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Is a rice cooker worth it?

  • j

We are a family of two that eats rice once or twice a week. Is it worth it to buy a rice cooker? Which is a good model for a small quantity of rice. Thanks.

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  1. Omigod yes. You don't have to watch it and it always turns out beautifully. Not just good for rice, either: I do oatmeal and bulgur in it, and I would guess you could cook anything where the water is completely absorbed. I have the cheapest 3 cup Panasonic (maybe $25) and it's changed my life.

    1. Absolutely. Couldn't live without the rice cooker. We are also a family of two, and I have found the smallest model Tiger brand rice cooker with the rice warming function and the non-stick surface to be very good for smaller quantities of rice. Unless you like the burnt rice layer at the bottom of the bowl, in which case skip the non-stick surface. The smallest model usually makes four cups of cooked rice max.

      1. Definitely yes! If you're lucky enough to have an asian market near you, they should have a no-name brand for around $20. Definitely get one. Easy to clean, makes the greatest jasmine rice. You won't regret it.

        Although my father swears by his caldero, it is always soaking in the sink for at least a day with crusty rice. I'd go automatic nonstick for sure.

        1. I lived on stove-top rice for years. It wasn't bad, but I never thought it was as good as the first batch with my rice cooker. I get very consistent results and it's a complete no-brainer.

          Personally I own one of the fancier Zojirushi rice makers and it's been fabulous. Very easy to clean and well made. When you do get one, look to see if it's made in Japan. I've heard of people having trouble with some of the electronics from the Chinese versions.

          1 Reply
          1. re: fini

            If you get a zojirushi you can also cook other things in it!! oatmeal, etc. - and there's a timer for when you want the food finished that's really convenient. i love the no-brainer element too. but i had other cheaper brands for years & they work just as well.

          2. I'm a single person household. I never thought I would buy a rice cooker. Well guess what? I did. I love it.I bought the least expensive smallest one at Target. I can't live without it.I got the one you can steam your veggies over your rice. Small, cheap easy to clean!!! You can't lose. When I have leftover the dogs get it. Definitely a good thing to have around as opposed to a buch of useless gadgets I bougth and never used. I even bought one for my mother.My father is a big rice lover and even he can figure out how to use it!!!!
            I say go for it!

            1. I love my rice cooker! I cook all kinds of grains in it. I have a little (4 cup) Cuisinart. It's perfect for two people. The only thing I wish is that it had the option to "time" how long you steam something (instead of it just automatically shutting itself off when it thinks it's done) to make it easier to steam fish and veggies and potstickers and such. The other thing is I wish it allowed multiple layers of steaming trays. As it is right now, I can put one thing (rice) in the basin, then layer fish or veggies in the steamer tray. But, for two people, sometime you want a second steamer tray.



              1. The only times I prefer to use a rice cooker are when I need all the burners for other stuff, or I need to use the pot for something else other than rice. Otherwise, I really prefer to cook my rice on the stove. YMMV

                1. Adding to the universal praise of rice cookers here. I will say that having had one of the super cheap white westinghouse models that cost about $12 and made 3 cups (uncooked, that is) and now owning one of the souped up Panasonic models that has many electronic controls....I'd go for the cheap one. The only feature you'd miss is the "keep warm" option...but I never found it to be too big a deal since the rice would hold in the cheap cooker just fine for up to an hour.

                  1. Zojirushi makes a good line of rice cookers.
                    Some other good brands:

                    EDIT: Each of the companies make smaller "personal" type cookers suitable for small families.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: hannaone

                      Love my Zoj! Worth every penny I spent on it! We're a family of two also, and I bought the 10 cup.

                      1. re: foodstorm

                        My Zoj gets a workout and so is most definitely worth it. I go through at least 10 lbs of rice a week.

                    2. We are also a family of two and we own a humongous rice cooker. For years it sat unused in the basement, then one day I dragged it out and made a big batch of rice. I separated the cooked rice into one-meal portions and froze almost all of it. When we want rice, it's simple to take out a bag and heat it. It's dead easy and makes rice available pretty much on demand.

