Rice is a food staple for millions of people (probably billions). But for many of us, it's not easy to make. You can easily overcook, undercook, or scorch it; it can be mushy or dry even if you use the same method every time. Cooking rice in a pot is never foolproof.
Because of this, even people who don't want a lot of small appliances in their kitchens make an exception for rice cookers. Not only do these cookers make perfect rice every time, but they're set-and-forget, freeing you up to focus on other tasks (like cooking the rest of your dinner). They also keep rice warm and fresh for hours, which makes them incredibly convenient.
In this review, we look at the best computer-controlled Japanese rice cookers--called "micom" or "fuzzy logic" rice cookers--on the market. If you're considering buying a rice maker for the first time or upgrading an old rice maker, this review will help you decide if a "smart" Japanese-style rice maker is the right choice for you.
Best Japanese Rice Cookers at a Glance
Here's a quick look at our favorite Japanese rice cookers. Some of them are available in larger sizes; we list the smaller capacities here. For a full overview of sizes and other important information, use the product name link to jump to the review below. Prices given are subject to change.
Best Overall: Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy (NS-ZCC)
5.5 cups (uncooked)
Quick Cook mode
3 heating zones
Nonstick inner pot
1 year warranty
Made in Japan.
Best Budget: Cuckoo
6 cups (uncooked)
Micom technology in a small package
Quick Cook mode
Nonstick inner pot
1 year warranty
Made in China.
Best Induction: Zojirushi NP-HCC
5.5 cups (uncooked)
Induction heats entire pot
Easy-to-use control panel
Quick Cook mode
Nonstick inner pot
1 year warranty
Made in Japan (larger size made in China).
Best w/Induction and Pressure: Cuckoo CRP-BHSS0609F
6 cups (uncooked)
Induction uses less energy
Cooks white rice in 20 minutes
16 menu settings
Nonstick inner pot
1077 watts/11.4 psi
1 year warranty
Made in Korea.
What Is a Japanese Rice Cooker?
When we started the research for this review, we found confusing information. What exactly is a Japanese rice cooker? Our assumption was that it's a rice cooker that's made in Japan, but that's not exactly the case. Several "Japanese" rice cookers are made in other countries, typically China or Korea. Even Japanese brands like Zojirushi make some of their rice cookers in China.
What we figured out is that "Japanese rice cooker" can mean two things:
- Any rice cooker made in Japan
- A specific electronic rice cooker that uses a microchip to control the rice-making process.
In this review, we are looking only at the latter: rice cookers with a microchip that controls the rice-making process. These are called "micom" or "fuzzy logic" rice makers (which mean the same thing). Micom is short for microcomputer.
Zojirushi is thought to be the first company to use a microcomputer in a rice maker. They introduced the first micom rice maker to market in 1983. Because Zojirushi is a Japanese company, microchip-controlled rice makers are still thought of as Japanese products, even if they're made elsewhere, or by non-Japanese companies.
In the next section we briefly discuss other types of rice makers so you know what all your options are, but we only review the fuzzy logic, Japanese-style rice makers in this article.
Types of Rice Cookers
You may not need an expensive Japanese rice cooker, so before you decide, it might be helpful to familiarize yourself with all your options. There are several kinds of rice cookers on the market, ranging in price from under $20 to more than $500. Except for the stove top sauce pan, stove top pressure cooker, and microwave rice cooker, these are all small electric appliances.
The easiest way to cook rice is with a sauce pan on your stove--or, if it's microwave safe (such as Corningware), using the same method in your microwave.
Many people prefer this method; it's easy, and once you get the hang of it, you can usually get good rice. But a lot of people never get the hang of it--scorching and boil overs are a pain to deal with--thus the huge market for electric rice cookers.
Pros: No special pot or equipment needed.
Cons: Technique can be mastered, but scorching, undercooking, and boil overs are common.
See a stovetop pressure cooker on Amazon
Another stovetop method for cooking rice is in a pressure cooker. Once the pot is up to pressure, white rice takes about 3 minutes to cook; brown rice takes about 20 minutes.
You can also use an Instant Pot or other electric multi-cooker for similar cooking times and results.
Some people love the pressure cooker method and swear by it, but a lot of people never get the hang of it, or don't like the results (such as scorched or too-chewy rice).
If you own a pressure cooker--either type--you may not need a rice cooker. But rice won't be as consistently perfect in a pressure cooker as it will in a micom rice cooker.
Pros: Multi-functional pot (or appliance), rice cooks quickly, no boil overs (as long as you don't overfill the pot).
Cons: Rice won't be as consistently perfect as in a micom rice cooker.
Microwave Rice Cooker
See microwave rice cooker on Amazon
A microwave rice cooker is basically a plastic container with a lid. It may include a steamer tray. You can use it for rice, pasta, grains, and--if you have the steamer tray--steamed vegetables. If you get the settings dialed in, you can get great rice every time. However, this can be tricky and some people never get the hang of it.
Since most of these rice cookers are made in China, they can be cheaply made. Or worse, they can have poor instructions, so you're on your own figuring out how to use it.
Pros: Inexpensive (under $20), easy to use.
Cons: Boil-overs are common, need to stir a few times while cooking, quality of cooked rice can vary, product can melt if you use the wrong settings, can have poor instructions.
HINT: To avoid boil-overs when making microwave rice, use half or three-quarters power; do not use full power.
Traditional Electric Rice Cooker
See traditional electric rice cooker on Amazon
This type of rice cooker is inexpensive (under $50). It has a heating element in the base and a simple, one-touch "Start" control. It will conveniently switch to "Keep Warm" automatically when the rice is done cooking. It has a glass or plastic lid that does not seal. Some have a steamer tray so you can steam meat and/or vegetables while the rice cooks. They also come with a measuring cup for rice and a plastic paddle that won't scratch the nonstick inner pot. (Note: One cup in the rice measuring world does not equal a standard 8 oz. cup: this is true for all rice makers we review here. More on this below.)
Because there are no logic controls, the rice can be hit-and-miss. While these cookers often make perfect rice, they can also make chewy or mushy rice if you haven't measured the rice or water accurately enough or rinsed the rice well enough.
