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Rice is an affordable and versatile grain, used and loved in many cuisines around the world. With so many different varieties, rice can be enjoyed on its own, as a side dish, or serve as the base for many recipes like grain bowls, jambalayas, stir fries, and so much more.
Although the process of cooking rice on the stovetop is fairly easy–after all, it's just water and rice, usually in a 2-to-1 ratio –it's also easy to under or over cook your rice. If you've ever scorched a pan of rice or wondered why your rice is soft and mushy, you've realized cooking a pot of rice requires just-so timing and constant supervision.
Rice cookers allow you to make a pot of perfectly textured, fluffy rice without any guesswork or constant watching. Most models can also be used to cook other grains, such as oats, quinoa, or polenta. You can even use a rice cooker to make a no-stir risotto.
Before buying, you'll want to consider a rice cooker's capacity and cooking functions for how much rice you eat and which types of rice you eat most often. Here are our top rice cooker picks to help you prepare perfect batches of rice and grains.
Best Overall: Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-ZCC10
The machine auto-adjusts time and temperature for the type of rice being cookes
Inner pot has stay-cool handles
Cord is retractable for neat storage
Not the fastest rice cooker
On the expensive end
Zojirushi makes some of the best-selling and most loved rice makers. This model takes our top pick because it's compact, available in two capacities, and has computer chip technology to turn out perfectly cooked pots of rice.
This technology, called "fuzzy logic", assess the cooker's temperature via a thermal sensor built into the bottom of the unit. The machine then makes adjustments to the cooking time and temperature according to the cooking requirements for the type of rice you selected.
You can choose between regular white rice, sushi rice, mixed, porridge, sweet, semi-brown, and brown rice settings. There are also settings for cooking rice without pre-rinsing, quick cooking, and options for softer and harder grains of white rice.
The nonstick cooking pot has measurement markings on inside so you can quickly eyeball how much water to add for different types of rice. The pot also has stay-cool handles so you can transfer a piping hot batch of rice to the table for serving or stirring into soup and stir frys.
Other noteworthy features include a removable inner lid for easier deep cleaning, carrying handle, retractable cord, LCD timer, and the inclusion of two measuring cups, a rice scooper, and spoon holder.
This 5 1/2-cup cooker makes up to 10-cups of cooked rice, but there is also a larger 10-cup model if you have a big family, make a lot of rice for meal prep, or entertain frequently.
Capacity: 5.5 cups | Dimensions: 10 1/8 x 13 x 8 1/8 inches | Power Rating: 680 watts
Best Splurge: Zojirushi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer
Cooks rice perfectly
Can cook several types of rice
Not dishwasher safe
This rice cooker uses induction cooking that heats the bottom, sides, and lid of the pan and can make precise adjustments to the cooking temperature to make perfect rice, no matter what variety you're cooking, every time. It can make up to 5 cups of rice at a time and has settings for white rice (regular, softer, or harder), jasmine white rice, mixed rice, sushi rice, porridge, sweet rice, brown rice, GABA brown rice, and quick-cooking.
Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka, owner of Philadelphia-based sushi restaurant Zama, recommends Zojirushi rice cookers, which he grew up with in Japan and still uses in both his restaurant and home today. He says, "The best thing about the Zojirushi induction cooker is the way it brings the boiling temperature up so quickly and evenly. It cooks the rice from both sides and top to bottom."
Our tester was able to turn out an "absolutely perfect" ½ cup each of white and brown rice, with no gumminess or clumping, after following manual instructions.
There are two keep-warm settings, one for holding rice for a short time when dinner might be delayed, and another for keeping the rice warm for longer than eight hours. The extended keep-warm uses a slightly lower temperature to keep the rice from drying out and can hold the rice for up to 24 hours.
The cooker lets you choose between a standard beep notification, melody, or silent mode to let you know the rice is ready. The cooking pot has a nonstick coating for easy cleaning, and the cooker includes a measuring cup and rice paddle. The cord is retractable for storage.
