Three Things to Know about Rice Cookers Before You Buy One

It’s the surprisingly multi-functional gadget your kitchen’s been missing.

If you’ve struggled with soggy rice, crunchy rice or just spent what seems like hours peering into a saucepan, trying to figure out if your rice is done, you might need a rice cooker in your life. But don’t be fooled by the name. Did you know that a rice cooker doesn’t just cook rice? And that while some are very simple machines, others have built-in technology that helps them assess whether rice is done, in the same way that a human might? Here’s what to know about your new gadget.

Old-School Design

Inexpensive and colorful, this also offers fuss-free prep for soup, pasta and even vegetables. DASH

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Most simple rice cookers work in a fairly straightforward way. You put rice and water in a pan which is heated by a heating element. It heats the water to boiling and the rice begins to absorb it. Once the rice has absorbed all the water, the temperature starts to rise above the boiling point of water, a temperature sensor clocks this, and the rice cooker turns off. Many have a “keep warm” setting so that even though the rice won’t continue to cook, it will stay at a constant temperature until it’s ready to serve.

Easy to Clean

A nonstick pan makes sure nothing goes to waste. Zojirushi

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More sophisticated rice cookers come with more sophisticated technology built in, which means it’s more than just a heating element and a temperature sensor. The technology is known as “fuzzy logic” and it’s basically about technology being smart, and taking multiple variables into consideration and making decisions based on them—much like humans do. What that means for you, is that you can tell your machine that you’re cooking brown rice, jasmine rice or sushi rice, and it will make the adjustments necessary for soaking, preheating and temperature to ensure you get perfect rice every time, no matter what kind you’re cooking.


You can use it to make your entire dinner. Instant Pot

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While your rice cooker can quite happily cook multiple types of rice, as well as various other grains, pasta, soup and even vegetables, if you’re tight for space, you might want to think about getting a multi-cooker. Multi-cookers combine pressure cooker functions with slow cooker functions, which means that they can also be used as steamers, warmers, yoghurt makers and yep—rice cookers. They might cost a little more than a basic model, but if workshop real estate is at a premium in your kitchen, they’re a great option.