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Cook the perfect pot of rice—plus other grains—every time with these top-tested picks.
If you’ve tried and failed to master the art of cooking rice on a stovetop, adding a rice cooker to your kitchen lineup can be a game-changer. Rice cookers can make perfectly fluffy and tender rice that doesn’t clump together—a must for dishes like rice bowls or miso rice balls. Some models even offer cooking modes for other grains, like oats and quinoa, or the ability to steam cook dumplings, cakes, and vegetables.
Vanda Asapahu, owner and head chef of the Michelin Bib Gourmand eatery Ayara Thai in Los Angeles, uses Zojirushi rice cookers at home and in her restaurant. “Rice comes out perfectly every time,” she says. “It has a special technology that adjusts for water level to ensure you achieve fluffy rice nearly all the time, leaving a thin margin for error.”
With so many options out there, choosing the right model can be a challenge. That’s why our Test Kitchen researched and reviewed 19 popular rice cookers and scored them based on criteria like their most useful features, ease of use, cooking performance, and ease of cleaning. It’s no surprise that one name kept popping up as a consistent favorite of ours: Zojirushi. Zojirushi rice cookers are the go-to choice for many professional chefs and foodies. In fact, two models earned a spot on our list, including our choice for best overall. Keep reading for a complete list of our best-tested rice cookers.
Our Top Recommendations
Best Overall: Zojirushi Micom 5 ½-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer
Also Great: Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker and Food Steamer
Best High-End: Cuckoo Pressure Rice Cooker
Best Large-Capacity: Zojirushi Micom 10-Cup Rice Cooker
Best Overall: Zojirushi Micom 5 ½-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer
What we like: Cooks evenly and consistently, with presets for five kinds of rice, plus porridge and cake.
What to know: A bit pricey compared to other models on our list, but if you cook rice and grains regularly, it’s worth it.
Zojirushi has a reputation for producing the fluffiest rice with minimal effort, so it’s no surprise our testers also loved the Zojirushi Micom rice cooker. "This particular rice cooker has changed my rice-cooking life and I've never looked back," says Penelope Wall, Senior Editorial Director. "There are no rice-to-water ratios to memorize, the retractable power cord and musical timer are design features I didn't know I needed (and now can't live without) and it makes the perfect rice every time."
Plus, this cooker is a true multi-tasker with eight different cooking functions, up to 12 hours of warming and an option for reheating leftover rice. You can even fill the cooking pot with cake batter and steam cook it with the cake preset.
We found there’s a bit of a learning curve to master the controls, but the manual is thorough and helped familiarize us with all of the different functions. One detail that threw us off was how to properly use the function timer. We discovered through trial and error that it’s used to set the time you want your rice to be ready, not how long to cook your rice. Once we figured that out it made it easy to prep our rice early in the day, timing it out to be ready right when we needed it. We also like that this model doesn’t weigh much and has a carrying handle and retractable cord, so it’s easy to store and move around the kitchen.
Using this machine is as simple as filling it with rice, water, selecting a cooking mode and pressing start. Musical alerts let you know when cooking starts and finishes, but you can also switch this to standard beeps. We made long-grain white rice, brown rice, and basmati rice with excellent results. Each batch was evenly cooked and tender, with individual grains of rice clearly distinguishable. The only tradeoff for this beautiful rice is a longer cooking time—about 1 hour for white rice and almost 2 hours for brown rice. We were also pleased to find that rice on the warm setting still looked and tasted fresh hours later.
One more thing: don't think twice about the fact that this rice cooker doesn't have dishwasher-safe parts. It was a breeze to hand wash. A quick swipe with a sponge took care of any residue.
Price at time of publish: $233
Capacity: 5.5 cups uncooked, 11 cups cooked | Dimensions: 10-1/8 x 14 x 8-1/2 inches | Includes: steaming basket, rice measuring cup, nonstick rice spatula and spatula holder | Settings: white/sushi, mixed, porridge, sweet, brown, cake, steam and quick cooking
Also Great: Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker and Food Steamer
What we like: Clear, concise, and easy-to-operate display panel and basic cooking presets.
What to know: The sound alerts are on the quiet side, and warming mode tends to dry out grains.
This rice cooker costs a fraction of our top pick but performed just as well in our tests. It’s a good choice if higher-end models don’t fit your budget or you will use it infrequently. The overall design is compact, making it a good choice for small spaces. With clearly labeled settings for white rice, whole grain rice, and hot cereal, we found the buttons extremely easy to navigate.