Rice can also scorch on the bottom during cooking and also if you leave it on the "Keep Warm" setting too long.
Pros: Easy to use, inexpensive (under $50), set-and-forget cooking.
Cons: Can scorch the rice, can overflow, doesn't make perfect rice every time.
Jar-o-mat Rice Cooker
See jar-o-mat rice cooker on Amazon
A jar-o-mat rice cooker is similar to a traditional electronic rice cooker in that it has just one control that starts the rice cooking (and no microchip). But instead of having just a heating plate on the bottom, it has heating elements that surround the inner pot for more even cooking. It has an attached lid that makes a tight seal (similar to an Instant Pot) and the lid may also have a heating element in it.
These aren't as common as traditional rice makers and we could only find them in commercial size.
Pros: Easy to use, makes better rice than traditional rice cookers due to sealable lid and more even heating, fairly inexpensive.
Cons: Can still scorch or make mushy rice, hard to find in small sizes (commercial unit pictured).
Micom/Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker
See fuzzy logic rice cooker on Amazon
Now we get into the Japanese-style, micom or fuzzy logic rice cookers that we are going to look at in detail. These rice cookers have a microchip that controls the entire cooking process, from soaking and heating the rice, to varying the temperature throughout the cooking cycle as needed, to releasing steam to keep the rice the perfect texture, to keeping the rice warm for several hours when it's done cooking. These cookers can adjust the cooking so that even if you don't have the water-to-rice ratio quite right, you will still get perfect rice.
Japanese rice cookers tend to have many cooking options so you can cook white rice, sushi rice, brown rice, porridge rice, and other grains perfectly every time (though not all micom rice cookers are able to cook every type of rice and grain perfectly).
Fuzzy logic rice cookers usually take longer to cook the rice than traditional rice cookers or the stove top method (about 45-50 minutes for plain white rice). However, most models have a quick-cook option that bypasses the logic controller if you're in a hurry.
Many also come with a steamer basket so you can steam meat or vegetables while you're cooking rice.
Pros: Perfect rice every time, set-and-forget functionality, many settings to choose from (e.g., softer/harder rice), forgiving of inaccurate measuring.
Cons: Menus can be complicated, expensive, takes a long time to cook the rice.
Micom/Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker with Induction Heating
See fuzzy logic rice cooker with induction heating on Amazon
A rice cooker with induction heating is an upgrade from a rice cooker with fuzzy logic because induction heat is more responsive and more accurate than electric heat. Induction heat also uses less energy. When the microchip senses the need to change temperature, the induction heating system responds instantly. This extreme accuracy results in the fluffiest, most perfect rice you can make in any rice cooker.
The induction system surrounds the inner pot for incredibly even heating. (And if you're curious, yes, this is the same type of induction heat used on portable induction cooktops and induction ranges, which is why it's so fast and accurate.)
Induction rice cookers are expensive, most of them priced above $300. They have all the features of a fuzzy logic rice cooker, with several settings and the ability to cook other grains. Most also have a steamer basket.
Pros: Perfect fluffy rice, set-and-forget functionality, several settings and cooking modes, lower energy consumption.
Cons: Expensive, menus can be hard to use.
Micom/Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker with Induction Heating and Pressure
See fuzzy logic rice cooker with induction heating and pressure on Amazon
The only feature that could possibly improve on a rice cooker with induction heat is a rice cooker with induction heat plus pressure: a pressurized rice cooker will cook rice faster with similar excellent results.
Most pressurized induction rice cookers can cook several different grains, like other fuzzy logic rice cookers. Some also function much like a multi-cooker (i.e., an Instant Pot), with settings for soups, stews, baby food, slow cooking and more.
A multi-function rice cooker might be a better choice than an Instant Pot if you are interested in perfect rice but also want other features. They are expensive, usually upwards of $400. Our recommendation for one of these models is that you'd better eat a lot of rice to get your money's worth out of it; if you're more interested in the multi-cooker capability, go with one of those for more versatility.
Pros: Perfect rice, pressure will cook rice faster, set-and-forget functionality, several other cooking modes and features, induction has lower energy consumption.
Cons: Expensive, menus can be complicated, may have features you don't like or need (for example, voice control in a foreign language).
About the Sizing (A Cup Is Not a Cup)
Most rice cookers give their capacity in cups, but note that these cups are not a full 8 ounce cup. All Japanese rice cookers come with their own measuring cups which are in a Japanese measure called a "gou" or simply a "rice cup." The rice cup is about 180ml, or about 3/4 cup (6 oz).
So the "cup" measurements given for all rice cookers in this review (and most rice cookers of all types) are smaller than a standard American cup. Remembering this will help you figure out how big a rice cooker you'll need to feed your family (in general, a 5.5-6 cup capacity is good for a family of 3-5 people).
You can read more about the gou in this Stack Exchange article.
Benefits of a Micom Japanese Rice Cooker
We already looked at many of these benefits in the Types of Rice Cookers section above, but here's a summary:
- A micom Japanese rice cooker makes perfect rice every time. You don't need to spend hundreds to get this functionality as even a lower-priced model with fuzzy logic will make excellent rice.
- The set-and-forget functionality allows you to start the rice and walk away without having to check on it or worry about it, so you can get the rest of your dinner made while your rice cooks.
- All micom Japanese rice cookers switch automatically to Keep Warm mode when the rice is finished cooking and will keep rice warm and fluffy for several hours (some for as long as three days). So even if making dinner takes longer than you expected, or you get distracted, or you need to postpone the meal for whatever reason, your rice will still be hot, fresh and fluffy when you're finally ready to eat.
- Most of them cook several kinds of rice, plus other grains. So if you want to try a new type of rice or grain, your rice cooker should be able to cook it for you, even on your first try.
- They are easy to use. The inner pot has markings for easy filling. Even better, most rice cookers remember the last setting so if you make the same type of rice often, you need only press the Start button and the cooker does the rest.
