The Best Rice Cookers

zojirushi-ns-zcc10-neuro-fuzzy-rice-cooker-and-warmer

I recommend a fuzzy logic rice cooker if you eat rice every day, basically making your cooker an always-on device. Your rice will take about twice as long to cook as it does in on-off rice cookers — but if rice is part of your daily routine, that will never be a concern. In a fuzzy logic cooker, there will be no more scooping leftover rice into containers for the fridge. You can just get the cooker in a size that fits your needs. That device’ll cook then keep all the rice warm in it until you eat it all — usually within a day or day and half — at which point you’ll probably just wash out the bowl and put in more rice to cook for the next day or day and half.

I’ll start with the on-off cookers and move onto more complex models — which means the prices will go up as I proceed. Since all the rice cookers here are best in their class, I recommend buying the lowest-priced one that has all the bells and whistles — whether it’s a brown rice function or a pre-settable timer — you need as an individual:

Panasonic SR-G06FG 3.3-Cup Rice Cooker/Steamer

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This no-frills 3.3-cup rice cooker weighs merely 4 pounds and measures 8 x 10 x 8 inches, making it a good option for small households with small kitchens. While the cooker does shut off automatically, it also has no other frills — no programmable options, or even a keep-warm function. However, you can get enough nicely-cooked rice for about 3 adults in roughly 35 minutes — White rice, that is. Since this cooker’s really only got one switch, if you want brown rice, you’ll need to soak the grains for a few hours before hitting cook. In fact, if what you usually eat is brown rice, this isn’t the cooker for you.

Get the Panasonic SR-G06FG at Amazon for $28.49., or go for the bigger Panasonic SR-G18FG 10-Cup Rice Cooker/Steamer if you’ve got a bigger family. That item comes with a veggie steamer you can put over the rice and costs $40.65 at Amazon.

Sanyo ECJ-N55W 5-1/2-Cup Electric Rice Cooker

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This 5.5-cup cooker’s a bit more expensive than the Panasonic, but a lot more versatile too. For one, this Sanyo model’s good at cooking brown rice — and other types of rice — plus has settings for soup and porridge. The cooker also comes with a steamer basket.

At 10 x 9 x 10 inches and 6.5 pounds, the Sanyo ECJ-N55W is bigger and weightier than the Panasonic. And while the Sanyo does have a keep-warm function, making use of that function for more than a few hours will dry out your rice. Get it at Amazon for $54.95.

Panasonic SR-DE102 Rice Cooker/Warmer

panasonic-sr-tmb10-5-rice-cooker-warmer

Need a cooker you can preset? You can set the Panasonic SR-DE102 up to 13 hours in advance — then automatically keep your rice warm for 12 hours after that. The cooker also has 6 settings, from steam to brown rice to cake baking, so if you want a rice cooker that’ll do a lot more than cook rice, this Panasonic’s the cheapest on the market I’d recommend. Oh — and it comes with a steam basket for your veggies too.

Considering its price, the Panasonic SR-DE102 is a great value for picky rice eaters on a budget. It’s available at Amazon for about $85.

Sanyo ECJ-D55S 5.5-Cup Micro-Computerized Rice Cooker/Steamer

sanyo-ecj-d55s-micro-computerized-rice-cooker-steamer

The Sanyo ECJ-D55S’s your best pick for an affordable fuzzy logic rice cooker, since it comes with everything from a 24-hour timer to a steamer tray to multi-menu settings. Read the Amazon reviews, and you’ll find that simple brown rice people love this cooker for its ability to make great, simple brown rice, while the more experimental people love how the cooker makes everything from quinoa to pudding.

As with all fuzzy logic cookers, expect longer cooking times — and higher prices. Amazon has the Sanyo Sanyo ECJ-D55S for $109.09.

Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 5.5-Cup Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer

zojirushi-ns-zcc10-neuro-fuzzy-rice-cooker-and-warmer

This fuzzy logic rice cooker’s got all it takes to cook and keep your rice perfect until you’re ready to eat it. Use the 24-hour programmable preset timer, select one of 5 rice settings, and even pick from a chime or tune to signal when your rice is cooked. There’s a quick cook feature too — but as you know by now, the rice won’t taste as good if you cook it quickly.

Sally’s Kitchen says “If you cook primarily brown rice, this is the one to buy.” Plus, a memory setting will remember how you like a certain type of rice, according to Fine Cooking. The one downside may be that the cooker doesn’t have a steamer basket. Get Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 for $175 at Amazon.

