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looking for inexpensive rice cooker

my less than 1 yr old 5 cup sanyo rice cooker needs to be replaced. the entire non stick coating is peeling off and it's becoming unusable. I called sanyo to complain but that's another whole issue- they were very unhelpful.

i'm looking for an inexpensive 5 cup rice cooker that won't die on me in less than a year. my dream would be to buy a jozirushi induction but i just don't have the budget for it but i can spend up to about $100. there are so many kinds i just can't choose.

i bought a cheap one at macy's (black and decker) but i can't seem to get around the black and decker name and associating it with a power drill. considering returning it.

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  1. My Aroma 10 cup one seems solid as a rock, and the interior has held up extremely well for the past 5 years or so. I know all about the "peeling" of which you speak. I was not expecting the this one to last this well for 5 years, but I'm nowhere even close to thinking about replacing it. Still cleans right up with a paper towel. The model I have has 3 buttons, delay, cook, and warm/off. I use it probably once a week on average. It was around 30.00, and I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. Hopefully the smaller sizes are as well made too. You mightt wanna also ping the gardenweb forums.

    1. I have a cheap Hitachi, I think it's a 10 cup, that isn't non stick and I have used for at least 15 years. I soak the bowl overnight after I've used it, then throw it in the dishwasher, never been an issue getting it clean.

      Has an On/Off button and a Cook/Warm toggle switch. Dings when done. That's it. Probably cost all of $25.

      1. I have a 4cup Tiger that's over 10 years old and still works like new. No problems with non-stick coating. I got it in a small grocery store in the Rosemead/Alhambra area. Most Asian groceries have an appliance section for things like air pots and rice cookers. It was in the $70 range.

        1. Low-end Zojirushi is less than $100. I bought mine probably 15 years ago and it is still going strong. I saw a similar one in Asian grocery store for around $80.

          1. Trolley, get over the B&D name and you may just be surprised.

            I have a White-Westinghouse rice cooker I bought for $15 at Kmart in 2002 and it's still a work horse.

            2 Replies
            1. re: pdxgastro

              pdxgastro, that's just what i did. i had no choice but to get over the B&D name and broke down to use it. much to my surprise it cooked 3 cups of rice twice as fast as my sanyo. it did a perfect job and we're happy for now. i'm still miffed about the sanyo. what a piece of crap! next time i'm getting a zojirushi but until then it's me and my B&D!

              1. re: pdxgastro

                I have a White Westinghouse 10-cup rice cooker from Kmart and it is useless!!!! The rice cooks okay but the steam hole blows water all over the counter. I was thinking about placing it in the sink while it is on, but the other problem is you then have to add more water to compensate for the loss. I am going to get rid of it and get one that doesn't leak.

              2. If you just eat white rice, you can get by with a cheapest tiger or zojirishi but if you want to cook brown rice and other such things you should look at the fuzzy logic models. the low end models are fine for just plain old white rice but they are limited to that kind of rice which is why they are less costly. The higher end stuff can handle a wider variety thus the higher cost. .

                13 Replies
                1. re: bgazindad

                  +1 on the Zojirushi or Tiger fuzzy logic. As long as you follow the instructions on caring for the unit, you should get a decade or two of everyday use out of it. I know a person who is a sales rep for Zojirushi and he says that they don't make them as bullet-proof as they used to (they weren't selling enough new units :)) but will still flawlessly cook all sorts of rice for at least 10-15 years on a daily basis.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    how do you clean the lid? aren't they attached? i always wondered....

                    1. re: trolley

                      If it's like our model (it's pretty old), there is an inner lid that is detachable and can be washed with soapy water and a sponge. It's held in place by a metal stem that is held in place by a silicon grommet on the center of the inner lid. Just gently pull on it and it will come loose. The permanently-attached lid can be wiped down with a wet sponge. It usually requires very little maintenance as long as you've follow the basic instructions for cooking rice. If you have yet to clean off either, it might be crusty and take several cleanings.