- They are easy to clean. The nonstick inner pot is easy to wash (though we would prefer a stainless one we could toss in the dishwasher), and most have a removable inner lid that is also easy to wash. Many Cuckoo brand rice cookers have an Auto Clean feature that makes cleaning even easier.
These are all excellent reasons to buy a Japanese rice cooker, especially if you've always struggled to make rice without one. But do you really need one?
Why Buy a Micom Japanese Rice Cooker (Do You Really Need One)?
Not everyone needs a micom rice cooker, so you should consider the pros and cons of owning one.
If you make rice infrequently (say a few times a year), you can probably get by with a sauce pan, a microwave rice cooker or an inexpensive traditional rice cooker (under $50).
On the other hand, none of these methods are foolproof, and a Japanese rice cooker is. If you only make rice a few times a year, it can feel like you're starting over every time. In this case, an inexpensive traditional rice cooker might be just what you need.
For most people, the confidence that comes from a good rice maker, plus the set-and-forget functionality that allows you to work on other tasks while the rice cooks, is worth the price.
If you eat a lot of rice--at least once a week--then you may prefer a higher end rice cooker with fuzzy logic and maybe even induction heating--which uses less energy--so your rice is not only easy to make, but comes out flawless every time.
People in cultures that eat a lot of rice like the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans think nothing about investing in a high-end rice cooker.
The bottom line is that a micom Japanese rice cooker makes cooking rice a simple task, and it frees you up to focus on other things. Only you can decide how important this is to you, and how much you want to spend for the convenience.
Why Are Japanese Rice Cookers So Expensive?
The least expensive micom Japanese rice cooker we've seen is about $80. That's at least twice the cost of a traditional rice cooker. Why are they so expensive?
One reason is the micom or fuzzy logic. The microchip that creates the rice cooking algorithm took a lot of time and investment to produce. And when you buy a fuzzy logic rice cooker, you are paying for that technology.
Another reason is that Japanese rice cookers tend to be very well made. The Japanese and Koreans take their rice seriously. Companies like Zojorushi and Cuckoo have excellent reputations for high quality products.
These companies are also constantly working on improving the algorithm, so their newer and higher-priced models will have the latest and most accurate microchips. They can use less energy and always produce perfect rice.
A larger number of settings and menu features can also increase the price.
When you add in advanced features like induction heating and pressurized cooking, this also increases the expense. It can make the algorithm more complex, and also means more parts go into manufacturing the rice cookers.
Many companies that make Japanese rice cookers cut costs by doing some of their manufacturing in China. Both Zojirushi and Cuckoo have lower-priced models made in China in addition to their more expensive models made in Japan and Korea. (Our budget recommendation below is made in China.) Chinese-made models can have cheaper components, such as a thinner inner pot with a less durable nonstick coating.
However, if you're on a tight budget, buying a Chinese-made Japanese rice cooker can be a good bet. They typically make great rice, although they may not last as long as a more expensive model.
Note also that if you notice a price discrepancy among different sizes of the same models, the lower priced one may be made in China while the higher priced one is made in Japan. Zojirushi in particular has a few models like this, including our recommendation for the induction heating model below. Both models have an excellent build quality, so the one made in China might be a great deal if you're looking for the larger size (10 cups uncooked).
Is a Low Carb Rice Cooker a Good Choice?
See Thanko low carb rice cooker on Amazon
Some rice cookers make "low carb" rice. They use a special pot-in-a-pot design that collects liquid which contains the high-carb digestive starch and increases the percentage of the healthier (undigestible) resistant starch. Makers of these products say they can reduce the digestive starch content by up to 37%.
Unfortunately, studies show that many of these low carb rice cookers don't do a very good job reducing carbs. This article from The Standard discusses a useful study of low carb rice cookers. Many brands failed to reduce the carb content by more than 4%.
The Thanko model pictured and linked to above actually worked: it reduced carbs by 37.6%. Unfortunately, this model is made for the Japanese market, so the control panel and user manual are in Japanese. We were unable to find a low carb rice cooker for the American market that actually reduced carbs. (That doesn't mean there isn't one, we just couldn't find one.)
The moral here is to be careful buying a "low carb" rice cooker. They don't all do what they claim they do.
How to Choose a Japanese Rice Cooker (A Buying Guide)
If you've decided you want a Japanese rice cooker--one with fuzzy logic that cooks flawless rice--the next thing you have to do is decide on the model you want. Here are all the features to decide about before you buy.
If we've missed anything, please let us know in the comments below (thank you!).
Probably the first factor to consider is size: how big a rice maker do you need?
Japanese rice makers tend to come in 3 sizes: 3 cups (uncooked), 5.5-6 cups (uncooked), and 10 cups (uncooked). Remember that these cups are the Japanese gou cup that measures about 180ml, or about 3/4 of an 8 ounce (250ml) cup.
Here's a table that shows how many people these sizes can feed:
Size of Rice Cooker
Feeds this Many People:
6 or more
You may think that buying a large (10 cup) is a better deal, and smart for those times you're serving a crowd, but there are valid reasons to not buy a rice cooker larger than you need:
- A large rice cooker may not do a good job making small batches of rice.
- A large rice cooker will use more energy even to make smaller batches of rice, costing you more in the long run.
Another aspect to size is how much counter and storage space the rice cooker requires. In general, a rice cooker will take up about a square foot of space; larger ones tend to be taller but not bigger in diameter (in most cases).
If you have limited space, go with a smaller rice cooker.
Type of Japanese Rice Cooker
Above, we looked at all the types of rice cookers on the market. But this review is for micom/fuzzy logic Japanese rice makers, so we only look at those here. Your options are:
1) basic fuzzy logic rice maker,
2) fuzzy logic rice maker with induction heating,
3) fuzzy logic rice maker with induction heating and pressure.
We discuss and review all three models in this article, but here's a quick summary:
Fuzzy logic rice maker: has an algorithm that controls the rice cooking process for perfect rice every time; the heating is in the base of the cooker only.
