The Japanese have a way of coming up with appliances that make life easier. That is definitely the case when it comes to cooking rice – they make some of the best rice cookers in the world (definitely the best Zojirushi rice cookers – reviews below) and probably the best stainless steel rice cookers, too. Believed by most who have used them to be absolutely the finest way to cook rice, these appliances can be intimidating to those who are not familiar with all that they can do. Some of them work just like pressure cookers while others rely more on steam.
Here is a quick look at the strengths and features of ten of the top rice cookers available. Be sure to scroll down after the table for more in-depth reviews of what makes each one unique. Some brands offer a range of different types cookers.
|Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer||5 1/2 Cup dry rice||ON SALE (depending on your country) click to see price||5/5|
|Aroma's 8-cup Digital Rice Cooker||8 Cup||US$30-US$35||4.5/5|
|Zojirushi Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer||3 Cup||US$170||4.5/5|
|Aroma 20-Cup Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker||20 Cup||US$35-$40||4.5/5|
|Tiger Electronics Microcomputer Rice Cooker||10 Cup||US$300||4.5/5|
Best Zojirushi Rice Cooker Review – Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer (NS-ZCC10)
The top-rated Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer has a 5 ½ cup capacity to make rice for the whole family. The cooker has a push-button interface with both an extended warming and a reheat cycle. With two measuring cups, a nonstick rice scoop and holder, and recipes, the cooker is ready to go right out of the box. Menu settings include:
- White rice
- Quick cooking
The fuzzy logic setup means that the cooker even thinks for you, adjusting temperature and heating time as needed to make sure you get the perfect rice. And when you are done, the nonstick coating means that cleanup is incredibly easy. Retail pricing for this model is $256 though right now you can get significant savings on this model at Amazon. It seems many people think this is the best of the best so if it is in stock we advise you snap it up.
Users love the NS-ZCC10, citing ease of use and easy cleanup as the two most appealing features. In side-by-side cooking, the NS-ZCC10 produces fluffier, better tasting rice than other cookers in the same price range and with the same features. The cooker heats evenly, producing consistent texture and flavor throughout the batch of cooked rice.
Lest you think that you can only make rice with this cooker, it is far more versatile than that. Steel cut oats and porridge are just as easy to make. With the advanced timer settings, you can even start your oatmeal overnight and let it cook for breakfast the next day. The cooker automatically sets itself to warm when the oatmeal or porridge is completely cooked, giving you a perfectly timed breakfast every time. But do not stop there. Keep going and make quinoa, barley, and polenta, too. Buy Now.
Aroma Digital Rice Cooker (ARC-914SBD)
Aroma’s 8-cup Digital also handles small batches, with a minimum size of 2 cups. The rice cooks in the bottom of the unit while vegetables and meat can steam in the cooker above. You can also make everything from jambalaya to soups and stews in this smaller rice cooker. The cooker has a 15-hour timer with delay settings, programmable controls and built-in quick set functions. Those settings include:
- Keep warm
- White Rice
- Brown Rice
The cooker comes with a recipe book, a rice spatula, a steam tray and a measuring cup for the rice. With a retail price of around $30, this is a fantastic cooker for anyone on a budget. It also takes up very little counter or cabinet space, so it is not obtrusive in your kitchen. Ready to purchase? Buy now.
Zojirushi Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer (NS-LACO5XT)
The Zojirushi Micom 3-Cup has a microcomputer inside to help control all aspects of the cook settings. It is one of the smallest on the list, with a 3-cup capacity for dry rice. This turns out 6 cups of cooked rice, so you can easily feed a whole family. The inner cooking pan gives the unit even heating, and the microcomputer adjusts temperature and time as needed to ensure you get perfect rice every time. You can not only cook rice, but you can reheat it as well. The unit retails for $175, and users say that it is flawless at making rice quickly.
Aroma 20-Cup Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker (ARC-150SB)
Do you need to make a lot of rice regularly? The Aroma 20-Cup Digital Cool-Touch is perfect. It can make from 4 cups of rice at a time all the way up to 20 cups. Not only that, it can keep the rice warm until you are ready to call everyone to the table. The nonstick cook pot removes easily, and it cleans up in the dishwasher. Programs for white rice, brown rice, steam, and keep warm allow you to do so much more with your the ARC-150SB. Its retail price of approximately $40 also means that it fits well into the budget.
Tiger Electronics Microcomputer Rice Cooker (JAH-T18U)
If you do not have a lot of space, or you simply love kitchen equipment that does double and even triple duty, then check out the Tiger Electronics Microcomputer Cooker. The unit is fully-featured, but it also works as a steamer and a slow cooker to meet all your needs in one device. It comes with:
- A steam basket
- A nonstick spatula
- A ladle
- A rice measuring cup
The $260 retail price may seem steep at first to some buyers, but when you factor in the other appliances that it can replace; you are getting a huge bargain in one machine that can fit on your countertop.
