Are you looking for modern and nutritious ways to cook rice? If yes, you should buy a rice cooker. Rice takes some time to cook and can be a bit tricky to cook right every time. This is a solution to make the job quick and easy. Here, you will find the best rice cooker that meets all your cooking requirements: nutritional value, efficiency, high-quality material, safety, and simplicity.
This review will cover five top rice cooker models, explaining why they are so popular, and how you can benefit by using them in the rice cooking experience easier than before. You will not only educate yourself on the essential requirements of a rice cooker, but it will be far easier for you to decide which model best suits your needs.
So, let’s get started.
Top 5 Best Rice Cooker Reviews
|Picture||Top Picks||Our Rating||Size||Price||Our reviews|
|Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT Micom Rice Cooker||4.9/5||3-Cups||Read review|
|Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker||4.8/5||5.5-Cups||Read review|
|Zojirushi NS-TSC10 Micom Rice Cooker||4.8/5||5.5-Cups||Read review|
|Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker||4.6/5||8-Cups||Read review|
|Aroma Simply Stainless Rice Cooker||4.5/5||6-Cups||Read review|
How a Rice Cooker Works
If you are busy, you would surely say, “It’s something that has the potential to change your life, by significantly reducing your time in the kitchen and liberating you to focus on other tasks while the rice cooks.”
A rice cooker is unlike a typical kitchen appliance. It not only cooks rice but also gives it the perfect shape and taste that traditional cooking pots cannot. So, what are the basic components of a rice cooker?
- Rice cookers normally consist of the inner pot, which is detachable for convenience. In general, good rice cookers have non-stick inner pots, so that rice at the bottom does not stick, and you can clean the pot easily. The inner pot normally has a stainless steel material for quick cooking.
- The inner pot goes inside the external casing that provides the heat. The construction of the external pot allows it to retain heat.
- Rice cookers are electric appliances. So, they would not be complete without a power cord. Pour the rice and other ingredients into the cooking pot, plug in the cable, and switch it on. Leave the rest to this amazing machine.
So, you do not have to stir or check the status time and again. But, you do have to follow certain rules:
- The amount of rice must be measured. It depends on the capacity of the cooking pot how much rice (cooked or uncooked) it can take. If you are putting uncooked rice, the cooking pot needs a little more space, because the uncooked rice will expand upon cooking. Follow the marks in the pot, and add water according to the measurements.
- Put the lid and secure it properly. It will seal the rice and the cooking pot. The seal helps rice cook quickly, because there is no space for air or steam to escape.
- The building temperature allows the water to convert into steam. As the steam has no way to escape, it builds pressure that in turn, allows the rice to cook fast. The water vapors keep the rice tender and moist.
- Not to forget the keep warm feature. It activates automatically, as soon as the temperature inside the rice cooker hits a certain point.
In general, the entire process takes between 30 minutes and an hour. It depends on a number of factors, such as the quantity of rice, the quality and condition of rice, the heating technology of the cooker, the motor speed, and power supply, etc.
Kinds of Heating Technology Used
Your decision to choose a perfect rice cooker is mostly influenced by the functionality and purpose of the rice cooker. But the price and functionality of a rice cooker depend on its heating technology. Based on that, rice cookers can be segregated into different categories, including conventional rice cookers, high-pressure rice cookers, and hi-tech cookers, etc.
In the following lines, you can read why rice cookers are different and which type is more suitable for you:
- Conventional Models: Conventional rice cookers feature all the basic components, which are the heating plate, cooking pot, and external pot. These models are capable of cooking and heating rice, and they automatically turn off when the rice finishes. Simply add rice and water according to the measurement and press the start button. Conventional rice cookers are best for families that stick to white rice and/or brown rice. Some conventional models may have a few settings for sushi too.
- Micom Rice Cookers: A slightly advanced version of rice cooker that features a computerized micro chip, Micom rice cookers are smart enough to automatically adjust cooking time as well as the temperature, thanks to thermal sensors. If you can stretch your budget, micom rice cookers can help you save lots of cooking time. They are made for all types of rice, and you can try new rice recipes too.
- Micom Rice Cookers with Induction Heating: Induction heating allows the cooking pot/pan (the inner pot) to heat up. Plus, the built-in micom technology can fine-tune temperature and monitors the cooking time. Needless to say, you will get perfect rice every time you take it out of these rice cookers. These models are expensive, though.
