While the name ‘rice cooker’ might make it seem like a single-use appliance, this device is one of the most versatile ones you can get. There are loads of recipes for baking cakes, oysters, yogurt, bread, and several dishes using your rice cooker.
With people becoming more aware of what a rice cooker can do, it’s only logical that they want to get it as soon as possible. Not only can it cook rice perfectly every single time, it can also be useful for safe, fuss-free cooking. However, the kind of rice cooker you buy is also important. Not every model is the same, nor do they all have the same functions.
A basic rice cooker, for instance, will have the standard heat source, a pan inside, and some sort of thermostat. The thermostat is what will measure and control the cooking pan’s temperature, thus making sure that there’s little to no burning.
With the more advanced and modern models, there are several other features and sensors. This not only makes everyday cooking a breeze, but the cooker also helps to make baking easier.
Why Should You Get a Rice Cooker?
Many cultures use rice in their cuisine, and basic boiled rice isn’t really hard to make on the stove. Since it’s cheap, filling, versatile and delicious, rice is also great for everyday home cooking. However, the issue with cooking rice on the stove is that it needs constant monitoring and care so that it’s just right.
With the programs installed in an electric rice cooker, it’s possible to set up a cooking method and automatically control the heat of the pot. All you have to do is use the right measurements for water and rice, then press the button to start cooking.
The same goes for making oatmeal, meats, vegetables, sauces, pasta, seafood, and many other recipes in a rice cooker. With the auto turn off function, there’s no risk of burning even if you leave the device unattended. In short, this appliance is perfect for busy people, those who don’t know how to cook, or those who want to minimize accidents in the kitchen.
Types of Rice Cookers to Consider
Not everyone requires the same kind of rice cooker. Those who are low on budget might only want to get a basic model. Others who can afford it and want the full benefit of this appliance might spring for a more advanced version. Below are the types of rice cookers we might come across on the market today:
1. Basic Rice Cooker
A simple rice cooker will only automatically switch itself off when the bottom of its cooking pan gets too hot. This would mean that the rice inside is cooked. Other features, such as light indicators, non-stick pots, and LED display, might not be available in such models.
2. Cookers with a Keep-Warm Function
When you start moving up the ladder for rice cooker technology, the keep-warm function comes next. This means that the cooker can keep your cooked food at a low heat setting, ensuring that it stays warm until you consume it. In case you have a setup where people have to eat at different times, this setting could be a great bonus.
3. Cookers With Digital Controls
This is where you get a reheating cycle, quick cooking, texture control, a porridge cycle, and so on. The price of such cookers will also be significantly higher than the more basic models.
4. Cookers With Fuzzy Logic Technology
Fuzzy logic is a modern technology that gives the rice cooker several perks. While the price for such models is quite high, they help in booking soups, snacks, brown rice, and just about any kind of dish. However, you do have to look up the specific recipe for making something in a rice cooker beforehand. The fuzzy logic technology will automatically set the cooking parameters according to your needs.
5. Cookers With Induction Technology
Rice cookers that use induction heating are even more advanced than fuzzy logic models. These come at very high prices and are designed to work through artificial intelligence.
The table below should help to discern the differences between a rice cooker with fuzzy logic versus one with induction technology:
|Type of Rice Cooker/Features||Fuzzy Logic||Induction Heating|
|Technology||Non-linear logic with inference and approximation||Non-contact heating with radio frequency electricity and conductive material|
|Heating Method||Computer chips makes adjustments as needed||Induction heating zone under the inner pot, which acts as a heat conductor|
|Material of Inner Port||Non-stick or stainless steel||Cast iron, iron, or black metal|
|Response to Temperature Change||Good||Relatively better than fuzzy logic technology|
|Cooking Time||Around an hour||Around 50 minutes in a decent model|
|Cost||Relatively low||Relatively high|
|Main Advantages||Consumer less electricity, costs less||Produces more even cooking, fluffier rice|
How to Choose The Best Rice Cooker
Choosing the perfect rice cooker for your requirements might be tricky, especially if you’ve never used one before. With some careful deliberation and an informed choice, your rice cooker could become your favourite and most-used kitchen appliance. For that to happen, make sure to consider the following factors before settling on one specific model:
A single person living alone may only consume a cup or two of rice per day. If your estimated consumption is like this, a cooker with a 3-cup capacity should be enough. For a small family of 2 or 3 members, a 5-cup cooker will suffice, and so on.
Make sure that you look at the cup capacity for both cooked and uncooked rice. Cooked rice takes up a lot more space than uncooked grains, so it’s the safest measurement for your ideal capacity.
Cooking Time Settings
A rice cooker can be utilized for several things, even when you use a basic model. Plus, you need different time settings for different amounts of rice. Keep your needs in mind when looking for the right model.
