The Best Rice Cookers of 2018
Rice Cookers have rightfully earned a place in every American’s home. Before their invention, we were limited to using hobs and pots – slowly cooking rice to perfection. Thankfully, rice cookers have emerged onto the market with affordable price tags – making cooking delicious white rice a breeze in the park. Most of the models available now let you change numerous settings too – such as temperature and cooking time. Take a look at our rice cooker buying guide for all the information you need to help you find the right one!
We have rigorously tested and reviewed all of the leading rice cooker models available to give you an unbiased buying perspective. We have formed our own opinion of the best rice cookers and rate each model based on numerous factors – such as pricing, cooking quality, technology, and noise levels. We believe that our rice cooker reviews will give you the edge in a market packed with many well-performing models.
Top 10 Best Rice Cookers of 2018
- Best Rated
- best sellers
Rice Cookers: What you need to know
Using a rice cooker is one of the best ways to produce perfect rice every time, and it can save you from burning your rice, or turning it into mush. Rice has been used more often in the West in the last 50 years, and many modern cooks are now turning to one of the staples of Japanese cooking equipment, the rice cooker. If you are thinking about purchasing a rice cooker, then you may want to know more about how they work, and what they are used for.
How rice cookers are designed
There are a few basic elements which will be included in any type of rice cooker. The cooker itself is rather like a modern slow cooker in shape, with a steel cylinder body which has three or four feet keeping the heating element away from the worktop, and a lid attached by a hinge to the back of the cooker’s body, and is usually covered with a heat-resistant material. At the front of the main body there is a tool which allows you to program the cooker.
Inside the rice cooker, there is an internal cooking pan which can often be extracted to be cleaned. This is where the rice and water are placed when being cooked. The pan sits on a heating plate which covers the lower part of the interior of the rice cooker. Under this plate there is a sensor which detects when the plate becomes too hot, or when it has been hot for a certain length of time.
Top 3 Cheap & affordable Rice Cookers in 2018
How a rice cooker works
Rice is traditionally cooked in pans of water, which involves bringing cold water to the boil, and then simmering the water until it is absorbed by the rice. Most cooks also allow the rice to rest for a little while before they serve it. A rice cooker is designed to help with all of these things. When you want to use the rice cooker, you put water into the pan, and then serve out as many cups of rice as your recipe requires.
The pan is then placed into the body of the rice cooker. This causes the sensor to detect that the pan is on the plate, making it warm up the plate. If you are using a basic function cooker, then the cooker will come on when the pan is placed on the heating plate, and switch off once a certain period has passed. More complicated cookers allow you to set particular functions, such as cycling which will allow you to cook different types of rice, and other cereals such as porridge, without having to restart the pan.
How you can use your rice cooker
The type of rice cooker that you select for your kitchen will depend upon how you intend to use it. Larger rice cookers are ideal for catering services, and for larger families, but single people and couples may want to choose a smaller rice cooker which only produces 3 or 4 cups of rice.
If you buy a cooker with more functions, then you may also cook other types of cereals in the pan, such as oats or barley. You may use your rice cooker to produce a stew, rather like a pressure cooker, which will allow you to cook the vegetables and meat together with cereals or rice. If you have a cooker which includes steaming panniers, then you may also be able to cook a meat and vegetable dish while heating up the rice below. This makes it easier to make an entire meal just using the rice cooker.
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Particular types of rice cookers
In recent years, a new type of rice cooker has been developed which uses a much more accurate electronic computer in order to produce better rice and prevent over-cooking or under-cooking. Known as Fuzzy Logic, these rice cookers have programs which allow them to make choices between a series of circumstances, so, for example, the cooker will be able to calculate if rice needs to be cooked less due to warmer weather, or for longer due to very cold weather.
Fuzzy logic cookers can also help you if you should make an error in calculating the weight of the rice or the amount of water, ensuring that you get the cooking process right every time. Fuzzy Logic cookers can also allow you greater flexibility in your cooking choices so that you might be able to select different ‘keep rice warm’ options, or choose quick-cooking methods if you want your rice dish in a hurry. They may also be able to help with specialist rice, including some rice cookers that offer textured settings, allowing you to choose between very soft rice, or more al dente rice, depending upon the requirements of your dish.
