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10 Amazing Rice Cookers for Every Home Chef

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Whether you’re a seasoned at-home chef or prefer to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, rice is an essential food staple. Intuitive though it may seem, making deliciously fluffy rice is an art form, and one that’s a heck of a lot easier with the help of a great rice cooker. These handy devices will prepare your rice to serving temperature without scorching it or drying it out. They’re also a game changer for small kitchens, freeing up your stove burners for whatever else you might be cooking up.

History of the Rice Cooker

Now customary in Asian culture, the first automated home rice cooker from Toshiba hit the market in Japan back in 1955, according to the Japan Times. By the 1960s, it had become one of the most popular kitchen appliances in the country, right up there with the refrigerator, the vacuum cleaner, washing machine, and TV.

Its beauty was in its timer function, which gave families the ability to keep rice warm overnight and wake up to a perfectly cooked breakfast the next morning. As technology advanced, control functions, such as temperature and even heat, made them popular in households around the globe. Today’s rice cookers range from extremely high-tech to simple machines that any home chef can operate with ease.

How do rice cookers work?

Rice cookers are usually comprised of four different components: the cooker’s main body, an inner cooking pan (this is usually made of metal, such as copper or aluminum, which are more heat conductive), a heating plate at the bottom, and a thermal sensing device (a small, spring-loaded thermometer that continuously measures heat inside of the pan).

Most models use induction heating, which is created with an electromagnet that develops when the copper coil of the heating element reacts with the conductive metal of the pan. This makes for even cooking and allows for a more accurate temperature, as you can turn it up and down almost instantly, whereas other appliances may take a few minutes to warm up or cool down.

While this might sound a bit complicated, most rice cookers are actually very simple to use. You just measure out the rice, pour in the water, press the buttons for your desired rice type/temperature, and let your cooker get to work bringing your water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, it won’t get any hotter, so the temperature inside the cooking pan will stabilize without burning your grains. The rice grains will soak up the hot water and steam, thus creating the tasty, tender rice you’ll soon put on the table.

When all the water has been absorbed, the temperature in the pan will begin to rise again, and the thermal sensing device will either automatically switch the cooker off or change over to a “warm” setting, depending on what you’ve programmed it to do.

The end result will be fluffy, distinct grains, with no mush in sight.

Choosing the Best Rice Cooker for Your Needs

No matter your skill level in the kitchen, a high-quality rice cooker should be quick and easy to use. It should create even heat, so there’ll be no pockets of over- or under-cooked rice or any grains being scorched, and it will typically work for several different types of rice.

You’ll want to take note of any special features, from detachable inner lids that can be cleaned separately to high-quality inner coatings that won’t peel after use.

Lastly, picking a rice cooker with the capacity that will meet your needs is of the utmost importance, so you’ll want to consider whether you typically cook for yourself, make meals for two, or feed an ultra-hungry family of five — or more! Keep in mind that the cup size listed on the rice cooker’s packaging is for uncooked grains, so a cooker with a 3-cup capacity can actually hold up to 6 cups of cooked rice.

Some models will come with measuring cups, but note that they’re typically smaller (6 ounces) than a standard 8-ounce cup.

Ready to shop? Keep reading to check out FIRST for Women’s top picks for the best rice cooker for every home chef and get ready to step your grain game up instantly.

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