The 5 Best Rice Cookers of 2018 – Reviews and Buying Guide

If you enjoy eating rice on a regular basis then having a rice cooker in the kitchen is a big plus when it comes to cooking rice.

A rice cooker does three things exceptionally when used to cook rice

  • It ensures a consistent cook for all the grains of rice so that none is over or under cooked
  • It keeps your rice hot to warm for at least 30 minutes to utmost 12 hours
  • It allows you to cook all types of rice from white to brown rice and wild rice as well with the same great results

 At times it may be a challenge knowing which rice cooker to buy with hundreds of options available to choose from. Fear not, I will take you through five top rated rice cookers of 2018 and provide you with tips to help you choose the best rice cooker in a bonus buying guide I’ve included in this post .

 

Comparison Chart

Panasonic SR-DF101 Rice Cooker Panasonic SR-DF101 5-Cup Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker Aroma ARC-150SB Digital Rice Cooker Aroma 20-Cup Digital Rice Cooker Instant Pot LUX60V3 Pressure Cooker Instant Pot V3 Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker Hamilton Beach (37508) Rice cooker Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker Zojirushi Rice Cooker Zojirushi Induction Heating Rice Cooker
Pot capacity (uncooked) 5 cups 10 cups 6 cups 8 cups 5 cups
Multi- use -
Keep-warm function
Programmable -
Aesthetics score out of 5 4 4 3 3 4
Warranty
Performance Excellent Good Excellent Good Good
Price View Price View Price View Price View Price View Price

 

Rice Cooker Reviews

Panasonic SR-DF101 5-Cup “Fuzzy Logic” Rice Cooker. ‘Most recommended’

Panasonic SR-DF101 5-Cup Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker

It is said that all good things come in small sizes and this is certainly true with Panasonic SR-DF101. Don’t let the compact size fool you because it is packed with multi-tasking abilities that are seemingly unequal to the size of this appliance.

Upon close scrutiny you quickly begin to realize that this rice cooker is smartly designed with a microcomputer- controlled technology that allows the Panasonic SR-DF101 to totally eliminate temperature adjusting, stirring and hovering. This model has a maximum capacity of 5 cups of uncooked rice.

The digital panel is pre-programmed with four large easy to operate buttons that house up to six menu options ranging from;

  • White rice
  •  brown rice
  • Steam
  • Porridge
  • Soup
  • Quick cook option

You will find the rice setting on this appliance to be very versatile with settings that can handle any rice type with ease including jasmine, Arborio, long or short grained rice, brown rice and basmati.

The rice steamer/basket, in addition to washing rice can also be used to steam healthy organic farm fresh veggies to delectable side dishes. The rice steamer can be filled with many options including meats, such as salmon or chicken. Other veggies that can be steamed to perfection on the steamer while your rice is cooking include Zucchini, pea pods, green beans, French beans, broccoli and so much more.

This lovely machine will reward you with a quick appetizing breakfast if you feed the rice cooker with oatmeal, water or milk.

The appliance affords you peace of mind because once your rice or other dish is cooked, it will automatically shut off preventing over cooking and turn on the keep-warm function that keeps your food warm for up to 12 hours.

It is worth noting that the pan has a nonstick coated ensuring your rice does not cling to the bottom of you pan, which also makes for easy cleaning.

The design is simple and good looking while being quite compact. It includes a detachable cord making for efficiency in space utility on any countertop or dinner table for easy serving as well as easy storage in the pantry when not in use.

PROS:

  • Easy to use
  • Compact occupying little space on a counter top
  • Great rice cooker which can also do broth and porridge
  • Six menu option
  • Keep warm function up to 12 hours

CONS:

  • Not programmable

Verdict

A very effective rice cooker for someone looking an uncomplicated rice cooker that is simple to use yet offers a few more practical functions such being able to steam meats and vegetable while cooking the rice. The fact that it has a six option menu means it can handle all your favorite rice grains with ease and cook them to perfection.

