strong point – it won’t keep you waiting like others for well-cooked rice.

Even though there’s no fuzzy logic technology here, the cooker makes amazing, chewy textured rice. Since the buttons are very straightforward, the appliance is easy to use and you can’t really go wrong when cooking.

Tiger’s rice cooker has a really neat feature called Syncro-cooking. This allows you to cook rice and steam another food simultaneously on the Tacook plate.

So, you can make a proper lunch or dinner with this little rice cooker! You are limited to a minimum and maximum cups of rice with this setting, but it’s enough to cook for the average family.

There are 4 cook settings so it’s a bit limited but if you want a good rice cooker that does a great job, then this product is a top choice. It not only cooks the rice very evenly, but you’ll never end up with soggy or a bad batch of rice.

People who’ve upgraded to the Tiger from cheaper brands like Aroma are saying that this model is worth every penny because it’s fast, nonstick, and there are no leaks around the lid at all.

Once the device finishes cooking the rice, it turns to the keep warm feature automatically and keeps food warm for about 12 hours. Therefore, it’s great for overnight cooking and meal prepping.

Unfortunately, the keep-warm function is not as efficient as it seems. If you leave that function on for more than one hour, it makes crunchy rice on the bottom of the bowl. Not all people report having this issue so it might depend on the quality of the rice too.

As well, the manufacturer did not include a special alarm to indicate that the cooking process has been completed. You’ll have to check in to see if your food is finished cooking.

Finally, although this rice cooker is small, compact, and doesn’t take up too much counter space, the cord is not retractable. But, this is a minor issue which is nothing compared to how useful this kitchen appliance is for busy people.

If you don’t feel like spending a lot of money on a rice cooker, the Tiger is one of the top Japanese rice cooker products.

Check the latest prices here

Zojirushi vs Tiger

These are two of Japan’s top rice cooker brands. In terms of cooking white rice, they are very similar.

Both will make evenly cooked, fluffy rice.

Just consider the Zojirushi a bit smarter – the fuzzy logic technology ensures this appliance is foolproof because the rice cooker can determine the perfect water and rice proportions for perfectly cooked rice all the time.

With the cheaper Tiger, the rice is almost the same as the Zojirushi, it might just get slightly crusty at the bottom.

But you get similar features as the Zojirushi but with the added bonus of a handy steamer basket and Tacook plate.

It’s what makes many people choose the Tiger over the Zojirushi. If you need to steam foods because you want healthy recipes, or if you have babies, you will find the steamer basket is a must-have feature.

The Zojirushi rice cooker is better overall because it’s well-made, the pot lasts a long time and the results are consistent. With the Tiger cooker, you can get scratches on the pot and there is a bit of undesirable stickiness.

Finally, I need to compare the cooking time – this is where the Tiger wins. It only takes about 25-30 minutes to cook white rice whereas the Zojirushi can take up to 60 mins for the same thing.

Best budget rice cooker: Aroma Housewares ARC-954SBD

  • # of cups cooked: 8
  • Speed: 26 – 35 minutes per cycle
  • Fuzzy logic: no
  • Steamer basket: no
  • Steam-function: yes
  • Timer: yes, delay timer included
  • Multi-cooker & steamer

Best budget rice cooker: Aroma Housewares ARC-954SBD

(view more images)

Surely the expensive rice cookers will make the perfect rice but don’t underestimate a versatile budget rice cooker like this one either!

This is a large 8 cup (cooked) rice cooker, designed for busy families who need more versatility from their appliances.

If you need a cooker that makes fluffy rice as well as other grains and foods, a multi-cooker like the Aroma Housewares is a must-have kitchen helper which only costs about $40.

It can cook all types of rice, stews, steam veggies, and even make some baked goods.

The display screen is simple and the user interface is well designed so that anyone can use this rice cooker. There are 4 preset digital functions for white rice, brown rice, steaming, and keeping warm.

Luckily, the booklet also includes instructions on how to cook barley and quinoa with the Aroma rice cooker. Therefore, if you prefer healthier grains rather than white rice, you’ll enjoy using this cooker.

The drawback of this cooker is the lid – it tends to overflow and leak sometimes which can be a bit messy for your countertop. It definitely reflects the low price as some design details just aren’t as great as a Toshiba or Zojirushi, for example.

In terms of cooking performance, it makes good rice but if you take it out as soon as it’s done cooking, the rice can stick. I recommend letting the rice sit for at least 10 minutes after it’s finished and then removing it.

The rice bowl, although it claims to be nonstick material, does tend to stick which is something to keep in mind.

Some customers complain that the lid is made of flimsy plastic material. The two hooks that secure it down can snap off which means your rice cooker won’t close properly and this results in uncooked rice bits. This is not very common though.

If you like quick-cooked meals, you can actually cook the rice in the pot while you steam vegetables on top. This is a major time-saving feature and makes your meals healthier because you can get more of those vegetable servings in.

Overall, most customers are satisfied with this affordable rice cooker because it cooks the rice well – the grains have the perfect texture and it cooks quite fast in approximately half an hour.

Even brown rice comes out perfectly and once you get the hang of adding the correct amount of water, you will find that it’s so easy to make tasty rice with this appliance, you won’t even have to think twice anymore.

Check the latest prices here

Best value for money rice cooker: Toshiba with Fuzzy Logic

  • # of cups cooked: 6
  • Speed: 30 minutes per cycle
  • Fuzzy logic: yes
  • Steamer basket: no
  • Steam-function: yes
  • Timer: yes

Best value for money rice cooker: Toshiba with Fuzzy Logic

(view more images)

If you’re very picky about rice flavor as well as texture, you will appreciate how well the Toshiba rice cooker maintains the rice grains’ natural flavors.

This rice cooker uses 3D technology combined with a 6-step cooking process.

What this means for you is that the fuzzy logic can detect how much rice and water are in there and cook the rice accordingly. There’s no more guesswork and the rice turns out perfect!

Toshiba’s innovative design has a steam valve that preserves all the hot steam inside the nonstick pot. As a result, the rice stays fluffy and doesn’t harden around the edges.

Since more flavors are preserved, the rice tastes better than rice cooked without fuzzy logic.

​​People really enjoy cooking rice with the Toshiba cooker because their rice never burns, even on the stay-warm setting for many hours. As well, the hot rice maintains its perfect fluffy, but chewy texture.

It’s even good at cooking all three colors of quinoa, jasmine rice, basmati rice, and ​​Koshihikari rice. Thus, it’s such a versatile rice cooker. Of course, it also has a steam function for cooking veggies and baby food.

You might wonder why this rice cooker is cheaper than the Zojirushi, even though it has the same features.

Zojirushi doesn’t manufacture budget rice cookers whereas the Toshiba one is considered more accessible for all budgets. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still expensive but not as popular or prestigious as Zojirushi.

However, when you compare the components, you’ll be surprised to know that Toshiba has a better bowl.

