What is a Rice Cooker?
Rice is one of the most commonly consumed food staples in the world. There are many ways to prepare rice, but a rice cooker is an excellent way to ensure that your rice is properly cooked every time. Usually when you cook rice it requires a constant eye, because it can easily overcook. There are four stages to cooking rice – put the rice in water, boil it, steam it, and let it sit. A rice cooker automates this process, cooking the rice in just the right amount of time and turning it off when it is done. Most home rice cookers are electric, and cookers used for commercial and industrial purposes are often gas and electric. There are also rice boilers which are used for large-scale rice cooking.
The first electric rice cooker was made in 1945 by the Japanese company Mitsubishi Electric. It was an aluminum pot with a heating coil inside, and needed constant monitoring. Today, rice cookers come in the form of plastic and ceramic containers that go into the microwave, pots and pans, and rice steamers. Most rice cookers today have containers made of aluminum although some use stainless steel.
In this article we will talk about the best way to select a rice cooker and look at the top five rice cooker reviews.
How to Choose the Best Rice Cooker?
There are a number of things you should take into consideration when choosing a rice cooker:
Basic Traditional Rice Cooker
It is easy to get confused with so many choices on the market today, so think about what it is that you really need when it comes to cooking rice. If you mostly cook steamed white rice with your meals, then you don’t need a cooker with all of the bells and whistles. In this case look for a basic traditional rice cooker. Most rice cookers come with a removable inside bowl that is enamel or non-stick. These cookers are economical and usually cost in the range of $20 to $100. Some of the higher end traditional cookers even come with a feature that keeps the rice warm after cooking.
Advanced Rice Cooker
For the more avid cook who likes to experiment with different recipes, an advanced rice cooker is ideal. The advanced rice cooker enables you to cook a variety of rice such as paella, pilaf, risotto, Japanese rice, Calrose, long-grain rice, porridge, basmati, brown rice and much more. Often these cookers use the latest technology with features like microcomputers, LCD displays, timers, extended warming features, retractable cords, reheaters, texture settings, and some even have musical tones to let you know when the rice is finished cooking. If you see the term “micom” on a rice cooker, it means there is a microcomputer chip inside and the cooker uses advanced programming.
Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker
Part of the advanced programming is something called “fuzzy logic.” This means that the computer chip is programmed using mathematical logic. This logic uses an approximate instead of an exact or fixed setting, which enables the rice cooker to be flexible and adjust its cooking time and temperature according to the rice you are cooking. An example of this is if the rice is cooking and gets too hot, the fuzzy logic determines that the heat element needs to be turned down. With fuzzy logic, the machine is programmed to look at the human element. When there is a human element that means there will be a number of variables, and nothing is precise. With this type of programming, the rice cooker can offer many different options when cooking rice.
Large or Small Rice Cooker
It is important to measure the amount of space you have for a rice cooker. The average rice cooker comes in 3, 5 or 10 cups. Some are bigger or smaller, but these are the standard sizes. 3 cups means the cooker will cook up to three cups of uncooked rice which equals six cups of steamed rice. This will feed a family of four or five. Five cups cooks five cups of uncooked rice which equals 10 cups of steamed rice; and, ten cups cooks 10 cups of uncooked rice which is equal to 20 cups of steamed rice. This will feed approximately 12-15 people. Also, take into consideration things like opening and closing the lid, since some cookers are more compact than others.
Induction Heating Rice Cooker
Some rice cookers use an advanced technology called induction heating. In this process, the cooker is heated using an electric current from a wall outlet instead of an electrical plate underneath the cooking pan. The current moves through coils usually made of copper, creating a magnetic field. The cooking pan is placed inside of the field and the magnetic field makes an electrical current inside of the pan, generating heat. Benefits of induction heating are more evenly cooked food and accurate temperature because it warms up the entire cooker, not just the bottom. Many rice cookers also double as steamers.
Top 5 Rice Cookers:
We have put together a list of Top Rice Cookers on the the market, based on customer feedback, our personal experience and reviews from professional chefs:
#1. Instant Pot IP-DUO60
This rice cooker has seven different functions all in one cooker! It is not only a rice cooker, but a slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer and warmer, yogurt maker, and can be used to sauté and brown. It is energy efficient and has 10 proven safety mechanisms. The control panel is large and easy to use, and has 14 Smart Programs built in. The cooking pot has a 3-ply bottom and is made from stainless steel. This Instant Pot cooker is UL and ULC certified so you can be sure it has been tested according to the highest standards in the industry. There are two pressure settings – high, which reduces cooking time, and low which prevents overcooking. You can delay cooking up to 24 hours with the Delay Cooking Timer. It can also be manually set to cook for up to 120 minutes.The Instant Pot has an automatic warm feature and three slow cook and sauté temperatures. In addition to a manual in English, French, Chinese, and Spanish, you get a Quick Reference Guide plus recipes.
