As a budding foodie watching lots of Food Network in the '90s, I was given a deep-seated aversion to kitchen "unitaskers" by Alton Brown. Even years into my career as a food writer, I thought things like, "I have a knife, fork, and spoon; who needs a pizza cutter, potato masher, or basting brush?!" Now, older and wiser, I own one of each. My pizza slices are more regular, my mashed potatoes smoother, and my egg washes applied more evenly.
I felt the same way about electric rice cookers, for way too long. I've been cooking rice on the stovetop my entire adult life, and it turns out fine. No way could I need a clunky machine taking up counter space just to do the same thing.
I was wrong. I got to try out the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 when we tested rice cookers, and I know now that I've been making mediocre rice for the last two decades. Here's how it made me see the light.
Zojirushi NS-TSC10 Rice Cooker
Cooks perfect rice
Versatile cooking options
Timer and keep-warm mode
Long cook times
The key to perfectly cooked rice is temperature control. You want constant, gentle heat—too hot and it'll cook unevenly, leaving some grains mushy and others crunchy. The Zojirushi's whole job is to control the temperature, and that's why it's so good at delivering evenly cooked rice. I thought my variable results on the stove were due to small differences in the amounts of water and rice, but I've found that the rice cooker works well even if your measurements are a bit off.
It's also great for brown rice, something I've never really been able to nail. I always get a mix of mushy rice stuck to the bottom of the pot and undercooked grains on top. Not the case with the Zojirushi. It takes almost two hours to make a batch of brown rice, but it's perfectly chewy and fluffy, with distinct separate grains.
There's also something intangibly...friendly about this machine. It's like a genial robot who lives in my kitchen, playing music as it starts and finishes cooking. (You can shut that function off if you want, but it hasn't started to bother me yet.) Water measurement markings are etched into the pot itself, so all you have to do is dump in the rice, rinse it, and fill the pot to the indicated line, no other tools required. Once the rice is done, the unit automatically switches to keep-warm mode, which can keep rice steaming-hot for up to 12 hours. This works really well—even after several hours, the rice doesn't burn or stick to the pot.
We're eating a lot more rice in my house since the Zojirushi arrived. I've been using it close to daily for about two months, and it's not shown any signs of wear and tear. Many online reviewers report that their machines have lasted decades or more, so one of these is certainly a good investment.
"The keep-warm mode lasts for up to 16 hours, so you can have hot, fresh rice on hand whenever you want it."
In addition to cooking rice, this Zojirushi makes an excellent steamer. It includes a plastic insert that sits above the bottom of the cooking pot, with a timed steaming mode. This is great for veggies as well as frozen dumplings, which are a frequent quick-and-easy lunch when you work from home like I do. The insert holds around 10 potsticker-sized dumplings, perfect for a meal for two. You can even steam at the same time as you cook rice.
This machine also has a few other modes, including one for porridges like congee, as well as sticky rice. It can bake cake using the rice-cooking pot as a baking dish! (I haven't tried this yet and can't vouch for its baking abilities, however.)
The Zojirushi's timer is a great feature, too. You can load up rice and water up to 24 hours ahead of time and set it to cook later. You actually set the time when you want the rice to finish cooking, which takes a lot of guesswork out of timing. And every time I've used the timer so far, it's been dead-on, playing the "rice is done" song at exactly the set time, down to the minute.
The timer helps make up for one of the Zojirushi's downsides, which is that it cooks rice quite a bit more slowly than the stovetop. The standard white-rice mode takes a full hour, and brown rice takes 110 minutes. Slower cooking is part of the reason this thing can cook rice so evenly and perfectly, but it does require planning ahead. (There is a quick mode that takes only 40 minutes for white rice. It works just as well as the standard mode in my experience so far, but that's still a fairly long time.)
The Zojirushi is also not dishwasher-safe. You have to wash the pot and lid insert by hand after every use. I'm a big dishwasher partisan, and I don't love this aspect, but the lid insert's never gotten anything besides condensation on it, and the nonstick pot scrubs out easily even when left overnight for a few grains to dry onto it.
Whatever you do, do not lose the measuring cup that comes with this machine. The marks inside the pot for different numbers of "cups" are calibrated to that item and not the standard (8-ounce) cup used in recipes.
The list price for this cooker (and, really, all Zojirushi models) is very high, but keep in mind that it's almost always on sale. As I write this, it's a third off, at $159. Despite "officially" being $233, the price hasn't exceeded $200 on Amazon in the entire last year.
If you're used to the inconsistency of stovetop-cooked rice, the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 Rice Cooker will alter your whole culinary outlook with its perfect-every-time results, not to mention all its luxurious bells and whistles.
Product Name: NS-TSC10 Rice Cooker
Product Brand: Zojirushi
List Price: $233
Maximum Capacity: 5.5 cups uncooked white rice (about 10 cups cooked)
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The Spruce Eats commerce writer Jason Horn has been writing about food and drinks for almost 20 years, including in publications from Cooking Light to Playboy and Garden & Gun to Serious Eats. He is an extremely experienced home cook and even attended culinary school (shoutout to Jeff State!) but still cannot cook rice as well as a machine.