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Rice is an affordable and versatile grain, used and loved in many cuisines around the world. With so many different varieties, rice can be enjoyed on its own, as a side dish, or serve as the base for many recipes like grain bowls, jambalayas, stir fries, and so much more.
Although the process of cooking rice on the stovetop is fairly easy–after all, it’s just water and rice, usually in a 2-to-1 ratio –it’s also easy to under or over cook your rice. If you’ve ever scorched a pan of rice or wondered why your rice is soft and mushy, you’ve realized cooking a pot of rice requires just-so timing and constant supervision.
Rice cookers allow you to make a pot of perfectly textured, fluffy rice without any guesswork or constant watching. Most models can also be used to cook other grains, such as oats, quinoa, or polenta. You can even use a rice cooker to make a no-stir risotto. Before buying, you’ll want to consider a rice cooker’s capacity and cooking functions for how much rice you eat and which types of rice you eat most often.
Here are our top rice cooker picks.
Our top choice is the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-ZCC10 (view at Amazon). It has a thermal sensor that allows the cooker to automatically adjust cooking time and temperature for the type of rice you’re cooking. If you prefer a multi-purpose appliance, we recommend the Instant Pot Lux 6-In-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker. Besides pressure cooking, it also functions as a slow cooker, steamer, and has 12 cooking presets for everything from rice to eggs and cake.
A rice cooker’s capacity is usually measured in the number of cups of uncooked rice it can hold. Be sure to note, though, that depending on the type of rice, you might end up with twice that amount of cooked rice—so choose an option that’s the right size for you and your family.
Many rice cookers come with presets for different types of rice, as well as ones that include adjustments for making your rice softer or firmer than usual. Basic cookers, on the other hand, might just have an on/off toggle with no additional settings. Which do you prefer?
Besides being able to cook different types of rice, some units venture beyond grains and can be used as slow cookers or steamers for vegetables or fish. If you don’t cook rice regularly, those extra features might make a rice cooker more useful more often.
Making rice in a rice cooker is as easy as measuring your uncooked rice and cooking water, placing both in the rice cooker, and setting the rice cooker to cook according to the type of rice or grain you’re cooking.
The exact instructions for your rice cooker will be included in the user manual. You should read over the instructions so you know exactly how to get perfectly cooked rice in your cooker.
Yes, you can cook quinoa in a rice cooker. Consult the cooker manual for recommended grain to liquid ratios for best results.
Most grains can be cooked in a rice cooker including barley, farro, grits, quinoa, and oats. Some rice cookers include steaming inserts that can be used to steam vegetables, meat, or fish.
There are also recipes for cakes and egg dishes that are cooked in a rice cooker. Some home cooks even use rice cookers to steam-cook hard-boiled eggs.
Before cleaning, make sure the rice cooker is turned off and cooled down. The cooking insert and detachable lids can be removed and washed by hand or placed in the dishwasher. Check the manual to verify whether these parts are dishwasher-safe. If there is stuck-on food in the pot or lid, you can let them soak first in hot, soapy water.
If your cooker has a lid that does not detach from the cooking base, use a wet sponge to wipe it clean, but do not submerge the cooker in water. The inside and outside of the cooking base can also be wiped with a damp cloth or sponge.
Donna Currie is a cookbook author who writes roundups and reviews products for The Spruce Eats. She has tested more than 90 kitchen products for the brand.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that make cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.
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