The coating doesn’t chip off and it’s much heavier and sturdier. This is a feature many people appreciate most.

But, in terms of the overall cooking ability, the Zojirushi is just that tiny bit better. However, if you don’t feel like overspending and want a great Japanese alternative brand, Toshiba is your go-to.

This Toshiba model is excellent if you like to leave the rice in your cooker for a long time. If you batch-cook and meal-prep, or just feel too lazy to cook and clean, you can let the rice stay warm in the cooker for up to 24 hours!

It might get a bit soggy but it won’t burn and that’s really good news.

The main flaw is the display. It has an orange-tinted digital display and you can’t read the letters and numbers properly. It makes the rice cooker look a bit cheap.

But that’s not a big issue considering that it has a very well-made interior with a chip-proof nonstick rice bowl.

Check the latest prices here

Aroma Housewares vs Toshiba rice cooker

The most obvious difference between these two rice cookers is the price. The Aroma is much more affordable than the Toshiba. But, this price difference reflects in the quality of these products.

Toshiba’s rice cooker is very well made, with an exceptional heavy-duty nonstick bowl. Its minor flaw is the fuzzy digital display. The Aroma rice cooker looks good for the price but there are many plastic components.

The lid is the main issue because it doesn’t seal tight perfectly so there is some reported leaking. It’s still a good cooker because the rice bowl is also nonstick and holds up well over time.

The Toshiba rice cooker uses fuzzy logic and 3D technology which ensures perfectly cooked rice. Now, the Aroma cooker makes tasty rice too, but you still might get the occasional undercooked grain in the middle or some burnt bits on the bottom.

Considering the low price, the Aroma rice cooker is very versatile and a useful kitchen appliance for your household. It can cook all kinds of rice, as well as steam, and even bake basic doughy foods.

If you really don’t want to spend lots of money on a rice cooker, the Aroma surely won’t disappoint because it cooks quickly and the rice turns out pretty soft and fluffy.

However, if you want a rice cooker that can seriously compete with Zojirushi, the Toshiba is the cheaper alternative.

Best mini rice cooker for one person & best portable: Dash Mini Rice Cooker Steamer

  • # of cups cooked: 2
  • Speed: 20 minutes per cycle
  • Fuzzy logic: no
  • Steamer basket: no
  • Steam-function: yes
  • Timer: no

Dash Mini Rice Cooker Steamer(view more images)

When you live alone or just cook rice for yourself, the last thing you want is a big bulky rice cooker clogging up precious counter space. That’s why I’m here to share the Dash mini two-cup rice cooker.

If you are tight on storage space, you’ll be glad to know this one measures only 6.3 by 6.5 by 8.5 inches so it’s compact and can still cook enough rice for 2 people.

The Dash is also great for traveling because it’s lightweight and portable. It can be a great appliance for your RV, especially for vegans because it’s a great alternative to a portable grill.

If you want the most easy-to-use rice cooker for one, the Dash is the one to get. It only has a basic on/function so it’s simple to operate. Oh, and it comes in such a small (and cute) package with different color options.

Cooking fluffy tasty rice for your lunch side dish is super quick and only takes about 20 minutes. That’s a lot less than most of the other rice cookers. It fits a busy corporate lifestyle where you just don’t have the time to cook.

You’ll be surprised that this mini rice cooker can cook such amazingly fluffy and flavorful rice.

With Japan’s Induction Heating (IH) technology, Dash cooks the most delicious rice. The rice cooker is engineered to provide the best results minimizing damage to the grain’s original quality and taste.

The Dash doesn’t have a steamer basket or separate steam setting but it does have a keep-warm function so you can keep the rice warm until you’re ready to eat it.

Customers are impressed at the ability of this tiny rice cooker to make fluffy rice without burning it at all. You’re almost guaranteed perfect grains and there are no real drawbacks.

This appliance is a true game-changer when it comes to basic rice cookers. It is “smart” without actually using smart technology. It can even cook things like soups, oatmeal, steam vegetables, or bake small desserts.

The nonstick rice bowl is truly nonstick – with some cheaper rice cookers like IMUSA, this nonstick claim isn’t always quite true. You can take out the rice fast with no sticky leftover residue from the Dash and handwash it in less than a minute.

My one criticism is the waterline. It seems like it’s a bit low and if you only add that much water, the rice might not cook perfectly. Some people recommend using a bit more water, just over the waterline.

With white rice though, it’s pretty simple to figure out the right proportions and you can use a 2:1 water ratio for the perfect fluffy rice.

Check the latest prices here

Best large rice cooker: BLACK+DECKER RC5280

  • # of cups cooked: 28
  • Speed: 20-30 minutes per cycle
  • Fuzzy logic: no
  • Steamer basket: yes
  • Steam-function: yes
  • Timer: no

BLACK+DECKER, White RC5280 28 Cup Rice Cooker

(view more images)

Large families will appreciate this cheap 28 cup rice cooker by Black+Decker. It’s every meal preppers’ dream cooker because you no longer have to batch cook the rice for hours on end.

Or, if you’re stuck with making the company potluck, having a large rice cooker like this one is handy.

The Black+Decker extra-large rice cooker is a pleasant discovery because it cooks such a large quantity of rice (28 cups!) in a short time. If you’re not cooking at full capacity, you can make rice in about half an hour.

This rice cooker has a nonstick bowl you can wash in the dishwasher so it’s easy to clean. There’s also a plastic steamer basket. It’s not the highest-quality product, but it does the job so you can steam your vegetables.

Although the bowl is nonstick, it is not Teflon coated so it tends to scratch easily. Always use a plastic rice spoon only when taking out the rice to avoid scratching or causing the coating to flake off.

The 28 cup B+D rice cooker is often compared to a brand called Robalec which makes a 30 and 55 cup rice cooker but it’s very hard to find in the US. The cheaper Black+Decker works just as great and it’s a good value purchase.

You might have some problems with liquid bubbling over. According to some users, if you add a bit too much water, you can get leaking from the lid all over the counter.

Also, the reason why this is happening is that you cook starchy rice without rinsing it first.

Therefore, if you want fluffy rice, always rinse the rice before putting it into the rice cooker, and it won’t boil over.

One of the risks of cooking large rice quantities is that the rice can stick together or not all the grains cook evenly. However, these issues are quite rare with this rice cooker.

The lid is made of tempered glass so you can see the rice while it cooks. This isn’t really a function feature but be careful about the steam vent as some rice water can spew out.

Overall, this B+D rice cooker is basic – there is a red indicator light to show you that the rice is cooking and the green light which let’s you know the rice is done but the keep warm feature is running.

Honestly, even the most inexperienced home cook can get this rice cooker working and make rice that will suit everyone’s tastes.

Even people who’ve struggled cooking rice say that it’s super easy and efficient with this affordable appliance.

Check the latest prices here

Dash Mini vs Black+Decker Large Rice Cooker

There’s a notable size difference between these two rice cookers! The Dash Mini can only cook 2 cups of rice whereas the Black + Decker can make 28 cups.