It took 60 minutes to cook a full batch of brown rice, which came out evenly cooked and super fluffy. Steel-cut oats and sushi rice also turned out well, without clumping or stuck-on bits. We did find the warming mode tended to dry out our grains on the top and bottom of the pot, but stirring them helped redistribute moisture, so we considered this a small inconvenience. Another minor drawback we noticed was the sound alerts are soft, making them easy to miss if you’re in another room or a noisy kitchen, and there is no option to increase the volume
This rice cooker cannot self-clean like pricier models, but the removable parts pop out easily for a quick rinse.
Price at time of publish: $40
Capacity: 4 cups uncooked, 8 cups cooked | Dimensions: 8.2 x 9.7 x 9.9 inches | Includes: rice rinser/steamer basket | Settings: white, whole grain, hot cereal, steam, warm
Best Budget: Aroma Housewares 8-Cup Digital Rice and Grain Multicooker
What we like: The budget price doesn’t sacrifice ease of use or performance, both of which earned top marks in our tests.
What to know: Has fewer and less flashy settings compared to higher-end models we tested.
If you don’t cook rice often enough to justify a pricier model or you don’t need advanced functions, this budget rice cooker is a great pick and earned top marks across the board in our tests.
With presets for white and brown rice, the settings may be basic, but this cooker offers a lot of performance and versatility for the price. It can handle cooking other grains, like quinoa, and the how-to is provided in the manual. It also features a delay timer feature for meal prepping in advance, and a steamer basket for cooking foods like vegetables and dumplings.
We found this cooker a cinch to use, thanks to the easy-to-understand display. In our tests, it produced excellent pots of jasmine, brown, and sushi rice that were fluffy and clump-free. Cook time averaged around 30 minutes for each type of rice (which is on the faster side—but not the fastest—of the rice cookers we tested). The machine automatically switched into warming mode, and the rice that we set to warm for over two hours still had the ideal temperature and texture when we were ready to use it.
The pot can hold up to 8 cups of cooked rice, making this one of the smaller cookers on this list, but it’s compact and takes up less space. The included accessories neatly fit inside the cooker for storage, so you don’t have to make room for those extra loose parts. All removable parts are easy to clean by hand. However, you may want to consider a small dishwashing brush to tackle the condensation collector, which is too small to easily clean with a standard dish sponge.
Price at time of publish: $33
Capacity: 4 cups uncooked, 8 cups cooked | Dimensions: 9.3 x 8.6 x 8.5 inches | Includes: nonstick inner pot, rice measuring cup, serving spatula and steam tray | Settings: white, brown, warm, steam, flash rice
Best High-End: Cuckoo Pressure Rice Cooker
What we like: Features high-tech capabilities, including faster cook times, voice prompts, and modes for specialty rice.
What to know: The high price tag and niche features will likely exceed the needs of the average home cook.
This extra-large rice cooker is designed to cook large batches of rice in a short amount of time. Typically, cooking time increases with the amount of rice you’re making. This cooker can handle up to 10 cups of uncooked rice or 20 cups of cooked and uses pressure cooking so you can cook a full pot of rice in a fraction of the time compared to steam cooking. The downside to the large capacity is its overall size. “It takes up more room than my KitchenAid Stand mixer,” our tester said.
The presets include basic settings for white rice, brown rice, and porridge, plus specialty modes for sticky, GABA (a type of germinated brown rice), and nurungji rice. It also features a turbo mode for when you need a rice side dish in under 20 minutes, an option for reheating leftover rice, and a multi-cook mode for making multiple components of your meal at once.
Our tests showed excellent results with basmati and standard brown rice. We also found a new favorite in GABA rice, which takes several hours to make but has an unbeatable texture and added nutrition attributed to soaking and sprouting the rice before cooking. We found the menu options easy to navigate, and voice prompts guide you from start to finish, eliminating any chance of user error. The removable parts were easy to clean by hand, and any stuck-on bits of rice washed off easily after a quick soak.
Price at time of publish: $278
Capacity: 10 cups uncooked, 20 cups cooked | Dimensions: 11.6 x 14.2 x 10.2 inches | Includes: rice spatula, rice measuring cup, steam plate | Settings: white, glutinous turbo, mixed rice, brown, high heat, GABA rice, porridge, nurungji, multi-cook, warm
Best Large-Capacity: Zojirushi Micom 10-cup Rice Cooker and Warmer
What we like: This model has all the features of our top pick with a larger, 20-cup cooked rice capacity.
What to know: The display panel isn’t the most intuitive, so plan to rely on the manual for your first few uses.
The big sibling to our best overall pick, this model has all of the same features we loved but in a larger size that holds up to 20 cups of cooked rice. This bulkier cooker will need dedicated counter space, but it’s not too heavy and has a retractable cord and carrying handle. The size and price of this cooker are justified if you have a large household and eat rice more days than not.
