Although the process of cooking rice on the stovetop is fairly straightforward, it's also easy to under- or over-cook your rice. If you've wound up with a pot of crunchy or mushy grains, you know that cooking rice requires precise timing, temperature control, and supervision. Rice cookers allow you to make a pot of perfectly textured, fluffy rice without any guesswork or babysitting. Most models can also be used to cook other grains, such as oats, quinoa, or polenta, and you can even use a rice cooker to make no-stir risotto. Beyond that, some rice cookers offer the ability to steam veggies or dumplings, keep rice warm for hours, or even bake cakes.
We researched the most popular models on the market, tested them side-by-side, and rated each on design, ease of use, performance, and ease of cleaning. See which ones made the cut below.
Tiger JBV-A10U Rice Cooker
No audible signal when done
With its basic look and middle-of-the-road price, the Tiger JBV-A10U doesn't really stand out from the mass of other rice cookers on the market. That changed when we plugged ours in and tested it. We got near-perfect results with jasmine, brown, and sushi rice, finding fluffy, chewy grains and minimal sticking. The lid locks securely, and the whole unit has a flip-up carrying handle to take hot rice wherever you need it. Its button controls—with settings for white rice, brown rice, steaming, and a "synchro-cooking" mode that cooks rice and steams a main at the same time—could not be simpler to understand or use.
We do, however, wish this Tiger included a timer. Most similar rice cookers have a digital display that lets you see how much time is left in cooking, and, more importantly, load the pot and set it to start cooking later. Strangely, the cooker also doesn't beep or make any kind of noise when it starts or finishes cooking. It automatically switches to keep-warm mode when the rice is ready, but the only indication of that is a light on the front. Those are just minor annoyances in the overall scheme of things, however, and we're big fans.
Price at time of publish: $99
Capacity (Uncooked Rice): 5.5 cups | Power: 672 watts | Time to Cook White Rice: 20-25 minutes | Dimensions: 10.6 x 13.9 x 8.4 inches | Weight: 5.7 pounds
"All of the batches were the right amount of chewy without feeling gummy. It made perfect rice every time."
Aroma Housewares 8-Cup Rice and Grain Cooker
Multiple cooking functions
Digital controls and display
Considering how expensive high-end rice cookers can get, this one is shockingly affordable for its performance and features. The controls are basic, but they include separate modes for white rice, brown rice, and steaming, as well as a simple display that counts down the cook time remaining. We found excellent results testing the machine with sushi, jasmine, and brown rice, especially the latter, which came out fluffy and not at all sticky. It automatically switches over to keep-warm mode when done cooking, so you don't have to worry about being right there in the kitchen as the timer ends.
This Aroma holds 8 cups of cooked rice (or 4 cups pre-cooking), which is on the small side for rice cookers but still enough to feed a medium-sized family. That also helps reduce its countertop footprint. The steamer basket and other accessories all stow away in or on the machine, which has a compact carrying handle that makes it easier to move around or tuck away in a cabinet.
Cleaning is also easy, as the pot has a heavy-duty nonstick coating that didn't give us any trouble washing by hand during testing. (The pot, steamer tray, and all accessories are dishwasher-safe, though the manual itself confusingly recommends hand washing only.) The only difficulty we had was getting a sponge into the small condensation collector area to wipe it down.
Price at time of publish: $30
Capacity (Uncooked Rice): 4 cups | Power: 450 watts | Time to Cook White Rice: About 25 minutes | Dimensions: 8.6 x 8.5 x 9.3 inches | Weight: 4.9 pounds
"I actually really like the smaller size of this cooker. It's got a useful capacity, but it doesn't take up a huge amount of counter or shelf space."
Muji Rice Cooker
Many cooking modes
Keep-warm function works well
Long cooking times
Japanese brand Muji makes everything from clothing to furniture to packaged food, all with a philosophy of high-quality materials and a no-frills look. Its rice cooker is a sleek white box without so much as a logo on it, but the control panel reveals the brains inside. There are six different modes for making rice, including the familiar white and brown as well as a curry mode that makes firmer grains meant to be smothered in curry or other sauce, and a porridge mode for pudding-like congee. This gives you precise control over the texture of the finished rice, and we got excellent results with both white and brown. Like most rice cookers, the Muji automatically switches to keep-warm mode when the rice is done, and we found that it didn't produce much sticking or crisping, even after several hours. (Keep-warm mode can run safely for up to 12 hours, according to the manual.)
