Rice cookers are a great no-hassle way to cook rice. Simply add the rice and water, push a few buttons and wait for the rice to cook to perfection. However, there are hundreds of different rice cookers on the market, so how do you know which is right for you? Check out these five tips to help choose the best rice cooker for your family’s needs.
Choose a Manufacturer You Like
There are many different manufacturers, and some of them are American, but others are from different countries. For example, popular American brands include Aroma, Cuisinart, and HamiltonBeach. Popular Japanese brands include Panasonic, Sanyo, and Tiger. It’s important to choose a manufacturer you trust. Perhaps you have a Panasonic TV you love or a Cuisinart mixer you adore. Use that to help you pick a good brand.
Keep in mind that cookers from different countries may be slightly different. A good example of this is the one cup measurement. In America, a cup is 240 ml, but in Japan, a cup is only 200 ml. So if your Japanese cooker comes with a measuring cup, know that it is actually smaller than a cup. You may need to adjust recipes or use a different measuring cup that is 240 ml to get the right amount.
Determine the Size You’ll Need
It’s also important for you to determine what size of rice cooker you’ll need because there are big ones and small ones. If you are single or are only cooking for two people, a smaller rice cooker is better. If you get one that is too big, you may not be able to make a small amount of rice, causing you to waste food. If you have a bigger family, get a big one, so you don’t have to over pack the cooker or make multiple batches of rice.
When choosing the size, remember that cooked rice is bigger than uncooked rice. Usually, one cup of uncooked rice turns into about 1.5 cups of cooked rice, which is more than enough. A small cooker typically makes three to four cups, a medium cooker makes five to six cups, a large makes eight to ten cups and a jumbo makes 14 cups or more. This should help you know what size you’ll need to meet your cooking needs.
Consider the Extra Features
A good rice cooker has some extra features you’ll want. For starters, make sure the pan is non-stick. This makes cleaning incredibly easy. The best cookers also have clear lids, so you can see inside without having to open the lid and release some of the steam, thus slowing cooking time. Another great feature of rice cookers is a steamer tray. Rice cookers are perfect for steaming vegetables because they create so much steam. If your cooker comes with a steamer try, you can cook vegetables as the rice finishes, or if you only want steamed vegetables and no rice, you can just cook the veggies.
There are some other features you’ll want in a rice cooker. These are what some of the best rice cookers have, and they include:
- Easy-to-use controls even in high-end models, so you only have to push a few buttons to start cooking and wait for the machine to do the work for you
- An exterior that stays cool even during cooking, so you don’t get burned, especially if you serve the rice directly from the cooker
- An automatic keep-warm setting, so your rice stays warm even after its done cooking, which is particularly important if your family eats rice throughout the day
- Auto cord reel, which makes storing easier and prevents kids or pets from accidentally pulling the cord during cooking
- Fuse protector to trip and prevent fires if a problem occurs and the machine is left unattended, which is common with rice cookers because they do all the cooking for you
- A quick cook function that allows you to prevent soaking time, so you can start cooking immediately if you are in a hurry
These are some of the best features that make your rice cooker incredibly easy to use.
Decide Which Type You Want
There are different types of rice cookers, and you’ll need to choose the one that best fits your needs. The first type is the conventional/traditional rice cooker. This is the most basic type of rice cooker. You add the water and rice then push a button. Some have a button for white rice and one for brown rice, and that’s basically the only two types of rice you can cook with it. This is probably the most affordable type, just make sure you find one that has good features.
A Micom rice cooker has a computer chip that takes your cooking to the next level. The computer chip allows the cooker to make adjustments on cooking time and temperature. The thermos sensor calculation will cook any time of rice perfectly, making it a great option if you like more than just white and brown rice.
Another Micom type of rice cooker is the induction heating cooker. With this type of rice cooker, instead of having a heating plate on the bottom that cooks the food, the entire inner pan heats with induction heating. This gives you better temperature control and all-over cooking for perfectly cooked rice. Because it is also a Micom cooker, it is also good for all types of rice. A great advantage of induction heating is that it can compensate for measuring mistakes and still produce ideal rice. Of course, they are also one of the most expensive options.
The last type of cooker is a pressure rice cooker. A pressure rice cooker is a great way to cook rice incredibly fast because the temperature gets so high. This actually changes the structure of the starch in the rice, giving it a softer, fluffier texture. Another benefit of a pressure rice cooker is that you can typically cook more than just rice in it, making it a great option for people who like the idea of pressure cooking different foods.
Know if You Need Basic Fuzzy Logic
There are some features that are considered premium, making these cookers sophisticated but more expensive. The first premium feature is basic fuzzy logic. These have settings for different types of soups, different types of rice and different types of rice textures (hard, soft, regular, etc.). This allows you to cook pretty much any type of rice, such as mixed rice, glutinous rice, non-sticky rice, etc. perfectly. They are expensive, but for true rice gourmets, a basic fuzzy logic rice cooker is a great option.
Rice cookers are a must if you like to frequent cook rice. They make cooking rice incredibly easy. You don’t have to monitor the rice or make sure the pan isn’t boiling over. You simply push a button, and the machine does all the work for you. If you are in the market for a good rice cooker, this buyers guide will help you understand the different benefits, so you know what you need and what you don’t, so you don’t waste money on a machine that is too big and too sophisticated for your needs.