Tired of ending up with mushy, undercooked or burnt rice and a saucepan and stove which take ages to clean? Why not invest in a good quality rice cooker? Ever since it was invented and introduced to the market by Toshiba back in 1995, the rice cooker has become an essential kitchen utensil for all households in Japan, Korea, China, Thailand and other Asian cultures.
The western world has quickly caught up with this tendency, and rice cookers have become popular cooking devices used to prepare all kinds of rice, as well as different kinds of delicious dishes. In the US, rice cookers have become indispensable appliances for Hawaiian and Cajun cuisine. In Latin America, more people are choosing to prepare their traditional dishes with the help of these nifty devices as well.
The reason why you should get a rice cooker is that it can cook perfect rice without ever burning or undercooking it. It is very easy and hassle-free to use and clean. Plus, it is perfect for unattended cooking which is essential for those of you who are too busy to stick around and watch the stovetop pot, and who want to come home to a fresh batch of perfectly cooked, piping hot delicious rice.
We have consulted with some of our favorite Asian cuisine experts and chefs, and have tested a number of the leading rice cookers on the market, to pick our top 10 best rice cookers for 2018.
We have picked rice cookers in all budget ranges, and suitable for all types of rice, so you will definitely find the one which suits your needs even if you prepare rice quite infrequently.
Our top pick for the best rice cooker is the Zojirushi NS-LAC05XA Micom 3 cup rice cooker, but you can find other options in different price categories as well.
Please, read on to see which rice cookers are worthy of your attention and are worthwhile investing in this year.
It has a capacity of cooking 3 6oz. cups of rice at a time, which is sufficient for making 6 cups of cooked rice. This is the perfect quantity for singles or for small households of up to three people.
It is perfect if you have a small kitchen or limited countertop space, as it has an amazingly compact footprint.
You get to choose between five preset cooking options, including white rice, brown rice, sushi, porridge and quick cooking. The Zojirushi also comes with a useful measuring cup, a rice spatula and a spatula holder, as well as a 1-year warranty.
This rice cooker operates via the micro-computerized (MICOM) fuzzy logic technology installed in the unit.
Thanks to the thermal sensor on the bottom of the unit and the fuzzy logic technology, all you will need to do is add the rice and water, and your rice cooker will do absolutely everything else for you with perfect Japanese precision!
Your rice or oats will be cooked evenly and perfectly at all times, thanks to the multiple heaters located on the bottom, sides and the lid of the unit. The automatic keep-warm feature will ensure that your delicious rice remains at the best serving temperature for hours after being cooked. So, you won’t need to reheat and dry out your cooked rice anymore.
You also get a delay timer, so that you can program your cooker to prepare your meal overnight or while you are at work or out running errands. If you are at home while the cooker is preparing your rice, the unit will inform you via a signal or melody when it is done with the cooking cycle.
Once you are done with the cooking you can take the thick black cooking pan out and wash it. It is non-stick, so you will never spend miserable time trying to get all of that burnt rice off of the pan’s bottom again.
The exterior of this unit is sturdy and made of stainless steel. This makes it very easy to clean and keep sanitary. Its lid can be detached, so that you can wash it separately. Plus, the sleek design will make a perfect addition to any kitchen décor.
It also has a handle so you can move it around or take it with you whenever you need to.
The LCD control panel is easy to read and use. The cord is retractable, which makes this rice cooker great for storage, and for a neater kitchen.
This product is a perfect rice cooker for newbies and for small households. It is simple to use, affordable and is very durable. It will let you test the waters if you are planning on upgrading to a higher end Zojirushi model.
Overall, we have picked this as the best rice cooker for 2018 because it is a top quality cooking device which has all the necessary features which will allow you to feast on the best rice-based meals you have ever tasted in the comfort of your own home.
It is affordable, well-built and is the top option for those of you who don’t need a large-sized rice cooker.
This rice cooker is suitable for all types of rice, as well as for steel cut oats and other wholegrains.
- This is an excellent rice cooker from the reputable Zojirushi brand, with MICOM fuzzy logic for temperature and timing control, which has all essential features necessary for making perfect rice every time
- It is small, so it is not the best option for large families, or if you cook large batches of rice on a regular basis
The Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 also takes up little countertop space and uses fuzzy logic for cooking the perfect batch of rice every time.
It is very simple to use – just measure out the rice with the measuring cup and add it to the pot, then pour the required amount of water indicated with lines on the cooking pot, close the lid and choose the cooking option you want. And that’s it!
You can set up the rice cooker before bed or in the morning and forget about it. It will do its job perfectly, and you will be welcomed by a hot fresh and delicious portion of rice when you wake up or when you come home from school or work.
