Electric rice cookers have been around for years – a modern-day appliance that everyone needed or wanted to have at the time (60’s, 70’s). More often than not getting used for a while and then purchasers reverted back to their old way of preparing rice.
So the rice cooker ended up like unwanted home gym equipment put to the back of the cupboard and forgotten for the next big thing. Shame really because when used regularly and how instructed these little machines prepare great rice without much fuss or cleanup.
Choosing the right Rice Cooker for you will seem daunting without a doubt! If you take into consideration the types of rice cookers available and also take into consideration the following 5 tips I am certain you will find the perfect rice cooker to suit your needs.
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Electric appliance cooking is back and people are viewing rice cookers, slow cookers, and multi-purpose cookers in a new light. So the decision-making process begins is do I only want to prepare rice or do I want to do more?
Some rice cookers available to us today do more than just cook rice.
Types of Rice Cookers
Choosing a rice cooker for your needs is easy when you understand what and how a rice cooker works.
Being aware of the types of rice cookers available is also an important step in your final decision. The three explanations of rice cookers below are the beginning of your ultimate choice of which rice cooker to purchase.
Traditional Rice Cooker
A traditional rice cooker comes with a heating element at the bottom of the cooker. This lends itself to sticking as the heat is uneven.
The lid on these cookers usually glass, sits on top of the cooking appliance – allowing heat and moisture to escape – this also adds to uneven heating.
These cookers are usually simple in design with an on/off button and a keep warm mode.
2 cups of dry rice will take around 20 minutes to cook. When complete the machine will revert to a keep warm mode – no more than 4 hours is advised for the warming feature.
A jar-o-mat rice cooker also has a heating element at the bottom of the cooker but also comes with the advantage of heating electricity wrapped around the sides of the cooker. Heating in these cookers tends to be more even, thus alleviating sticking.
The lid on a jar-o-mat cooker can come with an element in the lid for extra heat. The lid has a better seal as it usually has a gasket around the top and the lid is hinged onto the cooker.
Providing a better seal and better even heating – also less sticking.
Jar-o-mat provides better heat distribution and keeps warm due to the elements and lid that seals.
These rice cookers are run by a computer chip. They operate on what is called fuzzy logic. It pretty much cooks in a different way to the other cookers depending upon the program cycle you choose.
They can warm before cooking, count up timers, count down timers, timer setting so you can put in the time you want the rice ready to eat, slow cook, cook many different types of rice such as brown rice as well as keep warm.
You will get good fluffy rice from these rice cookers with the added bonus of being able to use the rice cooker to prepare a variety of different meals.
5 Tips for Choosing Your Rice Cooker
I am often asked the question “what to look for in a rice cooker”?
If I could give a quick answer this would be it;
- The correct size for your needs
- Understand what types of rice cooking you will be undertaking – affects control choices
- A pot with the ability to cook more than rice if required
- Quality pots and utensils – so inner cooking does not become damaged
- Sleek for easy cleaning and dishwasher-safe pots, lids, and utensils
In-depth tips for choosing the best rice cooker for you…
1. Serving Size Required
Identifying the number of serves you will require on a regular basis is key when preparing rice. This not only gives you better rice every time you prepare it, but you also extend the rice cookers’ lifetime.
What I mean by this is that if you are cooking a small amount of rice at the bottom of a large rice cooker the elements on the inside of the cooker do not have reasonable water or rice to the required cooking level. Apart from the rice cooking properly the top of the cooker and insert are being ruined.
On the flip side, you should not overload a small rice cooker to yield a larger serving. The contents will bubble over and not cook properly. Also, it is dangerous to have liquid flowing outside an electrical appliance.
For example, if you are only preparing rice for 1 to 2 people you will need a small rice cooker this would yield 1 to 2 cups of cooked rice.
Choosing a rice cooker for the amount of rice you will regularly be preparing is important.
TIP: Rice cookers come with their own cup measures. They usually equal about 3/4 of a normal cup measurement. So use the cup supplied when using the cooker…
2. Food to Be Prepared
Just as confusing as what types of rice cookers are available is understanding what they can cook. Typically there is just a rice cooker. Now coming to the party is the cooker that can cook rice, slow cook, pressure cook, and more all in one machine.
So a close second to the correct cooker size is knowing what you want the machine to do for you. So you need to determine whether you want to prepare rice only or some other types of cooking.
Read more about what rice cookers can do for example using your rice cooker as a slow cooker.
3. Heat Distribution and Durability
Heat distribution needs to be even as we touched on above to keep your rice cooker in working order longer. But more importantly, it gives you the best fluffy rice every time you prepare it.
The larger number of people you feed on a regular basis would lend itself to a fuzzy logic-type rice cooker. You will have more control over the cooking amount and the cooking times.
If it is small amounts of simple rice preparation you are after the traditional type of rice cookers will do the job.
