- 1 What Is a Rice Cooker?
- 2 What Kind Of Cook Are You?
- 3 Types of Rice Cookers
- 4 Key Features In A New Rice Cooker
- 5 Our Top 5 Rice Cooker Reviews
- 6 Conclusion
Cooking a big pot of delicious and healthy rice shouldn’t be all that difficult, or at least that’s what most people think. Unfortunately cooking rice can go wrong very quickly, you only need to get distracted for a few minutes to wind up with most of your rice either welded to the pot, or undercooked to the point that it’s still crunchy. Neither of these is a good thing to happen to you when you’re in the middle of preparing a meal.
|Zojirushi NS-LAC05 Micom||Instant Pot IP-LUX60||Aroma ARC-914SBD||Oster CKSTRCMS65||Panasonic SR-3NA|
|Capacity||3-cups||4 – 5 cups||4-cups||3-cup||1.5-cups|
|Digital Display||Yes, LED||Yes, LED||Yes, LED||No||No|
|Finish||Stainless steel||Stainless steel||Stainless steel||Stainless steel||Stainless steel|
|Warranty||1-Year Limited||1-Year Limited||1-Year Limited||1-Year Limited||1-Year Limited|
Homes all over the world are consuming far more rice than they ever have before mainly because it’s a healthy alternative to chemically processed foods, or trans fat-soaked fries for example. Rice cookers, despite the name, aren’t just for preparing Asian rice dishes, and you can easily use some of the more versatile rice cookers to prepare soups, stews and more traditional rice-based dishes like a risotto, for example.
Basically if you eat a lot of rice as part of your personal or family diet an automatic rice cooker can save you an awful lot of time and effort, so we created this guide to help you figure out which of the thousands of different rice cookers on the market will best suit your needs. Oh and we’ve also included a set of reviews on some of the most highly rated rice cookers available today too.
What Is a Rice Cooker?
This type of cooker is basically a small electrical appliance which is made up of an external “pot”, which contains a heating element of some kind, and an inner pan which is usually made of a non-stick material. You place a measured amount of rice and water in the inner pan, adjusting the settings for your rice cooker, put the lid on and let it do its thing. Once your rice is ready the cooker can shut itself off and go into a rice warming mode instead, keeping your rice ready to eat for up to 24-hours.
What Kind Of Cook Are You?
Everyone has their own cooking style and their own way of preparing any given meal, and the type of rice cooker you purchase will depend a lot on how you go about preparing meals. Are you a perfectionist who allows plenty of time for meal preparation, or are you always running at least 10-minutes late for every single meal you’ve ever tried to prepare? Basically certain types of rice cookers will suit the more time-challenged cook, whereas others are more suited to a cook who has plenty of time to get things done.
The majority of rice cookers have a very small physical footprint, so they’re not going to take over your countertop. But it never does any harm to measure twice, so you’re not just guesstimating how much space the might take up instead. It’s also worth thinking about whether or not you plan on leaving your rice cooker in place permanently, or if you’ll need to store it when it’s not in use.
So how many people will you need to cook rice for on a regular basis? The cooking capacity of any rice cooker is measured in cups, which might be a tiny bit confusing if you’re not somebody who cooks rice on a regular basis. A typical rice cooker for use at home will have a capacity of between 1 and 10-cups, with 1 cup of unboiled rice being enough to feed one person. Based on that a capacity of between 5 and 6-cups will suit an average family, and a cooker with a 10-cup capacity will work out better for larger families. In terms of price the larger the capacity of the rice cooker the more you’ll wind up paying for it.
Types of Rice Cookers
There are 4 basic types of rice cooker for you to choose from:
These are the most basic kind of rice cooker you’ll find where you basically put in rice and water, turn it on and once it’s cooked the rice it turns itself off – hence the name. Just watch out for On/Off cookers that don’t have a non-stick inner pan.
Cook and Keep Warm
This type of cooker not only cooks your rice but then also keeps it warm afterwards, so if you eat at odd times or you just want the rice prepared before you get home then this type of rice cooker will be a good choice. Most “Cook and Keep Warm” cookers will also have several other cooking features not found on an On/Off cooker for example.
You’ll hear some people calling these micom (micro computerized) rice cookers too, but either way these are the heavy-hitters of the rice cooking world. The electronics inside these devices can detect how well the rice is cooked, as well as being able to control the exact temperature of the inner cooking pan. If you want a rice cooker that’s equally at home making soups, sushi rice, porridge, stews or risotto then you’ll want a rice cooker with fuzzy logic. “Fuzzy logic” is a cute way of saying “artificial intelligence”, just so you know.
