It can be a challenge to get all your dinner ready to serve at the same time, especially if you're trying something complex or even if you're just short on time. If your meal includes rice, however, a good rice cooker can simplify at least that part of your preparation by giving you perfect rice kept at serving temperature until you're ready for it.
We put rice cookers through their paces in our test kitchen to see which ones will deliver perfect rice but won't be too difficult to clean after the meal.
Our home economist Fiona Mair knows all there is to know about a kitchen and the devices in it. With 30 years of experience, she's seen just about every kitchen device there is – and has also seen plenty of new ones come and go. She and her helpers know how to put any kitchen appliance through its paces to see if it deserves a spot in your kitchen.
There are a lot of rice cookers on the market and we can't test them all in one go. As with most of our product tests, our aim is to test the most popular products and those you're most likely to see in stores, though we also like to cover innovative models if we can.
We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models, we check market sales information and we also look at any member requests to test specific models. From this we put together a final list for our buyers. They then go to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. This ensures the cookers are the same as any consumer would buy and not 'tweaked' in any way.
The main purpose of a rice cooker is to cook rice well, and that's what we test. We cook both white and brown rice in the cookers following the manufacturer's instructions.
- White rice should all be perfectly cooked with the grains being firm and separate. There should be no excess water left after cooking. There should be little or no browning on the base. We use jasmine rice as our white rice.
- Brown rice should also be perfectly cooked and the grains separate but should be slightly firmer than white rice. As with white rice, there should be little or no browning on the base.
Ease of use
We also look at how easy the rice cookers are to assemble, use and clean, and we check the external temperature of the cooker surface, handles, and controls during operation. Ease of use is broken down into the following categories, and each are equally weighted:
- Ease of assembly and storage
- Ease of using controls and functions
- Ease of cleaning (including general cleaning and disassembly of parts for cleaning)
- Ease of removing the rice for serving
The overall score is made up of:
- Cooking performance (60%)
- Ease of use (40%)
Cooking performance is the average of the white and brown rice cooking scores.
We maintain a kitchen lab that is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.