Rice is a tasty carbohydrate source that—when combined with protein, fat, and fiber—makes for a nutritionally complete meal. Rice cookers can make meals a whole lot easier, allowing you to set it and forget it while you cook the other components of your meal. They typically require you to add water and rice, and then they do the rest of the work for you.
Over time, having a rice cooker can reduce the costs associated with buying microwave pouches of rice, and promote a fluffier, more consistent pot of rice. For those who eat rice regularly or struggle to master a stovetop pot of rice, a rice cooker could be a great addition to your kitchen appliance collection. Zariel Grullón, RDN, CDN, of Love Your Chichos and co-founder of Radicare says, “A rice cooker is a great investment in your kitchen because it allows you to practice multitasking in the kitchen. I enjoy using mine to cook grains in bulk to use throughout the week.”
Some rice cookers even come with a steamer addition that allows you to cook protein and veggies in the same device as your rice. Talk about a simple, nutritionally well-rounded meal! They often accommodate various rice types, including brown and white rice. And while trying to incorporate more whole grains is beneficial, don’t discount the nutritional and cultural importance of white rice. Laura Iu, R.D., a registered dietitian nutritionist based in New York, says, “Although it’s true that white rice is digested quickly in the body and can enter the bloodstream faster than brown rice, the reality is that white rice can be part of a healthy diet!” She highlights the cultural significance of white rice and shares, “I try to encourage people to look at the whole meal rather than zoning into a single food. White rice still offers many nutrients like magnesium, iron, selenium, and niacin. If you’re concerned about fiber, you can enjoy it with foods high in fiber.”
To help you find the best rice cooker to fit your needs, we tried out a variety of rice cookers by testing three types of rice in each to determine our top picks. Here are the best rice cookers backed by our testing.
Tiger JBV-A10U Rice Cooker
Why We Like It: It consistently makes soft, fluffy rice and is easy to use.
It’s Worth Noting: There is no audible alarm when the rice is done.
We got consistently great rice with this rice cooker—it was light and fluffy no matter the type of rice. It has four easy-to-set options: brown rice, plain rice, synchro-cooking, and slow cook/steam. The synchro-cooking setting allows you to steam other meal components like meat or veggies as your rice cooks for a truly easy, nutritionally well-rounded meal.
This rice cooker is also easy to move around, and we especially liked the handle on the top of the rice cooker. It made it incredibly easy to move in and out of storage. Despite being hand-wash only, this rice cooker is easy to clean thanks to its non-stick coating.
Unfortunately, there is no audible noise when the rice is done, so if you set and forget it, you may forget it for longer than you’d want. But it automatically switches to warming mode, and a light changes color from red to yellow when your batch is ready, so it won’t overcook your rice.
Price at time of publication: $99
- Yield: 5.5 cups
- Max Warming Time: 12 hours
- Size: 10.6"D x 13.9"W x 8.4"H
Aroma Housewares 6-Cup Rice and Grain Cooker
Why We Like It: It is dishwasher-safe and easy to use, making it a great option if you’re new to rice cookers.
It’s Worth Noting: The rice texture it produces is less consistent than higher-end options.
This rice cooker sits at a price you can’t beat and is perfect for those who want to add ease to their cooking routine without investing in a higher-end option. It comes with a steam tray to cook protein or veggies simultaneously. And this cooker can also be used to make soups, chilis, and more.
We felt like this rice cooker is compact enough to easily store while producing a decent amount of rice (6 cups). Unlike other options, it is dishwasher safe, which is especially useful since this cooker has a separate glass lid that must be washed. It can keep rice warm for up to 12 hours and automatically switches to warming mode when the rice is done cooking.
However, we did note some inconsistency with the rice’s texture depending on the type of rice we used, so you may need to play around with the cooking time or rice-to-water ratio to get the optimal batch of rice.
Price at time of publication: $20
- Yield: 6 cups
- Max Warming Time: 12 hours
- Size: 10.4"D x 11.1"W x 8.1"H
Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker & Food Steamer
Why We Like It: This appliance makes it easy to cook rice and hot cereal.
It’s Worth Noting: The rice tends to dry out after a few hours on the warming function.