Having a nonstick pot makes it easy to clean. This rice maker is simple yet elegant. The rice maker comes with a measuring cup that makes it easy to get the proper rice to water ratio every time. 5 uncooked cups is the rice capacity which is good for 2 to 4 persons. In case you would prefer a model with a larger rice capacity then then you should check out the Panasonic SR-DF181 which hold up to 10 cups of uncooked rice.

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Aroma ARC-150SB 20-Cup Digital Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker & Steamer

Aroma 20-Cup Digital Rice Cooker

If entertaining crowds in your home is one of your hobbies or you have one of those large families, then you might find this digital rice cooker a good companion in your kitchen. It can fix your rice from 4-20 cups at one go and in a snap. It doesn’t matter what type your favorite rice is, the Aroma ARC-150SB 20-Cup Digital Rice Cooker has a specialized function for both brown and white rice recognizing the different aspects of heat and cook time for both. So you do not have to worry about monitoring and stirring your rice for it to come out the way you want. Once the rice is cooked the rice cooker will automatically go into keep-warm to ensure your meal stays warm until you are ready to serve.

The ‘quick’ function is very handy if you want your meal a tad faster as it cuts down the cooking time by a whopping 50%.

A measuring cup helps you get the rice to water ratio without any difficulty.

Moreover, besides making your rice to perfection at the touch of a button, it also provides you with other useful options such as being able to steam your other foods such as meats and vegetables on the steam tray while your rice is cooking.

Fans of Spanish rice, risotto, chili and packaged meals will appreciate the STS function on this appliance. Sauté then simmer is Aroma’s patent pending innovation that now allows you to sauté or brown your food by reaching high heat and then automatically switching to simmer once liquid has been added. This function is a time saver but also helps you make delicious food just the way you like it. 

This appliance is programmable and as such you can take advantage of the 15 hour delay time when you are on the go and expect delicious rice when you need it later in the day.

It looks great in the kitchen with a stainless steel exterior and good sized digital panel for easy operation. Cleaning is fairly easy as all accessories are removable for easy cleaning

PROS:

  • Keep warm function
  • Settings for both brown and white rice
  • Steam meat and veggies while rice cooks below
  • Slow cook function
  • Large rice cook capacity of 10 uncooked cups
  • Digital control

CONS:

  • Highly priced

Verdict

This cooker will enhance your rice cooking experience and most importantly can comfortably handle larger amounts of rice for bigger household or for those who love to entertain. It has all functions for cooking a great meal in one cycle like being able to cook your rice while steaming veggies at the same time. Meals are made more delicious with the patent pending sauté and simmer technology, which is a unique feature. This appliance is practical for someone looking for a rice cooker that has some simple multi-tasking abilities.

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Instant Pot LUX60V3 V3 Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot V3 Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker

If you love your rice and want to be able to cook it in a snap, this is an amazing rice cooker. It is more for the family or a household that frequently cooks rice but would want a rice cooker that has above average multi-tasking capabilities.

The Instant Pot LUX60V3 takes multi- tasking to another level – Not only can the pot cook your rice to perfection, but it also includes settings that allow you to comfortably slow cook or pressure cook other foods and grains of your choice.

One has to admit that a rice cooker that can also bake is something pretty special. If you have thing for rice and love baking your stuff as well, then you will probably love this rice cooker for its ability to do that and so much more. With this appliance, the pot has options for baking your cheese cakes, banana cakes as well as moist cooked carrot cake. It has a setting for cooking egg as well which has proved to be very popular with most customers.

Rice cookers don’t come any better than this. When you need to pressure cook, the setting provides a pressure cooking option for up 240 minutes which can be conveniently set to silent mode should you not want the beep, beep, beep sound to disturb you or a sleeping baby.

An integral part of a good rice cooker is the ‘keep warm’ function. In this appliance this function comes both in automatic and manual both allowing your food or pastry to keep warm for up to 10 hours

The appliance is nice looking as the exterior in made of brushed stainless steel that is finger print resistant helping it maintain a nice clean shiny look. The embedded digital display panel is easy to use and clearly labeled for ease of use.

