Perfectly cooked rice requires a surprising amount of precision and nuance. Who among us hasn’t struggled over a stovetop trying to find the right ratio of water to rice or the ideal heating temperatures to only end up with a final product that's not ideal? Thankfully, for those who want flawless rice with minimal effort, rice cookers exist.

The sheer variety of rice cookers available on the market — and the different types of rice they have mastered cooking — is mind-boggling. So to navigate this array of rice cookers, our testers have gone hands-on with the best around to help you find the perfect rice cooker for your kitchen.

What to look for in a rice cooker

Functionality

Naturally, the main job of any rice cooker is to cook rice. But, as it turns out, there are several different ways to cook rice. You’ve perhaps only ever cooked it over the stove in some boiling water, and the most basic rice cookers work in a similar way: by heating up a set amount of water with rice over a period of time to yield better (or at least more consistent) results than what you’d get on the stove.

More advanced (and expensive rice cookers) will utilize other cooking styles, namely induction and pressure cooking. In an induction rice cooker, magnetic coils heat the rice directly and consistently, offering up far more precise results than what you get from a standard rice cooker using a traditional heat source. Pressure cooking methods are usually seen in multicookers, but specialized rice cookers that utilize high-pressure heating are able to produce sticky rice that you won’t get from other rice cookers.

Most high-end rice cookers, whether using induction or pressure cooking methods, will also employ micro-computer (Micom) technology (the most commonly seen is known as Fuzzy Logic). What this tech does is constantly monitor the state of the rice as it cooks, automatically adjusting the temperature and time as needed to achieve perfect results every time.

Variety

If all you plan to cook is basic white rice, then all you need is a basic rice cooker that will dole out fluffy rice every time as long as you follow the instructions. But like any kind of product, the deeper you dig into rice cookers, the more complicated things become.

For example, what if you want to cook other kinds of rice, like sushi rice, GABA brown rice or sticky rice? Well, then you’d want to be sure to select a rice cooker with specific settings for those styles of rice. Or what if you’d like your rice cooker to do more than cook rice, like steam vegetables or make oatmeal? Then you’d want to pick a rice cooker that also boasts multicooker functionality.

Capacity

Another key component of rice cookers is how much rice they actually make. Generally, the most common sizes are 3-cup, 5-cup and 10-cup, but some larger rice cookers have yields of 30 cups. If you’re in a smaller household, then you’ll probably want to opt for a smaller rice cooker. If you need to feed a large family, go for a bigger one. One more thing to note about rice cooker capacities: there’s no real industry standard when it comes to measuring these capacities.

Some manufacturers give you the capacity in cooked rice, and some use uncooked. Uncooked rice is a greater amount of rice, usually doubling in size once cooked — e.g., 3 cups of uncooked rice will usually yield about 6 cups of cooked rice — so always be sure to double-check which measurement you’re actually being given.

Maintenance

Finally, a notable aspect to consider when buying a rice cooker is how easy it is to take care of. Namely, how much of a pain is it to clean? The easiest-to-maintain rice cookers will have nonstick pots that prevent the rice from sticking and that are also removable for easy cleaning, with some even being dishwasher safe. So if you’re looking to save time cleaning, always look for these features.

How We Tested

collage of three different rice cookers with the lid open
Gear Patrol Staff

For this guide, we looked at the market to determine which rice cookers currently for sale would work best for different types of users — such as couples, casual rice-eaters, and rice snobs — based on their features, reputations and reviews. We then called in all of the machines with which we wanted to get hands-on and had them tested out over several weeks in the homes of Gear Patrol's biggest rice enthusiasts. Our testers evaluated their rice cookers based on their build quality, their functions (and how well they performed said functions) and how easy they were to live with. Below, you'll find the rice cookers our testers deemed the best, along with their own thoughts on each.

The Best Rice Cookers

Cuckoo 6-Cup HP Twin Pressure Rice Cooker

Best Multifunction Rice Cooker

Cuckoo 6-Cup HP Twin Pressure Rice Cooker (CRP-ST0609F)

amazon.com
$324.99

  • Ability to cook an amazing variety of rice
  • Super easy to clean
  • Substantial construction

  • The lid opens too quickly
  • Auto-generated cook times do not have a countdown feature

  • Cooking Style: Pressure
  • Micom: Yes
  • Capacity: 12 cups cooked
  • Rice Styles: White rice, super turbo, mixed rice, GABA rice, high-pressure steam (sticky rice), non-pressure rice, stored rice, veggie rice

    The Cuckoo HP Twin Pressure Rice Cooker has a solid build and a notable footprint, and it feels substantial. It offers an incredible amount of variation in how it can cook rice from traditional non-pressure white rice — I found it to be some of the best home-cooked traditional white rice I've made — to high-pressure white rice which creates a stickier final product to high-heat high-pressure white rice (stickier still, but like scorched rice or nurungji).

