Regardless of contemplating rice one of many 4 important meals teams (together with noodles, dumplings, and bread), I at all times poo-pooed rice cookers as space-hogging unitaskers. I now remorse this. The very best rice cookers aren’t solely time-savers, however they’re foolproof rice-making workhorses that take the potential of scorched rice out of the equation.
Even once I was pregnant and will solely abdomen rice with butter, I discovered the normal stovetop technique superior. Nonetheless, across the time that the aforementioned youngster might crawl away from me and stick her fingers in electrical sockets and discover the canine kibble the second I turned my again, I noticed the error of my methods. Instantly making rice on the stovetop — which I believed then is one of the simplest ways and nonetheless do, when attainable — was an unimaginable activity. I mismeasured as a result of I used to be making an attempt to do three issues directly, I missed the timer and it boiled over or changed into soup, or I burnt it to the underside of the pan only a few too many occasions. By the point my youthful daughter might additionally transfer round, I admitted defeat: I wanted a rice cooker.
Eric Kim, a workers author for the New York Occasions and the writer of the upcoming cookbook Korean American: Meals That Tastes Like Residence, agrees with me on each factors: that rice tastes finest when correctly cooked on the range and that I wanted a rice cooker — he has recipes for each strategies in his e-book. Furthermore, he factors out that he, as a one-person family, additionally requires a rice cooker. “I really like the chance to make rice on the stovetop,” he says. “However the cause I’ve a rice cooker is for comfort.”
When he first moved to New York, his mother obtained him a elaborate rice cooker at HMart that he used for a decade. However after a user-error mishap, when he went to purchase his personal, he simply purchased an affordable, small one, as a result of it nonetheless makes good rice in a handy manner. Chef Tiffany Ran, who runs a Taiwanese pop-up known as Ba Ba Lio in Seattle, however, finds herself drawn to the rice cookers that provide extra bells and whistles, like settings for various grains and her personal customized rice blends. You should utilize different cookers for a similar objective, she acknowledges, however you need to study it by really feel.
“I like rice cookers which can be dummy proof,” says Ran, summing up my motivations (it’s me, I’m the dummy). “I wish to press a button, and verify on it later, one which doesn’t dry out the rice, since generally you overlook about it. These are the perfect.”
The distinction between Ran’s and Kim’s concepts on rice cookers highlights the varied causes one would possibly select one mannequin over one other Although Kim freely admits that the standard of rice cooker typically goes up with how a lot you spend, he doesn’t essentially really feel that it does so in a manner that issues for on a regular basis rice cooking. “The purpose isn’t that it makes good rice, it’s a easy machine, it’s comfort.” He turns down individuals who wish to know what model or mannequin he makes use of, saying they need to simply get what they need.
And he’s proper: almost all of the low-end fashions by the usual kitchen equipment manufacturers run below about $50 and can do a great job cooking no-frills rice conveniently. However for people like Ran, me, and plenty of others, trying to spend a bit bit extra and get a couple of extra options, we wished to dig deep to search out the perfect rice cookers and what makes every one nice.
Our High Picks
Greatest General: Zojirushi NL-GAC10
Capability: 5.5 cups | Value: $273.99 | Show: Digital
- Cooked the perfect rice in testing
- In depth modes and customizations
- Prompt and prolonged heat capabilities
Why we selected it: Merely put, this mannequin made the perfect rice.
Zojirushi confirmed off the way it earned its popularity for the perfect rice cookers in our testing, turning out near-perfect rice in a variety of types at various worth factors, however this mannequin stood out to tasters as making the perfect rice. When you pay for that high quality, the machine earns its worth in different methods, with greater than a dozen totally different modes for making jasmine, brown, candy, and combined rice, in addition to “umami” mode, which soaks and steams the rice longer, supposedly making the rice style even higher, a congee button for porridge, “fast” choices, plus steam and gradual prepare dinner capabilities.
It additionally had tons of little options that made it a delight to make use of: it performs a tune because it begins — although you may select to vary that to a beep or silence it — and it tracks the whole time remaining within the cooking course of (together with steaming time) which is useful for timing meals and surprisingly uncommon within the class. It took about 50 minutes to make one cup of rice, which was fairly commonplace among the many cookers, however that point was completely palms off, because it moved routinely into heat mode to finish the steaming. Lastly, it did all this with out making the operation remotely difficult. Clear measurements on the within of the bowl and the straightforward interface made this machine a breeze to make use of and turned out rice as near excellent as any machines we examined.
Greatest Worth: Cuckoo CR-0671
Capability: 6 cups | Value: $49.99 | Show: Indication lights
- Easy to make use of
- Made constant, good rice
- Solely prepare dinner and heat modes
- Giant footprint
Why we selected it: Easy, cute, and reasonably priced, this made rice almost in addition to cookers that price 5 occasions as a lot.