Thus, you have to think about how many people you cook for regularly. If it’s one or two people, you don’t need anything larger than the Dash.

But, if you like to cook lots of rice for a large family, you’ll definitely need the Black+Decker. It even comes in smaller sizes, so you can actually get a smaller one at a very low price.

If you’re going for a small size though, Japan’s Dash rice cooker is the better brand.

Even though Dash is very inexpensive, it’s still really good quality and offers a superior cooking experience than some of its more expensive rivals like TLOG.

The cooking speed is similar for both of these devices between 20-30 minutes per batch.

If you’re more concerned about quality, the Dash Mini is a better option because all of the components are well-made and there aren’t many reports of rice water spilling or spewing out.

With the lower quality large rice cooker, you can have some starchy liquid bubble over and that makes a bit of a mess.

Best sushi rice cooker & best for other grains: ​​Cuckoo CRP-P0609S

  • # of cups cooked: 6
  • Speed: 20 minutes per cycle
  • Fuzzy logic: yes
  • Steamer basket: no
  • Steam-function: yes
  • Timer: yes
  • Voice navigation included

Cuckoo CRP-P0609S 6 Cup Electric Heating Pressure Rice Cooker

(view more images)

Do you usually cook rice to make homemade sushi? What about grains like quinoa or foods like couscous?

In that case, you need a smart rice cooker with special functions for different grain types.

If you’re making sushi, you need to cook short-grain rice that will have the right amount of stickiness. You want fluffy but sticky rice you can actually use to shape the rolls, not burnt bits.

That’s where the Cuckoo rice cooker comes in. It’s one of the best multi-cookers on the market and comes equipped with all kinds of neat features.

The Cuckoo rice cooker is pricey and rivals the Zojirushi cooker. You can compare them fairly because they both cook rice very well. Cuckoo also has fuzzy logic technology so it automatically knows how to cook the food perfectly and adjust the temperature accordingly.

This one has a whopping 12 different menu settings. You can cook white rice, GABA rice, brown rice, all grains like quinoa, oatmeal, porridge, nu rung Ji and a lot more! Of course, it can steam food and make soup too. It’s so versatile, it can replace some other kitchen appliances in your home.

It has a keep warm plus an additional reheat feature which is great after a long day at work because you can reheat last night’s leftover rice and enjoy it fresh.

Cuckoo is a very reputable Korean brand and this rice cooker model is one of its best. There’s no doubt the device looks very high-end. It is made with safe, food-grade ingredients and a high-quality nonstick coated pot so it will last you many years.

If you cook GABA rice for its health benefits, you’ll be glad to know it no longer takes ages to cook. This rice cooker can reduce the soak and cook time. In fact, it’s a really speedy cooker and takes only 20 minutes or so to make the most delicious fluffy textured white rice.

What sets this rice cooker apart from cheaper models is the safe steam release feature. The cooker knows when there is too much pressure and it releases it automatically to prevent danger.

This is a smart pressure cooker and rice cooker hybrid but safer than a traditional pressure cooker.

Another notable feature is the interior pot which is made of stainless steel and coated with a diamond nonstick later. This material retains more of the rice’s natural flavors and nutrients.

Most other rice cookers have Teflon-coated pots which aren’t as safe for your health as the diamond coating.

If you appreciate high-tech features, you’ll be impressed with the voice navigation system which is available in English, Korean, and Chinese. Voice navigation guides you through the menu quickly so you don’t need to waste time setting up the rice cooker.

There seems to be an issue with the lid. When people want to open the lid after cooking, it pops wide open forcefully. It also doesn’t lock easily so you might have to open and close it a few times before it locks tightly.

Considering how expensive the product is, this lid problem is a flaw the company will likely look into.

But, once the lid is closed tightly, you will get amazing results. The rice’s texture is fluffy and never burnt or clumped together. It’s a great overall smart cooker and it’s well worth the investment.

Check the price on Amazon

Best rice cooker with app: CHEF iQ Smart Pressure Cooker

  • # of cups cooked: up to 6 qt of rice
  • Speed: 8 minutes high-pressure cooking
  • Fuzzy logic: no
  • Steamer basket: yes
  • Steam-function: yes
  • Timer: yes
  • Pressure cooker
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • App connectivity

CHEF iQ Smart Pressure Cooker

(view more images)

If you’re the kind of person who worries about the rice cooker while it’s cooking or running on “keep warm” mode, you need to try an app-operated device.

The Chef iQ pressure cooker has built-in WIFi and Bluetooth technology that syncs to an app. Therefore, you can control the device from a distance through your phone.

It’s a modern and innovative multi-cooker. It has a host of handy features and over 1000 presets!

If we were to hand a prize for the most foolproof rice cooker, the Chef iQ would take the top spot because it has so many guided features to make cooking easy, you can’t go wrong.

There’s even a built-in scale so the cooker calculates exactly how much water you need and cooks according to the exact weight of the rice (or other grains).

So, you put the rice in, and the cooker tells you how much water to add. It’s so easy to cook the perfect rice each time and there’s no guesswork involved.

When it comes to speed, it’s also unbeatable. With the quick cook feature, you can cook white fluffy rice in about 8 minutes.

It’s so efficient and speedy and the rice is pretty good too. Some people will say the rice texture is not quite as amazing as the Japanese rice cookers, but it’s quite close.

I guess that since it’s a pressure cooker with many functions, not JUST a rice cooker, it’s not as precise with rice.

The main criticism with this rice cooker is the app, not the appliance itself. People report connectivity issues through WIFI because of the firmware.

Updating the software seems like a hassle too. I recommend looking at the specifications to ensure the app is fully compatible with your smartphone.

When the app works well, cooking with this device is lots of fun. You can experiment making all kinds of soups, stews, and various rice and grain types that are usually really hard to cook well.

This cooker is the best of both worlds: it’s easy to use for beginners but offers enough innovative features to keep experimental and expert cooks interested.

The pot inside is sturdy and nonstick, so you don’t need to worry about rice grains sticking to the bottom and sides.

There’s a handy steaming basket with a stand-alone handle and a cooking rack with handles for cooking other foods besides rice.

Unlike the other rice cookers which have basic lids, this silicone one seals everything tightly and also has silicone rings for extra protection.

The lid can be used to secure the cooking pot inside when storing food or you can use it as a trivet for the cooking pot.

Overall, this product is a great alternative for the Instant Pot because of the built-in scale and guided recipes for rice.

The cooking method is the same but when you pressure cook rice with this device, it’s faster and you will surely get the water to rice ratio just right.

Check the latest prices here

Best induction rice cooker: Buffalo Titanium Grey IH SMART COOKER

  • # of cups cooked: 8
  • Speed: 13 – 15 minutes per cycle
  • Fuzzy logic: no
  • Steamer basket: no
  • Steam-function: yes
  • Timer: yes
  • Touch display

Buffalo Titanium Grey IH SMART COOKER

(view more images)

If you’re looking for a rice cooker that can prevent any potential thing that can go wrong, the Buffalo Smart Cooker is the one to buy.

