After spending 80 hours researching rice cookers, our top choice turned out to be the versatile Aroma 12-Cup Sensor Logic ARC-616SB. This multipurpose kitchen appliance does much more than prepare tasty, fluffy rice. You can use it to make soups, cakes, steamed vegetables, oatmeal, fish and more. It also gives you a useful sauté-then-simmer function. You can sauté foods like chopped onions in vegetable oil, then add liquids and other ingredients for another stage of cooking that draws out the flavor of all the ingredients.
Aroma 12-Cup Sensor Logic ARC-616SB
The Aroma 12-Cup Sensor Logic ARC-616SB lets you cook many more foods than just rice, and it offers a sauté-then-simmer mode for more complex dishes.
Black & Decker 16-Cup RC516
The Black & Decker 16-Cup RC516 is reasonably priced and makes 16 cups of great rice. It can also steam fish, meat and vegetables.
Oster 20-Cup Digital 003071
The Oster 20-Cup Digital 003071 lets you easily prepare 20 cups of rice, enough to feed quite a crowd, as well as soups, grits, oatmeal and various steamed foods.
If you don't like to dirty a lot of dishes to make a meal, the Aroma 12-Cup Sensor Logic ARC-616SB could become your best kitchen pal.
This rice cooker makes much more than rice, and it's equipped with "fuzzy logic," which in the field of rice cookers describes the machine's ability to make automatic adjustments to fulfill vague terms like "slightly" or "almost," as well as adapt its cooking functions to various situations. For example, the machine will automatically provide greater heat if you're using it on a very cold day. It also will take into account the elevation of the locale where you're cooking. This smart cooker even makes changes to fix mistakes you make in measurements.
Adding an Aroma 12-Cup Sensor Logic ARC-616SB to your kitchen means it's a snap to make as much as 12 cups of fluffy white rice. Moreover, you also get settings for brown rice, oatmeal, soup, cake, steaming (fish, meats and vegetables), and slow cooking. With its delayed timer, you can program as much as 15 hours ahead of time, and once your food is done cooking, the Aroma will switch to a warming mode. With the steamer positioned on top, you can make a fish or meat entree with accompanying vegetables, while the rice cooks below.
Black & Decker 16-Cup RC516
The Black & Decker 16-Cup RC516 does exactly what its name says: It makes 16 cups of cooked rice. However, since it's inexpensive, it doesn't have all the extras you need to make the same variety of foods costlier models can cook.
It comes with a steamer basket, though, so you can prepare steamed vegetables and fish. The machine automatically switches to warming mode when it finishes cooking. In addition, indicator lights let you know if the machine is in its "cook" or "warm" mode.
The RC516 has steam vents and a condensation catcher. The pan is nonstick, and you can clean it in the dishwasher, which is another plus. However, the outside of the machine can get hot, and the only way to switch it on and off is to plug it in or unplug it. Depending on where the electrical outlets are in your kitchen, you might end up reaching past a hot machine to turn it off, which is a small safety concern. Still, the handles stay cool. This budget-friendly rice cooker comes with a rice scoop and measuring cup.
Best for Large Batches
If you routinely cook for a large group, the Oster 20-Cup Digital 003071 might be a welcome addition to your kitchen. Besides cooking as many as 20 cups of rice, you also can cook other foods, like some tasty veggies, in the steaming tray at the same time.
There is a price to pay, however, since a rice cooker that can handle so much food is big, and, at 11 inches in width, length and height, this model consumes a lot of counter space. It weighs about 7 pounds and, when filled with food, can weigh as much as 20 pounds.
This cooker offers several useful capabilities, including settings for brown rice, soups and steaming, as well as such breakfast foods as grits or oatmeal. You also get a delay timer, so you can prepare ahead of time and let the machine get dinner ready. When the food is finished cooking, this rice cooker automatically switches to a warming mode. The inside cooking pot is nonstick, which makes cleaning easy. It comes with the steam tray, a rice paddle and holder clip, and a measuring cup. The lid locks and is cool to the touch, which are nice safety features.
Best for Individuals
This 6-cup rice cooker is perfect for individuals or college students as it doesn't take up a lot of space but still comes with the necessary accessories to create a decent meal.
You'll find a rice cup, serving spoon, non-stick inner bowl and a steam tray to help you cook anything from steamed veggies to chicken and rice. This is a very basic unit, which means it only has two settings: cook and warm. Even though it's a basic device, it can still switch to warm on its own once it is done cooking. However, you won't be able to set the cooking time as there is no digital display. The only way to turn it off is to unplug it.
It only costs about $20, making it a very affordable kitchen appliance. You'll also have the option of choosing between a red, white, or black exterior to fit your tastes or your kitchen décor better. We did notice during our tests that this device tends to splutter and through the glass lid's vent and leaves hot water on the counter. Additionally, although the inner pot is non-stick, we recommend spraying it with cooking spray to make cleanup easier afterwards.
This rice cooker is a great fit for feeding medium to large groups of people. It can hold 12-cups of cooked rice and remains cool to the touch during the cooking process.
