It makes sense that the best rice cookers would be made in countries that eat plenty of it and thus have lots of experience and high standards. Japanese rice cookers are famously well-made and great at what they do. There are also a lot of them with many features to choose from! We tried and tested 20 different models to write the rice cooker reviews below and help you pick the best one. The Japanese really do make great rice cookers, although we never doubted it. Before we get to the buying guide, check out what features you need to take into consideration to find your dream rice cooker.
Cup Capacity - How much rice do you want to be able to make at a time? Do you want to make one big pot for the family dinner or enough to last you through the week? The capacities of our best rice cooker picks range from 0.5 to 10 cups, from single servings to a full-on rice party. Keep in mind that the cup size for these rice cookers is measured in uncooked Japanese cups, which are six ounces compared to the US eight-ounce cup.
Watts - A family rice cooker needs family-sized wattage to cook lots of rice quickly. Watts are an indicator of the rice cooker’s power and cooking speed. Most of the larger rice cookers have wattage in the 600 range--although one is over 900--while smaller rice cookers tend to be around 300 watts. Most can churn out a basic pot of delicious cooked white rice in 50 to 60 minutes at full capacity.
Keep Warm Function - If you like to help yourself to a cup of delicious carbs throughout the day or just don’t want your rice to get cold halfway through the meal when it’s time for seconds, a Japanese rice cooker with a keep warm function is a good idea. Some kick in automatically, but with others, you have to toggle the function after cooking is completed. A few also have extended keep-warm features for extra-long wait times.
Cooking Settings - Some Japanese rice cookers only prepare rice, but others come with extra features that change the heating and cooking process for things like steaming vegetables or making different kinds of grains like sushi rice or quinoa. A few of the rice cookers on our list even make cake or porridge. If you like to use different kinds of rice, having these cooking settings can help you get the perfect texture every time. It’s worth experimenting.
Dimensions - The size of a kitchen appliance is an important feature, especially for students living in dorms or people with smaller living spaces. Large rice cookers obviously offer greater capacity, but you may prefer a smaller rice cooker to preserve valuable kitchen counter space or to make them easier to transport from the kitchen to the dinner table. A smaller rice cooker is also easy to pack up and move from one apartment to another.
Weight - Apartment tenants, we’re looking at you. No one wants to transport a heavy appliance from one place to another, whether you’re moving houses or apartments or just want to take a pot of rice to a friend. Weight can be an indicator of quality, as heavier units are often made of stainless steel, but lighter units offer greater portability. The most massive cooker on our list is 13 pounds, but most hover around 9 lbs.
After lots of testing (and eating mountains of delicious rice), we found several great Japanese rice cookers in a variety of sizes. Some are complex multi-function machines, while others just cook the rice and turn off. Keep an eye on the capacity and cooking settings as you read the reviews below. You’ll notice a lot of cookers from Zojirushi and a couple of Tiger rice cookers that impressed us as well. Get ready for the best-tasting rice you’re ever tried. Bon Appetit!