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If there’s one cooking gadget you think you don’t need, but has the potential to change your life, it’s a rice cooker. With one of the best rice cookers, you can ensure that you’ll enjoy perfectly cooked rice every time. Soon, you’ll be ditching the stove-top method for good.
The members of the Culinary Hill team relish the importance of flawlessly cooked rice in their recipes and homemade recipes. Is an enchilada really an enchilada without a mountain of spicy Spanish rice to soak up the red sauce? Can a juicy chicken skewer even stay down without a pillowy soft lemon rice pilaf to cushion its fall?
We argue that rice is what makes the dish, and since anything worth doing is worth doing exceptionally—and deliciously—we worked with Meggan to tap her favorite models and curate a list of the best rice cookers. Our top picks work with grains of all kinds and come in a variety of sizes to make recipes from all around the world.
Our Top Picks:
- What’s in Meggan’s Kitchen: Aroma Housewares 20-Cup Rice Cooker – $42.99 at Target
- Meggan’s Best Small Pick: Aroma Housewares 8-Cup Rice Cooker – $29.98 at Amazon
- Best Japanese Rice Cooker: Zojirushi Umami Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer – $197.98 at Amazon
Reviews of The Best Rice Cookers
1. What’s in Meggan’s Kitchen: Aroma Housewares 20-Cup Rice Cooker
Meggan’s love affair with the Aroma Housewares rice cookers started in college when a friend from Hong Kong used one to serve rice at a party. “I was blown away,” she says. “This Aroma Housewares model cooks both white rice and brown rice perfectly every time, and I’ve also used it to make Mexican rice, lemon rice pilaf, and my Wisconsin-style jambalaya.”
This large capacity rice cooker has 10 different settings for white rice, steam, cake, multi-grain, oatmeal, sauté, keep warm, slow cook, and a 15-minute delay timer.
Meggan also loves the unexpected accessories that come in the box. “I love the steaming tray that sits inside the rice cooker if you want to steam veggies or something else to go with your rice, and I love the wide plastic paddle that is so great for scooping cooked rice out of the cooker. It makes preparing my copycat Chipotle cilantro lime rice recipe so easy!”
- Includes several accessories
- Capacity: 20 cups
- Dimensions: 11.3 by 11.1 by 10.8 inches
- Settings: 10 options
- Perfect for larger families or weekly meal preps
- Beeps when done and automatically switches to warming
- Dishwasher safe parts
- Bulky and heavy
- Deep cleaning the lid is tedious
- Timer only counts down the last 10 minutes
What Others are Saying:
This high-capacity budget option has more than 21,000 reviews and a 4.7 rating on Amazon. Additionally, it was named best large rice cooker by Better Homes & Gardens Gardens and the best budget buy by Insider.
Buy the Aroma Housewares 20-Cup Rice Cooker:
2. Meggan’s Best Small Pick: Aroma Housewares 8-Cup Rice Cooker
While Meggan’s overall top pick for best rice cooker was the larger capacity Aroma Housewares 20-Cup Rice Cooker, she first discovered this smaller Aroma Housewares 8-Cup Rice Cooker back in 2004. Today she loves both models, using the larger capacity rice cooker for family meals and opting for the lighter weight small size for traveling, side dishes, or dinner for two.
This model still delivers the same results as the larger one and has the same functions for white rice, brown rice, steaming, keeping warm, flash rice, and the 15-hour delay timer.
- Includes rice measuring cup, steaming basket, and spatula
- Capacity: 8 cups
- Dimensions: 9.3 by 5.8 by 8.7 inches
- Settings: 6 options
- Great for dinner for two or four or small side dishes
- Takes up less countertop space
- Automatically switches to keep warm when rice is cooked
- Deep cleaning the detachable lid is tedious
- Timer only counts down the last 10 minutes of cooking
- Too small for large gatherings or families
What Others are Saying:
It was categorized as a great budget buy by The Strategist. It also has more than 60,000 reviews and a 4.5 rating on Amazon.
Buy the Aroma Housewares 8-Cup Rice Cooker:
3. Best Japanese Rice Cooker: Zojirushi Umami Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer
The Zojirushi Umami Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer’s eight versatile settings not only cook flawless rice, but allows the unit to double as a steamer for vegetables and egg rolls. What makes the model truly unique, though, is that it includes cake menu settings for baking cakes and brownies. Totally sweet, right?