Capacity: 5.5 cups | Dimensions: 10 1/8 x 15 3/8 x 8 5/8 inches | Power Rating: 1,240 watts
"The Zojirushi is simple to get the hang of, despite its technologically advanced design. Its orange LCD control panel is easy to read, and choosing the appropriate cooking setting using the Menu button is intuitive—even if you’re typically tech-averse." - Caroline Goldstein, Product Tester
Best Budget: Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker
Easy to use
Accessories are dishwasher safe
Doesn’t always cook rice perfectly
This wallet-friendly rice cooker includes a basket for rinsing the rice or for steaming foods in the cooker and has a removable nonstick cooking pot for easy cleaning. It holds up to 8 cups of cooked rice to feed a crowd.
Operation is easy, with just one button to turn the machine on to start the cooking. When the rice is done, it automatically switches to a keep-warm setting, so the rice will be waiting for you, even if dinner is delayed.
Our reviewer came across a caveat: the cooker yielded unevenly cooked batches of ¾ cup of white rice and the same amount of brown rice when she tested it. Still, these batches turned out "better than the rice I made on the stovetop and was infinitely simpler and faster to prepare."
Besides making rice, you can cook whole grains or use the steamer basket for vegetables or fish. For easy cleaning, both the cooking bowl and steaming basket are dishwasher safe, while the lid is removable for hand washing. A carrying handle makes it easy to move or store. A measuring cup and rice paddle are included.
Capacity: 8 cups | Dimensions: 8.07 x 9.6 x 8.07 inches | Power Rating: 350 watts
"You’d be hard-pressed to find a rice cooker that’s easier to use." — Caroline Goldstein, Product Tester
Best Basic: Aroma Housewares 8 Cup Rice and Grain Cooker
Keep warm function
Only has settings for white and brown rice
This best selling rice cooker get high marks for being affordable, easy to use, and the perfect size for most households. Measuring 10 inches tall by 8.75 inches wide, it's got a small footprint that won't take up too much counter or cabinet space.
It has settings for cooking white and brown rice, two of the most common varieties, and can cook up to 8 cups of either rice per batch. A warming mode switches on automatically when the rice is finished cooking so your rice stays at the perfect temperature for serving.
User friendly features include a non-stick interior for easy cleaning, a condensation collector to capture cooking steam, and a slot built into the lid to stash a spatula for scooping. It comes with a measuring cup, plastic rice spatula, and a removable steamer tray. The steamer tray can be used to steam meat, fish, tofu, or vegetables while the rice cooks so you have a complete meal with minimal work or cleanup.
Capacity: 8 cups | Dimensions: 8.25 x 8.5 x 9 inches | Power Rating: 450 watts
Best Smart Cooker: Panasonic 5-Cup One-Touch Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker
Detachable power cord
Keep-warm and auto-shutoff functions
No bell when rice is done
This solid rice cooker is another smart rice cooker with a micro-computer that adjusts the power depending on how much rice is being cooked. This means the rice is cooked perfectly every time, whether you’re cooking rice for one person or for your whole family.
While the cooker is a smart model, the controls are very simple to use, with icons on the buttons for selecting white rice, brown rice, porridge, or soup, or the quick-cooking or steaming modes. It has an auto-shutoff, and can keep rice warm for up to 12 hours after it has been cooked.
The cooker comes with a steaming basket, rice paddle, and measuring cup. The power cord is detachable for safety and storage, and the interior bowl has a nonstick coating for easy cleaning.
If five cups of uncooked rice (which yields about 10 cups of cooked rice) isn’t enough, there is a larger model that can handle up to 10 cups of uncooked rice.
Capacity: 5 cups | Dimensions: 9 5/8 x 13 3/8 x 7 13/16 inches | Power Rating: 750 watts
Best Stovetop: Presto 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker
Can be used on any stovetop
Easy to clean
Built-in helper handle
Requires assembly outside of the box
Sure, you can cook rice in a standard pot, but a pressure cooker does it easier and faster since pressure cookers work up to 10 times faster than normal cooking methods. Even better for your wallet and your storage space, a stovetop pressure cooker is a multi-use item that you can use every day. If you don’t pressurize the pot, you can use it just like a standard saucepot.
This has a six-quart capacity and is made from stainless steel that’s rustproof, nonreactive, and stain-resistant. It can be used on any type of stove, including induction, and it has a helper handle to make it easy to move.
