Rice Cooker Expert Buying Guide 2020

Are you thinking about buying or finally decided to buy a rice cooker but not sure which one to buy? Or you’re not confident cooking perfect rice on the stove but you’re still not sure you need a rice cooker. Either way, the decision can be overwhelming and the search time consuming. You need more information to help you find the best rice cooker for your home.

Like coffee makers and toasters found in most kitchens, there’s a variety of rice cookers to choose from. It starts with the basic “no-frills” models from Zojirushi or Hamilton Beach. Or small appliances from Instant Pot that come packed with a range of added functions for perfect rice every time.

The 3 C’s to Choosing the Perfect Rice Cooker

Can’t decide which rice cooker to buy? It’s easier if you limit your search. Understanding the 3 C’s will help you to choose the best rice cooker for you. There’s only three things you need to know to help you choose the best rice cooker: capacity, cooking style and cost.

Or, put it another way:

  • How much rice do you cook?
  • What’s your cooking style or how do you like to prepare food?
  • How much does it cost and is it worth it for a new kitchen appliance?

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

1. CAPACITY: How much and how often do you cook rice?

Rice is a staple food type in many households. Rice features in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Indonesian cooking as well as Italian, French, Spanish and Mexican cuisine . It’s also a great addition to a wide range of dishes and the most versatile ingredient to create a meal. Whether you often cook rice for one person or a family of 4 to 6 people, will determine the size of the rice cooker you need.

One standard cup of dry (uncooked) rice will yield approximately 2 cups of cooked rice. The ideal serving size is about ½ cup per person (uncooked, that’s about 90g). It will double in size when cooked to about 1 cup per person.

The size or capacity of a rice cooker is measured in cups of uncooked or cooked rice. Sometimes the description isn’t clear. Double check whether the cup size is referring to “cooked” or “uncooked” rice before you decide to buy.

The rice cooker should make the same fluffy rice whether you cook one cup of rice or fill it to its upper limit. Let’s refer to capacity as “uncooked” rice. This can range from 3-cups – usually, the smallest size – to 10-cups, which is the largest rice cooker available for household use. Depending on the brand, you can also find a 4-cup, 5-cup, 6-cup and 8-cup rice cooker.

As a guide: a 3-cup model is a good option to feed one or two people and ideal for singles and couples. A 5-cup model is the best option for a family or student groups of say 4 or 5 members. A 10-cup model – like the Aroma Housewares Digital Rice Cooker – would suit larger families or if you do a lot of entertaining or catering for groups.

And don’t forget to think about storage when you’re looking at sizes. You can store your new rice cooker in a cupboard or leave it on the benchtop. This will really depend on the size of your kitchen or area where you’ll be using the appliance. For smaller areas – like student accommodation or a motor home – the compact Aroma Housewares (3-cup uncooked rice) Pot Style Rice Cooker and Food Steamer is a good choice. Check the dimensions of the rice cooker you like and see where it will fit in your home.

TIP: It’s difficult to cook very small batches of perfect rice. If you usually cook small quantities of rice, then buy a small rice cooker. Even if you have the space, don’t buy a larger rice cooker for those few times you might need to cook rice for more people. Cooking small quantities of rice in a large rice cooker is not energy efficient. It can also damage the appliance and affect the taste and texture of the rice over time. For those times when you do need more rice for a dinner party, simply cook two or more lots and keep it warm.

If you’re not cooking rice every day, it may still be worth buying the best value, small rice cooker – like the Aroma 3-cup capacity. That way, when you do cook rice, it will be perfect every time!

2. What’s your COOKING STYLE?

How you like to prepare meals and what you enjoy cooking explains your cooking style. You can get a general idea simply by answering a few questions.

Are you the type of cook that likes to experiment in the kitchen or do you stick to the basics? Do you like to try different recipes, throw a few different ingredients together and see how it turns out? Or do you have a few simple and proven recipes that you cook all the time?

Do you judge a recipe by the number of steps and ingredients to prepare and if it’s too involved, you skip it? Or do you search the internet and ask friends for recipes and stock up on ingredients so you can try something new?

Do you like to cook with appliances that have a range of options and functions to choose from? Or do you prefer basic tools of the kitchen that don’t need a user manual to operate.

Is the kitchen your happy place or somewhere you and your family get fuel for the day?

Hopefully, you’ve discovered something new about your inner chef and your cooking style! Understanding this will help you narrow the options. It will help you to find the perfect appliance for your kitchen that will do everything you need it to do.

That could be a basic model rice cooker for white rice, with steamer, like the Amazon Bestseller from Zojirushi. It has two functions: cook and warm, at the push of a button.

The more adventurous chef may prefer a programmable, digital rice cooker, like Amazon’s Choice, the Zoirushi Neuro. It uses “fuzzy logic” to work out the best way to cook the ingredients and create the perfect meal, every time.

A more health-conscious cook will be looking for the best rice cooker for GABA or brown rice, like the Cuckoo CR-0655F.

Still not sure about your cooking style? Get some ideas and inspiration by reading the recipes and cooking tips in my blog. Or review the Frequently Asked Questions and answers about rice cookers .

Now you know the cup size (capacity) you need, and you understand a bit more about your cooking style. You’re one step closer to being able to compare the different types of rice cookers available. You can read more about the different types of rice cookers and the pros and cons of the features they offer.

But there’s one last thing to consider before making a decision: cost.

3. How much does a Rice Cooker COST and is it worth it?

Now you’re better equipped to compare the different types of rice cookers available. Next, you can work out what you’re willing to spend on a new appliance and find the best rice cooker at the right price.

Rice cookers range in price from under $25 to the most expensive rice cooker at $200 and above. The price varies depending on capacity, features and brand. You don’t have to pay top dollar to get a top rated rice cooker. Depending on your requirements, you may be happy with a very basic rice cooker for under $50.

Before you start comparing the different options, set a limit on how much you want to spend.

Researching the best rice cooker for your home can be time consuming. It’s easier and less overwhelming if you limit your search. Start by looking for products with the features you need AND within your price range.

Are you ready to buy the best rice cooker?

First, get clear on what you need based on your capacity, cooking style and cost requirements. Then read the product reviews for the different types of rice cookers available.

You can find out more about the best sellers and top-ranking products in each category:
• Capacity – small and medium to large
• Digital rice cookers
• Multi-purpose cookers for more than rice.

After all this, you may decide that you don’t need a rice cooker but want something simpler to help you cook rice. Have a look at a good quality microwave rice cooker or invest in a set of new saucepans and do it the old fashioned way.

Enjoy shopping and happy cooking!

No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.

Julia Child