Thanks to the integrated fuzzy logic microcomputer in this rice cooker, you will always end up with outstanding results, no matter what type of rice you are cooking. The thermal sensor controls the temperature level at all times, and communicates it to the microchip which adjusts the temperature and time for making perfect rice each time.
The pan is nonstick and removable, and has nifty lines which indicate the water level to add for all types of rice. You can easily remove both the pan and the lid, so that you can wash them after cooking. They are both dishwasher safe and non-stick, so you don’t need to worry about painstaking scrubbing and washing after each rice cooking session.
This particular model comes in 5.5 cup and 10 cup versions, so you can pick the size which best suits your cooking needs and the size of your family.
It has an easy to read LCD screen, and you can easily program your cooking for any hour you want with the delay timer. This means that you can plan your meal well ahead, and go on and run other errands, rest or go to work and then come back to a delicious and warm rice meal.
Like our favorite Zojirushi NS-LAC05XA, this rice cooker too has a keep-warm function which you will love because it will keep the cooked rice fresh and tasty for days!
- It automatically adjusts to all different kinds of rice thanks to the fuzzy logic technology, and produces tender and delicious rice meals every time
- Cooking rice is a bit slower with this rice cooker than some of the other options
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a rice cooker, but still want one which will cook perfect rice for you and your family, the Aroma Housewares 20 cup cooked rice cooker is the best option to go for.
It is our top budget-friendly option when it comes to rice cookers in 2018 for a number of reasons.
Naturally, the first reason is that this rice cooker is very reasonably priced. This means that even if you don’t eat rice on a daily basis and even if you hate spending money on more and more kitchen appliance, you can afford this one, and will be very happy with the results!
This versatile device will not only make great tasting rice for you, but you can use it for steaming veggies or meat while the rice is cooking.
The Aroma Housewares appliance is very easy to set thanks to its pre-set cooking options. Depending on what you are cooking, you can pick from the white rice, brown rice, flash rice, steaming or slow cooking options.
It is capable of cooking up to 10 cups of rice which will result in 20 cups of cooked rice, sufficient to feed a large family or a group of guests.
This rice cooker also has a delay timer for up to 15 hours, so you can set it up before going to bed and have the rice all cooked and ready for lunch or for dinner.
This unit is sold with a serving spatula, a steaming tray and a measuring cup. The inner pot is removable for easy cleaning, and it too like the more expensive Zojirushi rice cookers has useful lines to indicate the exact amount of water you need to add for each type of rice.
You can make a healthy meal of rice and steamed vegetables and lean meat for the entire family without needing to stand around and watch the process, flip the veggies or stir the rice. It is great for all of you who don’t have the time or the patience to spend hours in the kitchen!
- This is an inexpensive rice cooker which has all the features of the higher end models and a large capacity. Plus you can use it for steaming while you are cooking the rice.
- The lid is not removable like in the Zojirushi rice cookers, so it can be trickier to wash and clean
So, these are our top picks for the best three rice cookers which are available on the market right now. Together with our Asian cuisine cooking experts, we agreed that they are the best rice cookers which you can buy in 2018, when it comes to the best features, the second-best choice, and the best budget option.
Nevertheless, there are 7 other rice cookers which made it to our top 10 list which we would like to present to you, just in case. There are some budget-friendly and some higher-end options, so hopefully, we have managed to compile a list of the best rice cookers which has one for any budget and for any need.
Read on to see the other 7 rice cookers which made it to our top 10 list of the best rice cookers for 2018.