The major downsides of this model are its price and size. It holds just 3 cups of raw rice, which makes about 6 cups cooked. That's enough for two or maybe three people, but not much more. And making more than one batch of rice isn't a good solution, as it took about 45 minutes to cook white rice in testing. The Muji's performance, looks, and features are top-notch, but you definitely pay for all of them.
Price at time of publish: $289
Capacity (Uncooked Rice): 3 cups | Power: 380 watts | Time to Cook White Rice: About 45 minutes | Dimensions: 8.2 x 10 x 7.3 inches | Weight: 5.3 pounds
"The rice was perfectly cooked, slightly sticky with distinct tender grains. It was just the right doneness and the right texture—I could have not asked for better."
Cuckoo CRP-P1009SB Rice Cooker
Many cooking modes
In general, rice cookers make the process of cooking rice very easy. This one even has a computerized voice that talks you through everything, reminding you to lock the pressure-cooking lid and alerting you as your rice gets closer to finished. It's a fun and luxurious feature, and just one of several that make the Cuckoo worth its high price tag.
This is an enormous machine, with a capacity of 10 cups of dry rice—that's 20 cups of cooked. But as a pressure cooker, the Cuckoo cuts down on cooking time for larger amounts. It made a full batch of white rice in about 25 minutes, and there's a special turbo mode that cuts that time by almost half. The nurungji mode creates a layer of crispy browned rice on the bottom of the bowl beneath a layer of perfectly cooked rice, and the multi-cook setting is meant to steam rice and an entree at the same time. We especially enjoyed trying out the gaba rice mode, which soaks brown rice in just-warm water for hours to start the germination process and release an amino acid with lots of health benefits, then cooks it to perfection.
Meant for big families who make rice multiple times per week, the Cuckoo is truly full-featured and can make lots of different dishes. It's heavy and takes up a lot of space, but it's also a workhorse that's designed to stay on the counter and can hold up to long-term daily use. It's priced accordingly.
Price at time of publish: $280
Capacity (Uncooked Rice): 10 cups | Power: 1,150 watts | Time to Cook White Rice: About 25 minutes | Dimensions: 14.2 x 11.6 x 10.2 inches | Weight: 16 pounds
"It's startling at first, but I rather enjoyed having my cooker speak to me. Sprouting brown rice for the correct amount of time and at the right temperature is hard work—but this machine's gaba mode did it all, and the rice came out perfectly cooked."
Aroma Housewares 6-Cup Rice and Grain Cooker
Can cook rice and entrée simultaneously
Only one cooking setting
Rice sticks to pot on keep warm mode
The 6-cup Aroma model is an excellent all-in-one machine for a single person. Its steamer insert is designed to cook a main course and the rice underneath at the same time, so you can make a multi-course dinner. Rice, salmon, and asparagus for one, say? This machine can do that. Just note that it can only do that one serving at a time.
The options here are pretty minimal: There's one cook setting controlled by an analog switch, with a simple glass lid that doesn't lock into place. Nothing can go in the dishwasher. The inner steamer does have its own cool-touch handles, which is a nice feature. In testing, the Aroma did decently, though there was some variability from batch to batch: Jasmine rice came out perfect once and overdone a second time. (The small capacity means that small variances in the exact amount of rice and water make a big difference; measure carefully!) The machine automatically turns to keep warm mode when it's done cooking, though the rice started to harden and stick to the pot after a short time, so we wouldn't recommend letting keep warm run for too long.
Oh, and did we mention this thing costs twenty bucks? If you're not looking for a large rice cooker or one with a lot of bells and whistles, this model's a steal.
Price at time of publish: $20
Capacity (Uncooked Rice): 3 cups | Power: 300 watts | Time to Cook White Rice: about 18 minutes | Dimensions: 10.4 x 11.1 x 8.1 inches | Weight: 3.5 pounds
"This is a great starter item for someone who has never used a rice cooker or someone with limited kitchen space. It's super simple and you can't mess it up."
Zojirushi NS-TSC18 Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer
Many modes and options
Long cook times
From the self-regulating time and temperature to the jaunty little tunes that play when cooking starts and finishes, most everything about this rice cooker is friendly. (Don't worry; you can change the songs to simple beeps if you prefer.) It has separate modes for white, brown, and sweet (aka sticky) rice, plus a general steaming setting and steamer insert. The thing can even bake cake! The cake setting uses the nonstick rice pot as a baking dish.