Fuzzy logic rice maker with induction heating: Has the rice making algorithm, plus induction heating, which surrounds the inner pot and responds instantly for more consistent, more accurate heating. Induction heat also requires less energy than standard electric heat, which is better for you and for the planet.
Fuzzy logic rice maker with induction heating and pressure: Adding pressure to a fuzzy logic induction rice cooker does two basic things: it speeds up the process, so you can make white rice in as little as 20 minutes (white rice takes about 45-50 minutes in a fuzzy logic rice maker). It also adds multi-cooker features so you can use your rice cooker as an electric multi-cooker (i.e., an Instant Pot). Not all pressurized rice cookers have multi-cooker features, but many do. (Note that because the inner pot of a rice cooker is fairly small, it isn't a great choice to use for a multi-cooker, even if it has those features.)
More features generally means a higher price tag.
We like the basic fuzzy logic rice cookers. They are the least expensive option, and most models will give you perfect rice every time. Induction heating and pressure are nice features, but because they are a bigger investment, you should be sure this is what you want before you buy.
Having said that, an inexpensive fuzzy logic rice cooker may be a disappointment. Some of them can scorch or occasionally produce chewy or mushy rice. If you've had this experience, keep in mind that while a more expensive induction or induction/pressure model will certainly fix the issue, so also might a higher quality basic fuzzy logic cooker.
Does It Make Good Rice?
The vast majority of fuzzy logic Japanese rice makers are going to make excellent rice, so if you've decided you want a rice cooker with fuzzy logic, you should be good.
Having said that, some reviewers do complain about scorching, chewy rice, and more issues, especially with less expensive models.
Also, some reviewers who upgraded to an induction rice maker swear by the higher quality of the rice. So if you are a rice aficionado, you may want to consider going with one of these models. (None of our testers were rice experts, so we just judged the rice on basic things like stickiness/dryness, fluffiness, and flavor.)
All the models we recommend here get stellar reviews and made excellent rice in testing, so if you pick one of these, you should be good.
If you're thinking about a model we didn't review, our recommendation is to read user reviews carefully, especially the negative ones (3 stars or fewer on Amazon). Negative reviews will tell you all the problems people have had, so they are generally more helpful than positive reviews.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Rice?
Cooking times can vary quite a bit among rice cookers. Those that use fuzzy logic tend to take around 45 minutes to cook a batch of white rice. Brown rice can take well over an hour. Not all take this long, but many do.
Many Japanese rice cookers have a "Quick Mode" that bypasses the algorithm and just cooks the rice like a traditional rice cooker. The rice often won't be as good, but sometimes you just need rice fast. And keep in mind that the Quick Mode time varies, and for some cookers, it won't be all that much faster.
A pressurized rice cooker speeds up the cooking process significantly. These can produce perfect rice in about 20 minutes.
But we think the biggest thing to remember is that rice cookers are set-and-forget, so if you start your rice cooking before you start making the rest of your meal, the timing isn't much of an issue--especially since rice cookers keep rice warm and ready to eat for several hours.
Inner pots are what they are, but there are a few considerations.
Nonstick: If you've read other articles on our site, then you know that we are not fans of nonstick cookware. This is mostly because the chemicals used in PTFE coatings are unregulated and have contaminated a huge percentage of the planet's water supply; this continues today even though many coatings are touted as "toxin free" and free of chemicals like PFOA.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Japanese rice cookers have nonstick inner pots, all made with PTFE. And the ones we found that had stainless steel inner pots did not get good reviews. (We share one below in the Honorable Mentions section, but because of the low percentage of 4- and 5star reviews we did not test it and cannot recommend it.)
We did find one brand that has a ceramic nonstick inner pot: Reishunger. This is a German brand that's made-in-China, but it gets excellent reviews. A ceramic nonstick inner pot is going to be more durable than a PTFE inner pot, won't scratch as easily, and so will hold up longer. Ceramic nonstick does contain some questionable chemicals, but as far as we know, they're much safer than those in PTFE products.
The good news is that rice cookers operate at well below unsafe temperatures for PTFE, so they are safe to use. You have to be careful when washing, and always use the plastic spatula that came with the cooker to avoid scratching the pot. Do not put a nonstick inner pot in the dishwasher.
Another thing to know is that higher end rice cookers tend to use more durable grades of PTFE on their inner pots. As with cookware, the PTFE is going to wear out (or peel off) eventually, regardless of the grade. But if you spend a little more on a rice cooker, your inner pot is going to last a little longer. (Having said that, we believe the most important factor for longevity of nonstick coatings is proper care: always use the rice spatula, never put in the dishwasher or use abrasive scrubby pads, etc.)
Handles: One other inner pot feature is handles: some have handles and some do not. Not having handles is not a deal breaker, but they do make it easier to lift the hot inner pot out of the rice cooker. While we don't recommend choosing a rice cooker just because it has handles, they do tend to be found on the more expensive lines of most brands (Zojirushi and Cuckoo included).
Measurements: All inner pots have measurements (shown in image above) that make it easy to measure the amount of water you add: fill to "1" for one cup of rice, to "2" for 2 cups of rice, etc. Some measurements are easier to read than others, but all rice cookers will have them.
Durability is an important feature in any product you buy. In Japanese rice cookers, the quality tends to be very good, so it shouldn't be a huge issue if you go with a quality brand like Zojirushi or Cuckoo (Tiger is also a good brand, but the Zojirushis and Cuckoos we recommend below got better reviews overall.)
Rice cookers can have a stainless steel or mostly plastic housing. Our overall pick has a mostly plastic housing, but this does not detract from its durability or quality. In fact, the plastic housing makes the rice cooker lighter and easier to handle.
One thing to consider is that these same companies make some of their cookers in China. The Chinese-made rice cookers tend to be less expensive, and some of them use cheaper parts, such as flimsier inner pots with cheaper grades of nonstick coating.
We do recommend some Chinese-made rice cookers here, and think that they are still excellent quality. But the rice cookers made in Japan and Korea are going to be a little better made.
Cooking Other Foods
Do you want a rice cooker just for rice and grains, or do you want one that can work with other foods, too?
