If you love rice, then a rice cooker is an appliance that you are going to want to have in your kitchen. This kitchen appliance has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and for good reason; they offer a truly fast and very convenient way to cook rice. With a rice cooker, you will never have to worry about undercooking or overcooking your rice again, and you also don’t have to worry about making a big mess (let’s face it, cooking rice in a pot of boiling water can definitely get messy.)
While a rice cooker is definitely a great appliance to add to your kitchen, there are so many different options available, which can make finding the best one to suit your particular needs a bit of a challenge. To help you find the best rice cooker, we have done all of the leg work for you. We have done extensive research and tested out several brands and we have put together this useful buyers guide to provide you with all of the information that you could possibly need to help you find the best rice cooker.
Types of Rice Cookers
There are four main types of rice cookers:
- Standard operation or on / off rice cookers
- Automatic rice cookers
- Programmable rice cookers
- Multi-purpose rice cookers
Each type of rice cooker offers different features and provides different advantages, which is why it is important to understand the difference between each type.
Standard or On / Off Rice Cookers
These are the most basic of all rice cookers, and they are also the most cost effective. The standard rice cooker is used to cook white or brown rice. Simply following the instructions for preparing rice, turn the rice cooker on, and when it is done cooking, turn it off. The standard rice cooker doesn’t have any real bells or whistles, but it gets the job of cooking rice done efficiently.
Automatic Rice Cookers
The automatic rice cooker is a step up from the standard rice cooker. These rice cookers feature a keep warm mode, which means that the appliance will stop cooking the rice once it is done cooking, but it will keep it warm until you are ready to use it. You don’t have to worry about overcooking your rice, but you also don’t have to rush to take it out of the rice cooker when it is done cooking, which allows you to keep your food warm until you are ready to remove it.
Programmable Rice Cookers
Programmable rice cookers are, as the name suggests, programmable. These rice cookers boast a variety of settings that make it even easier to cook your rice. You can change the settings to vary the consistency of the rice, which is ideal if you use this grain in different dishes; for example, you may want more firm rice for soups and stews, but you may want softer rice for sushi. With a programmable rice cooker, you can cook the rice to the exact consistency that you desire.
Multi-Purpose Rice Cookers
If you want to use this appliance for more than just cooking rice, a multi-purpose rice cooker may be a good option for you. These rice cookers are outfitted with a host of additional features and functions and they are capable of doing a variety of tasks, aside from cooking rice, including steaming, sautéing and a variety of other types of cooking. With a multi-purpose rice cooker, you will get a lot more bang for your buck.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Rice Cooker
Just like any product that you purchase, there are certain factors that you are going to want to take into consideration when you are shopping a rice cooker. By taking the following factors that we will mention in this buyer’s guide into consideration, you will be able to find the best rice cooker to suit your particular needs.
Type of Rice
What type of rice are you planning on cooking? Different rice cookers are designed to cook rice in different ways, which is why you should consider what type of rice you plan on cooking before you purchase a rice cooker. If you are going to use it to cook various types of rice, your best bet is to purchase a programmable rice cooker.
The size of the rice cooker is also an important factor to take into consideration. You want to make sure that you purchase a rice cooker that can cook the right amount of rice for the people you plan on serving; but, you don’t want to purchase one that is too large, as it will use more energy than is necessary, not to mention the fact that it will be bigger and bulkier, which could make it more difficult to use.
Are you planning on using your rice cooker only to prepare rice, or are you going to use it to prepare other foods, as well? Your intended use will have a direct impact on the type of rice cooker that you purchase. For example, if you want to have more cooking options, your best bet will be a multi-purpose rice cooker.
Do you plan on taking the rice out of the cooker as soon as it has finished cooking, or do you want to hold it in the cooker until you are ready to use it? This is another important factor to consider because if you plan on having the cooker hold it until you are ready to use it, you want to choose one that has a warming option so that it doesn’t continue to cook the rice, but will keep it warm until you are ready to remove it from the appliance.
Rice can be sticky, which can make it difficult to clean. To make clean up as easy as possible, you are going to want to choose a rice cooker that is easy to clean so that you don’t have to worry about struggling with keeping the appliance neat, tidy and sanitary.
Rice cookers come in a wide range of prices. You want to make sure that you take your budget into consideration before you start shopping so that you can avoid spending more money than you intend to. Generally speaking, the larger the rice cooker and the more features it offers, the more expensive it will be.
Rice Cooker Features
There are a number of features available for rice cookers. These features are intended to make it easier to use your rice cooker, and to improve the efficiency of your cooking. Understanding what these features can do will allow you to determine whether or not you want to choose a rice cooker that boasts certain ones, or if you can live without them.
A rice cooker creates condensation, which can collect inside the appliance and impact the way the rice cooks and can shorten the life expectancy of the appliance. A dew collector properly collects the steam droplets that the rice cooker creates, preventing them from wetting the rice and damaging the appliance.
Cool Touch Lid
As you might expect, rice cookers can get very hot when they are in operation. A cool touch lid will ensure that any hands that come into contact with the appliance don’t get burned. This is a particularly handy device if you have small children.
A Steaming Tray
A steaming tray can be placed inside the rice cooker and can be use to steam things like vegetables while you are preparing rice, making the rice cooker much more versatile.
If you want your rice cooker to be as easy to clean as possible, look for one that has a non-stick surface. This surface will make it easier to remove the rice from the cooker, will improve the taste and texture of the rice, and will make it easier to clean your rice cooker.
A Spatula Holder
Tired of placing your spatula on the counter top and making a mess? A rice cooker that features a spatula holder will prevent the mess and will make it easier to keep tabs on your spatula while you are cooking.
For the ultimate in safety, look for a rice cooker that features a lockable lid. When the cooker is in operation, this feature will allow you to lock the lid, preventing burns from happening.
Removable Power Cord
Another great feature to consider is a removable power cord. This feature makes it easier to clean your rice cooker and store it.
A timer will allow you to set the time that you cook your rice for. Timers can either countdown, showing you how many minutes of cooking are left until the rice is done, or they can be set on a delay so that they kick into action when you want them to start cooking.
Best Rice Cooker Brands
There are several companies that manufacture rice cookers, which is good because it gives you a lot of options; however, having so many options can make finding the best rice cooker for your specific needs a bit of a challenge. To help you find the best cooker, we have sorted through the different brands and, based on reviews, our research and our own testing, we have determined that the following rice cookers are the best of the best.
Hamilton Beach is one of the leading names in kitchen appliances. They make several high quality appliances and gadgets for the kitchen, including rice cookers. We liked how many different types of rice cookers Hamilton Beach had to offer, how many features they offered, and how easy their rice cookers were to use.
Aroma House Wares
Aroma House Wares is another manufacturer of fine kitchen appliances, including rice cookers. This company received exceptional reviews from users who stated that their rice cookers were easy to use, cooked exceptional quality rice and were very easy to clean; we tried them out ourselves, and we agree with what the reviews has to say.
A well known name in the kitchen gadget industry, Oster makes some of the highest quality rice cookers we used. This company uses the most advanced technologies to craft easy to use and highly efficient rice cookers that provide outstanding results.