Zojirushi NS-ZCC18 10-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer

zojirushi-nh-vbc18-10-cup-rice-cooker-and-warmer-with-induction-heating-system

Hey big spender! I know some of you Metaefficient readers are really into induction heating, where “instead of direct heat, electrical currents create electromagnetic waves to heat the pot quickly and evenly,” as LA Times puts it. It’s true — Induction heating tends to be more energy efficient than other methods. It also tends to be a lot more expensive!

Yes, you get the 5 settings plus “quick cook” option, the 24-hour timer, and the chime — but the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy has all of those features too. In fact, aside from the high price tag, LA Times’ note that this induction heating system warns “electromagnetic signal may affect pacemakers and erase the data on credit cards and audiotapes nearby” kind of turns me off of the whole thing. No, I don’t have a pacemaker, but I do have credit cards — and audiotapes from junior high sweethearts. If you still wanna go for it, get the Zojirushi NS-ZCC18 at Amazon for a about $180.
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A few extra thoughts to keep in mind: Japanese cups — and you’ll notice all the cooker models I recommended are Japanese — are smaller than American cups (200 ml vs. 240 ml). Keep that in mind when making your purchase.

And if you’re really interested in getting a rice cooker for cooking things other than rice, heed Julia Moskin of the New York Time’s advice: “Cooking foods other than rice in a rice cooker is like baking a layer cake in an Easy-Bake oven: best approached with patience, curiosity and something to snack on in the meantime.” Of course, Julia then goes on to provide rough instructions for cooking everything from bibimbap to daffodil-yellow pilaf in your rice cooker….

Lastly: Rice cookers that make perfect rice every time weren’t always around — and some cultures actually developed yummy dishes based around the imperfectability of rice cooking. Which is to say that the toastily burnt bottom layer of rice used in some traditional Korean and Persian dishes will be tough to recreate in your always-perfect rice cooker — even if you get one with a toast setting. Perfection and efficiency sometimes comes at a cultural cost….

Comments

  1. NewsView says

    Whoa, there. The first paragraph — anonymous as it were — implies that someone who doesn’t eat rice more than 3 times per week has no need of a pricey (fuzzy logic) rice cooker. I beg to differ. I eat brown rice for the health benefits. I nearly burned down my house growing up cooking it stovetop. I kept reading because my stovetop cook methods never match what I can get with my Aroma SensorLogic. Sure it took almost two hours. But it was every bit worth the wait. So I kept on reading even though your clever writer said not to.

    Consider the other perspective for a moment: The on/off rice cookers don’t cook brown rice well. Because I’m unwilling to put safety at risk cooking the perfect brown rice over the stove, a more sophisticated microprocessor controlled model is well worth the money to me, especially with the understanding that they ARE, in fact, available in the sub-$100 range. The secret needs to be “outed”: Rice lovers dont’ need a Zorishi, some of which are topping out at over $500. Review the Aroma models and become a bit more fair and balanced. After all, there are dimwits over at ConsumerSearch.com implying that the editors here “do not rate the Aroma Sensor-Logic Rice Cooker ARC-896 or the Elite Pro Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker B601T, presumably because of inadequate performance.” Nice assumption by the equally anonymous editors at ConsumerSearch.com.

    It’s time somebody here rounds out this article to prove them wrong. My microprocessor rice cooker by Aroma cost me less than $60 and it has perfect reviews. Name anything electronic and kitchen related that has perfect reviews, and I would have told you it didn’t exist. Because people are notoriously fickle about what brands they like and what they don’t, and any and all reliability or build quality issues. The Aroma SensorLogic model has those perfect reviews. This article is in need of an update to reflect the high consumer satisfaction this model gets. It’s a “best buy” in the budget category, and apparently a best kept secret. It shouldn’t be.

    • N says

      Great comment, you are correct. I just bought an Aroma 1000 which has Sensor Logic, cooks different kinds of rice, steams vegetables, and was $30 at Costco. It retails for $70. I am thrilled to say the least. Keep commenting!

  2. says

    Greetings,

    That was a nice review of those cookers. Accurate information, and good delivery without over hyping the products.

    I have researched all of those cookers and from what I gathered can report they work fine and without issues. In fact, most receive many positive customer feedback on Amazon.com.

    As far as the Sanyo ECJ-D55S, I would recommend checking out the ECJ-HC55S as well since it also offers a slow cooking benefits. Both units however make fine white and brown rice (longer cooking time for brown) at an above standard quality.

    The Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 is a great model and even offers 3 different rice textures when preparing white rice, (soft, regular, and firm).

    The Panasonic is a good basic cooker for once and a while white rice with dinner.

    A rice cooker is an excellent way to prepare rice and/or entire meals for the household all while using one appliance! They are, for the most part affordable, but as Siel mentioned, be sure you will use them at least 2 to 3 times a week in order to justify the purchase.