                      1. I've made stove top rice for so many years and have no problems with it coming out great without fuss or watching it that I question MY need for a rice cooker. I can't say I've had a lot of rice from a rice cooker except at Asian restaurants, I know they use them, and there it's always stickier and blander than what I make at home. From the majority of the posts here they must be great but would not get one to make a cup of rice.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          Yes! Sometimes I think I am the only person in the world who does not like my rice cooker! (a gift) I think I just like to have my hands on the rice cooking method - I also really dislike the "keep warm" function and I cannot turn it off on my rice cooker.

                          1. re: charmoula

                            In regards to not being able to turn off the 'keep warm' function, I usually just turn mine off when I don't want this...the rice cooker that is.

                        2. Not unless you cook a lot of rice every day and are totally inept at cooking rice. I learned long ago from Japanese house keepers and don't see the point.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Candy

                            And, yet, thousands of Asian families of various ethnicities and backgrounds use them too....so, I guess I can see the point. Certainly not a requirement...but clearly a useful appliance for many.

                            1. re: Candy

                              And yet every Asian person I know has a rice cooker! Why? Because they are super convenient and turn out good rice without any fuss.

                            2. We are a 4 person household, I use my cooker at least twice a week. My Mom always made rice on the stove top however many times I have lots of burners going and there is no room for a pot of rice. Luv the rice cooker, comes out perfect everytime! We use it for rice, oatmeal brown rice,steamed veggies & buns. Start with the small inexpensive one before making a larger investment.

                              1. If you are picky about your rice, I'd go for Zojirushi or Tiger brand. They've always been known in Japan for their performance. The expensive ones have more cooking options and the non-stick inner pot tends to be thicker and cooks rice evenly.
                                If your budget allows, I highly recommend models that adjusts cooking temperature & timing based on the type of rice. It makes a big dfference if you cook different types of rice.

                                1. Rice was one of the first things mom taught me to cook. We often ate rice for breakfast (with milk or butter, sugar and cinnamon). When I grew up and moved to Seoul for a few years my Korean friends were amazed that I made rice on the stove (actually they were amazed a man knew how to cook anything). They immediately went out and bought me a rice cooker. I've never looked back. No, rice isn't difficult to make, but you do have to pay attention to it. With a rice cooker you put in your rice and water, turn it on, and walk away, focus on other aspects of your meal. I generally cook for one, but as most know... refrigerator rice is best for fried rice the next day.

                                  1. A rice cooker to many is like a toaster...you might not use it everyday but it sure is handy when you do.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      A wonderful analogy. Reminds me of a line from M*A*S*H (Charles Emmerson Winchester, III) ..."I do one thing, I do it very well and then I move on." Rice cookers can do more than one thing, but the idea still works. Toasters are the brilliant unitasker of kitchen appliances.

                                    2. The best model for a small quantity of rice would be 0.7l (3 cup) rice and risotto cooker by Zojirushi.


                                      It's a fuzzy logic machine, so a short soak period is automatically timed in. This improves the quality of cooked rice. Japanese rice cookers are designed to cook short and medium gran rice, so for the long grain (if it's your favorite) see suggestions in the Ultimate rice cooker cookbook (by Beth Hensperger and JUlie Kaufmann


                                      bon appetit!

                                      1. i agree with everyone else's support of a rice cooker purchase, and there are also many other things you can do with a rice cooker... it might seem wierd but you can make some really great cakes, breads and other baked goods! i have made banana bread, brownies, chocolate cake, etc.

                                        my mother in law taught me this and she says it is common in japan where space is limited and not everyone has an oven. this technique is also great during the hot summer months when you don't want to fire up the oven. simply pour your batter of whatever it is you want to bake and the cooker will figure out when it is done (there is a sensor inside that measures how much water has evaporated or soemthing, I'm not sure how but it works everytime!). no brainer, and the texture comes out nice and fluffy due to the steam effect produced.

                                        unfortunately, this technique does not seem to work with my zoujiroushi brand cooker (perhaps due to fuzzy logic? does anyone know why this might be?). but it does work excellent in my panasonic brand cooker. ihope some of you will give this a try and let me know how it goes!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: cincomomo

                                          Brilliant use of a rice cooker. Do you have any photos that you can post of the cakes you've made?

                                          1. re: Zengarden

                                            no but i will when i bake another one again. should be soon as summer is approaching!!