                      1. re: trolley

                        In most rice cookers, the inner lid is held on by a flexible plastic grommet at the center. The lid just pops off if you pull it. OTOH, a new Toshiba model that I picked up recently has a fixed inner lid. I just wipe it clean with a paper towel moistened with warm water.

                    2. re: bgazindad

                      >>"if you want to cook brown rice and other such things you should look at the fuzzy logic models"<<

                      I disagree. The $50 6-cup Zojirushi (http://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-NHS-1... ) has served me well for many years. And it works just fine for brown rice, wheat berries, barley, etc. Yes, there's a little trial and error involved in fiding the perfect amount of water to use, but once you have that dialed in the results are great.

                      More significantly for me, the cheapo units cook plain white rice in less than half the time that more expensive cookers take. When you want dinner on the table in half an hour, you're better off with a basic model than some fancy computerized thing.

                      That's not to say that there's anything wrong with a $500 induction-based neuro-fuzzy-logic cooker; if it sucked, people presumably wouldn't pay so much for it. But the OP wants to spend less than a hundred bucks. And you can definitely get a good rice cooker - one that cooks brown rice just fine, thankyouverymuch - for half that amount.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        thanks for your input alanbarnes. i'm confused as to why people claim regular cookers can't make brown rice. with my old panasonic i made brown rice all the time. i know the induction models may have the GABA feature which cooks brown w/out stripping it's enzymes or something like that. for now i'm stuck with my B&D which is surprisingly good. but zojirushi is a really trusted brand in japan (where i grew up) so when it's time to get a new one, zojirushi will be a major contender. i do wonder what the fuzzy logic and induction models do that i can't with a basic cooker. i'd like to say my rice is always great so what would improve by getting a $300 cooker? hmmm....

                        1. re: trolley


                          The manufacturers do not recommend cooking brown rice on the lower end cookers since they are designed primarily to cook white rice. This does not mean it cannot be done but the design of the low end cookers was not intended for brown rice. I suggest that you go to the website of zojirushi and Tiger to see the details on their cookers.

                          1. re: bgazindad

                            >>"I suggest that you go to the website of zojirushi and Tiger to see the details on their cookers."<<

                            Back atcha. Please show me where on the Zojirushi website it says that the "low end cookers" like mine are "not intended for brown rice." Matter of fact, I still have the instruction manual for mine that - shockingly - contains instructions for cooking brown rice.

                            Maybe times have changed. Maybe you really do need induction heating and microchips. Maybe all those people who **thought** they were cooking brown rice before 2003 were actually suffering mass hallucinations.

                            Or maybe the "low end" cooker in my kitchen cooks brown rice just fine.

                            1. re: bgazindad

                              Also, I think some folks may not realize how the Japanese palate is very discriminating to the most subtle differences in texture, moisture, aroma and taste in what others might consider to be just plain old rice. Hence, the popularity of the more sophisticated cookers particularly in Japan. It's not to say that great rice (Japanese style) can't be made without the aid of computer chips. Some of the best rice I've had has been from the old mammoth komado rice cookers. If you've been to Torafuku (in Japan or stateside in West LA), you've had this rice. This takes a healthy commitment in terms of space, finances, skill, patience and sweat equity. Because one doesn't get that nice crusty patina on the rice that comes into contact with the cooker, he fuzzy logic cookers may not put out as good of a product as the komado caldrons, but all things considered in terms of space, time, effort and investment, the compromise is minimal. The rice is nice, fluffy, just the right amount of moisture and steam rising into the nostrils, and a subtle sweetness that hits the mid-palate going in, and the back palate going down.

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                well, i'm japanese from japan and did my childhood in tokyo. we always made brown rice in regular cookers and it's been fine. my mom always cooked brown rice in our low end cooker and it did just fine. she's also incredibly picky eater (meaning one of those japanese people who can taste low end ingredients in a broth etc.) and we've all been happy with the brown rice. I've had rice from komado rice cookers and yes, it's unbeatable. from my experience hanging out with japanese people, everyone is always blaming quality on rice due to brand versus the cooker.