During pressure cooking, the pressure regulator maintains the proper cooking pressure automatically, and the cover locks securely while under pressure with a sealing ring that keeps the steam inside the cooker. An overpressure plug releases pressure if it builds too high, for safety. The pot is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions: 17.31 x 9.12 x 8.75 inches | Power Rating: N/A
Best Large Capacity: Aroma Housewares 20-Cup Digital Rice Cooker & Food Steamer
Inside pot is nonstick and dishwasher safe
Includes countdown and delay timers
Steam tray is made of plastic
If your goal is to cook a lot of rice without a lot of fuss, this 10-cup cooker can make up to 20-cups of cooked rice per batch.
There are presets for cooking white and brown rice and the cooker can also be used to slow cook or steam. A steaming tray is included and can be used at the same time rice is cooking. Place meat or veggies on the tray and the steam from the cooking rice will cook the rest of your food for a one pot meal.
The 15-hour delay timer means you can prep your rice and cooking water in the morning and program the cooker to start cooking later in the day so your rice is done and waiting for you when you get home.
This cooker also comes with a measuring cup and rice paddle. All removable parts, including the inner pot, can be washed in the dishwasher.
Capacity: 20 cups | Dimensions: 10.75 x 11.13 x 11.25 inches | Power Rating: 860 watts
Best Microwavable: Sistema 2.6L Microwave Rice Cooker
Easy to use and clean
Can be used to steam vegetables
No sealing lid
For an easy way to cook rice that doesn’t involve yet another countertop appliance, this microwave cooker is ready to produce perfect rice in your microwave.
The cooker has an 11-cup capacity, so you can make rice for a crowd, and the steamer plus pressure chamber design produces fluffy rice every time.
Locking clips hold the lid in place during cooking, while steam vents release steam without spatter. Side tabs stay cooler and make it easy to remove the cooker from the microwave when cooking is done.
It's made from BPA-free plastic.
Capacity: 10.99 cups | Dimensions: 8.5 x 7.86 x 6.34 inches | Power Rating: N/A
Best Multi-purpose: Instant Brands Zest Plus 20-Cup Rice and Grain Cooker
Non-stick ceramic coated pot is easy to clean
Pre-programmed settings perfectly cook 13 kinds of grains
Doesn't have pressure cooking like Instant Pots
If you don’t make rice on a daily basis, it might make sense to get an appliance that can cook more than just rice. While the Instant Pot can cook rice for sure, you can also use it for slow cooking, sauteing, steaming, and warming. The Zest lacks the pressure cooking feature of the Instant Pot lineup, which may be ideal for cooks who don't want to pressure cook but want all the other features.
It's available in 8-cup, 20-cup, or 20-cup Plus models. The 20-cup Plus stands out because it has 13 preset cooking functions to perfectly cook every grain you can think of, from white and brown rice to couscous, oats, risotto, and more.
It includes a steamer basket, rice measuring cup, and rice spoon.
Capacity: 20 cups | Dimensions: 11.3 x 11.26 x 11.34 inches | Power Rating: 860 watts
Our top choice for most household kitchens is the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-ZCC10 (view at Amazon) because it perfectly cooks any type of rice you throw at it thanks to a built in thermal sensor that allows the cooker to automatically adjust cooking time and temperature for the type of rice you're cooking. If you prefer more of a multi-purpose appliance, we recommend the Instant Pot Lux 6-In-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker. Besides pressure cooking, it can be used for slow cooking and steaming and has 12 pre-programmed cook settings for everything from rice to eggs and cake.
What to Look for in a Rice Cooker
A rice cooker's capacity is usually measured in the number of cups of uncooked rice it can hold. Be sure to note, though, that depending on the type of rice, you might end up with twice that amount of cooked rice—so choose an option that's the right size for you and your family.
Many rice cookers come with presets for different types of rice, as well as ones that include adjustments for making your rice softer or firmer than usual. Basic cookers, on the other hand, might just have an on/off toggle with no additional settings. Which do you prefer?
Besides being able to cook different types of rice, some units venture beyond grains and can be used as slow cookers or steamers for vegetables or fish. If you don’t cook rice regularly, those extra features might make a rice cooker more useful more often.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author who writes roundups and reviews products for The Spruce Eats. She has tested more than 90 kitchen products for the brand.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that make cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.