Rice is one of the most common and versatile staple foods across the globe today. And while it’s easy to incorporate it into any dish, jasmine rice can be tricky to prepare. Not enough or excess water can yield burned or mushy rice.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that many people are turning to an easier, stress- and mess-free option — the rice cooker.
How does a rice cooker work?
Understanding the inner-workings of a rice cooker can also help you feel more confident about choosing the right one. When buying a rice cooker, you may see strange terms such as “fuzzy logic” or “induction cooking” in the name, on the box or in the brief description.
Fuzzy logic is a type of technology a rice cooker uses. Unlike a simple rice cooker with an on and off button, a fuzzy logic cooker can sense and adjust cooking temperature and time, giving you a perfectly cooked bowl of rice every time.
This is a little more hi-tech and complicated, often used in high-end rice cookers. Induction cooking technology has an extremely precise way of measuring and adjusting the temperature. Additionally, the heat source is not limited to the bottom of the pot. Instead, the entire pot emits heat equally on all sides, allowing the jasmine rice to cook evenly.
Features to look for and consider
- Pressure cooking
- Delay start time function
- Keep warm function
- Detachable inner lid
- A good quality inner coating
- Simplicity of use
The best high-end rice cooker: Cuckoo Rice Cooker
As you search for the perfect rice cooker, you will come across dozens of reviews, each listing different top 5 models. My personal top choice is the Cuckoo Rice Maker from Amazon. The higher price tag may cause you to think twice before buying one. Yet its versatility, quality and ability to produce perfect, flavorful jasmine rice every time make it worth every penny.
Unlike a simple rice cooker, which may only be suitable to cook one kind of rice, the Cuckoo rice maker uses fuzzy logic technology. By using the different settings, you can select the type of rice you want to cook and leave the rest up to your rice cooker.
Detachable inner lid
The other 2 must-have features of the Cuckoo are the timer and the detachable inner lid. The timer gives you the freedom to plan when you would like your rice to start cooking, regardless of whether you are home or not. The removable inner lid is my personal favorite feature because it makes cleaning the rice maker extremely easy.
Fast cook time: Zojirushi Rice Cooker
Quality-wise, the Cuckoo is comparable to the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 (Amazon) model. The reason that I personally chose the Cuckoo over the Zojirushi is the cooking time. Unlike the Zojirushi, which can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours to fully cook hard rice, such as brown or long-grain jasmine rice, the Cuckoo, because it also uses pressure cooking technology, can have any rice ready within 30 minutes.
The Zojirushi is comparable in price and uses the same fuzzy technology the Cuckoo rice maker does. It has an easy to clean, non-stick inner coating and comes without the language barrier. One interesting feature is the retractable power cord which helps keep your kitchen tidy. It may not cook rice as fast as the Cuckoo, but that just means you have to plan a little bit better. The Zojirushi comes with a limited 1-year warranty, just like the Cuckoo.
The only drawback of the Cuckoo rice maker is that it is red. However, color is a personal preference and as long as you know how to navigate the settings, I don’t see the need to pay attention to the vocal commands or alerts.
The runner-up: Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker
If you are not a rice perfectionist and are looking for a simple, low-cost, family-friendly machine, you should consider buying the Hamilton Beach Digital Simplicity Rice Cooker and Food Steamer from Amazon.
Low price. Good rice.
This is a Chinese made rice cooker, with a very reasonable price tag. Yet don’t let the low price fool you. It comes with its own collection of bells and whistles, such as a timer and a stay-warm function, making it one of the most versatile rice cookers in its price category.
Rice and more
This Hamilton Beach has a 2 to 8 cup capacity and the capability to cook both short and long grain rice, making it ideal for jasmine rice. But don’t cut yourself short. If you feel like experimenting beyond rice, you can easily prepare other delicious grains such as beans, lentils, steel-cut oats, and even pasta.
Stainless and easy to use
Its lustrous, stainless steel design makes it durable and appealing to the eye. It comes with a heavy pot and a tight lid, which will prevent water and steam from escaping and will cook your rice quickly. This model is also extremely easy to use, so you don’t have to be a talented cook to make flawless, delicious rice.
The only downfall that I can mention for this almost perfect, affordable rice cooker is the fact that it doesn’t come with a removable inner lid. This makes it trickier to clean, but considering you are only paying a fraction of the Cuckoo for this little gem, it isn’t a big deal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can my rice maker double as a slow cooker?
Some rice cookers come with a slow cooker option and can easily double as both. The Zojirushi and the Cuckoo both can double as slow cookers. You can also use it to warm dishes like soup or baked beans. Some users have even made cakes in the Zojirushi.
The Hamilton is intended only for rice.
It’s important to make sure you clean out the rice cooker when after every use, but make sure to clean it out especially well after using it for anything other than rice. If you don’t it could lead to funny tasting rice and ruined dinners!
How long can I keep the rice in my rice cooker before it goes bad?
Some users have reported keeping their rice in the cooker for several days! I personally wouldn’t recommend that, but apparently, it kept just fine at the keep warm setting.
These rice cookers come with a stay warm feature which doesn’t turn off automatically, meaning it will keep the rice not and hot until you are ready to eat it.
Leaving the rice in the cooker for extended periods of time will result in a loss of quality. If you notice this try using the rice in a dish like stir-fry so it doesn’t go to waste.
What is the difference between an electric heating rice cooker and a pressure rice cooker?
None of the options listed above are pressure rice cookers, they are all normal electric rice cookers. The steam is allowed to escape during the cooking cycle, so the pressure doesn’t build up like it would in a pressure cooker.
Pressure cookers are known for cooking things at higher temperatures and at quicker speeds. When pressure cooking rice, as the pressure builds, the boiling temperature of the water rises and this enabled it to penetrate deeper into the grains of rice.
Rice which has been pressure cooked tends to stay softer longer.
How difficult is it to use a rice maker?
As with all new technology, if you’ve never used a rice maker before, there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve. You might have to fuss around with it a bit before actually using it.
Read the manual before you start and there really shouldn’t be any problems. These are fairly simply appliances to use. I really recommend reading the manual for the Cuckoo rice maker before you start trying to make rice since it is from Korean and in Korean.
Follow the instructions and you can bypass the frustration of trying to figure things out on your own. Just remember, someone took the time to figure it out and write the manual to help you out, you might as well at least glance at it!
Is it easy to clean and store?
These rice cookers are fairly easy to clean and store. The Zojirushi takes the win with storage as the cord is retractable.
Think about where you’re going to store it before you decide on one. They do come in different shapes and size and this can affect storage. If you have a spot picked out before you start shopping you’ll have an estimate of what size will fit best in your kitchen.
As for cleaning, these all come with removable lids and inner pots for easy cleaning. Just clean the pot like you would any other non-stick pot (handwash it please) and same goes for the lid. Make sure to wipe the whole thing down once in a while. The steam and warmth are greenhouses for mildew and bacteria.
The final call
It all comes down to your personal needs. If you want a long-lasting, quality rice maker, I suggest investing in a Japanese or Korean made rice cooker. After all, you can always replace a cheap rice maker with a newer model when the time comes, but if you buy a good quality rice maker once, it can last you a lifetime.