 The pot is constructed from stainless steel making it very hardy in terms of durability. You also don’t have to have any reservations when using steel utensils on it.

A built in microprocessor in this appliance makes it very easy to prepare delicious meal as it monitors pressure, temperature, keeps time, and adjusts heat intensity proportionately for amazing delicious dishes at the touch of a button.

The full range of multi-tasking abilities of this appliances include 6 function;

  • Rice cooking
  • Pressure cooking
  • Sauté
  • Steamer
  • Cake making
  • Warming

PROS:

  • Programmable
  • Easy touch controls
  • Consistent results across different food items
  • High pressure cooking reduced cooking time by 70% thus saving energy
  • Large easy to use display panel
  • Pressure regulator for safety

CONS:

  • Not suitable for those who do not need the extra functions other than rice making

Verdict

The Instant Pot LUX60V3 epitomizes the technological advantages that are with us today. For a household that cooks rice frequently but also does pastries and grains often, this cooker would be a great buy as it combines 6 functions in one. Being a pressurized gadget the safety features and aspect have been given due attention so one can use this appliance without worry.

If you are tech savvy you can enjoy this appliance to its fullest potential by using the Alexa skill & free app for more than 300 Alexa guided cooking recipes and a personalized grocery list.

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Hamilton Beach (37508) Rice Cooker

Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker

We also have to concede the fact that sometimes your rice cooking needs although frequent may not be that elaborate. And for this reason you might want to simply settle for a rice cooker that is cheap and gets the job done.

Life has gotten busier and busier and rice cookers are proving helpful in preparing speedy rice which takes a load of pressure from you when it comes to making your rice meals. If you are on a budget, there is no reason why you should not enjoy speedy well cooked rice for yourself, your family or friends. A good rice cooker does not need to cost you an arm and a leg and this is very evident in the Hamilton Beach rice cooker.

The beauty of this model is in its simplicity and efficiency. All it takes is putting your rice in a bowl and simply flipping a switch and the gadget goes to work to deliver sumptuous rice in a matter of minutes while you take care of another chore.

Amazingly, you do not even have to bother about setting temperatures or even boiling water, this rice cooker takes care of all that. All you have to do is put in the ingredients and it will do the rest. Once a cook cycle is finished it will automatically start the Warm cycle to keep your rice warm until you are ready to serve.

With an option of 2-8 cups you can cook just a little rice for a side dish or enough to serve your whole family.

The cooking bowl is nonstick which makes it very easy to clean, plus the lid liner is removable for quick easy cleaning when needed.

 The 2 in 1 basket provided is somewhat multi-use as it can be used to rinse rice before cooking or to steam some salmon or zucchini to accompany your rice. Both the cooking bowl and rice rinse basket can be washed using a dishwasher as they are dishwasher friendly making the cleaning process even easier.

Whether you have a massive kitchen or a cramped one that is cluttered, this machine remains very suitable in terms of size as its compact design allows for very good space utilization. As a matter of fact it hardly takes up any space on your kitchen countertop and is very storage friendly in your kitchen cabinets or pantry when not in use.

For the perfect rice or grain water ratio, this rice cooker comes with measuring cup and spatula for ease of serving.

PROS:

  • Easy to clean
  • 2-8 cup capacity
  • Simple one touch operation
  • Cooking pot, rice rinser and accessories are dishwasher safe
  • Easy to carry around

CONS:

  • Limited cook options

Verdict

Fairly portable and can be carried to parties to help with the cooking of rice and other grains. What we loved with this rice cooker is the simplicity. Although simple, it so much more than a rice cooker, for the reason that you can use it with other grains such as, sorghum, millet, Farro, wheat berries, barley, buckwheat and quinoa to amazing perfection.