It’s an induction heating Japanese rice cooker which heats the food up to 50% better and faster than traditional rice cookers.

Out of all the Smart rice cookers I’ve reviewed, the Buffalo is the sleekest and most modern in terms of design. It has a touch control panel with 11 programmed settings.

You can cook rice, as well as steam, bake, porridge, oatmeal, soup, other rice and grains, and even yogurt!

It has similar technology to the Chef iQ and so the cooker’s micro intelligent controller can calculate and measure the rice quantity.

It then cooks using the ideal temperature and locks in the rice’s nutrients and tasty natural flavors.

But, what makes this rice cooker very intuitive and intelligent is that the manufacturer has accounted for all the problems most rice cookers face.

For example, the Buffalo rice cooker prevents the rice from overcooking and rice water from overflowing. But it also prevents electric leakage and is energy efficient.

The cooking pot is made from Buffalo clad stainless steel. This material is very durable, doesn’t rust, and resists oxidation.

Also, this type of coating is nonstick and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. All-clad nonstick pots prevent the rice from sticking so you can be sure your rice will be easy to remove from the pot after cooking.

This rice cooker is great for cooking and white rice especially. It turns out so fluffy and soft without clumping.

Jasmine rice takes about an hour to cook but the texture and taste will amaze you. The rice retains its natural aromas and there are no uncooked grains or wet spots at all!

Customers who use this rice cooker are saying it exceeds their expectations because there are so many handy settings and presets. It makes cooking rice super easy and it’s worth the price.

Some users aren’t huge fans of the touch control and display panel because you have to press the cancel button for a few seconds to turn off this random setting that tends to turn on for no reason. overall, if you’re familiar with using a touchscreen panel, you’ll find this rice cooker easy to maneuver.

You can set up a cooking program 24 hours in advance and this is a great feature, especially if you’re away from home for long periods.

The Buffalo is hands down one of the best “smart cookers” for rice, grains, and steaming. It really does all the work and since it uses induction cooking, you’ll get evenly cooked rice each time.

Check the latest prices here

Smart rice cookers compared: Cuckoo vs Chef iQ vs Buffalo

If you’re looking for smart rice cookers, the top 3 to consider are the Cuckoo, the Chef iQ, or the Buffalo.

These all have similar features, similar cooking capacity, and a similar price range. They are obviously more expensive than your average rice cooker.

Cuckoo

Best features:

  • Great for sushi rice
  • A pressure cooker & rice cooker combo
  • Uses fuzzy logic

If you’re looking for a rice cooker, in the true sense of the word, you’ll be happy with the Cuckoo Korean rice cooker because it cooks all types of rice and grains.

You can use it to make sushi rice, GABA rice, brown rice, quinoa, and more!

Chef IQ

Best features:

  • Cooks all types of rice
  • Rice tastes great
  • All-purpose cooker with over 1000 presets

If you are looking for lots of presets and versatility to cook all kinds of grains and foods, Chef iQ is the best multi-cooker. It just has so many cooking functions and you can cook a whole 3-course meal from a-z.

Buffalo

Best features:

  • Very fast cooking
  • No toxic materials
  • Induction heating

Finally, if you want a super-fast rice cooker that has smart features and a touch control interface, the Buffalo rice cooker is the best.

Health-conscious consumers can rest assured that it’s also made with non-toxic stainless steel and chemical-free materials.

It all comes down to what foods you cook most often and how picky you are about rice texture and flavor.

Best microwave rice cooker: Home-X – Microwave Rice Cooker (Not electric)

  • # of cups cooked: 10
  • Speed: 15 minutes in the microwave
  • Fuzzy logic: no
  • Steamer basket: no
  • Steam-function: no
  • Timer: no
  • Not electric
  • Made of plastic

Home-X - Microwave Rice Cooker

(view more images)

Some people like to keep it simple and don’t want a classic plug-in rice cooker. If you don’t cook rice too often, you might prefer a plastic rice cooker you use in the microwave.

This type of cooker is very basic, there are no electric components and nothing fancy. It has a bucket shape with a plastic pressure chamber inside.

The Home-X rice cooker is designed to make rice and reheat it in the microwave. The end result is surprisingly good. I didn’t have too many expectations from such a rudimentary cooker but you get tender, fluffy rice.

It’s up to you to add the rice and water following the instructions on the packaging. As the rice cooks for 15 minutes, the inner pressure chamber lid allows the steam to escape at a slow rate. This ensures that the rice is evenly cooked throughout.

To prevent overflowing, the rice cooker has some easy lock clips which secure the lid tightly. The steam escapes through the built-in steam vents which prevent any splattering inside the microwave oven.

It sounds quite simple, right? Also, it’s surprisingly large and cooks about 10 cups at once. That’s plenty of rice to feed your family and take to work with you.

This product is ideal for beginners, people who don’t cook rice very often, or as a gift.

The cooker is made of BPA-free plastic, so it’s safe when heated. Also, you get a plastic rice paddle to help you remove the cooked rice and serve it.

I also want to mention that it’s easy to clean because the top rack is dishwasher-safe so you don’t have to do much scrubbing. But, the rice doesn’t burn in this recipient so you don’t need to worry about sticky burnt messes.

Some users are saying that this is a great cooker for microwave oatmeal too. I would be wary of using it with all kinds of other grains unless you have some tried & tested recipes.

One thing to be careful with is the microwave heat settings. Some people have very powerful microwaves which can burn the rice. People recommend cooking the rice on a high setting for the first 5 minutes, then switching to 50% power for another 8 or so.

There are many of these plastic rice cookers on Amazon and they honestly all work the same more or less. The Sistema is the other popular plastic rice cooker but it’s more expensive.

The end results are the same so you don’t need to spend extra money on that one.

Check the latest prices here

How we reviewed the rice cookers

Before selecting the best cookers we first asked ourselves a question.

“What do people want in rice cookers that would make cooking rice not only easy and fast but also delicious and enjoyable?”

We asked around some random Asian and Western folks who like rice and other Asian meals the same question.

Surprisingly, we found out that they want a few more things from the automated part of electric rice cookers.

So, we narrowed down their answers this way:

  1. Well-cooked rice. The rice must be evenly cooked throughout.
  2. No unwanted smell from the water or from the rice reacting to the rice cooker materials.
  3. Must taste good (neutral) or when paired with other recipes like sushi or ramen, etc.
  4. The water or rice cooker materials must not influence the color of the rice when cooked. Although if the water source is not clean enough when the rice is washed, then this may affect the outcome.  The rice cooker itself is not to be blamed for it. The user must always make sure that the water is clean and safe to drink.

Testing each rice cooker with various rice types

Outlining the criteria for rice cookers to be in our top 10 picks of being the best household appliances is prudent, but not enough.