Do you want a steamer to make meats or vegetables as your rice cooks? A steamer tray is a nice feature and many rice cookers come with them or will work with one that's sold separately. It's a super easy way to cook an entire meal in one pot, and you won't sacrifice rice quality by getting a cooker that also has a steamer tray.
Most Japanese rice cookers can make several types of rice as well as other grains, but some are easier to use than others.
However, not all Japanese rice cookers have settings for other types of dishes. And we don't necessarily recommend buying one that does: you will spend hundreds for a pressurized/induction rice cooker that can make other foods. Or, you can buy an Instant Pot for less than $100 that has even more settings and can make rice, as well (though it may take you a few tries to figure out how to make good rice, as the rice setting often doesn't do a very good job).
In other words, if you're interested in making rice, buy a rice cooker that's designed to cook rice and grains only. If you want an electric multi-cooker you can use for many types of foods and cooking methods, get an Instant Pot or other multi-cooker. You will save money and probably be happier with your purchase; the bigger pot in the Instant Pot makes it much more versatile.
Pretty much every rice cooker you buy will come with:
- measuring cup (one "gou," the standard Japanese rice cup measurement, about 180ml/6oz)
- plastic spatula for scooping rice without scratching nonstick inner pot
- user manual/recipe booklet.
In addition, Japanese rice cookers can also come with:
- steamer tray
- spatula holder (to attach to side of cooker)
- extra measuring cup (esp. if cooker has "rinse-free" rice setting).
Not all rice cookers that can use a steamer tray come with one, but if this is a feature you want, make sure the rice cooker you buy will work with one (even if you have to buy it separately). For all the models reviewed below, we tell you if it has the steamer basket functionality and if the basket is included or sold separately.
Ease of Use
Most rice cookers are easy to use. If you go with a traditional model, there's just one button to start the cooking and a "click" when the rice is done.
Fuzzy logic Japanese rice cookers are more complicated, but most are still easy to use. They are pre-set for white rice, so despite a large menu, you can pretty much put the rice in the cooker and press the Cook button. The cooker will beep or play a tune to let you know cooking has begun, then beep or play another tune when the rice is done. The cooker also automatically switches to Keep Warm mode and will keep the rice hot and ready to eat for at least 12 hours; some for as long as 3 days.
If you make several different kinds of rice or want to cook grains or other foods, using the rice cooker becomes a little more complicated. And the more features and settings your rice cooker has, the harder it becomes to use. Another complication is that the instructions can be poorly written for English users.
However, most of the menu options are self-explanatory, and even if you don't understand the instructions, you can still figure out the cooker by trial and error.
Our recommendation is to buy the simplest rice cooker that serves your needs. Having said that, you should know the options for settings and menu items, which we discuss next.
Keep this in mind while buying: if you're using it just for rice and grains, there's really no need to complicate things with a rice cooker that has a lot of other features.
Here are basic settings you will find on micom Japanese rice cookers.
Basic Rice and Grains: If you're only going to be making white or brown rice, the number of menu settings isn't important, because all Japanese rice cookers can make white and brown rice. Most can also make other grains, even if they don't have specific settings (although you may have to go through some trial and error to figure out the right settings).
Rice Options: Most have several rice options including white, brown, sushi, porridge (this is for rice porridge), mixed, and more. The fancier the cooker, the more options, but nearly all will have white, brown, and sushi.
Keep Warm: Nearly all Japanese rice cookers also have a Keep Warm feature that kicks in as soon as the rice is done cooking. Some also have an Extended Keep Warm feature, but even without this, most rice cookers will keep rice warm for 12-24 hours.
Timer/Delay Timer: Most also have a Delay Timer so you can fill the cooker in the morning and it won't start cooking for up to 13 hours.
Quick Cook Mode: Many rice cookers have a quick cook feature that bypasses the fuzzy logic and can make rice in about 20 minutes; most fuzzy logic controllers take 45-50 minutes to make a pot of white rice.
You may think you'll use a Quick Cook feature, but the set-and-forget feature makes this less likely, becuse you can cook the rest of your dinner while your rice cooks on its own. Start the rice early is great because of the Keep Warm feature.
Reheating: Many rice cookers have a reheat function that will gently reheat leftover rice and other foods. If you think you will use this, be sure to buy a rice cooker that has it.
More Rice Settings: If brown and white rice isn't enough, some rice cookers have even more rice options, such as GABA brown and an Umami feature that soaks rice to bring out its flavor. These tend to be found on high-end rice cookers.
Rice Texture: If you want the luxury of selecting the texture of your rice--softer or harder--then be sure to buy a cooker that has these settings. Note that the texture settings are usually only applicable to white rice. These are also less common settings found on more expensive Japanese rice cookers.
Other Foods: If you're interested in even more features like pressure cooking and the option to cook foods besides rice and grains, then you'll want to look at a full-featured rice cooker with induction and pressure.
However, we recommend that if you want these features to go with an Instant Pot type cooker instead; they're less expensive, and the inner pot is bigger, making it more convenient for soups, stews, roasts, and most other foods.
A rice cooker should look good and have an easy-to-use menu. You may also want one that has a spatula holder, a handle, or one that is small enough to store easily.
Rice cookers come in many shapes and sizes. Get one that you like and that you find easy to use.
By indicators, we mean the sounds and lights that alert you during the cooking process. Many Japanese rice cookers play a song at the beginning and end of the cooking cycle. If you don't like this, you can change to beeps or possibly turn off all indicators.
While some indicators can be annoying, it's a small problem and shouldn't be a deal breaker with most rice cookers. The one exception is some rice cookers that are made for a foreign market and use voice controls in a foreign language (some Cuckoo rice makers are known for this). They usually have a setting for English (or other languages), but not always, or they are hard to figure out.
Ease of Cleaning
Most Japanese rice cookers are easy to clean. The nonstick inner pot washes up easily. Or, if you have a stainless steel inner pot, you can scrub it or throw it in the dishwasher, also easy to clean.
The cooker itself is also easy to clean and mostly requires wiping off. Most have a removable inner lid that needs to be rinsed off after every batch of rice. If you don't do this, crud can build up and create an unsanitary condition.