We were impressed by this rice cooker's user-friendly buttons and ability to cook not just rice but hot cereal too. It consistently produced fluffy rice with an optimal moisture level and did the same for steel-cut oats (a heart-healthy whole grain). It has an attached lid that opens easily at the push of a button. We also noted the compact size of this cooker and thought it would be perfect for a smaller kitchen or a dorm room.
In testing, some dryness developed in the top and bottom sections of the rice and oats after a few hours on the warming function. However, stirring the grains improved the grains’ moisture level.
When the rice is ready, there is a single beep that can be hard to hear, so you may need to set a timer and check back on the rice instead of relying on the beep. It does automatically switch to the warming function, so it shouldn’t go cold regardless.
Price at time of publication: $47
- Yield: 8 cups
- Max Warming Time: 12 hours
- Size: 8.2"D x 9.7"W x 9.9"H
Muji Rice Cooker
Why We Like It: It weighs under five pounds and has a retractable cord for easy storage.
It’s Worth Noting: It is not dishwasher safe.
This rice cooker is a high-end, compact option that produces consistently delicious grains. We were pleased with its design for storage and liked how it was more square in shape than many other rice cookers, making it less awkward and more space-efficient for storage.
It has a bunch of useful features including a spatula rest built into the lid, multiple cook settings, two levels of warming, and a countdown clock when there are 13 minutes or less left in the cooking time. As we tested, it consistently produced very well-cooked rice and had just enough features that we value without being overwhelming or confusing. These features include settings for white rice, brown rice, porridge, and curry, allowing you to prepare a variety of nutritious meals with this one appliance.
It is hand-wash only, but it has a non-stick coating, so you don’t have to soak it first. If you cook rice often and value a reliable, high-quality product, this is a great, compact choice.
Price at time of publication: $149
- Yield: 3 cups
- Max Warming Time: 24 hours
- Size: 10"D x 8.2"W x 7.3"H
Zojirushi NS-TSC18 Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer
Why We Like It: It has a wide range of settings and an easy-to-hear song when your food is ready.
It’s Worth Noting: It’s cumbersome and not ideal for those with limited counter or storage space.
Not only does this rice cooker do an excellent job of cooking rice, but it can also be used to cook a lot more. It has the following settings: white/sushi, quick, mixed, porridge, sweet, brown, cake, and steam. When your food is ready, it automatically switches to warming mode, but it also has an extended "keep warm" and a reheat function. We loved the retractable cord and carrying handle, which helped make this appliance easy to move around and store. We were also impressed by the easy-to-hear alarm that alerts you when your food is ready. You can even pick between different alarm melodies!
This is a rather large rice cooker with a 10-cup yield, so it’s great if you are batch-cooking rice for the next few days or cooking for a big group. Because it is so big, it might not be the best choice if you have a small kitchen or are otherwise limited in storage space. It is also not dishwasher safe, but it has a non-stick coating, so it’s easy to hand wash.
Price at time of publication: $210
- Yield: 10 cups
- Max Warming Time: 12 hours of regular "keep warm", 4 hours of extended "keep warm"
- Size: 9.87"D x 15"W x 11.12"H
Easiest to Use
Black+Decker 6 Cup Rice Cooker with Steaming Basket
Why We Like It: With no bells and whistles, this cooker is beginner-friendly and easy to use.
It’s Worth Noting: There’s no alarm when the rice is ready.
This rice cooker is perfect if you want a simple option. It has an on/off switch and generally cooks rice in under 30 minutes. Because it has limited functions, there's not much to mess up. It automatically switches to its "keep warm" function after the rice is done cooking.
It does come with a steamer basket, so you can also use it to steam veggies or proteins. And we loved the speed at which it cooked white rice and steamed broccoli. We think this rice cooker makes well-rounded, home-cooked meals accessible for even those with limited comfort with kitchen appliances.
The removable cooking bowl is dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup. And if you don’t have a dishwasher, it has a nonstick coating that makes it easy to hand wash.
Price at time of publication: $21
- Yield: 6 cups
- Max Warming Time: N/A
- Size: 9.09”D x 9.09”W x 6.18”H
Our Testing Process
We used the rice cookers at least three times to make three different types of rice following the manufacturer’s instructions. We also tested the "keep warm" function, the readability of the instructions, smart features, and the ease of storage, handling, cleaning, and general use.
