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Best Rice Cooker Reviews and Selection Guide – 2018 Edition

If you have been on the hunt for a quality rice cooker for any amount of time, you know that the amount of choices out there is almost endless.

Trying to find the perfect rice cooker is nowhere near as simple or as straightforward as it probably could be, as it probably should be. Some rice cookers are designed to help people crank out a batch of rice in record time while others are focused on maximizing the flavor of high quality and exotic rice, whereas others are a hybrid between the two – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

But by arming yourself with the insider information that we have below, you aren’t ever going to have to struggle finding the best rice cooker for the money (and for your specific needs) any longer. Shall we jump right in?

Great! Let’s get right to it!

Top 5 Rice Cooker Reviewed for 2017

We have done extensive research and reviewed hundreds of different cookers for rice and we came up with a short list of 5 rice cooker models that are best for the money.

#1: Zojirushi NP-HBC10 Rice Cooker

A dedicated Japanese rice cooker, there is the reason why so many people consider this particular brand to be the “Cadillac” of the rice cooking industry – Zojirushi cookers (and this one in particular) are just head and shoulders above the competition.

A 5 ½ cup rice cooker that looks a lot smaller in person, it is going to sit beautifully on your countertop (or stowed away in storage when not in use with no difficulty at all) while adding a bit of flair to your overall kitchen aesthetic.

The most impressive thing about this Zojirushi rice cooker (or any Zojirushi rice cooker, for that matter) is just how efficiently it heats up and distributes that heat through the induction process. The inner chamber of this cooking unit is going to get up to temperature in almost a blink of an eye, cooking your rice in minutes when it would have taken a lot longer using more traditional methods.

All of the controls are intelligently placed directly on the front of this unit, and everything is smartly laid out so that you won’t have any difficulty whatsoever understanding which controls to press and when you want to perfectly prepare rice time after time.

Sure, the Zojirushi NP-HBC10 is a little bit on the pricier side, but at the end of the day those serious about preparing rice regularly (and to perfection) won’t settle for anything less than the best.

And it just doesn’t get any better than this!

#2: Instant Pot IP-DUO60 Cooker

One of the most versatile pieces of kitchen equipment you could ever hope to purchase, this Instant Pot is going to open up a world of culinary capabilities that you wouldn’t ever be able to pull off otherwise.

A seven in one multi-function cooker (pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté/Browning device, yogurt maker, steamer, and warmer all in the same compact form factor), it really doesn’t get any better and more versatile than this!

Large enough to produce a substantial amount of rice in a short period of time (we’re talking about cooking 6 quarts of rice in only a few minutes here), all of this is possible thanks to the unique engineering and the heating element construction that warms up the entire “inner chamber” in no time at all.

Because the “inner chamber” is maintained separately from the outer parts of this device, it isn’t going to get anywhere close to as hot as it would otherwise, making this cooker one of the safest rice cookers on the market today. Combine that with the fact that it uses a three ply stainless steel cooking pot and stainless steel steamer rack for more efficient cooking throughout, and you’re looking at a powerhouse kind of unit here.

As energy efficient as it can be, you aren’t ever going to have to worry about this Instant Pot blowing up your energy budget on a month to month basis. You’ll feel comfortable using this cooker as often as you can without worrying about it wiping out your bank balance in the process.

#3: Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT Rice Cooker

A more compact rice cooker than the one that we have reviewed above, this 3 cup Zojirushi is more perfectly suited for those whodon’t intend to prepare rice on a regular basis, and for those who live a bachelor/student lifestyle and are preparing rice for only a handful of people at a time.

Taking advantage of the exact same technology and induction heating elements that the larger Zojirushi do, this particular rice cooker is going to be able to effortlessly heat up 3 cups worth of rice (which turns into 6 cups of perfectly prepared rice by the time it’s done) in only a few moments time.

Again, the inner cooking chamber is held separate from the outer layers of this rice cooker, giving you all kinds of added safety benefits and features through the natural design of this platform. Combine that with energy efficient operation, a nonstick inner surface, and a retractable cord, and you’re looking at one of the most intelligently designed rice cookers ever manufactured.

The beautiful thing about this Zojirushi rice cooker is that it can handle nearly anything that you throw at it. It has a number of built-in cooking functions to prepare white/mixed rice, sushi rice, porridges, brown rice, and the ability to quickly steam vegetables – or keep dishes warm – as well.

Significantly less expensive than the larger model that we reviewed above, it still commands a fair price tag compared to other compact rice cooker on the market today. However, again like the larger model that we reviewed above, it is worth absolutely every single penny that they ask – and probably even more!