Some rice cookers, notably some Cuckoo rice cookers, have an Auto Clean feature. You still have to wash the inner pot and removable inner lid, but the Auto Clean will steam out the entire cooker, which helps keep it in excellent condition. In general, the Auto Clean feature won't really save you any time, but you will appreciate it, anyway.
In short, all Japanese rice cookers are going to require about the same investment in cleaning. It's not a lot and it's not difficult, so ease-of-cleaning shouldn't be a big factor in your purchasing decision.
Price and Warranty
Be sure to buy a Japanese rice cooker that is within your budget and that has a warranty should anything go wrong. The good news is that there are excellent Japanese rice cookers in a huge price range, so whatever your budget, you should be able to find one that works for you.
Nearly all rice cookers have a one year limited warranty on parts and labor. Don't buy one that doesn't have a warranty, and be sure to register your cooker when you buy it if necessary to activate the warranty.
Should you buy an extended warranty from Amazon or other retailer? You probably don't need to; if anything goes wrong, it should go wrong in the first year. Yes, you could get unlucky and have one break after the warranty period, but most good quality micom/fuzzy logic Japanese rice cookers should last for at least 5 years; some people get more than a decade of use out of them.
Here are some miscellaneous additional features to consider when buying a rice cooker:
Retractable Power Cord: A retractable power cord is a nice feature because it makes the cooker easier to store. Many Zojirushi rice cookers have retractable cords, but not all of them. Our pick for best overall rice cooker (below) has a retractable cord.
Smart Features: Some rice cookers have features like voice activation and operation with your smart phone. We didn't look at any rice cookers with these options, but you should know they're out there if these appeal to you.
Best Japanese Rice Cooker Overall: Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker NS-ZCC10
See Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker on Amazon (same link for 5.5 Cup and 10 Cup capacity)
Both models about $190
What We Liked: The Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker shows up in the number one spot on a ton of reviews, and for good reason. It's cute, it's compact, and it's extremely high quality. Most importantly, it makes excellent rice: it has a patented algorithm that precisely controls every aspect of the rice cooking process.
This rice cooker also has three heating zones: the bottom, around the pot, and in the lid. Most standard fuzzy logic rice cookers (i.e. non-induction) have only a bottom heating plate, which can sometimes result in scorched rice.
The Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker is easy to use. If you're making white rice, you simply put the rice and water in the cooker, and press the Cooking/Reheat button. The cooker will play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to let you know the cooking has begun. Then it will play Amaryllis when the rice is done cooking.
If you don't like the songs, you can change the alerts to a beep.
The cooker also remembers the last setting so if you make the same type of rice routinely, all you have to do is press the Cooking/Reheat button for perfect rice. If you make a different type of rice, you just use the Menu button to scroll through cooking options, then press the Cooking/Reheat button.
Note that the porridge setting is for rice porridge, but you can use the Mixed setting for other grains.
The Pre-Washed setting is for a special type of rice that is available in Japan, so you may not get a lot of use out of it. (We searched Amazon for this kind of rice and nothing came up here in the US.)
We also love the handles on the inner pot (which we wish did not have a nonstick coating). They make it easy to lift the pot out of the cooker when it's hot. (Not all Zojirushi rice cookers have this feature.)
The 5.5 cup model is large enough for most households, but if you want the 10 cup, it's only a little big bigger:
Interestingly, though the bigger model costs less, both are made in Japan--so if you get the 10 cup, it's still a Japanese product.
Here's a closeup of the control panel so you can see how easy it is to use:
What We Didn't Like: One drawback of this model is that it has no steamer basket and Zojirushi does not make one that fits it. If you want a steamer basket, the Zojirushi NS-TSC10/NS-TSC18 has one, but the smaller 3-cup model does not--but these models are made in China (not Japan).
You also may not like the mostly plastic housing, but it's durable and makes it less heavy. Some people might find the white color unattractive. But overall, this is an extremely high quality rice cooker with a lot of excellent features.
- Advanced Neuro Fuzzy® technology (it's patented)
- Automatic Keep Warm and Extended Keep Warm settings
- Round inner cooking pot with surround heating system
- Handles on inner pot (for easy removal when hot)
- 2 setting delay timer
- Retractable power cord
- Spatula holder
- Measuring cups for regular and rinse-free rice
- 3 alert settings (High Melody, Low Melody, Beep)
- Includes 2 measuring cups, nonstick rice spoon/scooper, rice spoon holder, recipes and user manual in English, French, Chinese (traditional), Korean, and Japanese
- cETLus listed
- 1 year limited warranty on parts and labor
- Made in Japan (both models).
CHECK PRICE OF zojirushi neuro fuzzy NS-ZCC rice cooker ON AMAZON
Model Number: NS--ZCC10
Housing: Polycarbonate and stainless steel
Power Hookup: Standard 120V/60Hz outlet
Capacity: 5.5 cups or 1.0 liter uncooked; 10 cups or 1.8 liters uncooked (10/20 cups cooked)
Menu Options: White Rice (Reg/Sushi, Harder/Softer), Quick Cooking, Mixed, Porridge, Sweet, Semi Brown, Brown, Pre-Washed, Delay Timer, and standard Cooking/Reheat and Keep Warm/Extended Keep Warm.
Wattage: 680 watts (5.5 cup), 1000 watts (10 cup)
Display: Black LED on gray background
Size: 13 x 8 x 10.13 inches (5.5 cup); 14.5 x 9.5 x 11.5 inches (10 cup)
Weight: 6.4/8.2 pounds.
Pros and Cons
If you don't want to invest in an induction-heated rice cooker for hundreds more, this rice cooker is the one we recommend for most people. It has a three-zone heating system that rivals induction heating, a patented algorithm for perfect rice, and it's made in Japan (some Zojirushis are made in China). At around $200, it's excellent technology for hundreds less than an induction rice cooker.