One step up from the only ones, this very cute machine does mainly a single factor — prepare dinner rice — however does it fairly effectively (okay, it does have the indispensable instantaneous heat perform, too). The grains have been only a smidge stickier than these of our winner, however for on a regular basis functions, they have been wonderful, and we discovered it made rice with a extra constant texture all through the pot than comparable fashions. The financial savings do imply forgoing all the flowery modes, but when making good rice is a precedence, this mannequin works effectively — and appears good doing it.
Greatest Small: Zojirushi NHS-06
Capability: 3 cups | Value: $47.99 | Show: Indicator mild
Why we selected it: This small rice cooker epitomizes simplicity with out forgoing high quality.
Electrical rice cookers are typically cumbersome home equipment by nature, so this little three-cup mannequin is about as small as they arrive. However, as Kim notes, greater will not be essentially higher. Actually, this smaller mannequin was quicker than the bigger fashions — although it did require paying sufficient consideration to note when it flipped off after which timing the quarter-hour of steaming — and it turned out pretty textured rice with shiny particular person grains. With out the moment heat perform (or any heat perform) it simply wants a bit further babysitting. Nonetheless, there’s something pleasant about how effectively it cooks rice and the way easy the machine is — only a single lever, and an indicator mild whereas it cooks.
Greatest Multi-Function: Prompt Pot Duo
Capability: 5 cups | Value: $89 | Show: Digital
- Simple to make use of
Why we selected it: For anybody who solely makes rice often, the Prompt Pot affords a extra versatile automated possibility that rivals rice cookers.
The Prompt Pot makes surprisingly good rice, even with none additional changes than hitting the “rice” button. It’s undoubtedly a step down from any of the rice cookers, popping out a tad gummier and far much less constant — wetter in some components than others. Nonetheless, it served its objective and with some adjustment of technique and ratio, will be improved. For somebody who eats rice just a few occasions a month and has area constraints, this multicooker helps scale back home equipment. The opposite large benefit of the Prompt Pot comes within the pace: begin to end, it took lower than half-hour, the quickest of the electrical rice cookers we selected right here takes 50 p.c longer.
Greatest Aesthetics: Hario Japanese Rice Cooker
Capability: 2.25 | Value: $95 | Show: None
Why we selected it: This gorgeous, artistic dish mimics the digital rice cooker expertise on the stovetop.
The black ceramic bowl of this rice cooker seems like every other good piece of pottery, however when mixed with the specifically designed glass lid, creates a rice cooking system that makes cooking rice on a variety virtually so simple as utilizing a rice cooker. Or, it no less than does effectively sufficient that its attractiveness made up for any lack of performance. Whereas the take a look at batch of rice wasn’t excellent — nonetheless a bit moist once we pulled it off per the directions — letting it steam a couple of further minutes labored out high-quality. A couple of makes use of are sufficient for novices to hone the recipe, particularly for the reason that included non-English directions hampered us a bit (although we finally discovered the guide on-line). The method is barely extra hands-on than an electrical cooker (you do need to take away it from the warmth your self, although it whistles to let you understand when), however solely barely so, and it’s way more easy than managing the warmth of an ordinary stovetop course of. It does require soaking the rice forward of time, so though the cooking time is fast, the whole time is nearer to that of an electrical rice cooker.
Framing is crucial within the seek for the perfect rice cooker, as a result of rice cookers are like canines: all rice cookers are good rice cookers, and the one you personal is, by default, the perfect one. That additionally means individuals can have emotional attachments to rice cookers: Ran was excited to have a Tatung, a cult favourite for Taiwan cooks, in our testing. Whereas it has loads to advocate it — extra dishwasher-safe components, tremendous easy development, and a popularity for lasting ceaselessly — it turned clear that it was extra Akita than Golden Retriever: it required constructing a powerful relationship over time. The producer directions yielded middling outcomes, and the storied versatility requires analysis or follow. We belief hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese grandmothers greater than virtually something on this planet, however on the subject of advising strangers to shell out $100 or extra, we leaned towards the foolproof choices.
How We Selected These Merchandise
Whereas the market teems with home manufacturers at reasonably priced costs, a part of our mission in trying into rice cookers was discovering out what spending that extra cash would purchase us. We researched the favored rice cookers from across the rice-loving world and introduced within the prime choices in quite a lot of worth ranges, sizes, and types.
Chef Tiffany Ran joined us to prepare dinner medium-grain white rice precisely per the producer’s included directions and collectively we took word of how lengthy it took to make the rice, how difficult the method was, and finally how good the rice was — trying principally on the ensuing texture. Afterward, we famous how complicated the cleansing course of was for every machine.
Options to Preserve in Thoughts
Dimension & Dimensions
The scale of a rice cooker has two elements: the amount of rice it could make, and its total bodily dimension. A 3rd component to choosing a rice cooker dimension is the ratio of these. The fancier the rice cooker, the bigger the dimensions of the machine relative to the amount of rice it holds. Our alternative for the perfect small cooker, for instance, held extra enchantment in its area effectivity.
