The Best Rice Cooker Buying Guide 2017

If you cook a lot of rice or just want to simplify dinner prep, a rice cooker could be a great addition to your kitchen. The latest models offer advanced features and computerized sensors to ensure you’ll never have under or overcooked rice again. They also free up your stovetop and are perfect for dorm or small apartment cooking. Many of the best rice cookers handle additional tasks like steaming veggies and protein, simmering soups and stews, or cooking other grains from oatmeal to quinoa. However, the broad range of bells and whistles available on many machines can be confusing. We’re here to help with our rice cooker reviews.

We evaluated some of the best rice cookers across the market and took them for a spin with a variety of rice types including white, brown, and sushi. This guide will help you choose the best rice cooker for you including what to look for in a rice cooker, an overview of the types of models on the market, and reviews of our top picks for 2017.

BLACK+DECKER RC503 Mini Single-Serve 3-Cup Cooked/1.5-Cup Uncooked Rice Cooker

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If you’re cooking for 1 or 2 people and want fast, reliably well-cooked white rice the Black+Decker RC503 3 Cup Mini is a great choice. This model is extremely easy to use—add rice and water, push a button, and when it’s done an automatic keep-warm setting starts to keep your rice warm and fluffy. Indicator lights show you whether rice is still cooking or steamed to perfection (other small rice cookers often don’t have this feature). It prepares anywhere from 1-3 cups of white rice and cooking takes just 20-30 minutes. Cleanup is easy with a dishwasher-safe, nonstick bowl and tempered glass lid. Just be sure to not to use a metal spoon as the bowl is easily scratched. This model can also be used to warm small portions of soups, stews, and oatmeal. We had the best results with simple white rice but at only $15 this machine is an easy addition to your cooking gear.

Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD 8-Cup (Cooked) Digital Cool-Touch Rice Cooker and Food Steamer With Stainless Steel Exterior

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The Aroma 8-Cup Cool Touch Rice Cooker is our top pick for best-all-around rice cooker based on the quality of rice it makes, additional features it offers, and a very reasonable $30 price tag with high user reviews. With a cooked capacity of 8 cups it’s a great choice for a family of 4 to 6. This rice cooker offers a digital timer, a 15 hour delayed start feature, an auto-warm function when your rice is done, and both white and brown rice settings that do an excellent job cooking both types. It also lets you take care of your entire meal in one appliance with a built in steamer tray to cook meats and vegetables along with your rice and a “Quick Rice” function slashes cooking time. The inner cooking pot and all accessories remove for easy cleanup in the dishwasher. Aroma also includes the steam tray, a custom rice measuring cup, serving spatula, soup ladle, and a recipe booklet.

Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker, 7-Cups Uncooked Resulting in 14-Cups (Cooked), 37549

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Larger families who need a rice cooker with a high capacity as well as multiple settings for other cooking tasks will find a great value in the Hamilton Beach Digital Simplicity Rice Cooker and Steamer. This model offers more settings than you typically find in a rice cooker at this price point including “White Rice”, “Quick Rice”, “Whole Grain” for brown rice, farro, quinoa, and other grains, “Heat/Simmer” for soups, stews, and beans, “Steam Cook” for veggies, meat, fish, and dumplings and, “Hot Cereal” for oatmeal and porridge. It comes with a steam tray and has simple push button controls plus a 15-hour delayed start function, an automatic keep-warm setting and gives quick and consistent results with an impressive 14-cup cooked capacity. Measuring in at only 10.25 H x 10.25 W x 9.5 D it won’t crowd your kitchen.



Zojirushi NS-TSC10 5-1/2-Cup (Uncooked) Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer, 1.0-Liter

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For true rice aficionados seeking a high-end rice cooker with advanced capabilities to cook a variety of rice types, the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 is one of the best values on the market. Their “Fuzzy Logic” technology allows the machine to think for itself and make fine adjustments to temperature and heating time to cook perfect rice of any type each and every time. It has a wide range of settings too: white (regular/sushi, softer or harder), mixed, porridge, sweet, semi-brown, brown, rinse-free, and quick cooking. While it worked incredibly well in all our tests the only downside is speed—it takes up to 45 minutes for white rice. However, with the delay cook, automatic keep warm, extended keep warm, and reheat settings this won’t be an issue. It’s extremely easy to clean and includes a spatula, a spatula holder, a steam tray, and 2 rice-measuring cups (regular and rinse-free) At $149 it’s a bargain compared to similar models from other manufacturers.