- A capacity of 1 to 7 uncooked cups of rice which results in 14 cups of cooked rice
- A useful 15 hour delay start timer so you can set up the unit and go to bed or go out without worrying about what your family will eat later
- A steaming basket allows you to steam vegetables, dumplings, meat or others while the rice is cooking – prefect for a well-balanced, healthy and delicious meal
- Affordable price
- Can cook all types of rice, wholegrains, beans and pasta or rice mixes
- Several pre-set cooking options for white rice, quick rice, wholegrain, heat/simmer, steaming and hot cereals
- A heat and simmer function which is quite unique for a rice cooker – excellent for making soups, flavored pasta or rice mixes and beans
- Perfect for unattended cooking
- Turns to warming function after the cooking is done
- Easy to set thanks to the intuitive digital controls
- Easy to clean, dishwasher safe non-stick bowls
- Comes with a handy measuring cup and a rice spatula
- The cook of the rice is not always as even and consistent as with some of the higher end rice cookers
- A large capacity of up to 10 cups of uncooked rice (turns into 20 cups of cooked rice) suitable for large families or for dinner parties
- Perfect for cooking all types of rice, including GABA rice, stew and porridge
- 3D heating for even and consistent cooking
- Has a turbo speed cooking setting which makes perfect rice much faster than other rice cookers
- Comes with a rice scoop, a measurement cup and a steaming basket for making steamed veggies, meat, fish or dumplings along with the rice
- Detachable lid for easy cleaning
- A patented double steam cap blocks the steam inside for faster cooking and steaming, and provides safe steam emission
- An easy automatic auto cleaning function
- Doesn’t emit an odor or release any residue during the cooking
- A water drain keeps the water from becoming stagnant and prevents the build up of odors or bacteria in the unit
- Quiet operation
- Low energy consumption which will help lower your electricity bills
- The voice navigation is in Korean only – no English option is available for this model
If you want to purchase a versatile kitchen appliance which can cook perfect rice, and at the same time can be used as a slow cooker and a bread maker, then you may have found the perfect match with this Japanese quality Tiger JKT-S10U-K induction heating rice cooking multicooker.
- Versatile appliance which will replace three or more other expensive appliances in your kitchen
- Comes in a 5.5 cup and 10-cup variants
- Uses induction heating for making tasty rice faster
- Can be used for preparing two meals simultaneously thanks to the tacook (Tiger cooking plate) sync cooking function and the induction heating power
- Features a unique Tiger Automatic Cooking Logic system which screens and adjusts the temperature during the cooking
- Has a bread baking function
- The tacook plate can be used for steaming vegetables, dumplings, fish or meat while the rice is cooking, and doesn’t absorb or emit any odors or flavors of the rice or other food cooked in the unit
- Has several pre-set cooking options for quick and easy setting: plain, mixed, brown, Jasmine rice, oatmeal, porridge, bread baking and slow cooking
- Made of high quality materials – and a spherical 8-layer inner pot
- The removable lid is washable along with the pot
- A 2-preset cooking timer for unattended cooking
- The steam vent cap is also removable for better sanitizing
- It is more expensive than some of the other rice cookers on this list
- A capacity of 5.5 cups of uncooked rice, but is available in a larger size as well
- High quality make and design – made in Japan
- Uses induction heating for perfectly even and consistently cooked rice, and for very precise temperature adjustments during the cooking
- Perfect for those of you who are looking for healthier cooking options such as GABA rice, brown rice or germinated brown rice
- A 2-setting delayed timer which allows you to set everything up and leave the meal to cook itself while you are tending to other errands, or when you are not at home
- A useful keep warm function which will keep the rice fresh, warm and tasty for hours, and the extended warm feature will keep it delicious and safe for days
- A multitude of pre-set cooking options including: white, jasmine, sushi, sweet, GABA, brown or porridge rice, as well as a quick cooking program
- Triple heating provides even heating
- Beautiful stainless steel design covered with clear coating to protect the unit from dust and dirt
- Easy to use and read LCD display with a clock and timer
- Removable lid for easy washing
- Various options for the audio indicator signal
- It is more expensive than our top pick – the Zojirushi NS-LAC05XA Micom rice cooker
If you love Zojirushi, but think that our top pick – the Zojirushi NS-LAC05XA Micom is a tad too small and too simple for your preferences, then get ready to meet one of the most intelligent and versatile rice cookers on the market – the Zojirushi NP-NVC10 Induction Heating pressure rice cooker.
- Uses Artificial Intelligence to learn from past cooking and improve every next one. The AI assists the fuzzy logic for making the perfect portion of rice each and every time
- A heat induction technology which provides even heating of the rice or food from each and every angle
- 3 pressure settings which are automatically adjusted by the AI assisted fuzzy logic technology
- A special scorched setting is available if you want that layer of crispy rice on the bottom of the pot
- It has a unique umami setting which will helps create sweeter rice by extracting the sugar from it via extended soaking and steaming
- Comes in versions with capacities of 5.5 cups or 10 cups of uncooked rice
- Pre-set cooking functions including: white, sushi, mixed, brown, GABA, porridge and quick rice
- An easy to set, useful delay timer
- A large color LCD display and control panel with a clock and a user-friendly interface
- The internal pot is platinum infused to improve the quality of the water and the taste of the rice
- Indicator signal for when the cooking is done
- The automatic keep warm feature will keep the rice warm for up to 12 hours, and there is also an extended keep warm for even longer storage of the rice
- A safe pressure control valve and a back-up safety valve, as well as a lid which locks up automatically during pressure cooking
- Comes with a rice spatula, a holder for the spatula and two kinds of measuring cups
- It is on the higher end price wise
This is yet another excellent rice cooker from Cuckoo which we picked as one of our top 10 favorites for 2018. It is much less expensive than the other Cuckoo rice cooker on our list than most of the Zojirushi rice cookers, but still has a wide range of features which will never seize to amaze you every time you cook rice.
