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A rice cooker is a handy kitchen appliance that automates cooking rice. No more attending a pot on the stove, boiling over and making a mess. They consist of an outer casing with a lid. Inside is a removable inner bowl and a heat source that is controlled by a thermostat to maintain correct temperatures.
Basic rice cookers will have simple controls and fewer features. They typically do their job well and have a very low cost. More elaborate models will have keep warm function after initial cooking and have more precision by using additional sensors and processors, ideally delivering better cooked rice.
Many rice cookers have settings for cooking other grains and hot cereals such as congee and porridge. Some can actually cook a wider variety of foods, doubling as a steamer for meats and vegetables. Conversely some multi-function appliances such the versatile Instant Pot multi cooker can do very well cooking rice.
A measure of rice and water is added to the inner pot. The machine heats and maintains the water at boiling point until the water is fully absorbed. At that moment the temperature will rise which trips the thermostat and the unit reduces the heat to keep rice warm, or turns off the heat completely.
A rice cooker can be a real time saver, especially if you serve rice frequently. It takes only moments to start up and the cooking is fully automated, freeing up your time to prepare other foods. They take the guesswork out of making excellent, perfect rice.
While basic units may only cook white rice, more deluxe models will have specific settings to cook brown rice, jasmine rice, sushi rice, other grains and breakfast porridge, steam vegetables, make sweet cake, soups, slow cook and more.
Basic rice cooking appliances will do a pretty reasonable job at making white rice. Their controls are simple and basic, easy to operate and inexpensive to own. They generally don't do much of anything else other than cooking white rice.
Deluxe models are more versatile, with features for cooking varieties of rice, steaming vegetables, and possibly more. When the rice is done cooking the unit will keep the rice warm without burning. The controls are slightly more complex. The unit is built better and should last longer.
Top of the line rice cookers will have fuzzy logic and induction heating. Cooking rice will be precise and perfect, with versatility for different grains. They will be built with quality and be easy to clean.
In our opinion, a good model is a durable, well built appliance that excels at cooking rice (that is the main purpose after all). We appreciate models that are versatile, that cook not only a variety of rice but also can steam vegetables. Lastly, they need to have removable inner lids for easy cleaning and durable non-stick inner pot linings.
This is our favorite rice cooker. It perfectly cooks a wide variety of rice. It packs all the expected features of a super-deluxe model: induction heating, fuzzy logic, heating elements around all sides (top, bottom and sides) of the inner pot, detachable and washable stainless steel inner lid. Best of all, it's made in Japan.
Zojirushi was one of the first and is widely regarded as the best maker of rice cooking machines. It has exceptional customer ratings and you will not be disappointed.
See Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH Rice Cooker on Amazon
The Instant Pot line of products have become the Swiss army knife of kitchen appliances. They are well built, cook an amazing array of foods, and are quite good at cooking rice.
It has a stainless steel inner pot and lots of safety features to ensure safe cooking. It has a microprocessor to monitor pressure, temperature, heating intensity and time. But it's the versatility that won us over. Beyond being a decent rice cooker it's a pressure cooker, slow cooker, food steamer, saute pot and more.
See Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, 6 Qt. on Amazon
Aroma is one of the most popular rice cooker brands in the USA. They are inexpensive and are satisfactory units. They won't last forever and are cheaply made, but that's also their strong point.
We prefer this model because it cooks both white and brown rice, as well as oatmeal, risotto, steamed vegetables, and can function as a basic slow cooker. The inner pot has a newer, more durable non-stick finish. All-in-all an excellent starter rice cooker with excellent customer reviews.
See Aroma Housewares ARC-994SB Rice Cooker on Amazon
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