Last updated: March 19, 2019
The greatest rice cooker is one that is easy to operate while preparing a healthy food dish, regardless of your skill level in the kitchen. If you can operate the device with no guesswork involved, then you know that you have a real winner. After testing approximately 7 rice cooker models, we’ve found the best of the bunch.
Stovetop burners are never popular for cooking rice because the insulation of the pots and the burner temperature are both inconsistent. People often end up with soggy rice grains or half-cooked grains that are crunchy or hard. Maybe the rice is even burned on one side while cooked just right on the other side. With all these negative experiences, it could make someone want to give up on cooking rice forever.
Fortunately, you don’t need to give up on cooking rice if you have a great rice cooker device. This type of kitchen appliance is so easy and simple to use because you just push one or two buttons, and then you’re all set. Out of all the rice cookers that were tested, the best one that we found for preparing tasty rice was the Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH Induction Heating System Rice Cooker and Warmer.
1. Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH (Our Favorite Rice Cooker)
We cooked all types of rice with the Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH Induction Rice Cooker and with the other 6 rice cookers that we tested. The rice always came out the most delicious with the Zojirushi. The flavors of the grains were delivered to our taste buds wonderfully. The fluffiness and texture of the white rice (medium grain) was superb. The actual taste was a mixture of nuttiness and sweetness. It was almost creamy and chewy at the same time. We also cooked long-grain basmati rice, which turned out fluffy too. The short-grain brown rice was quite flexible and pliant after it was cooked too.
Aside from cooking premium quality rice with the Zojirushi device, it can also be cleaned easily too. Since it is made in Japan, that explains why every little feature of the device was perfected to the highest quality. You can even see the proper amount of water to add by looking at the interior markings. However, the Zojirushi was also the heaviest nonstick pot tested. But if you don’t need to move it around, then it should be no big deal.
The induction heating of the device is what really makes it quite unique. The Zojirushi provides even and precise heat distribution throughout the entire pot. The heat doesn’t just stay at the bottom as it does with other rice cookers. We learned about this after tasting the rice that was cooked in the device and found that it had a remarkable flavor and texture to it.
The “Keep Warm” function is something you will really enjoy about the Zojirushi Induction Rice Cooker. If you want to wait to serve your rice, this cooker can keep it warm for several hours until you’re ready to serve it. There is intelligence built into the rice cooker because it is micro computerized. This enables the rice cooker to alter its cooking times and temperature settings based on the data it retrieves from its sensors. For instance, if you add more water to the pot than you need for cooking the grains that are in there, the device will automatically change its temperature and cooking time to ensure that the rice is cooked perfectly. Then it won’t come out mushy.
Best of all, the Zojirushi Induction Rice Cooker is the only rice cooker on this list which tracks the cooking time length from beginning to end. That way, you’ll know exactly when your tasty rice dish will be ready. Of course, you’ll need to pay more money for this rice cooker compared to others on the market. But you are paying for the heating quality, so it is definitely worth it. Then you’ll never need to struggle with cooking rice on a stovetop ever again.
2. Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 (Runner Up)
The Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker is a cheaper model of the previously mentioned Zojirushi Induction Rice Cooker. At only $162, the Zojirushi Neuro still gives you a lot of useful features for cooking rice wonderfully. Since it is the Zojirushi brand, this is another Japanese-made rice cooker from the same company. What you’ll get here is another robust pot which has a digital interface that is easy to use. It also has lots of preprogrammed cook settings, including a “Keep Warm” setting.
Some of the unique features of the Zojirushi Neuro include pot handles which stay cool after you cook your food and a retractable power cord. This makes it easy to move around the pot without burning your hands. Another shared trait that this cooker has with Induction model is its self-correcting cooking system. If you fail to measure the water or grains properly, this system will adjust the temperature settings accordingly to ensure the best possible outcome for your rice.
On the downside, the Zojirushi Neuro doesn’t tell you the cooking time left until there are 10 minutes remaining. Also, after we cooked medium-grain white rice in this cooker, the outcome wasn’t as great as it was with the Induction model. The white rice just didn’t have the same high-quality texture and sweet taste after it was cooked in the Zojirushi Neuro model. That is why this model is # 2, and the Induction model is #1.
3. Cuckoo Rice Cooker (Budget Pick)
The rice cooked by the Cuckoo Rice Cooker almost matched the excellence of the rice cooked by the Zojirushi Induction Rice Cooker. However, the Cuckoo Rice Cooker was able to prepare the rice about 15 minutes faster than the Induction model. But the best aspect of the Cuckoo Rice Cooker is its price tag. You can purchase it for less than $100. This means it is the cheapest high-quality cooker available.
There is a slight disadvantage when it comes to lifting the lid of this cooker because it can cause the machine to jerk backward if you’re not careful. Try lifting the lid softly and gently because it lifts fast. Lastly, like the Zojirushi Neuro, you’ll only see the cooking time that is left after 10 minutes remain.