#2. Zojirushi NP-HBC10
This cooker uses induction heating which ensures that your rice will turn out just right each time you cook it. This is because induction heating distributes the heat evenly all over the pot instead of just on the bottom. The Zojirushi NP also uses something called MICOM which means microcomputer technology. Cookers that have this usually have a microcomputer chip and use “fuzzy logic.” Fuzzy logic makes it possible for the cooker to adjust to different life types like brown rice, white rice, or sweet rice. Each of these types need to be cooked differently. There are specific settings on this rice cooker for brown rice and GABA (gamma aminobutyric) brown rice. These settings actually activate the brown rice making it more nutritional. This cooker holds up to 5 ½ cups of uncooked rice which is equivalent to approximately 10 cups of cooked rice. The LCD panel is easy to use and has multi-menu cooking functions as well as an automatic warmer and an extended keep warm function. With this versatile rice cooker you can cook things like sushi, mixed rice or fluffy porridge. When the cooking cycle is complete an interchangeable beep signal and melody will alert you.
#3. Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT
The Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT is a smaller rice cooker with a 3-cup capacity which equals about 6 cups of cooked rice. The cooker comes with a spatula holder and rice spatula as well as a measuring cup. It is kitchen friendly, compact, and takes up a small amount of counter space. Since it is stainless steel, it will match any kitchen décor. You can use this rice cooker to cook sweet rice, brown rice, sushi, mixed rice and plain white rice. You don’t have to worry about overcooking or undercooking because the microcomputer technology enables you to cook perfect rice each time. That’s because the heat is distributed evenly throughout the cooker instead of just underneath. This is done through “fuzzy logic” which means a computer chip which has been programmed using mathematical logic, has the ability to adjust the cooking temperature and time on the rice cooker. The cooker does not just turn on and off, it adjusts to the type of rice that you are cooking, because all rice is not cooked the same. The inner lid of the Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT can be removed and washed. The LCD panel is colored and easy to read and it also has timer and clock functions.
#4. Panasonic SR-3NA
This rice cooker is smaller and good for individual use; it cooks about 1.5 cups of rice, but you are not limited to 1.5 cups. If you need to cook for a larger family or just enjoy entertaining, the Panasonic SR-3NA also comes in 6-cup, 10-cup and 20-cup cooked rice capacity. It has a see-through lid which makes it easy for you to keep an eye on your rice. You can use this rice cooker for a variety of rice such as Spanish rise, wild rice, and sticky rice for rolling sushi. You can even make rice pudding! It is not recommended that you use this rice cooker for Brown rice. It is also recommended that you clean your rice before cooking, and it should be cleaned in a separate pan – not the rice cooker. One touch is all it takes – you put the rice in, add the right amount of water, and press the lever. The Panasonic SR-3NA has a keep warm feature that keeps rice warm for up to four hours. Included with this rice cooker is a measuring cup, rice scoop, and an instruction manual which is multi-lingual. It is written in English, Spanish, Chinese, French and Korean.
#5. Aroma 8-Cup Digital
Not only is this stainless steel silver and black rice cooker pleasing to look at, it is considered the number one rice cooker brand in the United States. It has dual functions – you can cook your rice in the pot on the bottom while steaming meat and veggies in the steamer at the top. You can cook healthy meals all in one pot by pressing a button, without having to clutter up your kitchen with messy pots and pans! The Aroma can also be used for things like jambalaya, oatmeal, chili, soups and more and will accommodate white and brown rice. The large attractive LCD panel has digital controls that are easy to read. No need to worry about constant watching or stirring because the cooker switches to the keep warm function after the rice is finished cooking. The 15-hour delay timer is great for flexibility. You can put your rice on before you leave for work and with the delay timer your rice will be ready to serve when you get home. The Aroma comes with a steam tray, serving spatula and measuring cup. Clean up is easy because all of the accessories and the inner pot are removable and dishwasher safe.
Best Brown Rice Cooker
Many people are now eating more brown rice because of the high nutritional value and health benefits that come from it. That is because brown rice does not go through the milling and polishing process like white rice, therefore it maintains its nutrients and qualities. When looking for a cooker you need to decide if you want to cook brown rice or mainly white rice and it is better if you can decide that in advance. It seems like a very subtle difference, but it is a difference nevertheless. Brown rice differs from white rice and if you want perfectly cooked brown rice every time, not all rice cookers will be suitable for you. Brown rice requires a little more preparation than white rice when cooking. Brown rice should be pre-soaked before cooking and it must be cooked longer than white rice. When looking for a cooker for brown rice, you will need to check if it was designed for it. How do you do that? The easiest way is to look for a rice cooker that has menu options specifically designated for brown rice, or some variation of brown rice. If you don’t want to go to a store and manually check menus of all available rice cookers, you can read our detailed reviews of the best brown rice cookers and make your choice from there. We put a significant effort in narrowing the list of available options for you and we are hoping that you will find it useful.
