Rice is easily a favorite among many American households. Statistics show that American citizens consumed more or less 5 million metric tons of rice in the fiscal year of 2020-2021. And what’s not to love about cooking this grain? For starters, it’s quite easy to prepare, it can go well with almost any side dish, and it can serve as the base for many delicious one-pot meals. Cooking can be a way to spend and enjoy more time in the kitchen.
A wonderful thing about cooking rice is that it can be done using different kitchenware. You can cook rice in a pot over a stovetop, in a pan, or in a Dutch oven. But nothing makes warm, fluffy cooked rice quite like a rice cooker.
With the rising popularity of rice cookers everywhere, more and more brands have innovated in order to offer the best kitchen experience for every home chef and rice lover out there.
Rice cookers have turned from humble appliances into powerhouse machines with plenty of models hosting some of the most advanced features found in kitchen appliances. What once were primitive appliances became vehicles for technological breakthroughs in the field of cooking.
Is it really worth getting an expensive rice cooker? After all, isn’t a rice cooker simply used for one purpose — rice cooking?
Nowadays, consumers are inundated with imagery of the fastest, most advanced cutting-edge products that boast all sorts of fancy features. Many rice cookers can now do more than just cook rice. In fact, most of these rice cookers have every cooking function in the book: a white rice function, brown rice function, slow cook function, enhanced safety features, and more.
The first question to ask yourself is this: do you see yourself fully utilizing all of these features? Or do you only need your rice cooker to cook rice? Once you have your answer, you’ll be able to make the right decision for you and your household. But before that, let’s take a look at all the common premium features that one would find in a rice cooker belonging to a higher price range. Here are some of them:
If you’ve got your eye on a rice cooker that’s quite expensive, then it’s sure to be a micom rice cooker. Micom or “microcomputer” is another term for rice cookers that employ fuzzy logic in the cooking process. Popularized by many brands, most notably the Japan-based Zojirushi, fuzzy logic technology in rice cookers is a stunning feat of technological advancement. Through a computer chip, rice cooker models can now automatically make minute adjustments to the temperature and speed in order to deliver the best results.
Think of fuzzy logic as adding a human element to rice cookers. Now, you’ll get rice that is even more delicious, because the rice cooker is cooking your food and making certain judgment calls the same way a human would. Except, of course, that you won’t actually have to monitor your rice because the rice cooker does it all for you. That’s the magic of fuzzy logic, and it’s why consumers pay more just to have it.
You’ll often find that many costly rice cookers will have a fancy non-stick inner pot coating, like diamond or pure black charcoal. This helps add a unique layer to your non-stick inner cooking pot that allows heat to spread more evenly, as well as enhance its durability. The rice cooker pot is usually non-stick for easier cleanup with only soap and water.
Another feature that may put some rice cookers in a higher price range is WiFi connectivity. These rice cookers, in the case of Xiaomi’s Mi Mijia lineup, can be controlled through an app on a smartphone. The app alerts users when the rice is done cooking, as well as provides a menu of different cooking functions.
Lastly, the rice cooker’s heating element could play a huge factor in its price. Induction heating rice cookers utilize electric currents in order to heat the entirety of the inner pot. This is different from traditional rice cookers that use a heating element at the bottom of the pan to cook the grains.
Instead, induction heating can improve the quality of rice through uniform distribution of heat. The source of heat itself is also a lot more adjustable, allowing the cooker to make more precise adjustments depending on the types of rice, food, soup, etc. Often, you can use a rice cooker like this as a slow cooker. They can also be used as pressure cookers given the right settings.
Apart from this, you’ll also find many features like a slow cook function, an extended rice warm feature, and so many more. All these add to the safety and longevity of rice cookers, thus raising their value.
Choosing the best rice cooker is of incredible importance. Rice cookers are a long-term investment, and you should look for one that is reliable and capable as well as functional. Here are 9 tips in choosing the best rice cooker for you and your partner or your family!
Perhaps the first thing we look for in a rice cooker and warmer is how many cups of cooked rice it can yield. Size is non-negotiable when it comes to choosing rice cookers, which is why you’ll find plenty of rice cooker models labeled according to their cup capacity (10-cup rice cooker, 12-cup, 3-cup, and so on).
However, getting the perfect size requires a little more planning than just counting out all the members of the house. For one thing, having a rice cooker that can house more than the needed cups of rice might be necessary for those who often have guests over.
