Do you find it difficult to get your rice cooked just right? Do you end up with glug all over your cooktop? Then perhaps a rice cooker is for you.
Rice cookers are designed to make it easy to get perfect rice every time. You simply put a measured ratio of rice and water (or stock) into the bowl, flick the switch and it heats the rice to just on boiling. At the end of the cooking time, when the rice is cooked and all the liquid absorbed, the cooker switches to a 'keep warm' mode. This eliminates any timing issues by keeping the rice at serving temperature for hours, so it's ready whenever dinner is, not the other way around.
Capacity is usually given as the maximum number of cups of uncooked rice you can cook at once. Larger models will cook up to 10 cups of rice, but smaller ones only about five cups. Keep in mind that these are considerably smaller than a standard cup – usually only about 160mL. Information on the minimum number of cups that can be cooked at one time is rarely provided, but usually it is about two cups, although it may be more for some of the larger rice cookers.
Pros: usually cheaper, fairly intuitive to use and generally easy to clean, plus you can usually check progress through the glass lid.
Cons: they can rattle and also spatter starchy water onto the benchtop, especially if they're being used close to capacity.
Pros: prevents the benchtop spatter and any rattle.
Cons: it is a little more fiddly to clean. There's usually a removable inner lid which can be cleaned in the sink, but the outer lid also needs cleaning, especially the stem vent. Some lids have a removable vent as well.
Ease of use
There are a few things that make a rice cooker easier to use:
- A non-stick bowl means easier cleaning
- Large handles make it easier to lift, especially if it is full.
- A removable cord makes it easier to carry to the table and to store.
- Controls that are well labelled and easy to understand.
Automatic shut-off and keep warm
All the rice cookers we've tested have a feature to automatically shut-off cooking and keep the rice warm, though the length of time they will keep the rice warm may vary.
All the rice cookers we've tested come with a cup for measuring out the rice and liquid. This is not a standard measuring cup size and there may be differences between cookers. Other accessories may include:
- Spatula and/or ladle for serving the rice.
- Steamer basket or tray so you can use the rice cooker to steam other items.
Some rice cookers have fuzzy logic incorporated into their programming. This allows them to use less strict timing to account for different cooking conditions.
Some rice cookers have a multigrain option. However, manufacturers do not always mean the same thing when they say 'multigrain' so it's a good idea to check the manual. It may just mean that it can cook grains other than rice, or that it can cook a graded mixture of rices.
In our latest rice cooker reviews, rice cookers range in price from $13 to $346.