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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. The task can be made easier with a rice cooker.
Rice cookers allow you to make a pot of perfectly textured, fluffy rice without any guesswork or constant watching. 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 for whatever your rice needs may be.
Cooks rice perfectly
Can cook several types of rice
Not dishwasher safe
For those who eat a lot of rice and a wide variety of kinds that require a range of cooking methods, this cooker might actually do a better job than you could on the stove. It uses induction cooking that heats the bottom, sides, and lid of the pan, and it can make precise adjustments to the cooking temperature to make perfect rice every time.
Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka, owner of Philadelphia-based sushi restaurant Zama, recommends Zojirushi rice cookers, which he's used all his life from growing up in Japan to both restaurant and at-home use today. He says, "The best thing about the Zojirushi 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."
The cooker 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. 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 a standard beep to let you know the rice is ready, or choose a melody if you have too many beeping devices to keep track of. You can also set it to silent mode if you don’t need the notification.
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. This unit will cook up to 1 liter of rice (about 5 cups); there is a larger model that can handle up to 1.8 liters. If you need the appliance to do even more, there’s a similar model with a higher price that has pressure cooking ability.
Pre-programmed settings cook food perfectly
10 safety features
Can prepare virtually any dish
Escaping steam (upon removing the lid) can be dangerous
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 pressure cooking, slow cooking, and more. The updated model for 2017 now includes settings for cooking eggs, which has been a popular function among users. It also has a new button for cakes, like cheesecakes or moist-cooked carrot cake or banana bread. After testing a range of dishes, from lentil curry to porridge, our reviewer concluded the pre-programmed settings could be trusted to cook your meal correctly.
The Instant Pot can also pressure cook for up to 240 minutes and you can set it to silent mode, so the beeps won’t disturb you. There is a cooking delay for up to 24 hours, and it has both an automatic keep-warm and a manual keep-warm setting for up to 10 hours. This does not have a low-pressure setting.
The inner cooking pot is stainless steel, so it’s dishwasher safe and there’s no need to worry about using metal utensils.
"If you live in an apartment or have a cramped kitchen, it may be worth it to invest in an Instant Pot and say goodbye to other space-consuming gadgets." — Caroline Goldstein, Product Tester
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 did have a caveat, however: 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.
"You’d be hard-pressed to find a rice cooker that’s easier to use." — Caroline Goldstein, Product Tester
This best selling rice cooker takes our top pick 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 of either 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.
Detachable power cord
Keep-warm and auto-shutoff functions
No bell when rice is done
If you’re looking for a solid rice cooker that will fit most kitchens, this is the one to choose. It is a 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 setting. It has an auto-shutoff, and can keep rice warm for up to 12 hours after it has been cooked. It comes with a steaming basket, rice paddle, and a 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.
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, so it can be used every day.
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 over-pressure plug releases pressure if it builds too high, for safety. The pot is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
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 will make up to 20 cups of cooked rice at one time and it comes with a modest price tag. It has presets for white rice, brown rice, slow cooking, and steaming, and has a delay timer and a keep-warm setting. It includes a measuring cup, rice paddle, and steaming basket. The cooking pot has a nonstick surface and can be washed in the dishwasher.
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.
Our top choice for most household kitchens is the Zojirushi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker because it perfectly cooks any type of rice you throw at it. If you prefer a multi-purpose appliance, we recommend the Instant Pot Lux 6-In-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, thanks to how well its pre-programmed cook settings performed. Plus, it does the job of six different appliances, potentially opening up room on your countertop.
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 piece was updated by Sharon Lehman, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, who researches and reviews small kitchen appliances for The Spruce Eats.
Capacity: 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.
Presets: 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?
Extra features: 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.