It allows you to cook your rice in the cooking pot and simultaneously steam veggies, poultry, seafood, in the rinser/steamer, which is a nice touch. A steam chart helps you kick the guess work out the window. Essentially, this little beauty can allow you to cook your rice while accompaniments are being steamed all in one cycle.

This appliance gives you value for money especially when looking for a rice cooker on shoe string budget. You end up getting so much more.

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Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH Induction Heating Rice Cooker

Zojirushi Induction Heating Rice Cooker

You might want to check out the Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH rice cooker and see what benefits you could enjoy by having this piece of equipment in your kitchen.

For all the pomp and glory of the stove and sauce pan, we must admit that if rice forms part of your staple diet, it actually is not the most convenient way to cook rice.  After seeing what the Zojirushi can do with your rice, you will be having second thoughts about your beloved saucepan. After test driving this rice cooker, the sheer quickness, ease of use and fluffy rice will convince even the most diehard stove top rice cooks.

One of the strong points of this rice cooker is the fact that it allows you to cook a wide variety of rice and in various styles. The induction heating system in this rice cooker does a great job of heating the bottom, sides and lid of the pan ensuring your rice is evenly cooked. You can expect a perfectly cooked batch of rice every time because this rice cooker can regulate the temperature during the cooking process so that every grain of rice is perfectly cooked for a delicious meal.

Most people enjoy a variety of different types of rice and this cooker recognizes that slightly different settings in terms of temperature and cook time are needed and so it has multiple setting for this very purpose. You will comfortably be able to cook your jasmine white rice, brown rice, sushi rice, porridge and sweet rice.

With this rice cooker, you can set for quick or longer cooks depending on the type and style of rice. 

A beep will alert you when the rice is cooked, however you have the option to choose a different alert such as a melody assuming you have other devices that have taken up the beep. You also have the option of putting the appliance on silent if you do not need an alert.

A crucial aspect of a rice cooker is its ability to keep the rice warm. The zojirushi does this perfectly as it is engineered to provide you with two options in the event that dinner is running a little late; there is an option for holding the rice hot for short period or holding the rice warm for an extended period of time ranging from 8 to 24 hours. It does so at a lower temperature to ensure the rice remains moist and supple and won’t dry out.

PROS:

  • Beeping alert to inform you when the rice is cooked
  • Multiple settings for cooking different types of rice
  • Induction heating system that ensures the rice is evenly cooked
  • Two heating options for keeping rice warm for shorter and longer periods
  • Can cook up to 1 liter (5 cups) of rice
  • Retractable cord
  • Nonstick coating for easy cleaning

CONS:

  • High price tag

Verdict

Those who are passionate about their rice will find this machine indispensable and we’ll worth its weight in gold, because of the fact that it can cook for a crowd and handle different types of rice and cooking styles with ease. If you feel that this model is not up to par with your requirements you can always upgrade to bigger model of the Zojirushi that can take up to 1.8 liters of rice and has pressure cooking abilities.

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Rice Cooker Buying Guide

What to consider when shopping for a rice cooker

In order to get the best rice cooker for your needs you must ascertain what type of rice consumer you are.  Are you a daily, several times a month or rarely eats rice type of rice eater? Serious rice consumers should look for a rice cooker with the following characteristics

Basic and complex automation

Programmability is now expected of household appliances because it makes use of the appliance easy and in some cases even remote. This is no different with rice cookers. Consider features and settings like fuzzy logic that allow you to set the right heat during cooking, timer to set the cooking time and the warmer to keep the rice warm and moist after cooking.

Easy to clean material and components

If you use your rice cooker frequently, then cleaning it should not be a tedious affair. You can have a smooth and easy cleaning experience by choosing a rice cooker with a nonstick insert as opposed to a Stainless Steel one.  The nonstick option is easy to clean and works well for rice cookers used on a daily basis. You can go further and choose an insert that can be washed in a dishwasher.

Also settle for cooker that has a completely detachable top lid instead of the hinges lid.  The detachable lid is easier and more thorough to clean.

