Staff, Courtesy of Instant Pot
Rice might seem like a simple dish to cook. But perfect rice—fluffy, soft individual grains with just the right amount of chew in the center—can be hard to master. That’s why even professional chefs rely on the well-calibrated expertise of a rice cooker. These simple appliances measure the moisture inside the cooker to bring your rice to the ideal texture in the exact right amount of time—not a second too soon or too late. A rice cooker takes the guesswork—and babysitting—out of making perfect grains, including quinoa, polenta, oatmeal, and more. Use this guide to find the right rice cooker for your kitchen and completely upgrade your grain game.
How Does a Rice Cooker Work?
The general rule of thumb when cooking rice is to use a 2 to 1 ratio of water to grains. When you close the lid and turn on the machine, a thermometer carefully tracks the temperature inside the pot. When the internal temperature reaches 212°F, the boiling point of water, the machine knows that the rice is cooking.
The boiling water creates steam, which the rice grains absorb. As they absorb moisture, the grains soften and expand. In other words, they’re cooking. When the thermometer inside the rice cooker starts to rise above 212°F, the machine automatically shuts off. That’s a sign that the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked, assuming you added water in the correct ratio. Adding too little water will give you crunchy and potentially burned rice. Excess water will yield softer, mushier rice.
You can expect your rice to roughly double in volume during cooking. So one cup of uncooked rice will yield two cups of cooked rice.
What to Consider
Rice cookers range in functionality from extremely bare-bones (we’re talking a single button) to feature-packed. So the first question to consider is whether you want a multiuse appliance that can pressure cook fall-off-the-bone short ribs when it’s not steaming fluffy brown rice or something simple and straightforward that nails its one job every single time.
Next, you’ll want to consider the size of the appliance. Depending on your kitchen’s counter space and storage options, you may not have room for the largest rice cooker on the market. Larger rice cookers measure 12 to 14 inches on their longest side, such as the spacious Town model below. More compact options measure 7 to 8 inches on the longest side. The last thing you want is another gadget to stuff into the pantry, only to have everything tumble out every time you open the door. Beyond storage, the size of your rice cooker will also dictate how many mouths you can feed at a time. Larger households will appreciate a more generous 8-quart or larger rice cooker, while single- or two-person homes may be fully satisfied with a compact 3-cup appliance.
Finally, if you plan to use your rice cooker regularly, and maybe even give it a permanent residence on your kitchen countertop, you’ll want to consider its looks. Newer models tend to be sleek and flashy, with stainless steel finishes that complement any kitchen design. But maybe you’re into more of a retro look or appreciate the lower price of a basic plastic model.
How We Selected
As a trained chef, recipe developer, and food writer, the precision and quality of my kitchen appliances is central to my job. And as an avid home cook who values efficiency, ease of use, and convenience, I appreciate a thoughtfully designed appliance that does its job well without complicated bells and whistles. This list includes rice cookers that are proven to last and perform for both professional and recreational home chefs based on experience and research, including many customer reviews.
Best Multiuse Rice Cooker
Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart
• Weight: 11.8 lb. (6-quart)
• Capacity: 3-, 6- or 8-quart
• Size: 13.38 x 12.2 x 12.48 in.(6-quart)
Sure, this pressure cooker can make perfect white, brown, or wild rice. But don’t think it stops there. You can also use this feature-rich appliance to replace your slow cooker, pressure cooker, yogurt maker, and even steamer. Six quarts is a great size to feed four to six people, but the Instant Pot Duo also comes in compact three-quart and spacious eight-quart models.
- Includes settings for pressure cooking, stewing, sautéing, and yogurt-making
- May be more complicated than other models designed just for rice cooking
Best Budget-Friendly Rice Cooker
Aroma Housewares ARC-363-1NGB 6-Cup Rice Cooker
• Weight: 3 lb.
• Capacity: 3 cups raw
• Size: 9.41 x 8.07 x 9.45 in.
If you don’t want to shell out for an Instant Pot, this smaller model from Aroma Housewares packs a surprising amount of functionality for the price. The rice cooker comes with two trays that allow you to steam foods like meat and vegetables above rice, soup, or other simmering meals for an easy one-pot meal. And the best part is that it does everything with a single button. This compact and lightweight appliance is a favorite for small spaces.