If you’re looking for the most advanced and efficient way to cook your rice then choosing a rice cooker with an induction heating system is the route to take. Unlike most other rice cookers which simply heat the rice from below the pan, an induction cooker heats it from all sides at once, ensuring that your rice is cooked perfectly.
Key Features In A New Rice Cooker
So here’s the stuff you need to add to your check-list when you’re out shopping for a new/replacement rice cooker:
How many cups of rice do you need your new cooker to be able to handle? You’re better off choosing a cooker with a higher capacity than a lower capacity – you can always simply prepare smaller amounts of rice in a bigger cooker, which isn’t something you can do in a small cooker.
Easy to Clean
Until you’ve had the pleasure of trying to dislodge rice which is welded to a pot or pan you can’t understand how important having a non-stick cooking pan/bowl for rice actually is. A well constructed rice cooker should have a bowl you can simply rinse clean, dry and then store.
Most of the more modern rice cookers will have a digital LED display, making it easier to adjust settings and cooking time, etc.
This stops the cooking process once your rice is ready and is something that all rice cookers have, otherwise the water would boil off and you’d eventually wind up dealing with a fire.
A small light on the front of the cooker which lets you know that it’s started cooking your rice.
If you want to cook rice, veggies, fish or chicken all at the same time then make sure your rice cooker has a steaming tray. Cooking this way will also save money on your energy bill and allow you to prepare an entire meal in just a few minutes.
For those of you who need to prepare rice at odd times of the day or night a timer will come in very handy. Being able to set your rice to cook during the day while you’re out at work can save you that additional bit of effort when you’re preparing an evening meal.
This feature can cut around 10 – 15 minutes off the average amount of time it takes to cook your rice.
Our Top 5 Rice Cooker Reviews
Here are five brief reviews of the top rice cookers that you can buy online.
1) Zojirushi NS-LAC05 Micom Rice Cooker Review
Zojirushi have been in business since 1918, so they obviously know a thing or two about making rice cookers. The Zojirushi NS-LAC05 Micom is a fuzzy logic-type rice cooker with a non-stick cooking bowl, LED digital display and a 3-cup cooking capacity, making it suitable for a small family. What we love about this cooker is that it’s versatile enough to cook different types of rice to absolute perfection. With hundreds of positive reviews and a price tag of under $140 you really can’t go wrong with the NA-LAC05.
2) Instant Pot IP-LUX60 Rice Cooker Review
Now before anyone starts saying that this is a pressure cooker and not a dedicated rice cooker we’re going to have to disagree with you firstly because this is Instant Pot is incredibly popular with fans of rice cookers, plus there’s also the fact that it cooks rice as well as, if not better than, most dedicated rice cookers. For under $130 you get an 8-cup capacity, programmable pressure cooker, so you can delay the cooking process for up to 24-hours, and then keep the rice warm until you’re ready to eat it.
3) Aroma ARC-914SBD Rice Cooker Review
Here we have a very cost-effective rice cooker which retails for under $30 but still provides a lot of cooking capacity and features for your money. You get a cooker with a 4-cup capacity, which also features a steamer tray plus digital and programmable control settings too. There’s not much more to say about the Aroma ARC-914SBD except that it’s a fantastic little rice cooker for the price.
4) Oster CKSTRCMS65 Rice Cooker Review
This rice cooker is ideal for anyone cooking for a small family, or who just needs to cook rice for themselves. The 3-cup capacity means you can cook very small amounts of rice, while the Oster CKSTRCMS65 is designed to keep the rice warm in the non-stick pot for several hours afterwards. The glass lid allows you to keep an eye on your rice as it’s cooking, which is a feature some people prefer to have. At just over $20 the Oster CKSTRCMS65 is great value for money.
5) Panasonic SR-3NA Rice Cooker Review
If you’re looking for a rice cooker purely for personal use then the Panasonic SR-3NA deserves a place on your shopping list due to its 1.5-cup capacity, making it ideal for cooking for 1 – 2 people maximum. This is a pretty typical On/Off rice cooker where there are literally no other features on it bar a power switch and a transparent lid. The Panasonic SR-3NA isn’t suitable for cooking brown rice but does have a non-stick cooking pan included. At just over $40 the Panasonic SR-3NA is oddly priced when compared with other more advanced cookers which cost only marginally more.
Now you know as much about rice cookers as any sales person you might bump into when shopping, so you know you’ll be able to ask the right questions and look for the features which you need the most. Happy shopping!