Zojirushi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker (NP-NVC10)
Though not rated as the best Zojirushi rice cooker the Zojirushi Induction Heating Pressure Cooker comes close with its use off vacuum sealing technology for the inner cooking pan so that it can efficiently heat the rice and water. You can make every style or type of rice from sushi rice all the way to brown rice simply by pushing a few buttons on the LCD display. Induction heating removes any “hot spots” from the bottom of the cooking pan, which gives the rice uniform cooking throughout. The addition of pressure cooking to the mix means that your rice is even fluffier and easier to digest.
Panasonic 5-Cup “Fuzzy Logic” Rice Cooker (SR-DE103)
Fuzzy logic is a handy thing to have in any piece of kitchen equipment, because it means that the machine is working with you instead of against you. The Panasonic 5-Cup “Fuzzy Logic” uses its fuzzy logic controls to keep an eye on your rice and make sure that it is always cooking at the optimal temperature and for the optimal time. The SR-DE103 lets you keep rice warm for up to 12 hours, so if you have a family that eats at different times all around the clock, you can accommodate them easily. It does not just cook rice, either. It has steam and slow cook settings, as well as a cake setting. The domed lid keeps water from condensing on the lid and then falling back into the rice, making it taste bad, and the aluminum pan is nonstick, so it cleans up quickly. For a retail price of $120, it’s higher end without breaking the bank.
Oster 3-Cup Uncooked 6-Cup Cooked Rice Cooker (CKSTRCMS65)
Oster keeps rice cooking hassle-free with this one’s simplicity. The Oster 3-Cup (Uncooked) 6-Cup (Cooked) Unit has a removable cooking pot covered with a glass lid. The cooking pot and the glass lid are top rack dishwasher safe to make cleanup really easy. The system includes:
• A steaming basket
• A rice measuring cup
• A rice ladle
There are no complicated settings involved and you can simply set the Oster up and let it go. When the rice is fully cooked, the cooker automatically sets itself to warm to keep your rice perfect until you are ready. Indicator lights on the front of the cooker let you know whether the cooker is set to “cook” or “warm” functionality at a glance. With a retail price between $20 and $30, this is a cooker that can fit into any budget at all.
Zojirushi 5 1/2-Cup Cooker and Warmer with Induction Heating System (NP-HBC10) – Our Pick for Best Stainless Steel Rice Cooker
Easy to clean both inside and out, the Zojirushi 5 ½-Cup with Induction Heating System uses superior technology to make cooking rice effortless. The two timed delay settings allow you to customize the cooking settings for your unique needs. You can set the cooker to turn on in the afternoon so the rice is ready just in time for dinner. Induction heating keeps every grain of rice at the exact perfect temperature. With a microcomputer controlling every second of cook time, you can kick back and relax. The retail price of $396 puts this cooker at the higher end of the spectrum, but you can do so much more than just cook rice, since there are settings for everything from porridges and oatmeals to different varieties and types of rice. This unit is beautiful, good value, and versatile making it our pick for best stainless steel rice cooker.
Zojirushi 5 ½-Cup Micom Cooker(NS-TSC10)
The Zojirushi 5 ½-Cup Micom uses its built-in microcomputer to do all the heavy lifting for you. No more calculating the perfect timing to get the exact texture you love in your rice. Instead, this cooker automatically adjusts itself while it cooks to keep the result perfect. The entire cooker is easy to clean, making it even handier to have around. You can choose between a melody and a beep to let you know that your rice is done. With a retail price of $192, this cooker is not too expensive to add to your kitchen arsenal and is another model that makes choosing the best Zojirushi rice cooker a difficult task.
Rice Cooker Instructions: How to Make Fantastic Rice
One thing that people find confusing at first is that the instructions say to add a specific number of cups of rice to the cooker. The thing is, Asian rice cookers use smaller “cup” sizes than we are used to. So when the instructions reference a “cup,” they actually mean the measuring cup that comes with the cooker. If you have lost that cup or you just want to use your own utensils, translate that cup size to about ¾ cup.
Once you have measured the rice you want to make, the next step is to rinse it. Some people avoid rinsing rice, particularly if it is enhanced white rice, for example. Some recipes specifically mention rinsing, such as those for basmati rice. The idea is that rinsing removes some of the loose starch, giving you fluffier rice. The reality is that you can do either. Try rinsing and not rinsing, and see which way you like your rice best.