Take a look at all the features available in any model you’re considering. Keep warm, slow cooking, steaming, a delay timer, and other functions will be useful for cooking all sorts of food. If you mostly want the cooker for just rice, some of these features might not be essential.
Some indication lights on a rice cooker will let you know when the heat is on or whether the meal has finished cooking. This feature could be useful for many busy folks, as they won’t have to rely on guesswork to determine when to open the cooker.
A rice cooker novice would want a device that’s easy to use. The same goes for someone who doesn’t have much time to fiddle with various settings. Others may not mind a more complicated machine if it gets them some fancy meals cooked in a no-fuss manner.
Your budget for a rice cooker will influence the kind you end up buying. Cookers that use induction heating technology will probably be out of reach for most people; even if they can afford it, around $200 for a kitchen appliance will probably make them think twice.
Simply put, the more features you require in a rice cooker, the more you’ll have to pay for it. It might be best to make a list of priorities and see what you simply cannot compromise on in a rice cooker. For example, one might be able to do without fancy menu programs for different recipes, but ability requires a beeping signal or some melody to indicate that the cooking process is over.
Choosing the Best Rice Cooker for 2021
Here are some of the current top options for rice cookers according to popularity and online reviews:
With this mini rice cooker, you can get some delicious meal cooking while keeping your work schedule intact. It’s a small but smart cooker, with seven useful functions. You can use it as a pressure cooker and slow cooker as well, along with squatting or steaming ingredients in a jiffy. The keep-warm function lasts for around 10 hours, which should be enough for anyone's needs.
- Many features include delay timer and keep warm functions
- Stainless steel cooking pot
- Energy efficient, saving up to 70 percent of the usual power consumption
- Available in a few capacity sizes
- Might be challenging at first
- A large gathering may require several cooling cycles
If you can afford the high price, this rice cooker from Zojirushi is probably among the best choices around right now. Many online reviews and buying guides are full of praise for this cooker. Its features ensure that you not only get fluffy rice every single time, but can also steam ingredients and bake cakes with this appliance.
The cooking menus here include options like sweet rice, brown rice, mixed rice, cake, porridge, steamed rice, sushi rice, and cakes. The inner cooking pot is quite thick, which ensures even heating at the center. This helps to make the cooking process healthier; you can even look up gluten-free recipes to try here.
- Inner lid is removable and easily washable
- LCD display is easy to read
- Extended keep warm and rewarming function
- Power cord is retractable
- Steaming basket and related menu
- Beeping signal for end of cooking time
- Uses fuzzy logic technology
- Options for automatic cooking
- Takes two hours to cook brown rice
- Inner pan requires a lot of care to avoid scratching and peeling
- High price
This no-frills rice cooker enables you to start two dishes simultaneously due to the synchronized cooking function. All you have to do is lay the groundwork and press a button to start. The cooking plate flavors won’t influence the rice’s surface or taste.
- User-friendly one-push operation
- Large icon display
- Removable pan for easy cleaning
- Can be utilized as a slow cooker
- Cooks perfect brown and white rice
- Can cook other items like oatmeal
- Lid is not removable
- May require some monitoring
This compact rice cooker as rice cooking modes, a capacity of 8 cooked cups of rice, and a rinse plus steamer basket. The operation is a simple one-touch setup, while the lid liner is removable. This makes clean-up relatively easy. We also love that it includes a rice paddle and measuring cup (both dishwasher friendly) in the package).
- Easy cleaning
- Steaming option available
- User friendly
- Non-stick inner pot
- Parts are dishwasher safe
- Some users find the steam bowl too small
The following table summarizes and compares the details of the top rice cooker models discussed above:
|Instant PotDuo Mini 3 Qt 7-in-1 Slow Rice Cooker||Zojirushi NS-TSC10 Micom Rice Cooker||Tiger Corporation JBV-A10U-W Micom Rice Cooker||Hamilton Beach (37508) Rice Cooker|
|Capacity||3, 6, and 8 quart options||10 cups cooked, 5 cups uncooked||5 cup and 10 cup options||8 cups cooked, 4 cups uncooked|
|Delay Timer included||Yes||Yes, with 2 settings||Yes||No|
|Length of Keep Warm Function||10 hours||20 hours||12 hours||12 hours|
|Weight||-||9.5 pounds||5.7 pounds||2.87 pounds|
|Material (for body)||Stainless steel||Stainless Steel||Plastic||Plastic|
|Unique Feature||13 customizable smart programs||Wide variety of menus for cooking||Can cook/steam other ingredients along with rice||Includes steam basket|
Finding the perfect rice cooker for your daily needs can be quite challenging. With the increasing use and popularity of such appliances, though, it’s quite easy to find online reviews and feedback for any model you’re considering. Once you know what features and technology will work best for you, make sure to check the response of actual users for any likely choice. The top models above are all excellent options, so see if any of these fit the bill before looking any further. While you’re at it, read up on some more high-tech essentials for your kitchen.