Our testing resulted in nicely cooked batches of white, brown, and basmati rice, which also maintained their texture and temperature beautifully on keep-warm mode—even after four hours, there was a cloud of warm steam upon opening the lid, and the rice didn't stick at all. Zojirushi machines cook gently for excellent rice texture, but the downside is that they cook slowly; this model needs an hour for white rice and 110 minutes for brown. However, the timer helps; you can set rice to finish cooking at whatever time of day you want, up to 24 hours ahead.
Price at time of publish: $210
Capacity (Uncooked Rice): 10 cups | Power: 820 watts | Time to Cook White Rice: 60 minutes | Dimensions: 9.9 x 15 x 11.2 inches | Weight: 11.7 pounds
"I loved the timer setting, putting basmati rice and water in the machine around 9 p.m. and setting it to be ready at noon the next day. The 'rice is done' music played at 12:00 p.m. exactly. The texture was pretty much perfect, with chewy grains that didn't stick together at all."
Presto 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker
Works on any style cooktop
Automatic pressure regulator
More complicated than an electric rice cooker
While our testing included only electric countertop rice cookers, you can of course make delicious rice on the stove extra-quickly by using a pressure cooker. This is our top recommended stovetop pressure cooker, with a safety release valve and automatic pressure regulator that simplify the sometimes-intimidating setup process. It's more complicated to use for rice than an automated rice cooker, but you can also use the Presto to speed-cook everything from pulled pork to risotto. You can also just leave the pot unpressurized and use it like any standard saucepan.
This model has a 6-quart capacity and is made from rustproof, nonreactive stainless steel. It can be used on any type of stove, including induction, and it has a long heatproof handle as well as a knobby helper handle on the other side to make it easy to move even when full. The pot and lid are dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning, though you have to remove the sealing ring and pressure regulator first.
Price at time of publish: $80
Capacity: 6 quarts | Time to Cook White Rice: 5-8 minutes | Dimensions: 17.3 x 9.1 x 8.8 inches | Weight: 5.3 pounds
Sistema 2.6L Microwave Rice Cooker
Easy to use and clean
Can be used to steam vegetables
No storage lid
No stay-cool handles
For devotees of microwave cooking, this device can steam up 11 cups of rice—more than enough for the whole family—in 10 minutes or so. We didn't test the Sistema head-to-head with the electric cookers above, but it's our pick if you're looking for a way to produce perfect rice in your microwave. The cooker is made from BPA-free plastic, with locking clips to hold the lid in place during cooking and steam vents to release steam without any spatters. It works just as well with polenta, couscous, or other grains as it does with rice, and can also steam veggies. We do wish it came with a storage lid so you could store leftovers right in the cooker.
Price at time of publish: $33
Capacity (Uncooked Rice): 5.5 cups | Time to Cook White Rice: 8-12 minutes | Dimensions: 7.7 x 8.5 x 6.3 inches | Weight: 10.9 ounces
Our overall favorite rice cooker, the Tiger JBV-A10U, combines capacious size, easy use, and consistent performance in a reasonably priced package. A real bargain, the Aroma Housewares 8-Cup Rice and Grain Cooker is simple yet full-featured at a tenth the price of high-end machines.
How We Tested
We purchased and sent 19 different rice cooker models to our expert home testers—a mix of experienced food writers and our own staff editors—and asked them to use the machines under real-world conditions for several weeks. Each tester made batches of three different types of rice using the appropriate settings and following the user manual directions, noting the time to cook and rating the final results. They rated the cookers on design, performance, ease of use, and cleaning and tested out unique features like steamer baskets, timers, and long-term keep warm settings.
Others We Tested
- Hamilton Beach Digital Programmable Rice Cooker & Food Steamer: Based on its test performance, this rice cooker would have been our pick for best budget—maybe even best overall. Sadly, it's recently gone out of stock on the Hamilton Beach website and is only available used on Amazon. It may come back into stock, or there may be an updated version of the same model coming out soon—when that happens, it's worth a second look.
- Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH Rice Cooker: Zojirushi is a very famous name in rice cookers, and we honestly expected to see more than one of the four Zojirushi models we tested on the final list of winners. This machine has similar features and performance as the NS-TSC18 above, only it uses induction heating for even more precise temperature control. It also sells for well over $300. It did a great job at cooking rice, but so did many other rice cookers that are far less costly.