Best Budget Japanese Rice Cooker: Cuckoo CR-0655F
See the Cuckoo CR-0655F on Amazon (about $90)
What We Liked: Cuckoo is a Korean company founded in 1978. They are equal in quality and technology to Zojirushi and make top notch rice cookers. Their products have a modern, sometimes quirky, look that fits just about any kitchen.
This model, the CR-0655F, is one of their lowest-priced fuzzy logic rice cookers. Yet even for this price, it has a ton of features, including Delay timer, Quick Cooking mode, customizable settings ("My Mode"), and Auto Clean.
The CR-0655F has one of Cuckoo's simplest and easiest-to-use control panels, and has features to make baby food, porridge, steam vegetable, and a multi cook function:
It does not have a pressure feature, so it can't be considered a mulit-cooker (like an Instant Pot).
The control panel may look complicated, but if you're making a simple white or brown rice, you just add your rice and water to the cooker and press the Cook button. For other settings, you use the desired button or use the Menu button to select a type of rice or other food.
The Hrs button is for setting the time.
This affordable model doesn't have as many options as more expensive cookers, such as sushi rice, so if you mainly make white or brown rice, this is a good choice. If you make other types of rice, you may want to invest in a more versatile rice cooker.
Having said that, the Cuckoo CR-0655F has a "My Mode" feature that allows you to customize settings. Using this mode, you can make several types of rice and other dishes that aren't in the standard menu.
You can also use it to steam, reheat, and use the multi-cook feature much like an Instant Pot for soups, stews, searing meat, and more.
The Auto Clean is also a great feature on such an inexpensive rice cooker.
What We Didn't Like: We have a few complaints. First, the lid can jerk open, pulling the entire cooker backwards somewhat violently; it may even fall over or off your counter. You have to keep your hand on the lid while opening to prevent this. It was unnerving at first, but it's easy to prevent.
it has a nonstick inner pot, and the nonstick coating doesn't seem to be as high quality as on other (Korean-made) Cuckoos. Second, it takes a long time to cook rice: about 45-50 minutes, which isn't all that long for any fuzzy logic rice cooker. But the Turbo setting doesn't do a lot to speed up the process, reducing cooking time only about 5 minutes.
And, though it has a steam setting, this is not for steaming meat or veggies while you cook rice. This model does not have a steamer tray and you can't steam foods while cooking rice.
Finally, if you're wondering why the CR-0655F is so affordable compared to other Cuckoos, it's at least partly because this one is made in China. The build quality is still excellent, but it's possible that Cuckoo took a few shortcuts in order to keep the price down, such as the less durable nonstick coating. Nevertheless, we love this little rice cooker.
- Fuzzy logic technology in a small, affordable package
- 11 menu items, including Glutinous (white) rice, Mixed, Brown (GABA) rice, Porridge, Steam (vegetables), and Multicook (soup, stew, searing, and more)
- Quick Cooking mode ("Turbo")
- Delay Timer (up to 13 hours)
- My Mode function to customize process with 16 texture and flavor options
- Auto cleaning
- Includes measuring cup, spatula, and user manual
- 1 year limited warranty on parts and labor
- Made in China.
check price of cuckoo cr-0655F micom rice cooker on amazon
Model Number: CR-0655F
Power Hookup: Standard 120V/60Hz outlet
Capacity: 1 - 6 cups uncooked rice (2-12 cups cooked)
Menu Options: Glutinous Rice (White Rice), Mixed Rice, GABA Rice (Brown Rice), Rice & Beans, Porridge, Multi-Cook, Auto Clean, Multi Cook, Reheat, Keep Warm, Preset Timer
Wattage: 580 watts
Display: LED Black on orange background
Size: 9.4 x 8.6 x 13 inches
Weight: 7 pounds.
Pros and Cons
We love the CR-0655F rice cooker and think it's a great choice for anyone on a budget who wants a fuzzy logic rice cooker. With a capacity of 12 cups cooked rice, this should work for most families or gatherings up to about 8 people (remember, the measuring cup is less than an 8oz cup). It's also cute, and its compact design is a plus for most users. It has lower wattage than more expensive cookers, so it takes longer to cook the rice, but the plus side of this is that it uses less energy.
This cooker is best for rice and other grains only, even though it has some multi-cooker functionality (though no pressure). If you want a multi-cooker, get an Instant Pot.
The Cuckoo CR-0655F is made in China and not Korea, and in some ways it's a little flimsier than other Cuckoo rice makers, but this is to be expected from a budget rice cooker. It's better quality than all of the other budget (under $100) micom rice cookers we looked at.
Buy cuckoo Cr-0655f micom Rice Cooker on Amazon now:
Best Japanese Rice Cooker with Induction Heating:
See Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH on Amazon (1.0 liter/5.5 cups), about $340
See Zojirushi NP-HCC18XH on Amazon (1.8 liter/10 cups), about $310
What We Liked: Zojirushi is the original Japanese rice cooker, and they have superb technology. This induction heating model is one of their most popular rice cookers and gets excellent reviews on Amazon and elsewhere on the Internet. It makes the "best overall" category on many review sites.
Induction heating has enabled rice cookers to offer even more perfect rice. Induction heats the entire inner pot so rice cooks incredibly evenly, while the advanced algorithm ensures correct times and temps to result in the perfect outcome. While regular (non-induction) fuzzy logic rice cookers make excellent rice, induction heat raises the bar just a little bit more. This model costs quite a bit more than our overall pick above, so be sure you want this upgrade before you buy: you and your family should make rices several times a week to get your money's worth out of this model.
One of the Zojirushi NP-HCC's best features is how easy it is to use. You simply wash your rice, fill the inner pot with the correct amount of water--easy to do with the measurement markings--and press the Start button. The rice cooker will do the rest.
If you're not making white rice, you simply press the desired type of rice on the menu, then press Start.
You can use the Delay Timer to delay the start time up to 13 hours.
Zojirushi's control panel is easy to use (and one of the reasons we love this brand):
The rice cooker defaults to playing a melody at the start and finish, but you can change this to a beep or silence if you prefer.
You may love the spatula holder, or you may not use it at all. We didn't find it very useful, but it's there if you want it.