Our Picks: The Reviews
Quite advanced and technologically adept, the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 fuzzy logic rice cooker can take in about 5 and a half cups of uncooked rice. It offers a plethora of options such as reheat cycles, extended keep warm periods, auto switching to keep-warm setting and many menu selections to choose out of.
Our Pick for The Best Rice Cooker on the market!
The Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 features Japanese innovation and as a rice cooker that is what you are looking for. No one knows how to cook rice better than the Japanese, after all, it is their bread and butter. Thankfully, we found the NS-ZCC10 was not just adept at cooking white rice but many other rice recipes including Jasmine rice, brown rice and even make porridge. The included recipe booklet is neat as it features plenty of recipes that we had never tried before. Some are too Asian for our taste but it's a good addition to have around just in case you get bored having the same old white rice day after day.
Having made white rice and brown rice on an almost regular basis for the past two weeks using the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10, we feel that it is super consistent in taste, texture, and aroma. The menu might look confusing at first but after a couple of trials, it becomes second nature. Something we did discover about this cooker that was not initially mentioned anywhere was that it could do a quick cooking round that cut down cooking times by up to 30 minutes. This is especially handy when you are in a hurry and can't wait its mandatory cooking period. Alternatively, the manual does speak of how to use it as a makeshift slow cooker, if you ever find the need for doing so.
Great performance, sturdy construction and ample amount of re-usability makes the NS-ZCC10 ideal for any rice lover. Even if you have never used a rice cooker before, its intuitive design and simple to understand manual should make you a professional rice maker in no time. Feel free to play around with the recipes as it provides plenty of creative room.
We love our Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 a lot and find no reason why not to give it the spot at the number one rice cooker of 2018.
Multipurpose in its design and ergonomic in its styling, the Aroma ARC-150SB can fit in about 4 to 20 cups of rice inside it along with meat and vegetables for steaming, all at the same time. The intuitive interface on the front of its otherwise grey sober exterior features easy to use controls with digital push buttons for a delay timer that accommodates 15 hours delay time and programmable functions for brown rice, white rice, steaming and keep warm.
The Runner Up!
Rice cookers usually make it easier cooking rice instead of relying on a stovetop cooker to slow boil rice. After having used the Aroma ARC-150SB for well over a month now, we are glad to report that it does save a lot of time and effort cooking perfect rice. However, what really caught our imagination with this rice cooker was its versatility. Unlike other rice cookers where you had to use a steaming rack separately in order to steam veggies, this cooker actually lets you do two things at once. You can cook rice in it using the delay timer and also steam vegetables simultaneously using a separate steaming insert that goes right on top of the inner rice pot. Best of all, it really does not matter what kind of setting you to use, even with the brown or white rice pre-programmed setting, you can steam vegetables.
A word of caution though, if you plan on cooking brown rice in the Aroma ARC-150SB then remember to soak the rice in water beforehand otherwise it leads to a soggy consistency of the cooked rice. The best way, we found, to do this is to put the rice in an adequate amount of water in the rice cooker and set the delay timer to 2 hours or more. The rice cooker only begins cooking once the delay timer has finished its countdown. This saves you the pain to wait for the rice to ready for cooking.
Is the Aroma ARC-150SB a work of perfection? No, not exactly the perfect rice cooker but at a fraction of what a Zojirushi will cost, this rice cooker does exactly what it should - cook good tasting, appropriate textured rice and on the side steam vegetables too. This rice cooker will be ideal for people who only wish to save time when cooking and want something that can occasionally steam meat and vegetables.
We give the Aroma ARC-150SB our runner up spot for its decent performance and moderate durability.
Featuring the patented Zojirushi Micro Computer Fuzzy Logic technology, the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 rice cooker is designed to cook rice automatically, keep warm afterward and reheat as required. It is easy to maintain, clean and keep rice cooker with 2 delay timer settings for simplicity. The entire outer grey-black casing is made from coated stainless steel. It also features a catchy beep signal and interchangeable melody to alert users when cooking cycle is over.