- Very cute and compact design
- A capacity of 6 uncooked cups of rice (3.2 quarts)
- Utilizes a fuzzy logic and Intelligent Cooking Algorithm to produce the best results when cooking any type of rice
- A wide LCD allows for easy viewing of the settings
- A special GABA rice function which will produce the best-tasting GABA rice
- A Turbo cooking mode for fixing up a quick meal
- A Slow cooking function
- 6 pre-set cooking options – white (gluttonous), brown, porridge, steam, slow cook and GABA
- Can be used for baking, stew or cooking meat
- A keep warm function which will keep the rice warm, fresh and delicious for a very long time
- A non-stick pot
- Various indicator signals to keep you informed of how the cooking is going
- It is only available in baby pink color, which although is very cute may not be to everybody’s liking
If you want a versatile and affordable kitchen appliance which will save you hundreds of dollars for buying 9 or more other cooking devices including a separate rice cooker, then the amazing Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1 is definitely one to consider investing in.
- A large 8 QT. Capacity suitable for large families of 6 and more people
- Comes in 2 smaller versions of 3 and 6 quarts
- One of the most popular and best-selling multicookers in the world
- Replaces 9 other kitchen appliances, which will not only save you space but a lot of money as well
- A multifunctional cooking device which can be used as a rice cooker, a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, an egg cooker, a steamer, for sautéing, warming and for sterilizing, as well as for baking
- 15 pre-set programs for easy and quick set up and food preparation
- Made out of 100% food safe stainless steel
- Has 10 safety features to keep your food, you and your home safe at all times
- The large blue LCD screen makes setting up the cooking programs and monitoring the cooking progress a breeze
- Cooks meals 70% faster when used as a pressure cooker
- Cooks perfect evenly prepared rice and various other meals
- Comes with a soup spoon, a serving spoon, a steam rack with handles, a measuring cup and a nifty recipe booklet
- Compatible with Alexa skill, which provides access to more than 300 recipes and allows to personalize the functions, such as creating and saving recipes and grocery lists
- A useful audio and visual heat indicator
- Easy to clean, dishwasher safe stainless steel pot
- It is not as specialized as the other rice cookers, so there are no separate pre-set cooking programs for the different types of rice and rice meals you are cooking
How does a rice cooker work?
Although they vary in design, type and size, all rice cookers function in a similar way. They are made of four main components – the main body, a heating plate on the bottom, the inner cooking pan and a thermal sensing device below the heating element.
When the pot is filled with the rice and water, the sensor is depressed which switches the heating element on. As the water boils out, the sensor regulates the temperature accordingly until the rice is perfectly cooked. Then the device is either switched off or automatically shifts to a keep warm mode.
Depending on the type of heating and the material of the pot the time for the cooking can vary.
Why should you get a rice cooker?
If you love rice, but are not quite happy with how it turns out when you make it at home, then you should consider buying a rice cooker. This appliance will ensure that you always end up with flawlessly cooked rice. Plus, the cooking and cleaning up is very simple and hassle-free with a good quality rice cooker.
There is a wide variety of different rice cookers.
If you tend to cook and eat rice rarely, then you can purchase one of the budget-friendly rice cookers such as the Aroma Housewares or the Hamilton Beach rice cookers from our list.
On the other hand, if you eat rice quite often, then you may want to invest in a more advanced rice cooker. Our top recommendation is the Zojirushi NS-LAC05XA Micom, and the runner up is the NS-ZCC10 Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker. There are some higher end models in our best 10 list as well, such as the two other rice cookers from Zojirushi – the Induction Heating pressure rice cooker and the NP-HCC10XH which offer some smart and advanced features.
Since rice cookers are designed and made to cook rice, you can expect perfectly textured, cooked and tasty rice every time.
These countertop appliances are also very suitable for those of you who simply don’t like spending time cooking rice on a stovetop, or for those who are too busy to make sure that the rice is prepared well and in time.
Thanks to the pre-set cooking programs for the different types of rice and meals, as well as the delayed timers of these units, all you really need to do is add the rice, add the water, choose the program and set the timer, and you are done!
With a rice cooker, you will never have to keep checking the rice in the pot, or end up with mushy, raw or burnt rice again!