Our Testing Method
Thanks to the innovation of the Instant Pot, there are more rice cookers available on the market which can cook other foods besides rice. The Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker, Breville Risotto Plus, and Aroma Digital Rice Cooker are 3 more rice cookers in which we tested out. Each of them has a steamer basket which can cook other foods while cooking the rice. For instance, you can use the Breville Risotto Plus to slow cook and prepare stir-free risotto. As for the Cuckoo Rice Cooker and the two Zojirushi cookers that were mentioned, they each have their own preprogrammed menu options for cooking soups, stews, tea, and porridge.
In the end, what we cared most about was how well these rice cookers actually cooked rice. During the first testing phase, the type of rice that we used was Nishiki Japanese white rice (medium grain). We put 2 cups of this rice into each rice cooker device. If a particular rice cooker ended up cooking the white rice well, we would test out that device again by cooking 2 cups of brown rice (short grain) in it. If that went well, we’d cook 2 cups of white rice (long-grain basmati).
About Rice Cleaning
If you have experience cooking rice, then you know that the grains need to be rinsed in order to achieve the best results. By washing and rinsing the rice, it eliminates all the extra starch from it. This reduces the chances of your rice grains, sticking to each other after they’re cooked. The instruction manual for each rice cooker that we tested had their own details about how to rinse the rice. For instance, the Zojirushi Induction Rice Cooker’s instruction manual suggested rinsing the rice for approximately 8 times.
The Primary Factors Assessed
How easy is it to use the rice cooker?
We like rice cookers which don’t take a lot of effort to cook the rice. In other words, the less that humans need to do, the better. Each of the 7 tested rice cookers had helpful instruction manuals, which taught us how to operate these devices. The manuals provided information on measuring the rice, washing the pots, adding water to the opts, choosing the proper menu settings, and how to activate the cooking mechanism. If a rice cooker model had a “Keep Warm” feature, then it would automatically activate after the cooking was done.
How long does the cooking process take?
Each rice cooker takes a different amount of time to cook rice. We found the most delicious rice came from devices that took the longest to cook it. For instance, both Zojirushi rice cooker models needed about 60 minutes to cook long grain white rice and medium grain white rice. It also needed 1 hour and 30 minutes to cook brown rice. Meanwhile, the Breville Risotto Plus and the Instant Pot only needed about 10 minutes, but the outcome was not as good.
How does the rice taste in the end?
Since we were testing out 3 different kinds of rice, we figured that the best rice cooker would be one which cooks each type of rice perfectly. We wanted the rice to have a fluffy texture and be cooked evenly and flavorfully. The grains had to be cooked all the way through so that they weren’t firm or gummy.
What are the extra features?
There are a few important accessories included with each rice cooker. These accessories include a rice paddle and a measuring cup. Each rice cooker had a paddle holder too, except for the Breville Risotto Plus and the Cuckoo Rice Cooker. Some of the rice cookers had steamer baskets, which actually were more useful for cleaning the rice. As for their technological features, the machines with timers and “keep warm” functions were quite convenient and user-friendly.
Was cleaning the pots easy?
Each rice cooker had a nonstick pot, except for the Instant Pot. Nonstick pots are great because it means that rice residue doesn’t stick to the surface on the bottom. You can wash the lids on the Breville, Zojirushi and Instant Pot cookers. This is great because merely wiping the lids down usually fails.
Are they bulky?
Most of the tested rice cookers had a diameter of under 12 inches. This is about the size of a food processor. If you can tolerate that, then you won’t find too much kitchen space used for the rice cooker. Besides, a quality outcome in cooking rice is what’s most important.
Was there value in the price?
The rice cookers were priced differently. The cheapest one was $40, and the most expensive was $260. However, the price wasn’t the main consideration for the rice cooker, which we deemed to be the best. But if you care about the price, then you should purchase the Cuckoo Rice Cooker or the Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker.
Other Tested Rice Cookers
The following rice cookers weren’t as good as the previous ones mentioned. But this doesn’t mean they were total disasters. The $70 Instant Pot Duo, the $40 Aroma Digital Rice Cooker and the $129 Breville Risotto was still able to cook rice and make it edible. But the rice simply didn’t taste as good when it was cooked by these models. On top of that, the Aroma Digital Rice Cooker released a burning odor which was rather unpleasant.
The $40 Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker did a good job cooking long-grain basmati and medium-grain white rice. It also had very advanced features for such a cheap rice cooker, including preprogrammed cook settings and a “Keep Warm” feature. Unfortunately, the brown rice still came out undercooked despite 1-hour of cooking time.
The Instant Pot is great for cooking medium-grain white rice in just 10 minutes. This is better than waiting 50 minutes by using the Zojirushi rice cookers. But the Instant Pot produced gummy rice which wasn’t that fluffy. It also got stuck a lot to the stainless-steel because it’s not a nonstick pot.
As for the Breville Risotto, it didn’t have a lot of impressive features. For $129, this rice cooker was rather disappointing without preprogrammed rice settings or a timer. In fact, it couldn’t evenly cook the medium-grain white rice either. Overall, the rice changed color without the grains turning soft enough.
If you want a fast and simple solution for cooking rice in your kitchen, then you’ll want to purchase a good quality rice cooker. The Zojirushi Induction Rice Cooker is great for people who want to cook rice several times per week, especially if it’s different types of rice. But if you’re looking for a cheaper device that still produces good results, then go with the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer or the Cuckoo Rice Cooker.