Easy to use
Small enough to store
Accessories are dishwasher safe
Doesn’t always cook rice perfectly
Rice and grains are a staple for so many dishes, whether you’re following your mom’s chicken and rice recipe or throwing together a meal out of whatever you can scrounge from your pantry. But cooking rice the analog way—that is, on a stovetop—isn’t always as straightforward as it should be. You’ll need to keep a close eye on the cooking process to avoid sticking or burning, and depending on the type of rice or grain you’re preparing, it might take as long as an hour for your grains to cook through. And, despite your best efforts, all too often rice ends up underdone, overdone, burnt, or stuck to the bottom of your pan.
If you’re as bad as cooking rice as we are, then you may want to consider investing in a dedicated rice cooker, like the Hamilton Beach 8-Cup Rice Cooker. This fuss-free rice cooker promises perfectly cooked rice or grains every time you use it. All you’ll need to do is pour in the rice and water, plug in the appliance, and press the “Cook” button. No need to babysit and almost no opportunity to ruin your rice. The Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker is much less expensive than more sophisticated, multifunctional cooking appliances, too. But does this rice cooker deliver on its promise? We decided to find out.
Performance: Serviceable (but far from perfect) results
You’d be hard-pressed to find a rice cooker that’s easier to use than the Hamilton Beach. All you need to do is measure out your rice using the included plastic cup and rinse in the included steamer basket until the water runs clear. Then, pour the rice into the nonstick cooking pot and add water up to the corresponding line on the side of the cooking pot. (For example, if you’re making one cup of rice, then you’ll fill the cooking pot until it reaches the one-cup line.) Close the lid, plug it into a wall outlet, flip the switch to “Cook,” and your work is done.
As this is one of the simplest rice cookers on the market, the Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker doesn’t have a timer or an LCD screen. Instead, the appliance will automatically shift from “Cook” to “Warm” when the rice is done. (You may also need to empty the small condensation cup on the side of the appliance as your food cooks.) There’s virtually no learning curve here, but if you’re confused about how to use the appliance, the provided instructions are easy to follow.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a rice cooker that’s easier to use.
The first time we used the Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker, we made ¾ cup of white rice and added an equal amount of water to the cooking pot. The rice was finished cooking in about ten minutes, and with the exception of a few clumps that were a bit underdone, most of the batch was cooked well. The next time around, we made the same amount of brown rice but added a full cup of water. The rice was finished cooking in under 30 minutes, but a few grains were overdone and slightly browned. In both instances, the rice tasted great though the cook wasn’t quite perfect. Still, it was better than the rice we made on the stovetop, and it was infinitely simpler and faster to prepare.
The Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker isn’t as versatile as other countertop cookers, like cult-favorite Instant Pots, which can perform virtually any cooking method. That said, you can still use this appliance to prepare a limited number of other ingredients—like oatmeal, mac and cheese, beans, and other grains like barley, quinoa, and millet. Also, keep in mind that you can use the included rinse and steam basket to steam vegetables, fish, and poultry, either separately or as you cook your rice.
Design: Small and streamlined
The trim and compact Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker is an excellent choice for those with limited countertop or storage space, though its streamlined design is totally inoffensive if you need to display it on your countertop. Just make sure to wipe down the exterior after each use with soap and water; it’s white, so stains and smudges will easily show. Plus, at just under 3 pounds, it’s lightweight enough to transport easily. This makes it an ideal option for college students and renters.
The first few times we used the rice cooker, the nonstick coating let off a chemical smell when the rice was finished; this didn’t affect the flavor, however.
As we mentioned, the included accessories and cooking pot are dishwasher safe. The cooking pot is coated in nonstick coating, so it’s easy to clean by hand if you don’t have a dishwasher. We just rinsed the cooking pot with warm water between two uses. Be careful when lifting the cooking pot from the base after cooking is done, as it heats up too much to hold without oven mitts. (It takes about thirty minutes for the cooking pot to cool enough to touch.)
Thanks to that nonstick coating, cooked rice lifts easily from the cooking pot—no need to scrape at the bottom of the pan for burnt or gummy rice, as we often do when we’re cooking it the old-fashioned way. The one drawback here is that the first few times we used the rice cooker, the nonstick coating let off a chemical smell when the rice was finished; this didn’t affect the flavor, however.
Features: Limited and straightforward
The Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker basically has two features: cooking and warming. Its limited functionality makes this gadget ideal for tech-averse users, or for home cooks who are just looking for a reliable rice cooker, plain and simple.
Price: The right price for a simple appliance
Retailing for $30 the Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker is among the most affordable rice cookers you’ll find. Considering that it’s pretty reliable, extremely easy to use, and limited in its functionality, we think this is a fair price point.
Hamilton Beach 8-Cup Rice Cooker vs. Hamilton Beach 14-Cup Rice Cooker
If you’re looking for a rice cooker that’s as uncomplicated as the Hamilton Beach 8-Cup Rice Cooker but has just a few more features, consider the gadget’s 14-cup sibling. Cooking rice in this stainless steel appliance is as simple as measuring out your rice, rinsing in the included steamer basket, adding water, and setting your rice to cook. But unlike the 8-cup model—which only has one Cook setting—the 14-cup model lets you choose the type of grain you’re preparing (white, quick, whole grain, or hot cereal), and your preferred cooking method (steam cook or heat/simmer) for more precise preparation. This rice cooker also has a Delay Time feature, so you can decide when you want the appliance to kick in if you’re not home to start it manually.
If you prioritize price and simplicity, get yours now.
If you’re short on space, budget, or patience for learning how to use a feature-laden appliance, you should consider purchasing the Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker. It may not always cook professional-level rice, and its functionality is limited to cooking grains and steaming veggies, fish, or chicken, but it still delivers on ease of use and affordability.
- Product Name 8-Cup Rice Cooker
- Product Brand Hamilton Beach
- Price $29.99
- Weight 2.87 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 8.07 x 9.6 x 8.07 in.
- Color White
- Material Plastic
- Warranty 1-year limited
- What’s Included 8-cup cooking pot, rinse and steam basket, measuring cup, and rice paddle