4. Care and Maintenance
You would think that most inner pots of rice cookers are tough. Sadly not, care should be taken with utensils and cleaning to avoid scraping the inner pot.
An inner pot that has been compromised will cause sticking and burning. Also depending upon what the pot is made out of or what coating is covering it – there may be health concerns if it is damaged.
Always read your manufacturer’s instructions about the care and maintenance of your cooking pots and appliances.
For those who just want rice, there is nothing wrong with a well-known brand of cooker that offers safety and good rice at a reasonable price. Some rice cooker owners are happy to replace it for another $20 or so when required.
The new rice cookers with all the bells and whistles will cost more. But what if you replaced a number of your kitchen appliances as well? What is a little more money when you gain space in your kitchen cupboards…
5 of the Best Rice Cookers
I am excited to share with you 5 of the best rice cookers. There is something for everyone and after you have decided what rice cooker you want I am certain one of these 5 very popular models and brands will suit you.
There are so many choices of rice cookers available for purchase today. As well as the traditional version of rice cookers there are also multi-purpose cookers now available. So if you are new to this way of cooking it can be very confusing to make the perfect choice for your needs.
It is my hope that I can help you with your purchase of a rice cooker which is the best choice for you. So you too can start preparing quick healthy rice meals using one of these convenient cooking appliances.
QUICK NOTE: If you have landed on this page and you already know you want to buy a RICE COOKER check out what Amazon has to offer. There you will be able to peruse the many Rice Cookers available as well as check out reviews from those satisfied customers who have already made their purchases at Amazon.
Using a rice cooker can be as easy as adding the rice, then the water, cooking, and then keeping warm if required. Of course, some of the fancier models can do a lot more than that!
Delayed starts and keep-warm features which are so handy for all of us busy people are built into a lot of rice cookers.
Lastly, the easy-clean features in these rice cookers are a real-time saver. Gone are the days of cleaning water and rice splatters on your cooktop and backsplash. Into the dishwasher, the detachable pieces of the rice cookers go.
1. Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD 8-Cup Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker
With so many cookers and steamers available for purchase today, you will soon see why this Aroma Housewares rice cooker is one of the best-selling rice cookers.
This digital cool-touch rice cooker and food steamer in its stainless steel housing is a sleek-looking rice cooker.
It has a streamlined stainless steel body and a flush-mounted large digital control panel, that completes the sleek look. It is very easy to keep this rice cooker clean, just wipe it over with a soft damp cloth.
Features – Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker:
- Capacity for 4-8 cups of cooked food which is actually 4 cups of uncooked food
- Easy-to-understand functions
- A Timer that boasts up to a 15-hour delay
- The controls are programmable for white rice, brown rice, steam, a timer for the delay, and an automatic setting for keeping the food warm
- All the inner accessories and parts of the cooker can be removed and cleaned once the food is cooked
- Accessories included are a tray for steaming, a rice measuring cup, a spatula and recipes, and a coupon
This rice cooker offers you so much more than just steamed rice. You can use the steaming insert to cook vegetables and meat while your rice is cooking. You can also use it to prepare chili, soups, jambalaya and so much more.
There is also a quick-cooking rice setting which cuts cooking time by up to 50%. A programmable 15-hour delay timer. Set and forget until you are ready to serve.
When you have completed your meal preparation, the inner cooking pot and all accessories are removed for easy cleanup in the dishwasher.
Check out my full review of this Armoma Houseware Rice Cooker.
2. Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker with Rinser/Steam Basket
The Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker with Rinser can hold 4 cups of uncooked resulting in approximately 8 cups of cooked fluffy rice. Even though it offers a very appealing compact design there is room at the top of this rice cooker for a steamer basket for vegetables or protein choices.
Features – Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker with Rinser/Steam Basket
- Compact appealing design with an easy-to-hold carrying handle
- Rice rinser/steam basket in one
- 2-8 cups cooked rice capacity, 1-4 cups uncooked rice capacity
- The simple, one-touch operation
- Automatically switches to keep warm after cooking
- Removable non-stick cooking pot
- 8 Cups Cooked/4 Cups Uncooked
- The cooking pot and rice rinser or steam basket are dishwasher-safe
- The lid liner is removed for easy cleaning
- Includes dishwasher-safe rice measuring cup and rice paddle
- Dimensions of rice cooker 8.1 inches x 9.6 inches x 8.1 inches
- Weighs 2.9 pounds
Quick Use Guide for this Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker
You can cook more than rice! What about trying some sorghum, barley, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, lentils, oats, wheat berries as well as farro?
The cooker has a steam basket for seaming meat and vegetables but can also be used for rinsing rice before cooking to stop the rice from sticking together.
One-pot cooking anyone? Included with the rice cooker is a steaming time chart to assist you in preparing steamed meals.
The one-touch control easy-to-use appliance “Keep Warm” mode is handy.