A 5-cup rice cooker for a family of five might seem reasonable, but it can be inconvenient if members eat more than a cup each during meal times. Remember how many cups of rice each family member usually consumes, because that is the minimum capacity you’ll need for your rice cooker.
Can the rice cooker make brown rice, sushi rice, jasmine rice, or other types of rice? We don’t just mean fancy cooking settings, although those are definitely a bonus that can make the experience of cooking rice much easier. We mean a rice cooker that cooks rice perfectly, no matter the variety. This is a great indicator of the quality of material and heating technology found in the products.
While it’s not a necessity for everyone, having a versatile rice cooker is incredibly convenient. A 3-in-1 rice cooker can save counter space in a small kitchen. It can also be cost-efficient and labor-efficient, reducing the cleanup required after each home-cooked meal.
Do you really need a rice cooker with fuzzy logic? Or a food steamer? Is a pressure cooker something you’ve been looking for, or is it more of a want?
Knowing your own needs is one of the best ways to get a rice cooker that you will not regret buying no matter how much you spend on it. Even if you get an expensive rice cooker that puts a dent in your wallet, that expense turns into an investment. Because you know you’re going to be using every function and program your rice cooker has to offer, then you’ll still be able to get your money’s worth in the end.
In the same way, you’ll be able to save money if you realize you’re only looking for a rice cooker that can cook rice, nothing more, nothing less.
The next criteria we have for a good rice cooker is ease of use. A beginner-friendly rice cooker is an indicator of thoughtful design, and an even better rice cooker will know how to make technologically advanced models easy to navigate for all kinds of users: beginners, experts, and everyone in between. Often, you’ll find that the best-selling rice cookers are ones that blend simplicity of design with futuristic features.
In a similar vein, these rice cookers should also be easy to clean. Oftentimes, you’ll only be needing soap and water to sort them out. Others even have an auto-clean function that uses not water, but steam to self-clean the inner pot.
Do you prefer a stainless steel rice cooker, or a rice cooker that is made of durable alloy? It all comes down to choice, but some materials are known to be more durable than others.
If you’re not opposed to a tempered glass lid, this lid type also has its advantages. While it’s not locked unlike a lid with a steam vent, a glass one can be easier to clean than a non-detachable lid. A lockable lid also ensures that the steam and water doesn’t leak during the cooking process.
An extended keep warm cooking function is one of the most important features in a rice cooker. Some rice cookers have a keep warm function that stays on only as long as the rice cooker is plugged into a socket, while others can keep the rice warm and ready to serve for as long as 24 hours.
The extended keep warm feature usually warms the rice at a much lower temperature so as not to dry it out. An extended keep warm feature can be handy for unexpected occasions where you can’t eat your rice right away.
One way to increase the value of the rice cooker you’re planning to buy is to check the included accessories, such as a measuring cup, spatula, steam tray, etc.
Looking to purchase a traditional rice cooker with a glass lid? Make sure to get one that includes a steamer basket. There are plenty of models that have one included, some for even the same price. Most rice cookers will also have a rice measuring cup included with the machine.
Research is an important part of any major investment, whether it’s a new laptop, car, or a new kitchen appliance like a rice cooker. By reading reviews of different rice cooker models, you’ll get a firsthand view of the product’s performance before ever having to buy it.
Reading customer reviews is good practice, too — you’ll be able to find out some common issues users might be experiencing with their rice cooker.
Rice is one of the simplest grains to cook, but a good rice cooker will elevate the dining experience to a whole new level. Buying the perfect rice cooker for your needs is a great way to let your home enjoy warm, fluffy and perfectly cooked rice for every meal.
We hope this rice cooker guide was helpful! Check out rice cooker reviews right here on our website.
Ready to use a rice cooker but not quite sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. From a micom rice cooker, slow cooker, and to high-end digital models, we’ve rounded up the best rice cookers in this guide. Learn more about the Aroma Housewares ARC and Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker Simplicity 37549 as well as other rice cookers in the full review.
If you’re looking for rice cookers in the budget-friendly price range, we’ve got you covered there, too. Don’t be mistaken, because cheap rice cookers don’t always equate to lesser quality. In fact, we’ve rounded up these rice cooker models that pass the test in both affordability and functionality.
Learn more about them in our guide to the best cheap rice cookers in the market. The list includes favorites like Hamilton Beach, Black + Decker, Zojirushi, and more.