A multi-tasking model

Some models will steam vegetables and even fish in addition to cooking your rice.  Choose this type of model for not only convenience but to save you time during the cooking process.

A high quality brand

If you are using your rice cooker on a daily basis you will easily find yourself going through several if you choose the cheap brands.  To be fair you will probably get one or two at most four cooks out of it if you are lucky before you have to replace.  Buy a high quality brand like Zojirushi and you will have consistent cooks every time for a long time.

The right volume for your needs

The volume of your rice cooker is really dependent on you and your needs.  A big rice cooker may not cook a small amount of rice because it would not be the ideal volume for it.  Invest in a small cooker for your personal use.  The 5.5 cups cooker is ideal for a single meal while for a larger group you want to invest in the 10 cups cooker.

The ability to disappear during storage

The great thing about the rice cooker is that it doesn’t have to be on the counter at all times.  Get a model with a retractable cord or one that can be stored in a cabinet until it needs to be used. Models that have been designed to cleverly fit components inside the rice bowl are perfect for easy storage.

Safe materials

Rice cookers feature a lot of plastic in their construction. It is important to ensure that the plastic used is actually BPA free making it safe for longtime consistent food preparation.

Those who eat rice sporadically need not spend too much time looking for the above qualities.  You can use a basic rice cooker that does not have too many settings but can get the job done. Perhaps a one touch operation.

Types of Rice Cookers

There are 3 types of rice cookers to look out for

a) Microwave rice cookers

These are generally cheap and simple to use. They basically just keep the steam within them cooking the rice as they are heated up by the microwave.

b) Conventional rice cookers

These are the regular rice cookers. They usually are fitted with a hot plate, steam tray and cooking pot. Their features are not complicated or too many making them ideal for home and even commercial use.

c) Micom rice cookers

Micom cookers are more expensive and complex in use. They are fitted with a microchip to regulate the heat during various stages of the cooking. You can take the Micom technology further by choosing a Micom cooker with induction heating that transmits the heat throughout the pot for even cooking or invest in a Micom cooker with pressurized induction heating that will change the texture of your rice grains and even the starch in the rice.

Frequently asked questions

Jasmine rice is my staple, but just wondering if there is any difference when you use the jasmine setting on the Zojirushi.

 Yes, there is definite difference when using the jasmine setting. The appliance will first soak the rice before cooking and will take about 90 minutes to cook it on that setting. The result is fluffy jasmine rice. If you are cooking say 2 cups, you opt for the ‘quick’ setting which will take only 40 minutes even for jasmine rice.

Does the rice stick to the bottom of the Hamilton Beach rice cooker?

 No, the pot is nonstick

What is the difference in the function for immediate release and natural release in the Instant Pot V3 Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker?

 The difference is very simple, natural release will allow the pot to cook for a further 10 minutes or so, while the immediate release will have the pot finish the cooking at that instant you press the immediate release button.

Is the Aroma, 4-20 cup rice Cooker and steamer programmable?

 Yes it is.  It has a 15 hour delay timer.

Is there a steam release vent on the lid as of the Panasonic SR-DF101 as it is not possible to make that out on the package picture.

 Yes the lid has steam release vent on the lid.

Conclusion

Granted the saucepan and stove can get the job done when it comes to rice cooking. However, it must be said that if you try one of the appliances above especially if rice is your staple you will find them extremely convenient and super-fast. As your rice cooks while simultaneously steaming veggies or meats on the rice steamer, you are free to catch up with your favorite TV program or get another chore done.

When the rice is ready the appliance alerts you, but should it for some reason be on silent mode, you have nothing to worry about as it automatically shuts off so your rice does not overcook, while activating the ‘keep-warm’ function.

When you are done with your chores or your TV program, you can serve dinner that is still steaming hot. Having reviewed 5 rice cookers above from budget to high end I’d recommend going for the Panasonic SR-DF101 and giving your sauce pan a well-deserved rest.

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