Three best rice cookers

By
tech-spanfeller

Whether you cook mountains of sticky white rice for sushi, fluffy long grain rice to pair with curry or hearty brown rice for its bite and health benefits, a rice cooker can help make your life easier. Simply put rice and water inside, select the correct setting, press "start," and rice will soon be ready to serve with no additional effort. The hardest part is selecting the best rice cooker -- and we've got that covered for you. Read our quick guide to rice cookers, and you'll soon be enjoying rice the easy way.

Considerations when choosing rice cookers

Rice cooker vs. multi-cooker

Although dedicated rice cookers are great, they only do one job. You can also buy multi-cookers that can steam, saute, stew, and more, in addition to cooking rice. Which is right for you?

The results achieved by a multi-cooker won't be as impressive as those from a high-end rice cooker, but they're about on par with basic rice cookers. If you're a true rice aficionado, a multi-cooker with a rice setting probably won't cut it, but it's an excellent choice for people who worry they don't cook rice often enough to justify buying a dedicated rice cooker.

Cooking capacity

How much rice do you need your rice cooker to produce in one go? This will depend on the number of people you generally cook for and whether you want to cook rice for just one meal at a time or you prefer to batch cook and freeze the remainder. When looking at capacity, check whether the manufacturer lists the cooked capacity or the uncooked capacity, as this can cause confusion.

Settings

A quality rice cooker should have a range of settings, so it can tackle different types of rice and can produce different degrees of firmness.

Features

Timer

A timer is a useful feature to have if you'd like to have your cooked rice ready and waiting for you when you arrive home.

Artificial intelligence

Some rice cookers are equipped with artificial intelligence, which allows the cooker to monitor the exact conditions inside the cooking pot and adjust accordingly -- and also lets the cooker "learn" from previous experience to produce better results in the future.

Cooking pot material

The majority of rice cookers have nonstick cooking pots, but you can find a handful with stainless steel pots.

Price

You can find basic rice cookers for as little as $20 to $40. These are fine for occasional use or if you're not particularly fussy whether your rice comes out soft or al dente. Mid-range rice cookers and multi-cookers generally cost around $60 to $100. However, you should expect to pay between $200 and $400 for high-end models.

FAQ

Q. How much water do I need to add to my rice cooker?

A. The best water-to-rice ratio varies depending on the type of rice you're cooking, whether you want sticky or fluffy rice, and the rice cooker you're using. We generally suggest using between 1 1/2  and 1 3/4 cups of water to every cup of white rice, and 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water to every cup of brown rice. However, your rice cooker may suggest different ratios for each of its settings, so check the instruction manual, and stick to any ratios suggested by the manufacturer.

Q. Can my rice cooker keep my rice warm until dinnertime?

A. The majority of rice cookers have a "keep warm" function so your rice won't go cold if it's ready before the rest of your meal.

Q. How can I avoid overfilling my rice cooker?

A. The majority of rice cookers have a "max fill" line. Don't fill your rice cooker above this line, even if it looks like there's plenty of room. Rice expands greatly as it cooks, so an overfilled rice cooker is likely to overflow.

Rice cookers we recommend

Best of the best: Zojirushi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker

Our take: It might be expensive, but its advanced technology plus wide range of settings equals perfect rice every time.

What we like: AI "fuzzy logic" technology learns from previous cooking experiences to give impressive results. Five- or ten-cup options are available.

What we dislike: Nothing but the high price tag.

Best bang for your buck: Instant Pot DUO80

Our take: Yes, it cooks rice, but it does way more than that, too. This is the rice cooker for people who worry they won't use a rice cooker often enough to justify the purchase.

What we like: Can also pressure cook, slow, cook, saute, steam, and more. Pressure cook function produces rice in minutes.

What we dislike: More complicated than models that just cook rice.

Choice 3: Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker 

Our take: This enormous rice cooker produces 14 cups of cooked rice -- enough for large families or batch cooking.

What we like: Several settings to choose from depending on your rice type. Can also steam other food in the steamer basket.

What we dislike: Steamer basket is smaller than we'd like.

Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.