Best Japanese Rice Cooker
It was Japanese companies that created first ever electronic cookers designed specifically for rice (in 1945, to be specific). Given the history of rice cookers and importance of rice in Japan, it is not a surprise that Japanese rice cookers are some of the best on the market. They come in different sizes ranging from 3 to 14 cups an many use the most advanced rice cooking technology called fuzzy logic. Fuzzy logic is when a chip is programmed so that the cooker thinks for itself, without human involvement. For example, if you set the rice cooker on brown rice, the cooker determines the cooking time and temperature. If the temperature becomes too hot, the cooker will automatically reduce it. Other features are also included for cooking various types of rice, and some of these have dual steaming functions suitable not only for rice, but for vegetables and other types of products. A number of these rice cookers are also made of stainless steel which makes them more durable and practical (easier to clean). There are several notable Japanese manufacturer (main ones are: Zojirushi, Tiger Electronics, Panasonic and Sanyo) and it may be hard to decide which one is the best Japanese rice cooker to go with. We want to help you make an informed decision, so we prepared this complete guide to the best Japanese rice cookers. We’ve done extensive research and we hope that our findings will be helpful to you.
Best Stainless Steel Rice Cooker
Stainless steel is one of the best materials you can get for cookware and there are several reasons for that. A good stainless steel rice cooker will most likely last you for years to come and will most likely look like new even after several years of heavy use. Most of stainless steel cookers are made with surgical stainless steel. Stainless steel is an alloy of steel and other material like chromium and nickel. There are even a few rice cookers that are 100% stainless steel throughout, including the cooker, the pot and the steamer. Stainless steel material does not tarnish, rust or corrode with water like other material so you don’t have to worry about chemicals leaking into your food. Stainless steel also does not absorb odd flavors or odors, so the flavor of your food stays locked in resulting in delicious rice every time. There are quite a few stainless steel cookers available on the market and it may be hard to choose one best suited for your needs, budget and intended use. In order to give you as much information as possible, we compiled these reviews of the best stainless steel rice cookers available today and designed by the top manufacturers in the industry. Our goal is to help you make the best decision and we hoping that our reviews will help you do just that. If we managed to achieve our goal, we will be happy to hear back from you in the comments section.
Best Rice Cooker Brands
Rice is an important diet staple for many people, and recently the benefits of brown rice are becoming more prevalent. In today’s society people look for convenience and quality especially when it comes to preparing meals. A rice cooker is the perfect investment for convenient, home-cooked, tasty and, most importantly, healthy meals. There are many selections of different types and brands of rice cookers on the market that you can choose from according to your needs, requirement and budget. Rice cookers come in all shapes, sizes and with a number of features. They are even designed with advanced technology to make it easier for you to use. Not only can you cook a variety of rice, but many rice cookers are designed to cook other foods like soups, chilis, stews, and even desserts – all a touch of a button away. There are a few notable brands that dominate the market of cookers presently. These brands have great history and they are putting significant resources into Research & Development so as a result they significantly more advanced than their competitors. If you ever considered purchasing a rice cooker, then you probably heard these names: Tiger Corporation, Zajirushi Corporation, Aroma Housewares, Instant Pot and Hamilton Beach. We have researched these main cooker manufacturers and we put together reviews of the best rice cooker brands to help you better understand them and choose one that you want to trust and go with.
Best Small Rice Cookers
Small rice cookers are often used for individual portions or mini meals. There are a lot of advantages to choosing small rice cookers when your circumstances allow. These cookers are stylish and compact and they come computerized so they are not less advanced compared to their larger counterparts. Many of the small rice cookers have the same capabilities as the larger size ones such as steaming and automatic keep warm features. With the steaming functions we can cook not only rice but other products and meals, including chilies and soups. Given their size, it is easy to pack them with you when you go for short trips or even if you want to cook some fresh rice at work. Smaller rice cookers can be used on the go to save time and money. Also, the smaller size enables you to cook just the right amount without having a lot leftover and going to waste. There are quite a few small rice cookers available on the market today and it may not be easy to choose the best one for you. That is why we researched this topic and prepared these reviews of the best small rice cookers. Our hope is that or research will help you narrow available choices and make a solid purchasing decision. In our approach we considered cookers small if they are designed for one to three cups of rice, which is still enough to serve one to three people.
Evolution of Rice Cookers in Japan
When choosing the top rice cooker for your needs and budget you need to consider a range of factors. Features, size and, of course, price all play part in the decision making process. We put forth our best recommendations and selections, based on rice cooker reviews from a large number of customers and users. We, the HomeCentric.org team, are sincerely hoping that our work will help you make a good and informed decision. Please feel free to leave us a comment or send us a message. We will be happy to get your feedback or answer your questions.