- Micom Rice Cookers with Pressurized Induction Heating: Complicated, isn’t it? But with the name so large, you will get the combination of the best heating technologies in one place. These models raise the cooking temperature by pressurized heating, and can modify the structure of the ingredients (grains and starch) present in the rice. With such detailed cooking, you would not get anything less than fluffier, softer and digestible rice. Plus, you can keep the rice in it for 24 hours.
5 Most Common Rice Cooker Types
Rice cookers are available in different types, based on size, design, heating technology, additional features, and functionality. Here are some common types of rice cookers:
- Simple Rice Cookers
These are conventional rice cookers with all the basic components in place. They follow the basics of design and finish. The only automatic feature is that they shut themselves down when the rice is cooked. While these models are the cheapest of the lot (available at $30 in most markets), they are not as sophisticated as expensive models. The lack of non-stick inner pots and light indicators are their major downsides. Plus, they do not have an exceptional heating technology to give you the perfect texture and feel.
- Keep-Warm Rice Cookers
If you can stretch your budget, having an additional option of keeping your rice warm would be more convenient, especially if you have a large number of people to feed. The keep-warm feature preserves the temperature of the rice, even after you switched the cooker off. The food can be kept for hours, and it will not lose the taste and temperature. This category contains flexible rice cookers and some of them also feature non-stick pans and steamers. You can buy these rice cookers in between $35 and $70.
- Rice Cookers Featuring Digital Controls
This category is for hi-tech rice cookers, including the ones with transitional designs. These models are expensive but highly sophisticated. A major improvement in these models is the keep-warm feature that can store rice and maintain the internal temperature up to 12 hours (on average). Prices for these rice cookers start from $100 and keep rising depending on the features
- Rice Cookers Featuring Fuzzy Logic Technology
In this category of rice cookers, you will get everything modern, from hi-tech design to fluffier rice. Today, rice cookers with fuzzy logic technology are not new to the people, but they are quite expensive. The fuzzy logic technology helps you prepare soups, brown rice, choose rice texture, or even, prepare sushi rice. So, technically, you can cook any rice recipe with fuzzy logic technology.
Within this category, you can find the best rice cooker in the range of $130 – $150. That would be a steal if you know your family is crazy about rice, and you will be using it for years.
- Induction Heating Cookers
As mentioned earlier, induction heating rice cookers are the most modern of the lot. They are quite expensive, with prices starting from $180, but they are all about precision and comfort. Even if you do not know how to cook rice, induction heating will cover this weakness smartly.
If you want to cook brown rice or any other variety of rice, an induction heating unit is the perfect rice cooker for effortless cooking. Just pour the rice, ingredients, and water in the rice cooker, and it will adjust itself according to the item you need at the end. The rice will cook better, look better, feel crisp and taste excellent.
5 Things to Consider for the Perfect Rice Cooker
Obviously, you follow a certain path as you shop for any item, but it may not be the right path. Follow these things while shopping for the best rice cooker that meets your requirements.
- The purpose and use:
A rice cooker is not a general purpose utensil, so you will be making a one-time investment, hoping that it will last more than two or three years. So, you need to ask some questions to yourself.
- What type of rice your family eats?
- Do you eat plain rice, mixed rice, white rice, brown rice, or all types on different occasions?
- How frequently will you be cooking? Once in a day, once in a week, etc.?
- Do you cook rice alone or add other ingredients, such as veggies, meat, or grains, etc.?
- Do you need a simple cooker or a multi-tasking cooker that can prepare soup, chili, and stews too?
The answer to these questions will put you in the right direction.
- Rice Cooker Size:
Rice cookers come in different sizes, and it totally depends on the size of your family, as well as the frequency of cooking, which size is suitable for your family.
- Rice cookers can range from 1 cup of rice to 10 cups (uncooked) if you are considering non-commercial options.
- If you are looking for commercial models, you can get a rice cooker that can take as much as 46 cups of rice at one time.
If you are already a kitchen expert, you will know how much your family eats. But if you are a newcomer, follow the rule of thumb. One person eats up to 1 cup of uncooked rice in a day. Even if you end up getting a large rice cooker, you can use the extra cooked rice for subsequent meals.
- Features to think about:
Rice cookers have different features, and that is why choosing the right utensil can be confusing if you do not pre-plan. If your family eats all kinds of rice, you need a utensil that can cook every rice recipe in the book, not just plain white rice. You can then, consider your requirements, such as cooking time, cooking related items, size and more. For simple rice cooking, why spend on a decorated item? That would be a waste of money.
All cooks and chefs would want an amazing utensil that does not require any cleaning and maintenance. This sounds impossible, but there are rice cookers that are fairly easy to use and maintain.