Many of the rice cookers we examined are available no less than two capacities, supplying you with flexibility on the dimensions as you select the best model. Kim advises shopping for a cooker with the capability that matches the amount you make most frequently, holding in thoughts that one cup of dry rice makes three cups cooked. For those who often must make extra, he factors out, you may simply do this in a pot. Ran additionally notes that till you get restaurant-specific variations, the bigger rice cookers are typically much less constant in high quality.
The scale of a rice cooker is a extra simple query: it’s a small to medium dimension equipment, and also you’ll must retailer it someplace. If area is at a premium, search for a multi-use machine (just like the Prompt Pot) or at our small choose — which does are available a barely bigger dimension that’s equally space-efficient.
Presets & Modes
Kim favors the tremendous easy, one-button machines like our small choose. “The rationale I’ve a rice cooker is for comfort,” he explains. “One button, one lever, and a glass lid. Nothing fancy.” Nonetheless, certainly one of Ran’s favourite issues about rice cookers is the flexibility — that they can be utilized for making entire meals by steaming meat and greens over rice, or simply making congee with out having to maintain stirring.
The best machines don’t also have a show, simply the button that pops up when the rice is completed cooking. As costs go up, options increase right into a easy mild show, or onto a digital display screen with a number of buttons for various presets.. Our prime total choose, for instance, has greater than a dozen modes, relying on what kind of rice, how you intend to prepare dinner it, and even has choices for non-rice cooking.
However on the subject of rice cooker modes, an important factor to consider is how you intend to make use of cooker. For Kim, it’s only for handy rice, so easy works effectively. For those who plan to make use of yours for congee, brown rice, and slow-cooking, search for fashions with these options.
Cleansing & Upkeep
The fancier your rice cooker, the extra work it takes to wash. All these bells and whistles embody transferring components. One of many issues Kim talked about liking in regards to the super-simple price range choices in the same model to our small choose is the convenience of cleansing. There are not any rubber seals or vents, no disassembly of the lid concerned.
Every rice cooker comes with particular notes on cleansing, together with whether or not the principle insert is dishwasher protected, however the good factor about even most mid-range variations is that wiping the within with a humid material is greater than sufficient to maintain it clear between common makes use of.
Even most price range rice cookers include the necessities: a measuring cup and a rice paddle. A pleasant-to-have function is a notch on the aspect of the cooker that holds the paddle. You possibly can retailer it inside, however this makes it simpler between fluffing and serving, and holding it useful to get out extra rice. A non-stick coating is sweet from an ease of use (and cleansing) standpoint, however the higher-end rice cookers have already got sufficient fail-safes that it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself with rice sticking to it. And in the event you do scorch the rice to the insert, Kim says certainly one of his favourite dishes is a Korean burnt rice tea which you can make from it.
Ran recommends searching for a cooker with an “instantaneous heat” perform, that routinely adjustments to a warming mode when the cooking is completed, and retains the rice recent for hours (and generally even days) with out drying it out.
Ask the Specialists
Q: What else can I make with a rice cooker?
Folks fill entire cookbooks with the probabilities for making issues in rice cookers, however Ran has her eye on a couple of particular issues to experiment with, together with chiffon-style desserts. “I’ve heard about individuals utilizing it to make bread and yogurt,” she says, although she has to this point caught to steaming buns and baos. “And I do know you may make black garlic in it, however I don’t advocate utilizing it for rice afterwards,” she provides.
Q: Ought to I preheat my rice cooker earlier than cooking?
Whereas the entire level of the rice cooker is that it doesn’t want preheating, Kim is an ardent fan of pre-soaking the rice. “A part of what cooks rice is the steam,” he explains, so the pre-soak adjustments how the steam works — even 5 minutes helps. Ran finds soaking notably essential with bigger portions of rice.
Q: How lengthy does a rice cooker final?
“If a mother can go it all the way down to her daughter,” Ran thinks out loud, “a couple of a long time?” Kim says he had his final one for about ten years earlier than a consumer error — he put in soaked rice with out the insert — impressed him to get a brand new one.
Q: Can I wash my rice cooker within the dishwasher?
Every rice cooker has its personal cooking directions, and whereas a few of the interior bowls can go within the dishwasher, there’s not a tough and quick rule. It goes with out saying, nevertheless, that you need to by no means put something with digital elements within the dishwasher.
Discovering the best rice cooker requires trying particularly at your family and your habits round rice. Spending extra money typically ends in higher rice, but when the large fancy rice cooker can’t match — bodily or mentally — in your kitchen area, the smaller and cheaper ones nonetheless do a incredible job of creating rice neatly and effectively. All the cookers we listed right here made wonderful rice, so the perfect rice cooker is the one which makes you cheerful — in how a lot it prices, the dimensions, and the options.
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