    Great article!

    Regards,

    -Matt

  3. lauren serven says

    I am new to the world of rice that deserves to be cooked in a rice cooker. Here’s my question…with all the concerns about teflon coatings, why is everyone jumping on these particular models?

    I have concerns about “non stick” coatings (appears teflon does like to stick inside our bodies after it is unknowingly consumed in foods cooked in non stick cookware) and am wondering if I will just have to spend the rest of my sorry gastronomic life without enjoying rice cooked to perfection in one of these adorable little contraptions. Found a model online with a stainless steel (highly polished) bowl. Am I asking for a heartbreak down the road if I go with this bad boy instead of the tamer non stick varieties?

  4. herbolaryo says

    The most common problem with any rice cooker is the durability of the “nonstick” coating on the pot bowl . Even if you use nonabrasive pads and detergent to clean it, the coating will wear out in time.

    We have tried several brands of rice cooker because we eat rice everyday (2-3X per day). I have yet to see a “nonstick” coating last more than a year without signs of wear on the “nonstick” coating.

    Once it eroded, you have to replace the pot/bowl. Otherwise, you will be eating the “nonstick” coating with the rice.

    With that in mind, the most metaefficient rice cooker is the one which has the most durable “nonstick” coating on the pot bowl. That is because of the long term cost of replacing a pot bowl.

    There is a certain kind of coating which is claimed to be the most durable nonstick system available and comes with a 25 year warranty. I have seen the coating available only in pots & pans (NOT in rice cooker)

    http://www.ameriwareprofessional.com/cookware/pages/main.html

    N.B. I am not associated with the company. Just a consumer researching for a good rice cooker.

    I hope we can have a “durability” test for those “nonstick” coating … OR perhaps have a “generic” rice cooker pot/bowl which can fit most rice cooker (and have the ameriware kind of nonstick coating)

  5. says

    I am thinking of buying Sanyo 10 cup Micom rice and slow cooker.
    I am a novice in this and do not know if this is good model or not really
    what is fuzzy logic all together and does this model have it
    do I need something with fuzzy logic or any computerized rice/slow cooker is good
    I am looking for a multi tasking cooker, not just rice cooker or just slow cooker and this seems to be a good choice
    also, I need to know-if it says 10 cup-does it have to be cooked for all 10 cups or can it be 5 cups or 7 cups, etc?
    I mean if I do not need the whole capacity sometimes, can I utilize only partial capacity and still have good rice come out or does it have to be fully filled up for better cooking?
    Thank you
    any help is appreciated

  6. says

    Very good review!

    I live in Japan and I chose a 3-cup model by Panasonic over a Zojirushi because of electricity consumption. I have a different model, though — the Panasonic SR-CL05P.

    My family has two 5.5-cup Zojirushi cookers. They are REALLY good! I wouldn’t buy other brands.

  7. Bookworm says

    The review is good and it imparts good information, but I want to say be careful of the tone of what you write. It’s come off rude and arrogant at points: “Clearly, your taste buds aren’t developed enough to appreciate good rice, and your obvious unwillingness to plan ahead or wait tells me your rice cooker, if bought, would just sit unused.”

    That statement smacks of arrogance. So yeah, I’d go for a friendlier tone when writing such an article because the only people who’d probably read this article are ones who look past that arrogant tone or ones who are arrogant about their supposed ‘taste level’.

  8. Anonymous says

    And can I add, the use of the word ‘yummy’… no. I have a class with a professor who has a list of words we are NOT under any circumstances allowed to use and I think if she read this article, she’d add ‘yummy’ and ‘yummier’ to the list.

  9. Bookworm says

    I’m not sure how this blog works, but the ones I’ve gone to usually leave the comments visible to the person who posted them via IP address even before they’re approved. My comment’s disappeared :'( And I was trying to remind myself of what I said…

  10. Bookworm says

    Oh no, nvm. There it is. I don’t know why it wasn’t showing up. My computer’s trying to mess with me.

  11. Minh says

    Hi Siel,
    Great article!
    I am using a Tiger Rice Cooker / Warmer. No settings.
    It will switch from cooking to warming automatically and stays warm all the time. The rice turns brown/hard over long hours.
    I suspect, this warmer is not energy efficient.
    I would like to keep my rice warm all the time but with less energy.
    Is there something like this out there?
    Thanks,
    Minh

  12. says

    I have a Zojirushi NP-GD05 which has the Induction Heating feature. It sounds like the L.A. Times is scaremongering! The quality of the rice is better than any regular Micom rice cooker I have used before. That said, I live in Japan so even getting an Induction Heating model, it only costs about $150.

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