There is no digital display, so you won't be able to set custom cook times or see how much longer you have to wait for your rice to cook. We noticed that it did well with white or basmati rice, but other grains might still seem undercooked when it finishes its cooking process. In these cases, you'll have to unplug the device and start it again to make sure those grains are no longer hard. Once the device finishes the cooking process it will switch immediately to warm, so your rice will be ready to eat once you're ready.
The inner cooking bowl is non-stick and dishwasher safe, which means that cleanup will be a lot easier than it would be for many other rice cookers. The rice cooker comes with a rice cup and a serving spoon and the lid locks closed to ensure moisture stays inside. It emits a decent stream of steam, so you'll want to keep it away from cabinets and any other items, so it doesn't burn or soak them.
Why Trust Us?
We spent 80 hours researching rice cookers, evaluating each product thoroughly until we arrived at the 10 best on the market. Although all rice cookers do one function well – that is make rice – we also sought out appliances that provide other helpful features and extras. Some rice cookers make enormous amounts of rice, which is great if you feed a large family, while others prepare only a small amount, which works beautifully if you're a college student, newlywed, single parent or senior citizen.
Once we had a thorough understanding of how these devices work and which ones offered specific amenities, we checked further to see what consumers had written, what bloggers had to say about particular rice cookers and what expert cooks recommended.
How Much Do Rice Cookers Cost?
Like with most other kitchen appliances, you typically pay more for larger sizes and conveniences, like a digital display. You can typically find decent rice cookers between $20 and $70. You'll also find ridiculously overpriced rice cookers that cost $100 or more. Honestly, if you're wanting to spend a lot of money on an multi-cooker, you should consider getting an electric pressure cooker instead of a rice cooker. Family-sized pressure cookers give you more cooking options, speedup the cooking process and the best ones cost between $50 and $100.
How We Researched
We browsed the internet for general information about rice cookers, watched user videos and spent time reading about the cooking styles presented by these machines.
We read manufacturers’ websites, compared the claims they made with consumer reviews and examined the fine print in warranties. We also looked at different brands and models for a wide range of prices and features. We sought out rice cookers that do more than simply cook rice, and many do just that, offering steaming for meat, fish or vegetables; cooking modes for grits and oatmeal; slow cooking and even cake-baking capabilities.
We also looked at design and found smart rice cookers that use “fuzzy logic,” which means the machine is designed to make adjustments the way a person would. These rice cookers can adapt cooking to external conditions, such as how warm or cold it is and the elevation at which you’re cooking. These machines also adjust to correct human errors in measurement.
In addition, we noted how big each rice cooker was, the space it might require on a countertop, the drawbacks (a very hot exterior or one that spits hot water onto the counter, for example), portability and how easy it is to clean.
How Long Do You Steam Vegetables in a Rice Cooker?
The quick and not terribly helpful answer: What kind of vegetables are you steaming? We’re not avoiding the question – steaming times differ from rice cooker to rice cooker depending on the size of the vegetables, whether or not you have chopped them into smaller chunks, and how much your rice cooker can hold. First things first, check to see if your rice cooker came with a steaming basket or tray. If it did, you can steam.
Next, consult your rice cooker's instruction manual for the manufacturer’s recommended method and steam time for your vegetable of choice. If the vegetable isn’t listed in the instruction manual, you can use handy online resources like this chart found on GourmetSleuth.com, which tells you how much water to use and the recommended steam time based on amount of veggies you're cooking. Some people like firm steamed vegetables and others prefer them mushy, and you may need to experiment with the time to get the firmness you prefer. Using these guidelines, you’ll be steaming up healthy vegetables and other foods in no time.
What to Look For in a Rice Cooker
There is a surprising amount of pricing variety when it comes to rice cookers. Some of the smaller capacity devices can cost loads more than the large capacity ones. It really just comes down to what you need and what convenience features you're willing to pay for. The Oster 6 Cup, the least expensive rice cooker at the time of our comparison, only costs $18.76 on Amazon, while Zojirushi 5.5 Cup, the most expensive unit costs a whopping $149. Typically, products, like Zojirushi, that offer a digital interface and the ability to cook more than just rice will cost more.
Rice cookers vary from 6- to 20-cup sizes, so you'll need to decide how much rice you want to make on a regular basis so you don't get a cooker that's too small. On the other hand, it's smart to check dimensions, since you probably will want to store this in a cupboard. In addition, some models spit water out of their steam vents, so you'll want to choose one that fits in your kitchen so the steam won't harm your cupboards or countertop.
Some first-rate rice cookers use what is called "fuzzy logic," which means the device is designed to interpret and even correct human actions. These kinds of rice cookers can handle value terminology such as "almost" or "slightly," and adjust for environmental conditions such as the heat of day or the elevation where you're cooking. These rice cookers also can fix your mistakes in measurement.
Certain features, although not essential to making rice, are helpful if you use a rice cooker frequently. For example, having a nonstick interior makes cleaning considerably easier, and you can save even more time if the removable parts can be put in the dishwasher. Some rice cookers come with scoops, measuring cups and spoons. A steamer basket is exceptionally helpful, since it lets you cook other foods in the top part of the rice cooker while the rice cooks below. That means you can make a full meal in one container.
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