Like the smaller model, we found the display panel and numerous settings a bit daunting at first. However, the manual provided thorough instructions and illustrations that helped us get started. There are cooking modes for white, sushi, mixed, sweet, and brown rice, porridge, steam cooking non-grains and even steaming a cake. We made perfect pots of jasmine, basmati, and brown rice, but the cooking time averaged an hour or longer.
Like other Zojirushi models, you can choose between music or beeps to alert you when your rice is ready. When done, it automatically switches into warm mode, which kept our rice fresh for over 2 hours but can be used for up to 12 hours. The nonstick material of the cooking pot releases food quickly, and hand washing will help preserve its integrity.
Price at time of publish: $198.00
Capacity: 10 cups uncooked, 20 cups cooked | Dimensions: 11-1/8 x 15 x 9-7/8 inches | Includes: steaming basket, rice measuring cup, nonstick rice spatula and spatula holder | Settings: white/sushi, mixed, porridge, sweet, brown, cake, steam and quick cooking
The Bottom Line: The Best Rice Cooker
Our top choice is the 5½-cup Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer (view at Amazon), but remember we also liked the 10-cup size (view at Amazon). Both consistently produce perfectly-cooked rice and other grains and are easy to clean. The Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker and Food Steamer (view at Amazon) is a more affordable pick, and while it has fewer cooking modes than high-end machines, it still offers plenty of versatility for most home cooks.
Choosing a Rice Cooker
Here are the key factors to keep in mind when shopping for a rice cooker:
A rice cooker should be easy to use and easy to clean. Consider the layout and intuitiveness of the display and settings: Fewer buttons may be a better choice for less tech-savvy cooks, while models with all the bells and whistles may be a better fit for advanced cooks or those who regularly prepare a variety of grains.
Some rice cookers have dishwasher-safe parts, while others need to be hand-washed. Most rice cooker pots are nonstick, so a quick soak should remove any stuck-on bits of food. If you rely heavily on your dishwasher, double-check that the rice cooker you select has dishwasher-safe components.
Some rice cookers also have a self-cleaning function, essentially a steam cycle to sanitize and clean the cooker.
The best rice cooker for you should accommodate the amount of rice you cook regularly. Pay attention to how the capacity is described, as it may refer to the amount of uncooked rice versus the amount of cooked rice the cooker can hold. If you have a large household or want to prepare a large batch of rice for the week, you’ll probably want bigger-capacity cooker. However, larger cookers take up more real estate, and cook times may be longer than smaller rice cookers.
The most basic rice cookers may have a simple power switch, which is acceptable if you’re only interested in cooking white rice. More advanced models feature cooking presets for different varieties of rice and other grains, allowing for more versatility. Presets put the rice cooker in charge of customizing the cooking time and temperature to a specific grain without user input. The ideal rice cooker should have presets for the grains you cook the most.
While it’s natural for some grains, like brown rice, to take longer to cook, the size and performance of your rice cooker can also impact cooking time. In the 19 models we tested, cook times ranged from just under 20 minutes to over 90 minutes, with our top picks averaging 45 minutes of cook time. If you prefer speedy meals, you might prefer a smaller model that can have a pot of rice on the table in about 30 to 45 minutes.
Most rice cookers feature an automatic keep warm feature, which switches on when cooking is done. It’s handy if you prepare rice ahead of time. The amount of time a rice cooker can keep food warm varies, but most models we tested with this feature average 12 hours of warming.
The size of a rice cooker is the biggest design feature to consider. Smaller capacity models will take up less room than rice cookers with a larger capacity.
Some rice cookers feature a carrying handle, which is useful if you often travel with food for potlucks and parties. A handle can also make it easy to move a rice cooker for cleaning and storage. If you prefer appliances to look neat and tidy, look for a model with a retractable power cord.
If you want the versatility of a multicooker, look for a rice cooker that includes a steamer basket insert. This will allow you to steam-cook things besides rice, like vegetables, dumplings, or even proteins.
Another feature to look out for is a removable lid and/or condensation trap. These two areas collect moisture during cooking, and removable parts make it much easier to thoroughly clean and dry them after each use. Not all rice cookers have a condensation trap; some models simply release steam from the top, which means you may need more clearance to ensure rising steam doesn’t damage cabinets or other appliances.
Most rice cookers feature some type of sound alert when the rice is finished. In the models we tested, alerts ranged from simple beeps to a selection of jaunty melodies. If beeping appliances aren’t for you, look for a model without sounds or one that allows you to silence alerts.
Our Rice Cooker Tests
We combed through rice cooker listings available from major online retailers and chose 19 models ranging in price from $19.99 to $347.49 that were either best-sellers or had intriguing features we wanted to try. The rice cookers were purchased and distributed to our team of product testers, which includes staff members and food writers with extensive home cooking experience.