Our philosophy is that we strive to ensure that you, our readers, are satisfied with the products that we’re discussing here.

We have an obligation to give you detailed information about products so you can make better decisions as a customer.

With that said, we tested each rice cooker brand and model on how well they can cook not just 1 type of rice grain, but various kinds of them.

If we’ve determined that a rice cooker has performed well for rice flavor, texture, and cooking speed in this test, then we include them in our top 10 list.

Otherwise, they will be ranked together with the other rice cookers that are not on this list.

We mainly used Japanese white rice, long-grain rice, and brown rice for this test, and for the white rice test, we rinsed and drained it 3 times before cooking it in order to wash away the starch that’s on the rice (it undermines the texture of the rice when it’s cooked).

We did not give the same courtesy to the long-grain white rice and the brown rice and we cooked them as is.

For this test, we used the 180ml (6 oz in US standard) Japanese rice measuring cup.

Here are details on each of the tests:

First test (Japanese White Rice)

First, we decided to cook 3 cups of the famous medium-grain Nishiki rice. North American companies import Nishiki rice from Japan. It is very popular and widely available in these parts of the world.

Naturally, we followed the cooking instruction on the user’s manual down to the last letter. We poured the right amount of water needed for cooking 3 cups of white rice.

After the first 10 minutes into cooking, we stirred the rice before tasting it and closed the lid again and allowed the cooker to continue.

Each manufacturer has different cooking parameters and so we had to select between these settings as per the indicated in the model as follows:

  • White rice
  • White/sushi
  • Plain
  • Glutinous

The Zojirushi rice cooker (our best overall) scored the top spot.

It’s no surprise really because that rice cooker always cooks white rice evenly.

Also, in this rice cooker, the white rice never stuck to the bottom of the rice cooker pot and there were no crusty grains.

When it comes to tender, fluffy rice, the rice turned out slightly better than each of the other rice cookers – it’s as close to perfect as possible.

Second test (Brown Rice)

We did the same thing with the brown rice when we cooked it, we used only 3 cups of short-grain brown rice with the Lundberg brand and poured in 4 and 1/2 cups of water into the cooking bowl.

We’ve specifically selected the short-grain brown rice because it yielded much better results when compared to the medium and long-grain brown rice varieties (yes, we did a test for all the grain types of brown rice also).

Cook settings that we’ve used for this test varied from;

  • Whole-grain
  • Brown
  • Mixed/brown

Tiger is a good brand to look for when cooking brown rice. It takes about 20 minutes longer than cooking white rice but it’s definitely worth it because the texture is great – just the right amount of hardness.

Toshiba is a great choice too for brown rice and you’ll end up with tasty rice you can eat as is or add to other recipes like this healthy and delicious brown rice sushi.

Third test (Long-Grain Rice)

We used the Mahatma-brand long-grain white rice and also cooked only 3 cups of it in the cooker, then used 4 and 1/2 cups of water as well.

We used this type of rice for the same reason we did with Test #1 – its national availability (easy to find) and quality (makes great fluffy rice).

Unfortunately, there were no rice cooker settings for cooking long-grain white rice, so we just used the same cook settings that we’ve previously used for the Japanese white rice.

In this category, all the rice cookers did a great job.

Zojirushi and Toshiba are good because their fuzzy logic technology gives you “a hand” and cooks the rice using the proper settings, so there’s less chance you can get a bad batch of rice.

Cuckoo is also a good choice if you can afford it because it works for all types of grain and it’s a smart rice cooker. The long-grain rice will be chewy and firm as it should be.

Fourth test (Quick-Cook Japanese Rice)

We used the same medium-grain Nishiki-brand rice for this experiment and we adhered to the 3 cups policy and poured in the proportionate amount of water required for 3 cups of rice on all rice cooker models.

Again we stirred the rice before tasting it to ensure that the texture and quality are on point.

Almost all electric rice cookers have the quick-cook setting which made cooking the rice convenient for us, except for the Cuckoo, which does not have this feature.

Fortunately, it had the pressure cooking feature to mitigate this disadvantage which actually helped cook the rice faster than all the other cookers.

We have deliberately cooked batches of incorrectly measured rice to test and see how well models that have the fuzzy logic feature adjusts and/or correct the errors intentionally made (i.e. cooking 1 and 1/2 cups of rice with 2 cups of water, then 2 cups of rice with 1 and 1/2 cups of water, etc.).

We were pleased to find out that the fuzzy logic technology worked like it was programmed to do so and rice cooked with acceptable quality.

According to Japanese chefs, the perfect cooked rice should not smush in your fingers immediately after you’ve pressed it. That’s considered the perfect grain.

If all the rice grains in a single batch of cooked rice have this quality, then you’ll have very happy guests eating teppanyaki, teriyaki, sushi, sashimi, ramen, or any other Japanese recipes with such kind of rice.

I have a great Teppanyaki fried rice recipe here for you to start with.

If the quick cook feature is essential, then avoid the microwave rice cooker – especially with rice grains other than white rice. You’ll have to do too much microwaving.

About rice cookers

Did you know that archaeologists found a Bronze Age (c. 1250 BC) ceramic rice cooker in Greece?

British Museum exhibits the ceramic rice cooker these days. It is believed to be the first rice steamer/cooker in history which is similar to the Charleston Rice Steamer (which had become a common name to all non-automated dedicated rice-cooking utensils not too long ago).

The rice steamer utensils are constructed like a large double boiler that has a venting hole or holes on the second cooking bowl to allow for the transmission of steam.

Today, however, the term Charleston Rice Steamer applies to automated cookers.

Suihanki (炊飯器) is the term associated with electric rice cookers in Japan where it was first developed.

How to use a rice cooker

Rice cookers/steamers are quite simple to operate, especially the automated ones. Just read off the instructions manual for like 3-5 minutes. It’s easy to operate the rice cooker. You become a pro at doing it by the third or fourth time you steam rice.

First, you fill the cooking bowl with rice. The rice cooker comes with a measuring cup and normally you’ll need to add 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.

Let the cooking bowl sit flat on the spring heat conductor. Then, close the lid and turn the power on. The water reaches and stays at the boiling point at about 100 °C (212 °F).

About 40% of the water will be absorbed by the rice and the remaining 60% will be evaporated as steam. When this happens the heat will keep increasing beyond the water’s boiling point. When it reaches a certain threshold, then the thermostat will trip and kill the power.

Other types of rice cookers don’t cut off the power but instead switches to the “keep warm” mode. It stabilizes the temperature at approximately 65 °C (150 °F).

More advanced cookers may use fuzzy logic for more detailed temperature control, induction rather than resistive heating, a steaming tray for other foods, and even the ability to rinse the rice.

Purpose

The traditional method of cooking rice required constant attention in order to control the heat and cook the rice properly; otherwise, it will turn into a crispy pancake-like undesirable food waste.