Now that the rice is in the cooker, it is time to add water. Each variety of rice needs a slightly different amount of water to have the rice cook properly. Basmati, for example, is best drier at a ratio of 1 cup rice to 1 cup water. Long grain white rice is closer to 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. Follow the ratios given by your manufacturer, but you can always tweak those amounts in later batches.
Be sure to move all of the rice below the water line. If you do not, the rice that is above the water will not cook properly and it could even burn. You do not need to stir the rice in the water. In fact, that could ensure you end up with a chewy batch. Oh, and don’t stir the rice while it is cooking, either, since that lets steam out of the cooker and is not necessary at all.
If your cooker is the “set it and forget it” type, then all you need to do is turn it on. If yours is a little more advanced, however, you should set it to the type of rice you are cooking. Often this just takes making the right selections from the buttons on the front of the machine.
When your rice is finished, the machine will alert you in some manner, either with beeps or some other audible sound. You should let your rice rest for five to ten minutes before you dig in, however. Good rice cookers also come with a spatula or rice spoon to help you fluff the rice. You can use a fork or another spoon, but you may find that the rice sticks to whatever utensil you use. A trick is to wet the spatula or spoon with cold water before fluffing, and the rice will not stick. And now, enjoy your rice!
Troubleshooting Your Rice
You can buy the best brown rice cooker on the market, but occasionally something might still go wrong, even if you follow the directions to the letter. Excess humidity and other environmental considerations may be the issue, or you could just need to learn how to better cook with the type of rice you are using.
If the rice is a little on the mushy side, there was probably too much water and then the rice cooked for too long. One way to combat this is to use just a little bit less water the next time. Do not go overboard here, because it is easy to go too far in the other direction. Start with lessening the water by about ¼ cup the next time and go from there.
Sometimes the cooker does what it is supposed to do, but the rice turns out just a little underdone. This makes for chewy or dry rice. The best alternative is to move the rice to a stove burner with a little bit of water in the pan. Be careful not to add too much water, or you run the risk of overcooking it and sending the rice to the mushy end of the spectrum. Start with ¼ cup of water and add more if needed.
If you have an older unit, it is probably time to replace it. Some signs that your old rice cooker is going bad include rice burning after it’s cooked or too much water left over no matter how long the cooker runs. For the burning issue, you can always turn off the warming setting to help reduce the likelihood that your rice gets burned. An even better option, though, is to upgrade to a newer Asian rice cooker.
Folks living in higher altitudes may have to do a little bit of tinkering at first. To start, add ¼ cup more water than the recipe calls for and then you can adjust as needed. Water boils at lower temperatures at higher altitude, so adding some more water helps to compensate for that. You might have to add a little bit more water to each batch until you find your perfect amount.
Making Sticky Rice
Sticky rice is common in Japanese cooking, particularly in sushi. Although you can get a sticky rice cooker if you make this kind of rice often, it is not a necessity. First of all, most cookers these days include a setting to help you make sticky rice and even if your cooker does not have this option, you can still make sticky rice very easily.
Choose a short grain rice, such as basmati or another Asian rice. Rinse the rice if you prefer, but it is not necessary since you want to hold onto much of the starch in the rice. Measure out the amount of rice you want to make. A good rule of thumb is to use a little more than a one to one rice to water ratio. So if you are making 2 cups of rice, add about 2 ¼ or 2 ½ cups of water to the cooker.
Let the rice soak in the water for at least half an hour. This lets the rice absorb some water before it starts cooking. You want to hang onto this water, too, since it will have some of the rice’s starch in it. After the rice finishes soaking, top up the water until the water level reaches about the same amount of water you started out with.
Turn on your unit. If you have a setting for sticky rice, then by all means, use that setting. If you do not, simply let the cooker run for about 20 minutes or so. If the cooker has not already turned off at that point, turn it off and let the rice steam for another 15 to 20 minutes. After the steam session, open the lid and stir the rice to check it. By now, the water should be gone and the rice should be plenty sticky. Serve it up and enjoy!
Replacing Other Small Appliances
With the advancements in rice technology, there is really no reason for you to have separate small appliances. They take up valuable counter and cabinet space, and a good Asian rice cooker can easily take the place of several appliances. If replacing other, outdated equipment is one of your goals, then you can’t go wrong with choosing one that has electric pressure cooker options as well as built-in steam trays and other accessories – a far cry from historical pressure cookers. With all-in-one appliances like that, you can use them around the clock to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner without having to dirty more than the one small appliance. You will end up getting far more use out of your cooker than you ever thought possible.
No matter how often you cook rice at home, a rice cooker definitely makes the task easier. The wonderful thing about these appliances is that they do so much more than just cooking rice. With the pressure cooker options these days, you can even cook an entire meal. Once you find the right one — the best rice cooker for you according to our reviews — you are going to wonder just how you managed to get along without having one in your kitchen all this time.