The Zojirushi NS-TSC10 is a rice cooker designed to recreate the magic of restaurant quality rice. Chefs have all the time in the world to cook rice on the stove-top ensuring that it is near perfect consistency. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or the patience to wait while cooking rice to check whether it is done perfectly. That is where a rice cooker can save you a lot of time. We felt that the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 was great at cooking white rice to a perfect consistency without having to invest any time in it. We have set the delay timer to about 6 hours, put in requisite rice in the morning with adequate water and returned back home in the evening to find excellent tasting and consistent rice. Even if you have a little left over, you can leave it in the rice cooker and it shall keep it warm for the morning without making it soggy or too wet. This is a constant complaint with much older generation Zojirushi rice cookers.
In comparison with cheap rice cookers, the Zojirushi cooks much better rice but if you use the quick cooking setting that reduces cooking time from 1 hour to 30 minutes, the rice consistency suffers. As long as you are willing to wait for the end result, things should turn out just fine. We found the instructions easy to follow and even if you make mistakes in measurements, the fuzzy logic technology re-calibrates the cooking process to maintain consistency and texture of cooked rice.
Are you interested in an inexpensive rice cooker, which cooks white rice perfect all the time? If you are not all that much into experimenting with brown rice or other rice recipes and only want white rice most of the time then the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 is ideal for you. We loved our time with this rice cooker and recommend it those looking for the most basic features within a budget.
Some of the things that we really appreciate with the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 are its beep signal to indicate end of cooking cycle, Fuzzy logic automatic configurations, keep warm extended period and its ability to store rice and keep it hot for the morning.
It's quick, affordable!. We found nothing wrong with the Zojirushi NS-TSC10.
Rice Cooker Buying Guide
Find yourself the best rice cooker for your needs by using our guide, which offers information on:
Rice cookers are one of the essential tools for the modern cook. Whether you are cooking for yourself or working in the catering industry, the rice cooker can be the ideal way to make rice quickly, and to a high standard. Choosing the right kind of rice cooker will depend upon what you need, how often you will use the cooker, and whether you want something basic, or one of the more complicated cookers that are now available.
Uses for a rice cooker
The first step in choosing a new rice cooker is to decide what you will be using it for. This means calculating how much rice you will want to make in a single session, and whether you will also be using it for other purposes, such as to steam vegetables, or to cook a stew (as in a pressure cooker). The amount of rice that you will be cooking will help you to decide the size of the cooker that you will need, as well as the number of features you require.
Sizing your rice cooker
When you know the purpose or the reason why you are buying the rice cooker, you will have to select one which offers you the best size. If you have decided to purchase a Japanese cooker, which is often the best quality and have the most functions when you should know that cup sizes are different. This means, for example, that UK cups tend to be 250ml and US cups 240ml, but Japanese cup measurements are 200ml. You need to be aware of this when making recipes which call for particular cup measurements. When selecting a size, you also need to work out how many cups of rice each will hold. The cooker will usually provide 1.5 cups of cooked rice for every cup put into the cooker. The standard is a medium cooker, which holds between 5 and 6 cups. Small cookers may only yield around 3-4 cups, and larger cookers will yield between 8 and 14 cups.
Choosing basic features
All rice cookers will have basic functions which allow you to control the essential parts of the cooking process. When you are looking for a simple cooker without too many complicated functions, then there are a few basic varieties of cookers which you should consider:
On/off rice cookers
The most basic function of a cooker is the on/off switch, and this is one which is commonly used by a variety of basic cookers. In this function, the cooker will operate for a certain length of time, usually a set cooking time for the rice, and will then shut off by itself. There are no extra functions, such as ‘ready’ lights to tell you when the rice has been cooked. You simply get an automatic switch which turns the cooker ‘off’ when the rice should be done. Many home cooks use this basic form because it is cheap, and the controls are easy to understand
Cook and warm
The other rice cooker which is suitable for beginners is the ‘cook and warm’ function cooker. Here, the rice is cooked until it is done, and then the cooker lowers the heat (rather than turning off completely) until the rice is used. An electronic version of this can be used to keep rice warm for as much as 12 hours. The downside is that cookers with this function have to be unplugged in order to stop them operating, which can increase your energy bill. On the plus side, they tend to be at the low end in terms of price: and most of them are less than £70.