It might also be a good choice if you whimper at the thought of having to spend hours scrubbing the gunky residue of baked-on rice. Unlike rice cookers that heat from the bottom with an electric coil and thermal sensor, this model relies on specialized automatic adjustments, known as fuzzy logic technology, to match temperature and cooking times to the specific grain. The end result is no crusty mess at the bottom. All you have to do is add the rice and appropriate amount of water, press a couple of buttons, then sit back and let the machine work its magic.
- Includes steaming basket, measuring cup, spatula, and spatula holder
- Capacity: 5.5 cups
- Dimensions: 14 by 10.13 by 8.5 inches
- Settings: 8 options
- Advanced technology tweaks temps and cooking times
- Sleek aesthetic
- A melody plays when the rice is done
- It’s bulky
- Longer cooking times required
What Others are Saying:
Bon Appetit food editors said it’s their choice for the test kitchen. Additionally, it has more than 10,000 reviews and a 4.7 rating on Amazon.
Buy the Zojirushi Umami Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer:
4. Best for All Grains: Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer
If you cook a wide variety of grains, are dead serious about the integrity of their final texture, and can live without non-rice settings like steaming or baking cakes, the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer is the best rice cooker for you.
Just like the Zojirushi Micom, the Neuro has an interior base with a heating plate and center sensor. It’s also compact in size, comes with accessories, and plays a song when the rice is done. It uses technology to take all unpredictability out of the equation that is more advanced compared to other models, despite not having extra bells and whistles. It gives you more precise options like choosing between regular and Japanese sushi or harder and softer rice.
- Includes two measuring cups, non-stick spoon, and spoon holder
- Capacity: 5.5 cups
- Dimensions: 8 by 14 by 9 inches
- Settings: 8 options
- Makes steel cut oatmeal
- Retractable cord
- Warming mode lasts up to 12 hours
- Removable inner pan and lid for easy cleaning
- Longer cooking times
- An effort to clean
What Others are Saying:
This model has more than 9,600 reviews and a 4.7 rating on Amazon. Additionally, Wirecutter named it the best rice cooker for all grain types, Real Simple named it the best splurge, and Insider named it the best large-capacity rice cooker.
Buy the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer:
5. Best for Brown Rice: Cuckoo 6-Cup Micom Rice Cooker
If the versatility of making white rice, baby food, porridge, steamed vegetables, and even beef stew in the same multi-cooker appeals to you, the Cuckoo Micom Rice Cooker, with its seemingly endless list of cooking options, is a great pick. Its smart technology adjusts temperature and cook time to produce flawlessly cooked rice without overcomplicating it. Because of this, it’s especially good at making heartier brown rice fluffy. Simply add your ingredients, select one of 11 pre-set cooking modes, and go about your day.
- Includes measuring cup and scoop
- Capacity: 12 cups
- Dimensions: 8.6 by 9.4 by 13 inches
- Settings: 11 options
- Detachable cover
- Easier clean up with auto steam function
- Non-stick coated pot
- Takes a long time to cook
- Buttons are hard to press
What Others are Saying:
The Cuckoo is CNN Underscore’s pick for best budget rice cooker and Serious Eats named it “the best rice cooker for control freaks.”
Buy the Cuckoo 6-Cup Micom Rice Cooker:
Other Rice Cookers to Consider
Hamilton Beach Digital Programmable Rice Cooker and Food Steamer
With its two-in-one steam basket that doubles as a rice rinser, all the basic settings you need, and the ability to cook decent white rice in about 35 minutes, it’s a great rice cooker for a college student. It was voted best budget pick by Wirecutter and the top pick for most households Serious Eats. The end result won’t wow a critique, but at such an affordable price, it’s definitely a solid option. The Hamilton Beach Digital Programmable Rice Cooker and Food Steamer is available at Amazon for $59.99.
Tiger 5.5-Cup Micom Rice Cooker
Aside from having the beloved Tiger brand, but this model also uses induction heating technology that allows precise cooking with just the press of a button. It has a special brown rice setting and an express setting that can cook white rice in as quickly as 17 minutes. However, at its high price tag, the similar Zojirushi model may be a better option. The Tiger 5.5-Cup Micom Rice Cooker is available at Amazon for $149.95.
Oster 6-Cup Rice Cooker with Steam Tray
The model offers no bells, no whistles, and no promises of culinary perfection. But what it does offer is simplicity in its one-touch function, an automatic keep-warm setting, and an auto shut-off function to make dinner prep easier than ever. It only cooks six cups of rice, so it may not be for everyone, but the steaming tray, measuring cup, and ladle will all help get the job done. The Oster 6-Cup Rice Cooker with Steam Tray is available at Amazon for $29.87.