- Instant Zest Rice Cooker: The people behind the Instant Pot now make a wide range of other kitchen appliances, and their rice cooker is...fine. The Instant Zest cooked rice and other grains pretty well but was a little confusing to use, and its capacity is quite small.
- Dash Mini Rice Cooker: We've really liked some of Dash's teeny versions of countertop appliances for small kitchens, like its air fryer, and this rice cooker is impressively storable and easy to use. However, it turned out somewhat-underdone rice and, more worrisome, gave off a burning-plastic smell while on keep-warm mode. It just seems cheap, while the small-size Aroma model above performed better and actually costs less.
What to Look for in a Rice Cooker
This one is pretty straightforward: A higher-capacity rice cooker can make more rice at a time, but it's going to be larger in size and likely cost more than a smaller unit. Comparing capacities can be confusing, however, as some cookers list the amount of uncooked rice they can hold while others use the amount of cooked rice. A good rule of thumb is that cooked rice expands to about double the volume after cooking: If a machine can hold 3 cups of uncooked rice, it can hold 6 cups of cooked, and vice versa. Another thing to note about capacity is that larger cookers usually take a longer time to make rice than smaller ones, even when loaded with the same amount of rice.
Many rice cookers come with presets for different types of rice. This most commonly includes white and brown, though some machines also have separate settings for short- and long-grain rice or adjustments to make the rice come out firmer or softer than usual. More basic cookers, on the other hand, might just have an on/off switch with no additional options.
You can absolutely use a rice cooker to make things besides rice. Many machines include a steamer insert to use for veggies, dumplings, or fish that sits above boiling water inside the pot. Others have modes that use the pot as a slow cooker or to sauté or bake. Rice cookers can also be used to make any kind of grain, from barley to quinoa; some have specific settings and procedures for non-rice grains, while others might take a little experimentation.
How do you use a rice cooker?
Making rice in a rice cooker is as easy as measuring, rinsing, and pressing start. Most models come with a special rice-measuring cup that's calibrated to water markings inside the pot—it's easiest to use this, so try not to lose it. First, measure out your uncooked rice directly into the pot. Next, rinse it and pour off the cloudy, starchy liquid until the water runs clear. Fill the pot with water up to the appropriate marking, then load it into the cooker, dial up the correct settings, and go.
These are the basics, but make sure to read your unit's manual for explanations of additional settings and features, plus tips for cooking different types of rice, other grains, and more.
Can you cook quinoa in a rice cooker?
Yes, you can absolutely cook quinoa in a rice cooker. Check your user manual for a recommended recipe, but if it doesn't include one, use two parts water and one part dry quinoa, and the brown rice setting if possible. The same applies to all kinds of other grains, like farro, oats, grits, amaranth, spelt, or barley—start with the ratio of water to grain the stovetop recipe calls for and adjust from there.
What else can you make in a rice cooker?
Many rice cookers include a steamer insert—a plastic or metal tray that sits partway inside the cooking pot while water boils below. This can be used for vegetables, meat, fish, dumplings, hard-boiled eggs, and lots more. Steaming is a more multifunctional technique than you might think. Some models also have sauté and baking modes where the rice pot serves as a frying or baking pan. These usually require some alterations to recipes, so make sure to check the manual.
How do you clean a rice cooker?
Before cleaning anything, make sure your rice cooker is turned off and cooled down. Remove the cooking pot and any other detachable parts, like lids and steamer inserts. These are sometimes dishwasher-safe but more commonly must be washed in the sink. (With nonstick-coated pots, you should also avoid abrasive sponges that can scratch the coating.) It's best to wash these items soon after cooking so nothing dries onto them, but you can soak the pan with hot water and soap to help remove any stuck bits of food.
To clean the cooking base and any parts that don't detach from it, you can generally use a damp sponge to wipe off any food residue from the inside or outside. Be careful to keep too much liquid from getting into the base, and never submerge it in water. As with all appliances, make sure to check your individual manual for specific rules and procedures.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This roundup was put together by The Spruce Eats commerce writer Jason Horn, who has nearly 20 years of experience writing about (and cooking!) food and drinks. He thought he was doing a good job cooking rice on the stovetop, until he got to test the Zojirushi NS-TSC18 for this story. He is officially a rice cooker convert, now using the machine pretty much every day.