Modern electric rice steamers make the entire process automatic via mechanical or electronic heat control and precise cook time. This helps free up time management to control the heat and remove the human factor that made it inefficient in the first place. To be clear rice cookers do not necessarily cut the cooking time by any measure.

On the contrary, the cooking time has remained the same despite the advancement in technology; however, the cook’s involvement in cooking the rice is reduced to simply measuring the rice, and using the precise amount of water.

Once the cook has set the rice cooker to cook the rice, no further attention is required throughout the cooking process.

When it comes to rice preparation there are a few rice recipes that cannot simply be cooked in an electric or gas rice cooker. Some require more attention and must be cooked by hand include the risotto, paella, and stuffed peppers (capsicums) recipes.

Other foods

The rice cooker can also be used to cook other types of grain foods (usually steamed or boiled) besides rice such as dried split pulses, bulgur wheat, and pot barley. Foods that have mixed ingredients like the khichdi can also be prepared in the rice cooker, but only if they have similar cook times.

Other rice cooker types can also be used as automated couscoussiers. These are cookers that can simultaneously cook couscous and a stew.

Cook time

Depending on the quantity of rice that needs to be prepared (max is 6-8 cups for a 1-liter cooking bowl). It takes about 20 – 60 minutes for a standard size electric rice cooker to completely cook the rice.

Some advanced models can back-calculate the cooking start time from a given finish time.

The factors that affect the cooking time of a rice cooker include atmospheric pressure. As well it depends on how much power the heat source has. Also, the amount of rice determines cook time. As a result, cook times vary from model to model.

Atmospheric pressure doesn’t affect pressure cookers, it only affects rice cookers.

Also read: the difference between Japanese and American sushi

Appliance type

Most automatic rice cookers fall under the category of electrical or gas appliances, but there are also rice cookers for microwave ovens (rice cookers for microwave ovens do not need their own heat source as the oven provides it for them).

Most people prefer to buy an electric rice cooker as it’s easier to operate and clean.

There are many varieties of rice cookers for commercial or industrial use, some are electric or gas rice steamers, there are also those “rice boilers” for large-scale use, as well as fully automatic models completely removes the human factor from the whole cooking process from washing the rice to the end of the cooking cycle.

Most modern rice cookers are built with heat-insulating cases plus a warming mechanism.

This allows for the rice to remain warm for as long as necessary so that when it is served the guests will enjoy eating it as it will seem it is freshly cooked.

The “keep warm” feature of modern electric rice cookers also prevents the rice from overcooking and creating waste food. Inversely, the thick insulating materials made for the casing can also be used to store cold solids and keep them cold for a long time.

Also find out why the Japanese put a Raw Egg on Rice (and if it’s safe)

Rice cooker vs. Instant Pot

It’s only natural for people to speculate and compare these 2 kitchen appliances. After all, they are almost similar in the way they operate.

However, they do have differences and they also have advantages and disadvantages depending on the circumstances of their usage.

To begin with, both appliances cook food by using steam: however, the similarity stops there.

Material

A typical automatic electric rice cooker has either an aluminum steel or polymer plastic casing. Also, it has a heating coil or pad inside, an inner cooking bowl, and a metal or glass lid.

Now depending on the manufacturer, the rice cooker may or may not come with accessories (i.e. steam tray or tofu maker, etc.).

Heat source

The heat source in the rice cooker heats up the cooking bowl. That’s where you place the rice and water. The liquid then evaporates.

Roughly two-thirds of the liquid will turn into steam and evaporate. The rice absorbs the remaining one-third. This is the reason why rice becomes fluffy pulps when it’s cooked.

Once the cooking cycle is done, the water dries out of the cooking bowl.

A pressure cooker, on the other hand, works in a similar manner as a rice cooker and even has similar parts as well, but with certain differences.

A pressure cooker has an air-tight sealing lid and a pressure gauge. The rice cooker’s lid has a rubber lining. This seals in all of the air inside the cooking chamber. It prevents the air from escaping.

This is how the Instant Pot manages to increase and maintain the pressure level in its cooking chamber. That’s also how it got its name “Instant Pot”.

It’s almost instant because it cooks the food faster than cooking it on a stovetop. This appliance is even faster than the electric rice cooker as it combines heat and pressure.

Rice cooker pros

  • The best appliance to cook different types of rice perfectly in terms of texture, flavor, and aroma.
  • It features an on/off switch and an automatic keep-warm mode once the cooking cycle is complete.
  • More energy-efficient than cooking rice in a stove-top or in an Instant Pot (pressure cooker).

Rice cooker cons

  • Unless the manufacturer specifically made their rice cooker as a multi-function cooker, then a rice cooker can only cook rice and no other recipes.
  • Although technically you can cook other recipes in it. For example, you can cook small portions of meats, thinly sliced vegetables, fish, and oatmeal.
  • The heat source of the rice cooker is not efficient enough to cook it at the same speed as when you’ll cook these things in a stove-top.
  • The rice cooker’s lid doesn’t seal the cooking bowl completely and its maximum temperature is designed to reach only to the boiling point of water.

Instant Pot pros

  • No bacteria or microbes survive in high heat and pressure
  • Cooks faster than a typical rice cooker
  • The Instant Pot preserves more flavor. The steam doesn’t escape the cooking chamber.
  • More energy efficient compared to other products in its class
  • Ideal for places that are 500 feet or higher above sea level (lesser air pressure means faster cooking time).
  • Requires less seasoning
  • One-push button operation
  • Can be considered as a substitute for several cooking kitchen appliances as it is a multi-cooker.
  • Set and forget cooking with built-in automatic settings.

Instant Pot cons

  • Expensive.
  • The gasket and the sealing ring need thorough cleaning which is tiresome.
  • Instant Pots are heavy kitchen appliances.
  • Misuse or not following directions may cause the appliance to explode (due to the pressure build-up).
  • The concept of pressure cookers is basically unsafe.

Now that you have the rice down, read our post on making Sushi for beginners.

History of the rice cooker

During WWII (approximately 1937) the Imperial Japanese Army created the Type 97 automobile kitchen as part of its armory division that has some kind of a built-in primitive type of rice steamer or cooker.

The rice cooker was ruggedly made and it was only a rectangular box made of wood that had 2 electrodes attached at opposite ends of it (positive and negative nodes).

The idea was to cook the rice via applied electric current which was fed directly to the rice and water in the box.

This caused the water to heat up and boil and eventually cook the rice, albeit inefficiently and dangerously, as it also presented a high risk of electrocution.

When the rice was cooked, the water mostly had also evaporated. As well, the cooked rice somewhat became a type of resistor.

It reduced the power and kept the rice in a warm state just like how modern rice cookers “keep warm” feature does the same thing.

This primitive method of cooking rice was not an idea; for home cooking as it wasn’t suitable for different water qualities, or how well the rice was being washed.

The amount of heat produced varied each time the rice was cooked and the results varied as well.