- In general, rice cookers offer menu settings that can put you in a lot of trouble, but you will learn with time and improve fast. This is why rice cookers come with a manual, to give you the perfect start.
- Rice cookers, because they are an electric appliance, feature non-stick material. It is also helpful in cleaning and requires less maintenance too. Some models have dishwasher safe material, making cleaning even less time-consuming.
If your decision can be altered by any factor, it is your budget. But you will surely get a rice cooker with the exception of features and quality. Inexpensive models start from $20. Then there are high-tech models with all the features of the world in one place. They can reach as high as $350. Again, be certain about your requirements, even if you can afford expensive models. Otherwise, you will be wasting your money.
10 Common Features of Modern-Day Rice Cookers
You know that modern-day rice cookers come with lots of features. But, are all the features necessary for you? This is something you need to decide about. Here are some common features put into three categories. They have become essential elements of the best rice cooker.
- The Lid: The rice cooker lid is available in different materials. While transparency is a must-have these days, the durability of the lid ensures safe cooking at high temperature. You can find rice cooker lids of different materials, such as metal, clear plastic and glass. If a transparent lid falls within your price range, get it. Otherwise, it is not necessary.
- The Pan: The inner pan or the cooking pot is a must-have in every rice cooker. Nowadays, cooking pans are non-stick, and they are slightly more expensive. We recommend you don’t think about the cost at this point because non-stick pans are a must-have due to the ease of cleaning they offer.
- Steamer Trays: Some models feature steam trays for steaming vegetables while the rice cooks. There are two ways to steam vegetables: do only vegetables by using the steamer tray or steam vegetables after preparing rice.
- If you have multiple steamer trays made from perforated metal, you can steam veggies simultaneously. Some models feature a steamer basket to steam veggies above the rice. Multiple steam trays save time and effort.
- Other units feature a small tray at the bottom, lying just above the cooking element. These units are expensive, but they are more flexible and safer compared to basic models.
Electronic features develop and improve with time, so you will see several different models due to added features. And this is one good reason for them being higher in price as compared to others. Some features to look for include:
- Fuzzy Logic Technology: It enables you to start with just a press of the button on the menu. It offers multiple functions, such as white rice, brown rice, mixed rice, glutinous rice and more.
- Quick cooking: When you are running out of time, press the Quick Cooking option to save time. This feature bypasses soak time and takes you right to the cooking cycle.
- Porridge cycle: If you love slow cooked food, you can use the porridge cycle feature to prepare traditional Asian recipes.
- Reheat Cycle: This feature increases the rice temperature back to maximum and warms for about 5 – 10 minutes. It then maintains the heat.
- Texture: Expensive and high-end models offer texture feature. This means you have the luxury to decide the rice texture. You can choose to make it firmer, softer or keep it regular.
Rice cookers are electric appliances. So, serious care must be taken while handling them. At the same time, these appliances also have some built-in safety features, including
- Fuse protector: Every rice cooker has a fuse protector. It prevents the risk of fire, especially when the appliance is left unattended.
- Auto cord reel: With an auto cord reel, you can keep the cooker away from your kids and pets. You can adjust the cord length and keep it beyond the reach of your kids.
Finally, you have all the information about choosing the best rice cooker, but make sure you remember everything while buying one for your kitchen. Rice cookers come in a variety of sizes, qualities, and prices, and you can find the perfect one for your kitchen within your budget. We would not recommend you start with the inexpensive models because all of them (the branded models) are meant for long life.
But we would certainly recommend assessing your needs before getting a rice cooker. While larger cookers, or the ones with more features, may exceed your needs, you will be better off limiting yourself to the rice cooking options, if you bought something that underperforms in the long run.
Whether you buy a basic model or the really expensive one, you will feel a huge positive shift from the way you cooked rice before. Soon, your family will see you meeting their needs with a bright smile on your face.
Quick Tips before Buying
- Do not cook brown rice in a rice cooker that only cooks white rice. The cooking procedures for each of them are entirely different. So, if you want both, buy a rice cooker that also offers a brown rice setting in addition to the basic white rice setting.
- Metal utensils don’t go well with nonstick cooking pots. Metal is bad for a nonstick surface. It scratches the nonstick layer, and soon, you’ll see rice sticking to the scratched part of the pot. So, if you have a nonstick pot, you should go for a wooden or plastic material for the rice cooker.
- Stainless steel pots suit all. But they require a bit of cleaning after cooking. If you can compromise on this aspect, stainless steel inner pots are best for all kinds of rice cookers.
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