You are going to fall head over heels in love with everything that this rice cooker brings to the table.

#4: Aroma 8-Cup Digital Cooker

The Aroma engineering team definitely took some design cues from the people responsible for the Instant Pot, and they most certainly lifted some of the induction cooking technology from many of the best Japanese brands (including Zojirushi).

But maybe more importantly than that, they were able to find a way to dovetail that beautiful design and incredibly effective cooking technology into a compact rice cooker – all available at a lower price that either of those other two companies are comfortable competing at.

Capable of holding up to 8 cups of cooked rice (so 4 cups of uncooked rice maximum), this Aroma rice cooker doubles as a steamer for vegetables and meats with the inclusion of its intelligently designed steamer tray system.

This means that you’ll be able to prepare your favorite rice (including sticky Japanese rice and brown rice) in the lower chamber while holding your meat and vegetables above – steaming them to perfection in the same amount of time that it takes you to cook a handful of cups of rice.

It really doesn’t get much better than this as far as intelligent cooking design is concerned. You’ll also be able to prepare soups, chili, and other dishes in this very versatile cooking system, which (again) is available at a price tag that makes it almost too good to be true.

#5: Panasonic SR-3NA Rice Cooker

Panasonic has always made some of the best (and most affordable) small kitchen appliances and “helpful gadgets”, andthis Panasonic rice cooker is no different.

This intelligently designed rice cooker (engineered with a design that closely mimics traditional crockpots with a glass top) will turn 1.5 cups of uncooked rice into 3 cups of perfectly prepared rice with just a single press of a button.

A true “one touch” cooking solution, this option comes preprogrammed right from the factory to prepare your favorite rice in record time without you having to deal with any headache or hassle whatsoever. While it isn’t recommended that you use brown rice in this particular model (Panasonic does make other rice cookers that can handle brown rice), you are going to be able to use both long and short grain and even sticky Japanese rice, if that’s something that you are into.

Make no mistake about it though. This very much bare-bones piece of cooking equipment is more than capable of handling the task at hand, and thanks to its lack of “unnecessary features” it creates a very focused and very streamlined solution for those that want to be able to prepare rice on a regular basis.

Sure, it probably isn’t as versatile as some of the other options out there – but it only costs a fraction of the price and definitely gets the job done in the rice cooking arena.

Best brown rice cooker in 2017

best brown rice cooker reviewsAnyone that has ever tried to cook around rice in a “traditional” rice cooker knows the kind of nightmare situation that this always becomes.

First of all, the overwhelming majority of “traditional” rice cookers out there simply aren’t equipped to handle all of the extra fiber that is in brown rice – and any attempt to cook brown rice in these traditional rice cookers will be met with disaster.

Not only will the rice come out all kinds of textures and consistencies (some of it very chewy, some of it just as hard as when it went in, and some of it somewhere in between), but it will also have a very off flavor about it that is almost unpalatable.

This is why you’re going to want to find a rice cooker that either includes a “brown rice” setting or instructions for better preparing brown rice with that solution. Without this kind of special attention, you’re going to have to stick to regular white rice and maybe a handful of select Japanese rice options – though even that can become pretty dicey as well.

At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of rice cooker options out there worth owning are going to include features that help you cook brown rice with no headache or hassle whatsoever. These are the kinds of options that you should be paying attention to, the kind of options that can provide you with the results that you’re after in the first place. Below is a table of the best brown rice cookers on the market to help narrow your choice to the proven models:


Best Japanese rice cooker in 2017

It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that the Japanese are responsible for producing some of the very best rice cookers on the planet today.

After all, rice in Japan (and all throughout Asia, for that matter) is the main staple of the everyday diet that it’s almost impossible to imagine enjoying a meal in Japan without a bowl of perfectly prepared rice to go with it.

The only problem is trying to find a Japanese rice cooker that is “American” or “Western” friendly. The overwhelming majority of the very best Japanese rice cooker solutions are designed specifically for Japanese people, and even if you’re able to find a setup that you can effortlessly import into the US – or the rest of the West – the odds are pretty good that the commands and controls are going to be written in Japanese.

Thankfully, there are a number of brands that are including English friendly directions and even some details that can be placed on their rice cookers to help Westerners take advantage of the technology that they produce.

If you have the budget for a Japanese rice cooker, it’s almost always worth the investment. These are the highest end of the highest end rice cookers available today. It’s almost impossible to mess up cooking rice when you’re using one of these best Japanese rice cookers. We’re talking about real Mercedes of the rice cookering industry, that’s for sure!

Below is a table of 5 best Japanese cookers for rice that you can find on the market in 2015. It just doesn’t get any better than these!