Mitsubishi

About 8 years after the Type 97 automobile kitchen was invented, something new came about. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation was the first Japanese civilian company to invent the electric rice cooker for home use.

The Mitsubishi rice cooker was a simple aluminum pot with a heating coil inside it. Users had to manually turn it on and off. It required constant attention as it had no automatic features on it whatsoever.

The first concept of commercial rice cookers relied mostly on fixed temperature thresholds to cook the rice. It automatically cut off the heat source once the thermostat detected it had reached that threshold.

However, the concept was flawed due to the varying room temperatures and often produced under-cooked rice.

Most manufacturers experienced multiple failures continuously while conducting their trial-and-error approaches in an attempt to solve the problem.

At one point a certain manufacturer even developed a trial model that had embedded the heat source inside a traditional wooden rice container.

At the time, this was backward thinking. Yoshitada Minami was the man who invented the world’s first practical electric rice cooker.  He sold his patents to Toshiba Electric Corporation for mass production.

By employing the triple-chamber rice cooker which helped insulate the heat in the cooking bowl with air and reduce the appliance reliance on varying room temperatures and atmospheric pressures to a certain degree, cooking rice became easy and efficient.

Toshiba

In December of 1956, the Toshiba Electric Corporation confidently launched their first-ever automatic electric rice cookers on the market, which had an incredible commercial success.

It used a double-chamber indirect rice cooking method. Rice was placed into the rice pot, and water into a surrounding container.

With the heat source steadily supplying heat to the water reservoir, the temperature in the cooking bowl will also rise in rapid succession.

Once the temperature reaches a certain threshold, the bimetallic thermostat will then pick it up and trip in order to automatically turn off the power and prevent any overcooking.

Toshiba’s automatic electric rice cooker became such a hit that they were mass-producing it at around 200,000 units per month – and this was just for the Japanese market alone (they were also exporting it to other countries worldwide).

After 4 years of strong sales, it was reported that Toshiba’s rice cookers could be found in about 50% of all Japanese households.

The double-chamber indirect cooking rice cooker concept’s disadvantage was that it took more time to complete cooking the rice and it also consumed more electrical power compared to other models.

Although, it did very well in cooking the rice as people often report that the rice was soft and very good to eat, especially with other recipes.

Due to its inefficient nature, this concept was replaced in favor of the standard rice cooker model that we have today; however, Singapore-based manufacturer, Tatung, still produces this design.

The evolution of rice cookers

Today, all-electric rice cookers follow a standardized concept that utilizes an insulated outer container (usually with stainless steel outer casing and plastic/polyurethane inner covers with hollowed space in between them) and a removable cooking bowl.

The cooking bowl is either made of ceramic-coated non-stick stainless steel or just plain stainless steel for the lower-end models and is stamped with water-level graduations marked in cups of rice used.

The measuring cup for rice cookers is based on the traditional measuring system that the Japanese used which is 1 gō (合).

This amount is translated to the international metric system at approximately 180 ml which has a 25% volume difference when compared to the US standard rice measuring cup of 240 ml. It is believed that the US rice cup could produce enough cooked rice for a person to eat a single meal.

The first rice cooker models did not incorporate the “keep warm” feature yet, thus the rice would get cold after several minutes and is no longer desirable to eat.

They mitigated this problem though by placing the cooking bowl into heat-insulated serving containers.

By 1965 the Zojirushi Thermos Company added this ingenious feature to their electric rice cooker models and it became an even bigger hit than Toshiba’s rice cookers.

Their rice cooker models sold 2 million units annually and other manufacturers quickly adopted the technology into their latest designs.

Making a healthy rice and fish dinner? Read about these fishbone pliers to help you out even more

Improving rice cookers

Benefits of the keep-warm feature in rice cookers include being able to keep the rice warm for up to 24 hours and preserve it.

This feature keeps Bacillus cereus bacteria from growing in the rice. This bacteria causes food poisoning.

Another great addition to the electric rice cookers is the use of electronic timers.

Prior to the integration of electrical and electronic equipment into rice cookers, a mechanical thermostat is used to turn off the cooker once the cooking process is complete.

Come the 1980s and manufacturers decided to upgrade the electric rice cooker yet again – this time adding microprocessor chips to control the entire cooking process as well as include an electronic timer and memory modules to help people set the desired cook time.

By the 1990s rice cookers had gone quite high-tech. In fact, they now allow users to select different desired cooking results.

They were able to select, for example, the rice texture. It could be soft, medium, firm, or something else entirely.

This can be done on different kinds of rice or other ingredients besides rice. Think of foods like tofu & asparagus, mac, and cheese, pomegranate and quinoa salad, etc.

Some rice cooker models can even be used to steam rice and other recipes.

Induction heating

Another notable innovation on rice cooker technology is the addition of induction heating on some high-end cookers. With more precise heating, this electric rice cooker concept makes the rice taste better.

The heat is controllable up to a certain degree compared to lower-end models.

On the other hand, pressure-cooking models use 1.2 atm to 1.7 atm in order to increase the temperature above 100 °C (pressure cookers for home use should not exceed 1.4 atm).

High-end pressure cooker models often have the steam heating feature.

Chinese rice cooker

China saw an economic opportunity in the electric rice cooker industry and decided to mass-produce and export their products globally.

Having been made for the sole purpose of profit and gain the Chinese didn’t bother to add cutting-edge functions that would otherwise have made their product desirable, although they’ve made significant sales figures in spite of this.

Meanwhile, Japanese manufacturers were able to get a foothold in the rice cooker industry by increasing the number of features of their products and created a specific niche market where they can dominate.

In the 2000s, the rice cooker had undergone a complete redesign and gain worldwide media attention.

Newer models are characterized by non-metallic materials for inner cooking bowls to employ thermal far-infrared radiation in order to improve the taste of cooked rice.

New Mitsubishi model

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (Japan) created a new rice cooker model in 2006 that was priced at ¥115,500 ($1,400 USD at the time).

The reason for this expensive price tag?

The unique honsumigama (本炭釜) is a 100% hand-carved, pure charcoal cooking bowl. It has a better heat-generating profile made for induction cooking specifically.

Despite the unusually high price, people actually loved it and it scored 10,000 units sold in just 6 months since it was released.

Its success created a trend for extremely high-end rice cookers in the rice cooker industry.

Some rice cookers utilize clay pottery as their inner cooking bowl, which is a bit strange.

But in China, this is a normal thing as they have been making pottery-based electric cooking appliances since the 1980s.

As a matter of fact, appliances that incorporate pottery in their design are still a thing in China to this day.

Some cooking bowls for electric rice cookers are made of luxurious materials like pure copper, ceramic-iron layers, and diamond coating.

Innovation

The manufacturers of these luxurious rice cookers are constantly researching new production methods. They want to find out how to produce the best tasting cooked rice in terms of taste and texture. They employ various innovations to achieve this goal.

