The rice cooker is one of those gadgets that we expect to really start seeing in every kitchen sometime in the near future. For one, there are more and more delicious recipes that require rice as the perfect dish, and, on the other hand, rice itself is a much healthier alternative to bread and people are really starting to learn that. So whether you are a single student or a young family looking to experiment, a small rice cooker is an investment that you will certainly not regret. The only problem you are going to face when choosing a rice cooker is the same that we encountered, and that is there is a huge difference in price between various, equally good rice cookers on the market. It is a matter of the manufacturing quality, so more expensive rice cookers are more likely to last for longer while under daily use, but the thing is that even cheaper rice cookers will work perfectly for at least a year and usually even 2 or 3 years, making the smaller investment a much better choice. In either case, we designed our list without taking the price of each cooker into consideration and we only addressed that question in the review section. So make sure to scroll past the following list where we give you only the bare details about each cooker, and check out the in depth reviews that follow.
1. Aroma 8-Cup (Cooked) Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer
If you have absolutely no experience with rice cookers but do think it might be a good idea to have one in your kitchen, the Aroma 8-Cup Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer is an excellent choice. It is one of the cheapest rice cookers on our list, and yet it has a large 8 cup capacity. A word of warning though, the 8 cups refer to cooked rice, so you will start with 4 cups of uncooked rice and water, the rice will basically double in quantity. To give you an idea of what the cups system means, a normal person will eat anywhere between 1 and 2 cups of rice for one meal to feel completely satiated. The other reason, except for its large capacity, why we think the Aroma rice cooker is an excellent first choice is that it comes with a steamer basket that you can hang above the rice and thus you will get to cook the meat and vegetable for your meal together with the rice at the same time. And, in case you are not sure about the quality level of such a cheap rice cooker, just consider the fact that it this rice cooker has earned a 4.3 star rating on Amazon from almost 2,000 customers.
2. Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer
We have showed you our favorite choice of the affordable rice cookers, so it is only fair to give you an overview of our favorite expensive rice cooker, the Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT. It basically does the same thing as the Aroma, which is to cook rice, but it has certain niceties that may make it a better choice. For one, the quality level of the Teflon pan inside is clearly superior, so it will last a lot more and take more abuse than the Aroma. Also the pan itself is rounded out so it is much easier to scoop up the rice from it and to fluff it up. They also have a clearly marked measuring system on the inside of the pot so you only need to use the provided cup the measure the rice and then you can add water to a certain level depending on how much rice you have added and what type it was. The Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT also does everything automatically from presoaking the rice, to allowing 15 minutes at the end to soak up all the water and can even keep the rice warm for you for an additional 12 hours after cooking.
3. Oster CKSTRCMS65 3-Cup (Uncooked)
There are several reasons why we think the Oster CKSTRCMS65 will be the favorite choice for most of our non-Asian readers. For one it is the cheapest rice cooker on our list and, if you do not eat rice on a daily basis, you will not really need anything better. And second, this is the only rice cooker that actually looks like a regular pot and would not feel out of place on any kitchen counter. It also has the advantage of coming with its own steamer basket, and if you have never tasted rice that has been cooking under the drip from a vegetable steamer, than you cannot even imagine how delicious it can actually be.
4. Zojirushi NS-VGC05 Micom 3-Cup
When it comes to high quality rice cookers we absolutely love the Zojirushi brand because, although they make top end cookers, their prices are actually moderate. The Zojirushi NS-VGC05 is a perfect example of what a rice cooker meant to be in daily use should look like. And it is not just a rice cooker, you can further use it to cook specialty types of rice like sushi rice or mixed, and you can even set it to porridge and cake. It does not have a steamer basket, but most traditional Eastern recipes do not mix the vegetable with the rice during the cooking process.
5. Aroma Simply Stainless 6-Cup (Cooked) Rice Cooker
You may or may not adhere to such concepts that postulate that Teflon coated pots can actually leave toxic residues in the food, but most people making the switch from bread to rice do so for health reasons. We tend to think of Teflon as a necessary evil in the kitchen, but there is an alternative even in the small rice cooker world. The Aroma Simply Stainless 6-Cup (Cooked) Rice Cooker uses stainless steel and does not raise the cooking temperature to much so that the rice does not stick to the bottom or sides of the pot. It still is not as easy to clean as a Teflon coated pot, but it is quite easy and we have to admit that it does seem to be the healthier alternative.
6. Panasonic SR-G06FG Automatic 3.3 Cup
We are now half way through our list and we can begin to look at some of the more niche type small rice cookers on the market. These would not be our first choice but they do have certain characteristics that we love about them and that makes them worth featuring here. The Panasonic SR-G06FG for one, is the Eco friendly version of the rice cooker, using 310 Watts for the complete cooking process. It also has a glass lid that makes it look and feel more like a regular cooking pot and it gives you some idea of what your rice is doing and how far along the cooking process is. So even though it only got a 4.2 star rating on Amazon, we still think it would make for an excellent choice.
7. Lotus Foods Stainless Steel Rice Cooker and Steamer
If you run a restaurant or have a big family, you will need to go with the huge 12 cups capacity of the Lotus Foods Stainless Steel Rice Cooker. Besides the size it has several great things going for it. For one it comes with an additional steamer basket that you can use to also cook some vegetables or meat to go with the rice, and the sauce dripping from them will also bring more flavor to the rice. Also, we have to appreciate the fact that this is a very well made stainless steel rice cooker, so you do not have to worry about the ill effects of Teflon pots.
8. Panasonic SR-3NA Automatic 1.5 Cup
Coming back to the concept of a small rice cooker, the Panasonic SR-3NA best fits that description because it only cooks 1.5 cups of uncooked rice and uses just 200 watts of power. It is the perfect choice for a single person as that is just enough rice for a meal. It too has a see through lid that really helps you know how much longer you have to wait for the rice to be ready.
9. Hamilton Beach Digital Simplicity Deluxe
There is one huge, obvious reason why we had to feature the Hamilton Beach option on our search for the best small rice cooker, and that is the fact that it priced extremely competitively and it has a more advanced, programmable interface. That means you can follow simply read exactly how much longer you have to wait for the rice to be ready and you also can choose a more advanced cooking style depending on the type of rice you are cooking and whether you are using the steamer function alone or with rice underneath.
10. Cuisinart CRC-400 4-Cup Rice Cooker
If you are a long time follower of our site you will know we love the design spins Cuisinart puts on all their products. So we had to feature a small Cuisinart CRC-400 rice cooker on our list just because of its outrageous cube shape and its brushed aluminum look. It does make for an adequate rice cooker although we have to admit that, in terms of how well the rice is cooked, we would go for anyone of our top 5 picks over Cuisinart CRC-400’s great looks.