Easy-to-clean cooking pot, rice rinser or steam basket, rice ladle, and rice measuring cup are all dishwasher safe. Removal of the lid liner for easy cleaning.
All in all a great compact choice of Rice Cooker for a couple or small family.
Read my in-depth review of the Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker with Rinser/Steam Basket.
3. BLACK & DECKER 3-Cup Cooked – Single-Serve
The capacity of this cute BLACK & DECKER rice cooker is 1 cup dry to 3 cups of cooked rice. Which is enough to feed a single person or 2 people when serving the rice as an accompaniment to another dish.
Features and Use Guide – BLACK & DECKER Rice Cooker
An aluminum bowl with a non-stick coating is a great feature of this rice cooker. The insert rice cooking bowl is non-stick and easy to remove and clean. This non-stick insert can be placed in a dishwasher for even easier cleaning.
Cooking is as easy as 1, 2, and 3 in this mini rice cooker. Simply add raw rice using the measuring cup supplied, add water as per instructions, and cook.
After your rice is cooked in this rice cooker, the cooker automatically reverts to a function that keeps the rice warm. This “keep warm” function takes care of the rice until you are ready to use it.
Another feature of this rice cooker is the accessories that are included in this mini rice cooker – A measuring cup and a plastic spoon package.
The measuring cup provided should be used in conjunction with the instructions for using this rice cooker. It is not a true cup measure, using the one supplied ensures you get the best fluffy rice every time.
It is very important that the non-stick bowl is not scratched as this will cause your rice to stick and burn. So there is a plastic spoon provided to assist in protecting the rice cooker insert, please use it!
Handy colored indicator lights will show you when the rice is cooking, cooked, and warming. There is a steam vent to release any excess steam build-up.
Also included in the package is the Built-In lid holder for the tempered glass lid. Last but not least a small Recipe cookbook for meal ideas.
For a single person or a couple, this rice cooker is a good option for your rice preparation needs.
Check my full review of this Black & Decker rice cooker as well as some bonus information about using your rice cooker to its capacity.
4. Tiger Corporation Micom Rice Cooker with Food Steamer and Slow Cooker
Features – Tiger Micom Rice Cooker with Food Steamer and Slow Cooker
- 4 cooking menu settings
- BPA-free cooking plate
- Automatic keep warm
- Easy to clean non-stick inner pot
- Detachable inner steam cap
- Accessories included are a non-stick spatula, cooking plate, measuring cup, and cookbook for using the “Synchrony-cooking” function
- Keep warm function for up to 12 hours
- The dimension of the rice cooker is 13.9 inches x 10.6 inches x 8.4 inches
- Weighs 5.7 pounds
This multi-functional rice cooker allows you to prepare two dishes simultaneously with Tiger’s own ‘Tacook’ synchronized cooking function.
Combined with minimal preparation and the press of a button, Tiger’s Automatic Cooking Logic system actively monitors cooking temperatures to create the perfect meal.
Unlike other rice cookers, Tiger’s cooking plate is specially designed so the flavors from the cooking plate do not affect the flavor or texture of the rice.
Easy to Operate Buttons you can choose from 4 cooking settings:
- Plain Rice
- Brown Rice
- Slow Cook/Steam
5. Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer
As outlined above – we are now getting into serious rice cooking (as well as other food) preparation. Not only for ease of use but the quantities some families or entertainers will require.
This rice cooker certainly presents well and will look great on any kitchen counter as it is very much a talking piece. The stainless brown of the outer casing of the cooker is a pleasant change from the norm.
Just looking at this rice cooker tells me that it is easy to keep clean (on the outside anyway).
Features – Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker
- Capacity: Up to 10 cups / 1.8 liters
- Automatic keep warm, extended keep warm, and reheating cycle
- Easy to clean clear coated stainless steel exterior
- 2 delay time settings
- Interchangeable melody and beep signal
- Built-in retractable power cord
This Zojirushi Rice Cooker is a serious appliance for your kitchen. It has a microchip that adjusts cooking times as well as temperatures to suit the type of rice you will be cooking.
What Can I Cook in the Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker?
You will only be limited by your imagination. Some suggestions are:
- Brown rice
- Sushi rice
- Mixed rice
- Bake Cakes
- Steam your food as a healthy alternative
This Zojirushi is a serious contender if you are serious about the kitchen. Or if you have no choice but to cook for a number of people. It will provide everything you could want in a rice cooker and so much more.
Are Rice Cookers Worth It?
If you use a rice cooker regularly then – YES rice cookers are worth it. If you only use it on the odd occasion – I would say NO – who needs another appliance sitting in your home unused?
Final Thoughts – How Do I Choose A Rice Cooker?
I am certain I have helped you choose the correct rice cooker for you.
Tip: Read the instructions of new appliances and use them to their capacity!
One-Pot Cooking Rocks