The Best Rice Cookers Buying Guide of 2015 & 2016

When buying a rice cooker look for these qualities:

1. Rice Cooking Settings

Rice cookers do a lot more than just cook rice. Most cookers include at least two specialized functions for white and brown rice. Since people have discovered the versatility of rice cookers, companies are now putting more settings on their cookers so you don’t have to experiment with time and temperature. Settings can include mixed rice, cake, slow cook, soup, stew, saute, bean/chili, and so on.

2. How Many Cups

How many cups of rice your machine can make determines if it is better for a group of people or just a few. Rice cookers can cook as little as .5 cup of uncooked rice – which is about 1 cup of cooked rice – to as much as 20 cups of cooked rice. An in-between rice cooker can make 6-10 cups cooked. Brown rice uses more water, so 2 raw cups equals 4 cups cooked. The more cups a rice cooker can hold, the bigger the unit will be. A 3-cup rice cooker is good for students because it doesn’t take up much space.

3. Multipurpose

In addition to different rice varieties, rice cookers can make everything from savory dishes to desserts. Most rice cookers come with steamer baskets, so you can steam fish, meat, and veggies using the steam created by the cooking rice. You can also make soups and chilis in the cooker bowl, as well as cakes. A larger rice cooker would probably best if you plan on using it for more than just making rice, because a smaller rice cooker (3 cups or so) wouldn’t make very much chili/soup/etc unless you’re eating alone.

3. Automatic Keep-warm

The automatic keep-warm function on all rice cookers is extremely convenient. It lets you leave the rice once it’s cooked while you fix other things for the meal, and the rice doesn’t get cold or gummy. Most machines switch from the “on” light to the “warm” indicator light so you know that the rice is ready. More advanced rice cookers have extended warm times and reheating cycles so you can reheat rice in the rice cooker and not in the microwave, which dries rice out.

4. A Digital timer

A rice cooker’s digital timer allows you to be flexible about planning out your meals. You can get the rice and liquid ready, and then set the timer so the rice cooker doesn’t begin cooking the rice until the designated time. Most rice cookers let you delay cooking for about 15 hours, though some allow for longer, like 24 hours.

5. Stainless Steel Construction

Rice cookers are made of an inner cooking pot, a lid, and insulating exterior. Stainless steel is a popular material, because it cleans well and holds heat evenly. The exterior of the rice cooker can also be made of stainless steel or a durable plastic. If you want to see the rice, a tempered glass lid is the way to go.

6. Weight / Portability

Smaller rice cookers are very lightweight and weigh less than four pounds. The more durable ones (made from all stainless steel instead of plastic) can weigh 5-9 pounds, while the really large rice cookers, like a 20-cup, weigh 14 or more pounds. These also take up significantly more room and are essentially like crockpots in terms of needed storage space.

7. Included extras

When you get a rice cooker, the companies usually include extras like steamer baskets, measuring cups, and a rice ladle. If the rice cooker is intended for more than just rice, you might also get a soup spoon. You can even make much more than just rice and soups in a rice cooker, look here for 21 unexpected rice cooker recipes.

8. Easy clean-up

Cleaning one is very easy. The inner lid is typically detachable, so you can submerge it in water or put it in the dishwasher if it is dishwasher-safe. All accessories (steamer basket, ladles) are also safe to put in the dishwasher. If any spills get on the exterior of the rice cooker (which cannot be put in water because it’s where the power cord and electrical parts are), stainless steel or plastic are easy to wipe clean with a paper towel.

What are the top 3 rice cooker manufacturers?

1. Oster

In the 1920’s, Oster was run by John Oster as a hair clipper company. When he wanted to begin producing other products, John Oster bought the Stevens Electrical Company, which made drink mixers for bars. The engineers at Oster began experimenting and eventually created The Osterizer Blender. In 1960, Sunbeam Corporation bought Oster, and a year later, created a subsidiary company that would sell wholesale Oster products. Over the years, these products have included kitchen appliances like blenders, electric knives, toasters, and rice cookers. Currently, Oster sells a variety of rice cookers including very affordable ones and ones that make up to 20 cups of rice at one time.

2. Aroma

Aroma Housewares has been around for over 35 years and prioritizes simple, innovative kitchen appliances like grills, cooktops, ice cream makers, deep fryers, and rice cookers. They sell a wide range of rice machines, like the traditional Pot-Style rice cooker that is modeled after the Japanese design, and the Egg-Shape rice cooker, which is more modern and designed for making lots of dishes, like oatmeal and cake.

3. Zojirushi

Zojirushi originally made glass-lined vacuum bottles, which is the vital part of vacuum insulation technology in countless household products. That was over 90 years ago, and in 1961, the company adopted the name Zojirushi and the elephant logo, which symbolizes strength and intelligence. In 1983, their first microcomputer rice cooker was released. This new technology made cooking faster, more convenient, and more efficient. Zojirushi’s other household products include drink dispensers, water boilers, and more.

Consider these extras in a commercial rice cooker:

1. Embedded microprocessor

More advanced commercial rice cookers are equipped with a microprocessor or a microcomputer. This technology monitors things like temperature and pressure, and makes small adjustments so every batch of rice is perfectly cooked. This allows the rice cooker to operate up to 70% faster and more efficiently. The embedded microprocessor also makes cooking other dishes more convenient and effective.

2. Safety features

Using a rice cooker can be risky, because of how hot they can get. Safety features like a lid lock and magnetic sensor prevent the lid from accidentally coming off when the rice cooker is on, while other sensors guard against leaking steam, which can burn someone. Cool-touch handles are also convenient for both safety and transport. A safe rice cooker means you can move around the kitchen easily without worrying about bumping into it and knocking off the lid, or dealing with hot handles.

3. Spherical inner cooking pan

Some machines have a unique spherical inner cooking pan rather than a typical pot shaped one. This allows for more even heating, which can speed up the cooking process and ensure that every grain of rice is cooked through. The spherical, corner-less shape is also more compact and convenient for those with limited counter and storage space.

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