    cuckoo 6 cup hp twin pressure rice cooker
    Cuckoo’s Twin Pressure Rice Cooker is a master of sticky rice styles.
    John Zientek

    There's also the ability to do a super fast cook, labeled Super Turbo White Rice, and to cook mixed rice, veggie rice, germinated brown rice and rice that'll be cooked and frozen, among other things. Cook time ranges from 14 minutes (Super Turbo mode) to 24 minutes (high pressure) to 38 minutes (non-pressure), and while you can opt to manually set cook times, the Cuckoo automatically sets the time based on the amount of rice and water you add to the pot.

    The wealth of options are clearly laid out, and to get desired results, I just had to become familiar with what the Cuckoo was capable of. It does have voice assistance, though, to guide users through the process (this function can be turned down or off if desired, though). The Cuckoo is very easy to clean and has a detachable inner lid and pressure seals, a detachable soft steam cap and a removable easy-clean condensation collector. For those looking to get the most out of a rice cooker, the Cuckoo has a steam cooking function that allows users to also cook meat, fish, vegetables and cakes, to name a few. — John Zientek, Senior Editor

    Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker

    Best Budget Rice Cooker

    Hamilton Beach 2-14 Cup Capacity Rice/Hot Cereal Cooker (37548)

    walmart.com
    $72.26

    • Large cooking capacity
    • Great versatility outside of cooking rice
    • Easy to use and clean

    • Large size makes storage challenging
    • Not the best-looking appliance out there
    • Cooking Style: Standard
    • Micom: No
    • Capacity: 14 cups cooked
    • Rice Styles: White rice, quick rice, whole grain

      This rice cooker’s size makes it stand out from the rest. The unit can make up to 14 cups of rice, a great fit for those cooking for a family. The only drawback to its size is the amount of cabinet space it takes up when it's not being used. With that being said, it is a bit more versatile than your average rice cooker as it doubles as a steamer, opening up options for lots of one-pot meals. I especially enjoyed this fried rice recipe, directly from Hamilton Beach.

      hamilton beach rice cooker
      The Hamiton Beach Rice Cooker’s 14-cup capacity was the largest of any unit we tested.
      Mary Singler

      I most frequently use the delayed start function to prep dinner in the morning so the rice is ready to go in the evening. And the cherry on top here is that it automatically switches to the “warm” setting when cooking is complete, which I think would be great for people with hectic and unpredictable schedules. I found the instructions easy to follow, and I have yet to have any quality issues with the hardware. The rice itself has had a much better consistency than what I was used to making on the stovetop. My favorite part about the cooker is the clean-up, as the pot, steaming tray and spoon are all dishwasher safe making the process quick and easy. — Mary Sigler, Editorial Production Assistant

      Zojirushi Induction Heating System Rice Cooker

      Best Splurge Rice Cooker

      Zojirushi Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer (NP-HCC10)

      amazon.com
      $356.98

      • Makes better tasting rice
      • Warming feature keeps rice fresh for a long time
      • Has a built-in rice paddle holder

      • There's a bit of a learning curve to get the most from all its functions
      • Strong plasticky smell during the first few uses
      • Cooking Style: Induction
      • Micom: Yes
      • Capacity: 11 cups cooked
      • Rice Styles: White rice (with three different consistencies), jasmine rice, quick rice, mixed rice, sushi rice, porridge, brown rice, GABA brown rice, sweet rice

        There are settings for various kinds of rice, but I've mainly enjoyed cooking two kinds with this rice cooker: Thai long grain and Japanese short grain. They both came out much better than the relatively basic (but still good) rice cooker I was using previously — fluffier, chewier and, yes, the rice just tastes better. The timer works great for perfect, fresh morning rice. I've also noticed that the rice stays fresh for longer (doesn't get too dry or too wet), even when not using the keep-warm (or extended keep-warm) mode. It's got a sleek look and the size is perfect for a couple to a few people (larger would be overkill and not as good for cooking smaller amounts of rice).

        zojirushi induction heating system rice cooker
        The Induction Rice Cooker from Zojirushi cooks nearly any style of rice, but the learning curve is steep.
        Zen Love

        It's easy to clean, and water from steam doesn't pool excessively around the outside of the pot as it does on other rice cookers. It'll take some more time to get experience with all the different functions it offers. On the first couple of uses, there was a strong plasticky smell that the manufacturer says is normal, and which has since gone away. Overall, it's simple to cook really superior rice, but getting the most from all the functions it offers definitely takes a lot of research, experimenting and time. — Zen Love, Associate Editor