Aroma Housewares 20 Cup Cooked (10 cup uncooked) Digital Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker, Food Steamer, SS Exterior (ARC-150SB)

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The Aroma 20-Cup Digital Rice Cooker, Food Steamer and Slow Cooker is designed to handle a variety of “feeds-a-crowd” cooking tasks while still doing a fantastic job cooking as little as 4 cups of rice. A “Slow Cook” function allows it to do double-duty as a slow cooker making it our pick for “Best Multipurpose Appliance”. The larger capacity also allows for steaming plenty of dumplings, veggies, or protein for dinner or parties. As with many rice cookers, it has a 15 hour delay timer, auto keep warm, and includes a rice measuring cup, serving spatula, soup ladle, and steam tray. This model did an excellent job on both white and brown rice and includes charts with cook times for both at normal speed and an excelerated “Flash Cook.”

Prep Solutions by Progressive Microwaveable Rice and Pasta Cooker, 17 Piece Set - 12 Cup Capacity

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If you have limited storage, a small budget, or don't want to clutter your kitchen with yet another appliance, the Prep Solutions Microwaveable Rice and Pasta Cooker is our top microwave rice cooker option. This versatile 17-piece set includes a steaming insert, pasta measurer, pasta draining insert, measuring cups and spoons, rice paddle and locking lid—all for the cost of about 2 lattes! While all the parts are plastic, they’re BPA free and cleverly designed to fit inside the main rice bowl for easy storage. The specially designed lid keeps steam circulating, and clamps on the base to keep it tightly in place. Rice comes out fluffy and doesn't stick to the bottom of the cooker. It’s simple to use and includes an instruction manual of estimated cooking times for various types of rice, steamed vegetables, and pasta. Be aware that if your microwave wattage is higher or lower than average you may need to adjust cooking times to get the most out of this model.



Types of Rice Cookers

The variations among types of rice cookers is extremely broad, ranging from simple $10 plastic versions that work for white rice in the microwave to expensive and sophisticated models featuring induction and pressure cooking technology and programmable, adjustable modes for exotic grains. Here’s a breakdown:

Microwave

Inexpensive plastic cooking vessels that keep steam locked in to cook rice or steam foods using only your microwave.

Conventional

These are the most popular rice cookers reviewed and include basic components: a heating plate, cooking pot, external pot, and often a steam tray. They keep things simple and rely only on the heat plate and a timer to cook rice. Many feature automatic shut off, delay, and keep warm functions as well. They’re available as small as 3 cups and up to 60-cup commercial sizes for restaurants or caterers.

Micom

A more advanced and expensive version of rice cooker that features a computerized micro chip; these automatically adjust cooking time and temperature using thermal sensors for perfectly cooked rice of all kinds. They can often help with other cooking tasks as well.

Micom With Induction Heating

Another step up in function and price, an induction-heating element creates a magnetic field that constantly transmits heat within the entire inner pot for more even cooking with micom technology. With most models at $250 or more, we considered these a splurge purchase.

Micom With Pressurized Induction Heating

Taking the induction and micom technology one step further, these models raise the cooking temperature with pressurized heating and can change the texture and structure of the grains and starch in the rice. They’re often priced between $300 and $400 but can sometimes be found on eBay or Craigslist for less.

What to Look for in a Rice Cooker

  • Cooking capacity that matches your household’s needs
  • Non-stick inner pots
  • Light indicators
  • Keep warm/delay features for flexibility
  • Digital controls and fuzzy logic
  • Reheat cycle to rewarm rice
  • Quick cook function to slash time
  • Texture settings for firmer or softer rice
  • Stainless steel pots for durability
  • Ability to cook other grains
  • Steam trays for sides
  • Simmer or slow cook functions
  • Custom measuring cups
  • Non-scratch serving spoons and ladles
  • Dishwasher safe parts for easy cleanup