                                i'm sure the fuzzy logic/induction cookers are great. and as alanbarnes stated "f it sucked, people presumably wouldn't pay so much for it". so, i'm just wondering really what's the difference (besides the price) between my low end and the high end zojirushi?

                                oh, these are the kind of posts i wish sam was around for : (

                                1. re: trolley

                                  Sam was opposed to rice cookers. He thought the best rice came from a century-old mystery-metal pot his grandparents brought to the US before any of us were born.


                                  Damn, I miss that guy.

                                    1. re: tekkamaki

                                      Hi tekkamaki,
                                      Sadly, our beloved Sam lost his battle with cancer. I found out the same way that you did. A great loss in so many ways...


                      2. I only needed a rice cooker to cook brown rice. I can cook anything but brown rice, for some reason. I'm also going to be using it to cook whole grains like wheat berries and quinoa.

                        Finding a rice cooker that does brown rice proved to be a little difficult. I did read about the fancy Japanese ones, but I didn't really want to spend $150-$300. The cheapest Zojirushi has bad reviews for brown rice and can only do one cup at a time.

                        So, I found this one at Target a couple weeks ago. It was on sale for $29.99. It does have both brown and white rice settings and every batch has come out perfectly. As long as it keeps running this smoothly, I will never have any complaints.


                        1. These rice cookers also hold rice for a very long time. I occasionally start the rice before going to bed and it's still fluffy and perfect the next morning.

                          1. I have an inexpensive Panasonic rice cooker that I bought in Chinatown for $40 15 years ago and it still works great. It's the same type of "low end" cooker that I grew up with -- an on/off button and that's it. I think my mother still has the same damn cooker. I cook all sorts of rice in it with no problems whatsoever. I've found that the trick with brown rice is simply to let it soak in the water for at least an hour before turning the cooker on. Otherwise, I use the same amount of water as I do for regular long grain rice.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: TorontoJo

                              I just add a little extra water, as another poster above stated it is a bit of trial and error. The more technology, the more stuff to break.

                              1. re: coney with everything

                                Yeah, the extra water is my approach if I don't have time to soak. But I definitely prefer the end result when I soak the brown rice first.

                            2. I still swear that I can make rice just find in a thick walled, clad stainless steel pot, but Costco sells a 10 cup Aroma, with all the bells and whistles including brown rice, quick rice and food steamer settings with a non-stick interior. It only cost $30. I have seen it on other websites for up to $70. I now use this thing a few times a week, and the convenience of not having to watch a pot does make it worth it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. Cook's Illustrated likes the sanyo which is fairly cheap. I would recommend watching the garage sales and the for sale sites. Rice cookers take up a lot of room and consequently don't get stored on the counter. Because of this, they tend to end up for sale because people just get a pan out rather than getting the rice cooker out. Rice cookers work great though, but I wouldn't pay retail when you can pick them up barely used for $10-15.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: tonka11_99

                                  my rice cooker lives on my counter

                                2. When in Asia ask an Asian. While shopping at an Asian market I asked the man about all the different rice's they sold. Most in 20-50lb. bags. What a lesson that was, more importantly how to cook them.
                                  The older or courser rice's requires more water. Typical white rice or new rice uses equal parts 1 to 1 water to rice by volume. Old rice and long grain brown rice can use 1 and 1/2 parts water to 1 part rice by ratio. This proved to be very valuable information.
                                  I personally have a Tiger. It was a gift and a great one at that. The man also told me that the Japanese made cookers were the ones to buy. On the cheaper side he recommended Panasonic. The Tiger being mid priced and the Zojirushi in the upper range.
                                  I have cooked several varieties of rice and mixed different rice's together. Someone told me you can't do that. No problem here. Know your water ratios and rice cooking is a snap. As far as the coatings go, I would suspect the Chinese ones to be inferior.
                                  I figure the ones who know about these things are the ones that live by their rice. Since then rice cooking has been as easy as making tea. Now should I use bag or loose leaf?