        Tiger 5.5-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer

        Best Basic Rice Cooker

        Tiger 5.5-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer (JNP-1000)

        amazon.com
        $168.00
        $148.00 (12% off)

        • Easy to use right out of the box with instructions on the lid
        • A breeze to clean

        • At over 10" tall, finding a place to store it can be difficult
        • Only cooks white rice
        • Cooking Style: Standard
        • Micom: No
        • Capacity: 11 cups cooked
        • Rice Styles: White rice

          The Tiger rice cooker was incredibly easy to use and more robust-feeling than rice cookers I've used in the past. I opened the box, plugged it in and followed the easy instructions on the lid (well, mostly followed — letting the rice soak for 30 minutes beforehand seemed excessive to me). The brown jasmine rice came out unburned and with more texture than my pre-Tiger rice efforts (e.g., using a cheap rice maker I got on Amazon or just microwaving a frozen bag of rice from Trader Joe's).

          tiger rice cooker on a countertop
          The Tiger’s one-switch operation offers convenience for non-fussy rice-eaters.
          Tyler Duffy

          Tiger's rice cooker was also easy to clean with the attached lid — it's basically just one bowl that took about 30 seconds to clean and dry. The one problem I've had has been finding a place to store the machine. It's too big to fit in any of my cupboards, leaving me with no choice but to display it on the counter. — Tyler Duffy, Associate Editor

          Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker

          Best Rice Cooker for Couples

          Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer (NS-LGC05)

          amazon.com
          $194.50
          $169.49 (13% off)

          • Lots of options for healthy styles like GABA rice
          • Plays a melody at the start
          • Very user-friendly

          • Stated capacity is greater than true measurement
          • Not a true multi-function machine as 'steel-cut oats' is the only non-rice setting
          • Cooking Style: Standard
          • Micom: Yes
          • Capacity: 6 cups cooked
          • Rice Styles: White/mixed rice, sushi rice, brown rice, GABA brown rice, long-grain white rice, quick rice

            I've owned this basic yet exceptional Zojirushi model for over three years and haven't had one single issue with it. While it's labeled as making 3 cups, that's not full 8oz cups — a little odd but they're more like 3/4 cups. This makes it more suitable for singles, couples or small families. That quirk aside, it makes six different styles of rice impeccably (including GABA brown rice when using short-grain brown rice, which is much healthier), along with steel-cut oats.

            zojirushi micom rice cooker
            Unless you need to feed a large family, this mid-level Zojirushi model will likely suit your needs and then some.
            Ryan Brower

            Very often my spouse and I use the Zojirushi twice a day: once for oatmeal in the morning and then for a rice bowl with veggies for dinner. When cooking on the GABA setting, you can also place dry legumes like chickpeas, lentils or black beans within the rice and they will also cook perfectly — this can also be done with other types of rice, but you'll need to let it stay warm for longer as it's recommended to cook dry beans at least 2-3 hours in the cooker.

            The rice cooker itself takes up minimal counter space and I leave it on the counter 24/7. It does have a handle if you do want to lift it and store it when not in use, though. Additionally, it provides a little song and beeping when starting a cooking cycle or when the cycle has ended (the cooker does keep the cooked food warm for hours after it finishes but won't continue cooking it). Also very easy to clean, it's a rice cooker that is superb at making many styles of rice (and steel-cut oats) but in quantities that may not fully feed larger families. — Ryan Brower, Senior Commerce Editor

            Muji Rice Cooker

            Best-Designed Rice Cooker

            Muji Rice Cooker - 3 Cup

            muji.us
            $149.00

            • Aesthetically beautiful
            • Cord retracts into the machine
            • Perfect for apartments/small spaces

            • Can't cook big portions
            • Long cook times
            • Cooking Style: Standard
            • Micom: No
            • Capacity: 3 cups cooked
            • Rice Styles: White rice, brown rice, quick rice, mixed, rinse-free, sprouted, curry, porridge

              The Muji 3 Cup rice cooker is attractive on your countertop and works well for a 1-2 person household. It is sleek and compact so it does not take up much space if you have a small kitchen, and it looks nice enough to leave out all the time — something that can't be said about many rice cookers.

              muji rice cooker and warmer
              If you want a rice cooker that you’ll be proud to display on your counter, there’s no beating the adorable Muji.
              Geneva Auduong

              It has a handful of functions including white, brown, quick and porridge. The standard white setting cooks more slowly than the cook/warm rice cooker I grew up using since it allows for soak time, but this results in fluffy and evenly-cooked rice. The quick function also produces high-quality results when you're running short on time.

              Since this rice cooker only has a three-cup capacity, it is not intended for cooking many servings and is best suited for personal use. — Geneva Auduong, Director, Revenue & Finance Operations