- Includes steamer basket for multi-level cooking
- The only program selection is “steaming”
Best Professional Rice Cooker
Zojirushi NS-TSC10 Rice Cooker
$160.76 (16% off)
• Weight: 9.5 lb. (5.5 cups)
• Capacity: 5.5 cups or 10 cups raw
• Size: 14 x 10.1 x 8.5 in. (5.5 cups)
For the serious rice eater, this high-tech and feature-rich appliance is a worthwhile investment in a lifelong tool. It has a sleek design and easy-to-use interface that makes it a cult-favorite among pro chefs and rice-loving home cooks alike. At over 9 pounds, this cooker is a bit heavier than others, but it also may become a permanent fixture on your counter for its versatility and good looks. You can make anything from steamed veggies to airy cakes using the included cooking pots and steam baskets.
- Easy-to-use digital interface
- Longer cooking time than other rice cookers (to include rice soaking time)
Town 56822 25-Cup Rice Cooker
• Weight: 15 lb.
• Capacity: 25 cups raw
• Size: 14.75 x 14.75 x 12 in.
If you’re making commercial-sized servings of rice, this extra-large appliance is ready for the job. It can cook up to 25 cups of raw rice (50 cups cooked) at a time, so you’ll never run out of fresh, fluffy grains. In addition to rice, you can prepare creamy grits, oats, pasta, and even mac and cheese in extra-large quantities. Despite its size, the machine cooks any quantity of rice in about half an hour.
- One of the largest rice cookers on the market
- May be too large for some home kitchens
Best Ceramic Rice Cooker
GreenLife Healthy Ceramic Grains and Rice Cooker
• Weight: 4.36 lb.
• Capacity: 2 cups raw
• Size: 10.08 x 9.57 x 8.74 in.
Not only is this cute turquoise (or pink, yellow, or white) rice cooker easy on the eyes, it’s also made with nonstick ceramic that’s free of potentially harmful chemicals, including PFAS and PFOAs. The control panel is simple and easy to use, thanks to a clean, minimalist design. The four-cup capacity is perfect for two- to four-person households.
- May be too small for some households
Best Microwaveable Rice Cooker
Sistema Microwave Collection Rice Cooker
• Weight: 10.9 ounces
• Capacity: 11 cups
• Size: 8.5 x 7.67 x 6.33 in.
If you love the taste and texture of freshly prepared rice, you can make it anywhere there’s a microwave with this handy tool. Stash it at the office and make white or brown rice (and even creamy polenta) in less than 20 minutes. The plastic is BPA-free, but make sure not to use any oil or butter in your rice, to prevent potential melting of the plastic. The container is dishwasher-safe and comes with a handy rice paddle for fluffing your grains.
- Plastic gets very hot in the microwave, which can be difficult to handle
Best Portable Rice Cooker
TLOG Mini Rice Cooker
• Weight: 3.54 lb
• Capacity: 2 cups raw
• Size: 8 x 7 x 9 in.
Don’t leave home without this miniature rice cooker from TLOG. It has a handle for easy transport and weighs less than four pounds, making this the perfect portable appliance for camping, RVs, and college dorms. Despite its compact size, you can prepare up to four cups of cooked rice in this travel-ready appliance.
- Includes settings for porridge, yogurt, brown and white rice
- No recipes or cooking instructions
Most Attractive Rice Cooker
Kakomi Ceramic Rice Cooker
• Weight: Varies per pot
• Capacity: 1.25 quarts
• Size: 5.5 x 5.3 inches
This beautiful ceramic rice cooker is a centerpiece-worthy pot. It works with every variety of grain and is even microwave-safe. The smooth clay surface and the double lid retain heat beautifully to keep cooked grains warm before serving. It’s available in white and black.
- Doubles as a serving vessel
- Can be used only on gas cooktops
Easiest to Clean
Aroma Housewares 8-Cup Rice Cooker and Food Steamer
• Weight: 4.2 lb.
• Capacity: 4 cups raw
• Size: 8.5 x 9.3 x 8.7 in.
This multi-functional rice cooker and steamer has fully dishwasher-safe parts, including the steamer pot, rice paddle, and included measuring cup. Cook up to 8 cups of fluffy white rice at full capacity, or use the steam tray to do double-duty with protein or veggies above the rice.
- 15-hour delay timer for planning ahead
- Does not keep cooked rice warm for very long
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