Most researchers who are working for these electric rice cooker companies regard the traditional way of cooking rice in a hearth.

Some even consider a gas pressure cooker as the best example of what the most ideal cooked rice should be. Based on those methods, they then try to copy or exceed it in quality.

Asian restaurants or restaurants that offer Asian dishes would often use industrial-sized rice cookers as most Asian cuisines come with at least 1 bowl of rice per serving.

These cookers are mostly gas pressure cookers; however, there are also electric models that can quickly and cheaply produce large amounts of cooked rice.

The electric rice cooker is one of the most important kitchen appliances in Asian homes as rice is almost always paired with other viand or recipes in every meal.

Also read: Japanese steamed buns that go great with your rice dinner

Frequently Asked Questions

Which brand of rice cooker is the best?

Most people who use rice cookers frequently agree that the best rice cookers are the Zojirushi ones.

They are more expensive than many models, but they are high-quality, durable, and cook all types of rice perfectly.

The Zojirushi rice cookers are made of nonstick materials. This is great because it prevents the rice from sticking to the cooker.

As well, the largest models can cook up to 20 cups of rice at a time. This makes them excellent for large families.

Are rice cookers worth it?

It depends on how often you cook rice. If you like to batch cook and meal prep, a rice cooker is a kitchen essential. So, yes, if you like to cook rice, this small appliance is definitely worth it.

A high-end rice cooker is a great long-term investment because it is a durable device and also versatile.

It’s surprising how much you can do with a rice cooker. You will save time and spend less effort multitasking. A rice cooker is no doubt a vital piece of kitchen equipment for families of all sizes. It helps you make healthy and delicious meals in no time.

Why are Japanese rice cookers so expensive?

We mentioned above that the Japanese Zojirushi rice cooker is the best brand on the market.

The reason why it’s so expensive is that it does a very good job as a rice cooker. These cookers do much more than your average cheap machine.

Most people in the West think of just one or two varieties of rice, mainly white rice and brown rice. But, in Asian culture, rice plays a very important part in many popular dishes.

There are actually many types of rice and a Japanese rice cooker can prepare them all. A Zojirushi cooker can make perfect rice every time.

As well, it cooks it exactly as it should be. Therefore, you get perfect rice in terms of texture, for all the rice varieties out there.

It also cooks other grain types like quinoa and other rice alternatives, so you can cook different types of rice grains and make all kinds of tasty dishes.

How do I choose a rice cooker?

First of all, consider your budget and try to buy a higher-quality rice cooker if you can afford it. But, if you don’t cook rice daily, a cheaper one works well enough.

But, it’s important to consider how many people you are cooking for on a daily basis.

If you usually cook about 1 or 2 cups at once, or you live alone, you only need a small 3 cup rice cooker.

In case you 2-5 cups per day, you need a medium-sized 5 cup rice cooker.

But if you have a large family and need to cook lots of rice at once, we recommend a 10 cup or larger rice cooker so that you can cook at least 5 cups a day.

How long do rice cookers take?

Many people always wonder how long it takes (in minutes) to cook rice in a rice cooker. Well, it depends on the type of rice grain.

The different types of rice require varying amounts of time and water to cook well and thoroughly.

But, the best part of having a rice cooker is that you don’t need to sit by the stovetop to check if your rice is cooked or not. The rice cooker does all the work and lets you know once it is fully cooked.

If you cook a large quantity of rice in the rice cooker, it takes between 25-45 minutes. When you cook a small quantity, the rice is done in less than 25 minutes.

How do you make fluffy rice in a rice cooker?

If you struggle with rice that’s flat and sticks together, don’t worry. You can make very tasty fluffy rice in a rice cooker.

We advise you to let the cooked rice sit in the cooking pot for an extra ten minutes or so after the rice is finished cooking. Don’t lift up the lid, just let the rice sit in the cooker.

This allows it to absorb any excess water which makes the rice fluffy. When the rice sits in the cooker it doesn’t overcook, instead, it starts to cool down slowly and it firms up.

This firm yet fluffy texture is ideal for many tasty rice dishes.

What else can be cooked in a rice cooker?

Ok, although the name of this device is a rice cooker, it can do more. It is similar to an instant pot. Therefore, you can use it to cook other foods as well, hence why it’s a versatile piece of kitchen equipment.

You can use the cooker to make breakfast foods like pancakes and oatmeal. As well, you can cook all kinds of grains, including quinoa and barley.

If you’re feeling up for a challenge, you can even cook a pizza, some chili, a soup, and even short ribs.

Do rice cookers work for brown rice?

Most rice cookers have a ‘brown rice’ setting. When you purchase a rice cooker, make sure it has this setting. This is important if you like to eat brown rice.

If that setting is available then the cooker cooks the brown rice correctly. It tastes better and has a perfect texture when cooked in this setting.

If your cooker lacks the brown rice setting, there is cause for concern. Many people avoid brown rice because it’s a bit less flavorful and if you cook it in a rice cooker, it tastes even blander.

Another big issue is that regular rice cookers make the brown rice mushy and clumpy.

But, brown rice is healthier than its white counterpart. So, even if you don’t have a special ‘brown rice setting’ you can make it tasty. There is no need for concern.

Here is how to cook brown rice in a regular rice cooker:

  • Make sure you have the right water to rice ratio. For brown rice, it’s 1 cup rice and 2 cups water.
  • Always use more than 1 or 2 cups of rice. If it’s the first time cooking brown rice, start with 2 cups of rice and 4 cups of water.
  • Add a teaspoon or more of salt to the rice.
  • Fluff the cooked rice with a fork. If you fluff rice with a fork it doesn’t stick or clump.

How do I clean the rice cooker?

The best way to keep your rice cooker from smelling is to clean it well regularly. Luckily, it is easy to clean a rice cooker. They are made of nonstick materials so all you have to do is wash the inside with hot soapy water.

Scrub the inner pot with a sponge gently and remove any stains or rice.

If your pot has a detachable lid, wash that too every time. Remove it and handwash it with a sponge, soap, and hot water.

Some rice cookers don’t have detachable lids. In that case, wipe the lid inside and out using a damp cloth or paper towel.

Rice cookers also have a steam catcher. Empty this steam catcher after every batch of rice.

Almost all rice cookers come with a plastic rice paddle. Wash it with hot water because it helps you take the rice out without it sticking.

Conclusion

If your household loves rice, a rice cooker is an essential small kitchen appliance.

It is so easy to use, all you have to do is measure out the rice. Then, pour some water, and let the cooker do its job.

You get delicious rice (or quinoa) in no time without making a mess in the kitchen. And even better, you don’t even need to strain your rice in the kitchen sink.

You can get straight to cooking delicious rice-based dishes that are healthy and full of flavor.

What we can say is that a rice cooker is indispensable for cooks of all skills. The reason is that this appliance makes your life so much easier.

Now the rice is ready, try one of these 22 best sauces for rice to spruce up your dinner

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.