What is a Rice Cooker?
Quite simply, a rice cooker is a device that automatically cooks rice of various types. Before the advent of technology, if you wanted to cook the perfect rice on your own, you needed to monitor a pot carefully with water and heat to get the desired level of cooking. This doesn’t seem like much, but factor in the many varieties of rice and you end up with a large amount of information to remember. This is why rice cookers were invented. It’s also why you want to find the best rice cooker.
So which is the best rice cooker for you? The answer will vary depending on your needs. Some of them may be too large or small for your typical uses. Some of them may have far more features than you need, or may not do everything you want them to. The best rice cooker for you may not be the best rice cooker for someone else. You will need to learn about rice cooker features, extras and prices, and you will also need to read rice cooker review articles before you make your decision.
Features of Good Rice Cookers
Here are the most basic features you should look for in a rice cooker, depending on your needs.
A non-stick removable bowl and spoon, so your rice doesn’t get stuck in the machine
An automatic or optional keep warm setting, so your rice never gets cold
A steaming basket if you want to steam vegetables while you cook your rice
Settings for different kinds of rice, like brown and long-grain white rice
Additionally, in order to find the best rice cooker for your home, you need to determine how much rice you need at a time. If you’re constantly cooking rice in large batches, you may benefit from a larger model — 10 to 20 cups or more. If you only eat rice occasionally and you’re only cooking for yourself and one or two other people, a much smaller cooker with under five cup capacity is more ideal.
Once you have determined the capacity of the rice cooker you want, and you know what the standard features you should look for are, you’re able to start looking into the extras that are available. Often, the best rice cooker on the market has extra features to make it more attractive.
The most basic rice cooker does just that and nothing more. It will cook rice perfectly for you every time, but you won’t be able to use it for anything else. More expensive, higher quality rice cookers have steaming functions for vegetables and other foods. Some of the higher-end rice cookers also have slow cooker functions, making them a versatile kitchen appliance instead of a mere rice cooker.
Mid to high-end rice cookers often cook with induction, allowing a more thorough and even cooking job. This is opposed to the standard electric steaming cookers, which may cook slightly unevenly.
Many good rice cookers offer a range of programmable options. If you eat rice every day and lead a busy life, it might be worth it to invest in a programmable rice cooker. This kind of cooker allows you to add uncooked rice and water to the machine in the morning. You set it to cook later in the day, and when you arrive home from work the rice is perfectly cooked waiting for you.
You will likely have the choice between a stainless steel cooking pot and a non-stick coated pot. Non-stick will be much easier to clean, but requires more care and will likely fail sooner. A stainless steel pot is harder to clean but lasts much longer.
The Best Rice Cooker Types
Low-end rice cookers are cheap to purchase, generally in the $20 range. These cookers offer a non-stick cooking bowl and a basic electric heating element. They have removable glass lids and the most basic programming functions available. You will be able to cook white or brown rice in them, and they may have a keep warm function for when the rice is cooked. They generally come in low capacity, around three to five cups. Mini rice cookers generally fall in this class of rice cookers. If you only eat rice occasionally and in small batches, these are the best rice cooker types for you.
Mid-tier rice cookers add to the functionality of the low-end rice cookers. They range in price from $40 to $80, depending on the additional features and brand. They also tend to be higher capacity, around four to ten cups of uncooked rice at a time. If you cook rice in large batches or want additional programming features, these are the types of cookers you should look for.
High-end rice cookers are large, elegant machines that serve many purposes in the kitchen. They can range anywhere from $70 to $200 in price, depending on what you what features you look for. Many of them are not just rice cookers, but pressure cookers, bread makers and canning machines as well. You can also find good, industrial sized rice cookers for those instances where you need to cook rice for a small army.
Picking the Best Rice Cooker for You
Selecting the best rice cooker for your needs is the key to successful rice cooker ownership. Look to your habits and determine how much rice you eat at a time. If you cook rice just for yourself, you probably don’t need a ten cup capacity cooker. If you cook for yourself and your family, but don’t eat rice very often, you probably don’t need a cooker with a ton of fancy programming options.
On the other hand, if you cook rice for yourself and your family on a daily basis, it can be worth the investment to get a better, higher-quality rice cooker. You’ll be able to cook more rice at a time, thoroughly, and keep it warm while the hectic schedule of family life delays dinnertime. You might even benefit from a multifunction cooker that can prepare a whole meal at once.
Best-Selling Rice Cookers
Now, armed with this information, have a look at some of the best the best-selling and top-rated rice cookers today and choose for yourself which rice cooker best serves your needs.
|Instant Pot IP-LUX60
||4 1/2 Stars||About $120.00|
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|Cuisinart CRC-400||3 Stars||About $46.00|
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||4 Stars||About $52.00|
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|Zojirushi NS-LAC05XA Micom||4 1/2 Stars||About $136.00|
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