What to Know About Rice Cookers
Capacity and Storage
Rice cookers come in a range of sizes. The best choice for you will depend on your intention for the appliance. If you typically only cook for one or two people and don’t like using leftovers, then a small, compact cooker that makes 3 cups may be your best option. These are also useful if you have limited storage or counter space. Larger options go up to about 10 cups and are great if you are looking to batch-cook grains or if you have a big family to feed.
How to Use it
Typically, you simply need to add water and rice to the pot and turn it on. Some cookers will have different settings based on what you’re cooking and others will simply have an on/off button. The exact ratio of rice to water will depend on the type of rice you’re cooking. Recommendations for ratios can often be found in the user manual.
How Much You Can Expect to Pay
The cost of a rice cooker will vary greatly based on the features and size. Higher-end rice cookers will often produce a more consistent result with an ideal texture whereas less expensive ones may be less consistent and require more trial and error. Most rice cookers range from about $20 to $150, with some higher-end ones exceeding $200. Grullón says, “What’s most important is getting what you can afford and what’ll allow you to include these delicious grains into your everyday diet!”
Higher-end rice cookers often come with more features. These can include different settings for different types of grains, slow-cooker settings, retractable electrical plugs, timers, and alarms to alert you when the rice is done. Grullón notes that the features you need will depend on your preferences. “If you want something hands-off, it might be less important to have multi-menu features like reheat cycles or different cooking settings for different grains," she says. "If you’re worried about using Teflon, consider purchasing a stainless steel rice cooker, where the inner pot is made of stainless steel.”
More Rice Cookers to Consider
While these cookers didn’t meet all of our expectations, they may still be of interest to you.
- Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker (NS-ZCC10): This rice cooker didn’t make our top picks because it isn’t designed for long-grain rice, which limits its versatility. We also found it wasn’t very user-friendly, and some batches took almost two hours to make, taking away some of its convenience.
- Imusa Electric Nonstick Rice Cooker: While we liked its compact size, it didn’t make the cut because it did not produce consistently good rice. As we tested, we had to improvise by adding some olive oil and stirring the rice midway to prevent the rice from turning out dry and overcooked.
- Toshiba (TRCS01) Rice Cooker: This rice cooker produced nicely textured rice, but it only has a capacity of six cups despite being the largest cooker we tested. Since there are other cookers on the market that perform just as well in a more compact or higher-capacity model, we did not include this in our top picks.
- Dash Mini Rice Cooker: This cooker is appealing because of its tiny size, great for cooking for one or a college student. However, we experienced a burnt plastic smell while using this cooker's "keep warm" function. Also, some batches of rice nearly boiled over despite us following the user manual recommendations.
Your Questions, Answered
What are the disadvantages of rice cookers?
In certain cultures (including Puerto Rican, Dominican, Senegalese, and Korean) the crunchy rice at the bottom of the pot is treasured, with each culture calling it by a different name. Grullón says, “The biggest disadvantage in using a rice cooker if you’re Latin like me is that you miss out on the concón! Some rice cookers use a Teflon coating to prevent the rice from sticking, which means it rarely creates that crunchy crust.”
This non-stick coating may pose other concerns for consumers regarding health. Iu says, “The research is mixed with non-stick material like Teflon or similar, but the issue is when the surface is scratched. I suggest using the rice paddle that it comes with since this will decrease the likelihood of scratching the inner pot and using warm water, soap, and a scratch-free sponge to gently clean the pot.”
Is it worth having a rice cooker?
Buying a rice cooker could be a great investment if you cook rice often. Iu says, “I love my rice cooker! Using a rice cooker helps make perfect fluffy rice, and it helps keep the rice warm if you want to go back for seconds (or thirds!). Other benefits are that it makes sticky rice super quick.”
A rice cooker can also be a helpful appliance for batch-cooking rice to have over the next few days. Iu offers advice on storing large batches of rice, saying, “Moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria, so you’ll want to store it in a cool, dry environment, ideally a food-grade storage bin with a tight lid.”
Who We Are
Isabel Vasquez RD, LDN is a Latina registered dietitian who counsels clients through the private practice Nutritiously Yours LLC. She is passionate about providing education on the nutritional value of cultural foods often demonized by mainstream media, including white rice. Her work is especially focused on helping individuals divest from a one-size-fits-all approach to health and connect with their unique needs.