Best stainless steel rice cooker in 2017

If you are looking to purchase a rice cooker that you’re going to be able to use for years and years (rather than drop $20 or so on some budget based piece of equipment that will have to be replaced in less than 18 months), you’re going to want to look very closely at a stainless steel rice cooker.

There’s a reason why most of the Japanese options out there are manufactured out of this ridiculously durable and useful cooking material. Stainless steel is not only able to be cleaned with pretty much anything and everything you have on hand (eliminating germs and bacteria that love the hot, sticky, moist conditions that rice cookers produce), but it is also able to efficiently and quickly heat up to help you cook rice in a fraction of the time you would have expected it to take.

Combine all of that with the incredible durability of the stainless steel  (we are talking about a cooking appliance that can last 10 or 15 years with no discernible wear and tear whatsoever), and you’re looking at a runaway winner here!

If you don’t have the budget for a top-of-the-line Japanese rice cooker (and honestly, there are going to be some people out there that most definitely balk at the price tag that some of those Japanese rice cookers command), you shouldn’t make any further compromises by going forward with anything other than a stainless steel rice cooker.

Purchase a plastic unit and you are almost always going to have to deal with a world of hurt, frustration, and anger. We have prepared a comparison table with the best stainless steel rice cookers on the market to help with your choice:


Best rice cooker brands in 2017

Instant Pot Rice Cookers

One of the most impressive rice cookers on the market today, the Instant Pot also doubles as a pressure cooker and a slow cooker – giving you the most “bang for your buck”. You’re going to fall in love with everything that this rice cooker brings to the table if versatility is what you’re after.

Zojirushi Rice Cookers

top rice cooker brandsFar and away one of the best Japanese rice cooker brands that money can buy right now, this particular brand produces some of the most beloved rice cookers in Japan and throughout Asia. They might cost you a little bit more at first, but they are worth every penny.

Panasonic Rice Cookers

Another Japanese brand (surprise, surprise), Panasonic is a more budget focused rice cooker brand than anything else. Perfect for those that want to buy their first rice cooker before fully committing to a full-blown kind of setup, you aren’t going to be disappointed by what the Panasonic brings to the table.

Aroma Rice Cookers

An American brand that has definitely been making some inroads against the Japanese competition (mostly by innovating many of the solutions that they have helped to pioneer), Aroma makes very versatile rice cookers that are a welcome addition to nearly any kitchen that regularly prepares this kind of food.

Tiger Rice Cookers

One of the “gold standard” Japanese brands of rice cooker equipment, you simply cannot go wrong when you decide to add a Tiger to your kitchen. Very Western friendly, you’ll be able to effortlessly set up this rice cooker in your home and begin to use it straight out of the box – producing perfectly prepared rice with zero headache or hassle to speak of.

Best small rice cookers in 2017

The beautiful thing about small form factor rice cookers is that they aren’t going to eat up a lot of space on your countertop, but they are still going to be able to produce more than enough rice for a single meal that four or five people are going to enjoy.

Of course, there are even smaller rice cookers available – true “single serving” style rice cookers – that are better suited for college students, bachelors, or those that only intend to make a little bit of rice every now and again. If that’s something that you’re interested in, it’s almost impossible to go wrong by picking up one of those ridiculously compact solutions. Below is the table of the best small rice cookers of 2015:


How to choose the right rice cooker

There are a number of different things that you’re going to need to get sorted out before you even start thinking about looking for the right rice cooker. These are things that you’re going to need to figure out all on your own, as they are going to dictate and determine the type of rice cooker that makes sense for your particular situation.

You’re also going to need to make sure that you are choosing the right rice cooker for the money that includes all of the tools and utensils you need to effectively use the rice cooker itself, that it is produced and manufactured to a high quality standard, and that you are going to be able to trust its durability and reliability for years to come.

With so many different rice cookers available at so many different price points this isn’t exactly going to be a walk in the park, that’s for sure. If you are doing research yourself, you’ll want to set aside a couple of hours to really figure out which rice cooker makes the most sense for your needs before going forward.

Finally, it’s a good idea for you to think about how you intend to use and store your new rice cooker. Some people have all kinds of space on their countertop for both using and storing their rice cooker, while others are going to need to come up with something a little bit more novel that works for them.

How to Use a Rice Cooker

Final verdict

When you get right down to it, choosing the right rice cooker doesn’t have to be the nightmare scenario that it so often becomes.

By taking advantage of all the insider information we provide in this ultimate guide, you shouldn’t have any difficulty whatsoever finding the perfect rice cooker for your specific needs.

Best of luck going forward!

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