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Published Jul. 26, 2021

Rice is…nice. It’s so nice, it’s hard to think of a culture or country that doesn’t count rice among its culinary staples. Naturally gluten-free, it’s a must-have for anyone with celiac or other food sensitivities, and with variations from white to wild, there’s a type for everyone. Plus, it’s delish! Ditch the Minute Rice and forget about standing over a stove waiting for water to boil. Grab the best rice cooker to not only make your life easier but also guarantee perfect grains every time.

What to consider when looking for the best rice cooker

Whether or not to buy a rice cooker comes down to one question: Do you ever cook rice? If the answer is yes, then buy one! In fact, “rice cooker” is a bit of a misnomer: Most devices these days are actually multicookers, meaning that you can also use them to make pasta, oatmeal, soup, even cakes. The best part about one of these machines—especially those with fuzzy logic, meaning they intuitively adjust themselves—is that they’re mistake-proof. No more soggy, watery rice or hard undercooked rice either. Which device you buy comes down to how much you want to spend and the particular functions that are important to you.

I’m a brand loyalist. What particular companies make the best rice cookers?

The Japanese Zojirushi machine is one of the most popular around, but there are loads of brands to choose from. Black and Decker, Cuisinart, Cuckoo, Dash, Aroma, Hamilton Beach, and Tatung all make highly-rated cookers with loads of functionality.

What if I want my rice cooker to pull double duty as an Instant Pot duo?

You’re in luck! Many gadgets labeled “rice cookers” are actually much more than that, meaning that they come with the ability to do more than just cook rice, and you don’t even need to spend a fortune. Fun fact: Instant Pot is a brand name, so if you think you’re looking for an Instant Pot duo, what you probably actually want is a multicooker, meaning something that can steam, sauté, warm, pressure-cook, and more (including ake rice).

Is a microwave rice cooker a thing?

It is! In fact, a microwave model works similarly to a regular stovetop cooker and can also make other foods, like pasta and oatmeal. They are typically cheaper than the standard variety, and they’re super easy to use. They’re also usually made of plastic, which not everyone will love, and you can’t get a browning effect on your rice, so not for you if that’s what you’re after. You also can’t control the cook as specifically as you can with a conventional cooker, so if you’re looking for something with multiple time and temp settings, or a model that adjusts intuitively based on what you’re cooking, a microwave option may not be what you’re looking for.

The best rice cookers:

Best rice cooker overall Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy

Smart Design

The spherical nonstick pan of this intuitive device guarantees a uniform result every time, and an extra-large LCD display makes it easy to operate for everyone. Zojirushi

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This Zojirushi is the gold standard. It features micro-computerized fuzzy logic, which intuitively adapts to whatever it’s cooking—from white rice to brown rice to porridge—along with a delay timer and multiple reheating options. Plus, it’s wall-mountable, so it won’t even take up any counter space.

Runner up: Dash DRCM200BK Mini Rice Cooker Steamer

Rainbow of Colors

This compact model is eye candy for your counter, and it turns out soups, quinoa, and pasta with a minimal footprint. DASH

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Just add water and hit the cook button, and you’ve got dinner in less than 20 minutes. A removable nonstick pot is easy to clean, cool-touch handles mean you won’t burn your fingers, and an easy-to-use interface makes this mini model work with just the press of a button. Plus, this mini cooker comes with a coordinating rice paddle.

Premium pick: Cuckoo CRP-G1015F Heating Plate Pressure Rice Cooker

All the Bells and Whistles

This Korean-made gadget has nearly a dozen different cooking choices and uses a special algorithm (!) to turn out the perfect grains every time. CUCKOO

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A scratch-resistant stainless steel inner pot guarantees even heat distribution and can turn out 20 cups of cooked rice at a time, ideal for large groups and families. A special water-drainage system staves off odors and bacteria, and 12 security features—including auto-temp controlling and pressure control—ensure safe operation every time. The ability to determine the “softness” and “glutenosity” of your rice will ruin you for restaurants forever.

Budget pick: Aroma Housewares Digital Cool-Touch

Multifunctional Marvel

This user-friendly model can be used to steam veggies, make cakes and stews, and much more. Aroma Housewares

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A dishwasher-safe nonstick inner pot turns out perfect rice every time. A 15-hour-delay timer lets you set it and forget it, and one-touch options like “white rice,” “brown rice,” “keep warm,” and “steam” mean that even the most amateur cook can operate this machine. It comes with a measuring cup and spatula.

Also consider: Progressive International Set Microwave Rice Cooker

Super Convenient

If even the idea of plugging in an appliance overwhelms you, go for a nonstick, dishwasher-safe gadget, which gets the job done with even less effort. Progressive International

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The BPA-free rice cooker can turn out six cups of rice at a time and comes with a paddle and locking lid. Plus, it’s a bargain. And at just 5.6 ounces, it’s perfect for a dorm room or to take on a trip.

FAQs

Q: What should I look for when buying a rice cooker?

Everybody is different, but in general, you want to look for a capacity that suits your needs (so, if you have a family of 10, not the two-cup cooker), fuzzy logic (for a self-adjusting intuitive cook), keep-warm and delay functions if you don’t plan to serve right away, and a quick-cook function if time is of the essence. 

Q: What is the best small rice cooker?

It depends on how you define the best small device, but the 6.5-inch by 8.5-inch Dash is a multicooker with loads of functionality—including a keep-warm option—for an affordable price. It comes with a mixing paddle and measuring cup, and in loads of shades, it’s adorable to boot.

Q: Can you not cook rice in stainless steel?

You can! In fact, some are made of stainless steel. Unlike Teflon-coated aluminum, which is non-stick, stainless steel won’t release chemicals when scratched, so stainless can actually be a better pick than Teflon. (When you scrape bits of rice off the bottom of a Teflon model, you have to be careful not to scratch the surface.) In addition to stainless steel, other worry-free materials for cookers include ceramic and clay.

The final word on buying the best rice cooker

The best rice cookers all serve up perfectly cooked, fluffy rice no matter what the variety, and pull double duty as multicooker so you can use them for your oatmeal, pasta, and even cakes. They are practically mistake-proof, so even if you’re not particularly talented in the kitchen (maybe especially if you’re not talented in the kitchen), it is a smart investment. It’ll help you say goodbye to takeout and frozen dinners, and hello to fresh-cooked meals all in one pot.

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