                                          2. re: cincomomo

                                            Cool! I've made a steamed banana cake in the rice cooker, but never any other kind of baked goods. Sounds like it would be fun to try. Please do share some photos with us later this summer.

                                            Here's a link I posted earlier this year about how rice cookers when to shut off. It's temperature based: when the water has steamed off, the temperature rises. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34943...


                                          3. In contrary to what most people are saying, I'm going to say it's not worth it for your needs (unless you have tons of space in your kitchen). Personally, growing up in an Asian household I've had a rice cooker all of my life. I find it wonderful -- you get perfectly steamed rice every time with no burning. Currently I have the zojirushi which I love. I love the time function and the congee setting. However, we eat rice a lot more often than once or twice a week.

                                            I believe that you can make perfectly good rice over the stove. Perhaps not as convenient as the rice cooker, but it will do a good enough job.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                              Does your cooker has a specific congee setting? Which model do you have, if you don't mind sharing?

                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                Take a look at the zojirusji page, they have a great line of multi task cookers.


                                                1. re: ccbweb

                                                  This is the model I have. The congee setting makes a more thick congee than I like. So I add more water than asked for.


                                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                                    My Sanyo has a specific porridge setting, and has markings for it inside. I find that I like congee made on the stovetop a little bit more, but we usually make it in the rice cooker at home.

                                                2. You can also take a look at this page in "Stories":

                                                  1. I have a ~ 3.5 cup Sanyo model, and love it. Probably somewhere around $90. Rice cookers are the best for brown rice since you can let it soak for most of the day, and then have it start via a timer.

                                                    BTW, the best way to store rice is in the freezer. We usually make little "hamsters" by putting the leftover rice in a ball on top of saran wrap, folding across, twisting the sides, and sticking them on top. It won't get all dry like if you save it in the fridge (which is what you DO want if you're going to make fried rice).

                                                    1. A basic Zoji or Tiger would be worth the money. Look for type with the latching type lid and insulated body. They use a lot less electricity and are safer on the counter top. It will last forever, do a great job every time, and you'll probably end up eating more rice.

                                                      Go to a large asiin market if you can for the selection, if not Amazon has quite a few. Also pick up a rice washing bowl, the kind with a sieve built into it halfway up one side, it is one of those purpose built items that works far better than any alternative.

                                                      My cooker -- http://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-NS-PC...

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                        I had a Zojirusji (sp?). Gave it away to the local Thrift store. Rice ALWAYS stuck, no matter what I did. It was automatic alright; automatically sticking rice on the bottom.
                                                        With respect for Creativeusernames comment, I have now learned to spray a light coating of a generic cooking oil on the bottom, dump in the required amount of rice, and carefully measured liquid,(usually tap water but occasionally a little chicken stock/broth), and use a slow heat, turning off the heat when the rice has just reached a boil. Let it seton the burner; no peeking. Result? NO sticking, even if I use short or medium grain "sticky" rice. It's all in the slight film of sprayed oil before loading the Caldero, which are available in an array from Single Serving to Feed-the-Entire-Tribe sizes. Available in most asian or latin markets. Cheap, easy to clean, works as well on an electric burner as gas, etc. I'll never own an electric rice cooker again. YMMV.

                                                        1. re: fastfred

                                                          I used to have a rice cooker, a Panasonic, I think. It was the most horrible waste of space and electricity I ever came across. Stupid thing. At least a third of the rice I put in it was always crispy and stuck to the bottom. I finally threw it out after my husband taught me how to make rice properly on the stove (something I'd never done because, well, I had a rice cooker). I'll never have another one.

                                                      2. When I read this I went to my kitchen and saw what I have. I have two rice cookers at home. An Aroma brand 4 cup rice cooker, great for families, and Supentown rice cooker, really huge one that we won at a Chinese grocery store contest. Both work well, seeing that we eat rice in nearly every meal (I am Thai) but it is more convenient to find a rice cooker that has a lid for the cooking pot so you can store it in the fridge with a lid. Those ones you buy at the asian supermarkets often have a rice cooker that has a cover lid to cook the rice, but no extra lid for storage. Anyway, we end up using a plate to cover that one. I think you should look for one that has a lid.