Advanced function rice cookers
If you want more from your cookers than a simple warming function and are prepared to spend a little more money to get it, then you may consider cookers with advanced functions. Cookers in this range will have a non-stick pan, and may also include other accessories such as a steamer basket, which can be perfect if you want to steam dumplings, meat or vegetables as the rice is being cooked.
Rice cookers with extra functions include:
Other important features
When you are buying a rice cooker, you should also be aware of other features offered by some cooker manufacturers which can help you in the kitchen. Cookers which shut off after a certain length of time without being opened or given other instructions, for example, can prevent energy loss and can also keep you safe. Fuse and surge protectors ensure that the cooker will not overheat and cause a fire if you leave it on by accident, are also a good idea in a busy kitchen.
Rice Cooker How To Guide
If you have never owned a rice cooker before or used them at work, then you may be one of the many millions of people who don’t know how to use a rice cooker. People who have used these cookers all their life are surprised when they meet people who have never used one and don’t know how, but the fact is that the process of cooking rice in one of these devices is seen as so easy that everyone must know. For those who didn’t learn it at their mother’s knee, a simple guide to using a rice cooker can help you to feel confident about using this equipment in your kitchen.
Step 1: Measuring the rice
The method of measuring out rice into a rice cooker will involve using the small cup provided with your device. This is known as a ‘cup’, and sizes can vary, depending upon where the product was made. There can be as much as a 50ml difference between cup sizes, so as a first step, measure out one portion of uncooked rice into the pot, and then pour it into a jug. Alternatively, just measure out 250ml of rice into the jug, and transfer that to the cooker. This will usually make around one and a half cups of cooked rice, so you need to have enough space between the top of your rice layer and the top of the cooker to allow your rice to expand.
Almost everyone will recommend that you try to rinse out your rice before you put it into the cooker. Rice is traditionally coated with dust or similar fine powders to prevent it sticking together into a clump, and so rinsing was used to clean off this dust. In rice-cooker use, however, rinsing will help you to moisten the rice before it is boiled, helping to speed up the process and remove the modern equivalent of dust, which is an edible anti-caking agent.
Step 2: Add water
You need to add enough water to the inside of the rice cooker to ensure that all of the rice expands and that you don’t run out of water during cooking. Most users of rice cookers will tell you that excessive water will increase the amount of time it takes for your rice to cook, so be careful about the amount of water you use. Most experienced cooks recommend that you put in the same amount of water as there is rice, so for example, 3 cups of rice would need 3 cups of water. However, if you are only cooking a little bit of rice, such as 1 cup, then you may need to increase this to 1.5 cups of water.
Step 3: Add spice and flavorings
Rice can be pretty bland, so if you want to get the best from your rice dish, you should add some spices or flavorings to the rice cooker in order to give the rice some taste. Adding the flavorings to the water means that the rice will absorb spices along with the water. You may choose salt or oil, but you may also add cardamom, turmeric, bay leaves or other spices to create the flavor you want.
Step 4: Set up the rice cooker
Most modern rice cookers come with a variety of functions which will allow you to choose how your rice is cooked. Select the settings you would like to ensure that your rice will be cooked to perfection, and then start the cooker going. During this period, don’t lift the lid to check on the rice, since there will be steam inside the cooker, and don’t leave the cooker running after the rice is cooked, unless you wish to keep it warm while you are making the rest of the meal.
Step 5: Other things you can cook with your device
If you have a rice cooker, then you may be surprised to find out that there are a host of other things that you can do with the cooker, as well as simply cooking rice. If you have a steamer, then you can add vegetables to the cooker, or you can simply put the vegetables straight into the cooker and boil as usual. With your steamer, you can also cook meat such as salmon or chicken, and you can also cook chicken directly in the pan. Some experienced users will even fry eggs in the cooker, but most rice cookers are used for the simple boiling of carbs, including noodles, pasta, and potatoes. Being able to do more with a rice cooker than basic rice is one reason many people in the West are now choosing to have one of these devices in their kitchen, rather than a traditional pressure cooker or soup maker.