Why You Can Trust Us
I’m Belle, an award-winning content creator, and adjunct professor who works in restaurant PR in the Midwest. Over the course of 20 years, I’ve held almost every position imaginable in various restaurants, including ownership of a Korean-concept hot dog cart (that was named after my dog’s teeth). My writing and on-camera work can be seen on Better Homes & Gardens.
I worked with Meggan, the Executive Chef of Culinary Hill, who uses her favorite rice cooker on a near-regular basis. Together we referred to Meggan’s favorites and then scoured trusted online reviews to narrow down the best rice cookers. We also compared the models based on design, performance, quality, ease of cleaning, and overall value.
Everything to Know Before Buying a Rice Cooker
What to Consider Before Buying a Rice Cooker
There are a few things you should consider before choosing the best rice cooker for you and your family.
Capacity: Meggan suggests considering the capacity that makes the most sense for you. If you need to use the rice cooker for large parties or to cook complete meals for a large family, the 20-cup rice cooker will be more beneficial—but can be harder to store. If you’re cooking for 4-6 people and the rice is just a side dish, the 8-cup size will be just fine. If you’re unsure, she suggests starting with an 8-cup model and purchase a 20-cup one if you need it (and have a place to store it).
Cooking Settings: A rice cooker should make the process of cooking rice and other grains as simple as possible. Many come with presets for different types of rice, like white and brown, and some models might have additional settings for short- and long-grain rice as well as firm or soft rice. Some might have presets for additional grains such as quinoa and oatmeal, as well.
Do You Actually Need a Rice Cooker?
If you want restaurant-quality rice at home, then yes.
For households that eat rice regularly, investing in a rice cooker that will last you for years may make sense. It will also free up some space on the stovetop if you’re using multiple burners. However, if you only cook or eat rice occasionally, you may decide it’s best to save your money (and your cupboard space!).
How Long Does a Rice Cooker Take?
To generalize, it takes approximately 30 minutes to properly cook white rice and 50 minutes to cook brown rice—but it could take much, much longer, depending on the type of grain you are cooking and how much moisture you add to the pot.
This is why the amount of water used to make each cup of grain varies significantly from one rice cooker model to another. If your cooker lets out a lot of steam, you may need twice as much water as rice. If you have a tight seal, less water may be required. Adding other ingredients to your rice could take more or less time.
When in doubt, refer to the manual that comes with your rice cooker, and rest assured that a rice cooker will take more guesswork out of cooking rice than using a pot on the stove.
Meggan’s pro tip: “I keep a single page from the manual in my kitchen which shows the cup-to-water ratios (it lists the measurements for both white and brown rice), so I never have to guess or overthink it.”
Can You Cook Quinoa in a Rice Cooker?
Quinoa is a delicious option for a rice cooker! It will cook super quickly and produce light, fluffy quinoa every time. While most rice cookers will make all types of rice, including brown, long grain, short grain, jasmine, or basmati, you can also easily experiment with other grains such as steel-cut oats, pearl barley, or lentils.
Should You Get a Rice Cooker if You Own an Instant Pot or Multi-Cooker?
If you don’t regularly cook recipes that call for rice at home, you can make a large quantity of rice in an Instant Pot or multi-cooker as an occasional one-off. The good news is that you’ll avoid cramming another appliance into your cupboards. The bad news is that while the rice will be okay, it might turn out mushier or heavier than you’d like because an Instant Pot or multi-cooker isn’t explicitly made to handle rice like a rice cooker is—despite having a rice setting.
The Best Rice Recipes
You really can’t go wrong cooking rice in any of our top picks for best rice cookers. Once your favorite one arrives, try it out with one of these tried-and-true recipes from Culinary Hill:
- Chipotle Lime Rice (check out Method 3: How to Make Rice in a Rice Cooker)
- Mexican Rice
- Spanish Rice
- Lemon Rice Pilaf
Prices were accurate at time of publication.
Belle DuChene is an award-winning digital content producer who has a passion for all things lifestyle including food, fashion, and French culture. (And French wine, of course!) Over the course of 20 years, she's held almost every position imaginable in various restaurants and has eaten her way through the side streets of more than 20 countries. Always a student, her kitchen looks like a library of culinary school textbooks and she will sit for the level one sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers this summer. Belle owns an award-winning content creation agency, teaches communications at three colleges and universities, and tutors in French. In addition to Culinary Hill, her writing and on-camera demonstrations have been published on BHG.com.