The testers were asked to prepare at least three different types of rice, paying attention to how long each took to cook and describing the finished texture. The testers evaluated and scored each rice cooker on a scale of one to five for ease of use, design, performance, and ease of cleaning. Our product testers also reported on special features, like timer delays, keep warm functions, and included accessories, as well as the user-friendliness of the instruction manuals.
We Also Considered
Zojirushi (NHS-06) Rice Cooker ($60 at Amazon): This compact 3-cup (uncooked) rice cooker is ideal for small kitchens and consistently produces soft and fluffy rice in about 30 minutes. With only a simple on/off switch, it lacks advanced features, including pre-sets, smart capabilities, and a keep warm function, which we commonly find on other similarly-priced rice cookers.
Toshiba (TRCS01) Rice Cooker ($150 at Amazon): A decent mid-range option, this model features seven settings for different types of grains and a 24-hour keep warm function. Our tester found it easy to use and clean, but cooking time is a bit longer than average, and it’s rather bulky to store.
Cuckoo (CR-0655F) 6-Cup Rice Cooker ($113 at Amazon): Although this model consistently turned out well-cooked rice, the control panel is cramped, making it tough to navigate. For the price, we expect a higher-quality aesthetic.
How does a rice cooker work?
The beauty of rice cookers is that they do all of the work for you. “There’s no need to stir the rice until it boils or predict the time it will be done,” says Chef Vanda Asapahu.
Rice cookers have a heating element and a temperature sensor. Rice cookers heat the water to boiling point to cook the rice. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, the temperature sensor recognizes it’s time to turn the heat down or off, which prevents burning or scorching.
There’s very little work involved in using a rice cooker. You measure and pre-rinse your rice, add water, select your desired cooking mode, and press start. Rice cookers typically include a measuring cup and water fill lines on the inside of the pot to take the guesswork out of how much rice and water to use. Your rice cooker’s manual will provide detailed instructions for various grains and cooking modes.
Is it better to cook rice in a rice cooker?
The stovetop method for cooking rice seems pretty straightforward. However, if you’ve ever produced a pot of gluey or burnt rice—or even worse, both at the same time—you know it's a somewhat temperamental process with plenty of room for error. The perfect stovetop pot of rice requires the right ratio of cooking liquid to grain, controlled temperature from start to finish and a watchful eye.
In general, rice is easier to cook in a rice cooker because it controls the temperature for you. With less room for error, rice cookers often turn out fluffier rice with distinct individual grains that don’t clump or stick together. Also, rice cooker rice often tastes more aromatic, robust, and nuttier because it’s properly cooked.
The cooking method doesn’t change the nutrition of rice. It provides the same calories and nutrients whether you make it on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. The only exception is if you have a rice cooker that can make GABA rice, also known as germinated brown rice. GABA rice is soaked in water before cooking, which sprouts the grains and releases so-called bioactive compounds that research suggests have cholesterol and blood pressure benefits, as well as a lowered risk of some chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
How does a rice cooker compare to an Instant Pot?
Rice cookers and Instant Pots differ in how they cook. An Instant Pot is a versatile multi-cooker with automatic cooking presets for pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéeing, yogurt making and cooking rice.
Most of the Instant Pot’s functionality involves pressurized cooking, which speeds up cooking time compared to other methods. Pressure-cooking rice also requires less liquid to be added to the grains. In comparison, rice cookers use heat to boil and steam the cooking liquid. Rice made in a rice cooker will typically take longer to cook and require more liquid.
Although you can cook rice in an Instant Pot, the rice preset is designed for white rice and may not yield the same results as other grains like brown or wild rice. Other grains cooked in the Instant Pot will require more user input for time and temperature. Most rice cookers have dedicated cooking presets for various types of rice and other grains, making the cooking process effortless and mostly hands-free.
Some rice cookers have pressure cook settings, which will speed up the rice cooking process. However, pressurized rice cookers do not replace a dedicated pressure cooker since they’re often smaller and less powerful.
How long is cooked rice good for?
Cooked rice is good for up to three days when properly stored in the refrigerator or for up to three months in the freezer. Toss any leftover rice that appears slimy, discolored, or smells off.
Our Trusted Expertise
Sharon Lehman is a registered dietitian, recipe developer and avid home cook. She’s been writing about food and cooking—including testing products for the Dotdash Meredith family of brands—for over five years. To compile this list of best-tested rice cookers, staff and food writers in our Test Kitchen tested 19 different rice cookers before finalizing our picks. This article was edited by Katie Tuttle, a food editor and contributor to publications such as Food & Wine and The Spruce Eats, and reviewed by Brierley Horton, M.S., RD, a senior commerce editor with over 15 years of experience writing about nutrition, health and food.
Read the original article on Eating Well.