Also, the rice cooker won’t leave a mess in the saucepan and on the stove. A good quality rice cooker is easy to clean and will never have burnt rice on the bottom of the pot.
Last but not least, rice cookers are compact, inexpensive appliances which will save you space and a lot of time.
What features should you look for in a rice cooker?
When we tested and reviewed a large number of the rice cookers on the market, we looked for a number of essential features in order to handpick the best 10 of them for 2018.
Here are the main features which you should look for when buying a rice cooker.
Even rice cooking
A good rice cooker should be able to evenly cook the entire batch of rice without a difference in the fluffiness and taste in the middle, top, bottom or sides of the pot. We have picked the best rice cookers which cook evenly every time.
Consistent good cooking
The rice cooker should ensure that you get the same quality cooked rice every time, no matter the quantity or the type of rice you are cooking. We have picked those rice cookers which have shown the greatest consistency when it comes to performance.
Good quality rice cookers have preset programs for cooking different types of rice, such as white, brown, jasmine, GABA, long grain and others. Also, many rice cookers can also handle cooking millet, quinoa, beans and other grains too. Some of the rice cookers on our list are multifunctional appliances, which can be used for steaming, baking, making stew as well as for other types of cooking, such as the Instant Pot 9-in-1 multicooker. The more functions an appliance has – the more money and space you save for buying and using a multitude of other kitchen tools.
All of the rice cookers on our list take less than an hour to cook a batch of rice. This is essential if you want to cook a quick meal. Of course, if you prefer to pre-set the cooker and set the delay timer, the cooking time is not as essential.
Non-stick cooking pot
This a key feature to look for, because it will save you a lot of time and effort from having to clean and scrub any burnt and stuck rice from the bottom. All of our choices have non-stick pans. We have chosen rice cookers which have good quality pot coating, which will last longer. The Zojirushi Induction Heating and pressure rice cooker has a platinum-infused pot which helps improve the taste and quality of the rice. This is the most expensive cooker on our list but it has the unique umami rice setting, which is a definite must for those of you who have a fine taste in food.
Most of our top picks have a fuzzy logic feature. This is a microchip which helps sense and adjusts the temperature level during the cooking depending on the quantity of rice and water added, and also depending on the type of rice being cooked. No doubt, the smartest rice cooker on our list is the Zojirushi NPNV10, but it is also the most expensive one too.
Quick cook option
This is a cool feature if you tend to cook at the last minute, or if you want to save time. Keep in mind that this feature can in some cases affect the taste quality of the rice.
The rice cookers on our list all have keep warm settings. They automatically switch to this setting once the cooking is done, in order to ensure that the rice stays warm and ready for consumption for hours. Some of the higher end models from Zojirushi have an extended keep warm setting which will help keep the rice fresh and tasty for days.
Capacity and size
Since rice cookers are countertop devices, you should keep in mind the space you have available before buying the best rice cooker. We have included some of the smallest and some bigger rice cookers with different capacities so that you can choose the one which suits your needs and the space you have allocated for it. Having a retractable cord, like with our top choice – the Zojirushi Micom 3 cup cooker is another plus when it comes to space-saving.
The rice cookers in our list range from the smallest 3 cup capacity up to an ability to cook 10 and more cups, so there is one suitable for any household and any need.
All of the rice cookers we have picked come with spatulas for the rice. Some have spatula holders and steam baskets, as well as other accessories. This fact will save you money for having to buy additional accessories for the unit.
Detachable inner lid
Many of our top picks have detachable lids, which makes the cleaning process much easier. If you want a hassle-free experience, we suggest that you pick a rice cooker which has a dishwasher-safe removable lid and pot.
Our higher end choices from Zojirushi as well as the Tiger rice cooker work with induction heating. This ensures that the rice is evenly cooked and that the cooking process is faster and more efficient. These are more expensive options which are suitable for those of you who really want the best results and who eat rice on a daily basis.
Price, manufacturer and warranty
The leading manufacturers of rice cookers are traditionally from Japan, Korea and other Asian countries. We have included 5 Japanese and 2 Korean rice cookers, as well as US-made and Chinese ones too. The price range is between about $50 to up to $500, so there is a rice cooker suitable for any budget on our list. All of them come with warranties, so you can rest assured that you will get proper customer care service in case anything goes wrong with the unit.
We hope that our comprehensive list of features and our top picks for the best rice cookers of 2018 has helped you make your choice.
Go ahead and purchase the best one for your needs, and pretty soon you will be able to enjoy endless bowls of steaming hot, fluffy and delicious rice whenever you feel like it!
Good luck and Bon Appetit!