What We Didn't Like: This rice cooker lacks a few useful features. The inner pot doesn't have handles, so it's hot to the touch when you want to remove it from the cooker. It's also nonstick, which some people will love, but we prefer stainless steel. And many Zojirushi models have a retractable power cord, which is an excellent feature, but this rice cooker does not.
This model also does not have a steamer basket. If you want a steamer basket, the Zojirushi NS-TSC10/NS-TSC18 have them (5.5/10 cup models), but the smaller 3-cup model does not. Also, the NS-TSC models are made in China (not Japan).
Neither of these are deal breakers, but they're worth thinking about.
- Micom technology with excellent control over cooking and warming all types of rice
- Induction technology heats entire pot
- Easy-to-use menu
- Keep Warm (less than 12 hours) and Extended Keep Warm (12-24 hours)
- LCD control panel
- Nonstick inner pot with markings for easy measurement
- Includes spatula, spatula holder, measuring cup, and user manual
- Delay timer with two settings (up to 13 hours)
- 1 year limited warranty on parts and labor
- cETLus listed, tested to comply with FCC standards
- Made in Japan (larger size made in China).
Check price of Zojirushi Induction Rice cooker on amazon
Model Number: NP-HCC10XH (5.5 cups), NP-HCC18XH (10 cup)
Housing: Clear-coated stainless steel exterior/nonstick-coated stainless inner pot with measurements
Power Hookup: Standard 120V/60Hz outlet
Capacity: 0.5-5.5 cups cooked/1.0-10 cups cooked (depending on model; slightly different for brown rice)
Menu Options: White rice, brown rice, GABA brown rice, mixed rice, sweet rice, jasmine rice, sushi rice, porridge*, quick cooking, delay timer, keep warm, and extended keep warm. Also has regular, softer, and harder texture options for white rice.
Wattage: 1230 watts/1350 watts (5.5 cups/10 cups)
Display: Black on orange background
Size: 10 x 14 x 8 inches (5.5 cup model)
Weight: 9 pounds (5.5 cup model).
*The Porridge setting is primarily for rice porridges but will work for other grains as well.
Pros and Cons
We love the results we get from the non-induction Zojirushi rice cooker, so we're not convinced that induction heating is worth the extra money--and if you do want induction heating, you may as well go the step further and get a pressurized model (like the Cuckoo we review below).
However, people swear by the rice this cooker makes, so if you want the induction heating without the pressure feature, this is one of top-rated and best-selling models on the market. It lacks a steamer tray so you can't cook meat or veggies while your rice cooks, so if you want that feature, go with a different model.
Buy Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH/NP-HCC18XH Induction Rice Cooker on Amazon now:
Best Japanese Rice Cooker with Induction and Pressure: Cuckoo CRP-BHSS0609F
See Cuckoo CRP-BHSS0609F Induction/Pressurized rice cooker on Amazon
What We Liked: This rice cooker has it all and does it all. It makes every type of rice you can imagine, plus beans and other grains. It ferments. It ferments bread. It even bakes bread. It has a "My Mode" setting that allows you to customize every cook setting on the menu, so you can have your rice, oatmeal, and bread exactly how you want it.
The most advanced type of Japanese rice cooker you can buy, this has both induction heating and pressure so your rice cooks perfectly every time--in about 20 minutes (for white rice), or with the Turbo feature, about 15 minutes. (This is faster than the induction/pressure Zojirushi.) With a 6 cup raw/12 cups cooked capacity, it's the perfect size for small to medium households (up to about 8 people).
The menu is a little tricky to learn because it has so many settings, but once you do, it's easy to operate. (If you've used an Instant Pot or other multi-cooker, this menu will be a cakewalk to navigate.)
Rather than beeping or playing a tune, it has voice alerts, which default to Korean but can be changed to English or Chinese.
The display is easy to use and to read (and one of the reasons we picked this one over the Zojirushi):
The cooker has a unique stainless steel handle that makes it easy to open and close the lid. The locking mechanism is supposed to help hold in steam better for better rice.
The inner pot has handles, which is also a thoughtful feature (many Zojirushi models do not, including their closest competitor to this one). As with all nonstick coatings, you have to be careful not to scratch it (this is why they include the rice spatula). We wish Cuckoo (as well as most other makers) had an option for a non-coated inner pot, but these were hard to find (Buffalo was one of the few we found, but the reviews weren't great). The measuring marks are clear and make it easy to add the correct amount of water.
We also love the Auto Clean feature found on many Cuckoo rice cookers. Yes, you still have to wash the inner pot and removable inner lid after every use, but the Auto Clean steams out the internal parts to keep them squeaky clean. We have to believe this results in a longer life span for the cooker.
What We Didn't Like: There were a few things we didn't like about this rice cooker. One is that alerts are all voiced rather than beeps or songs--and the talking begins almost immediately when you plug the cooker in. The default is in Korean, but you can change it to English (or Chinese), or--as many may prefer--turn it off altogether.
We also didn't like that the touchscreen doesn't work for everything. While most of the buttons respond to a fingertip with no pressure required, some of the settings require pressure, and you have to hold the cooker when you press, or it will slide backwards on the counter. Most of the cook settings work without pressure, but when you're setting the time or voice controls, you have to hold the cooker.
Finally, though this rice cooker can function as multi-cookers (like an Instant Pot), it's not the best choice if that's what you're looking for because the inner pot is small compared to a multi-cooker. Unless you'll be using it for tiny batches of food and tiny loaves of bread, a multi-cooker is the better choice. Buy this for superb rice and grains; buy an Instant Pot for everything else.
These are minor complaints--unless you want something that bakes bread and makes soup--and did not dampen our overall enthusiasm for this amazing rice cooker.
The Cuckoo CRP-BHSS0609F gets excellent reviews. It has the smallest number of reviews of all of our choices, and a few bad reviews that bring the rating down (mostly about the voice controls). At this price point, there are always going to be fewer reviews. Nevertheless, we think this is the best advanced Japanese rice cooker on the market.
If this Cuckoo isn't what you're looking for but you want an advanced rice cooker, the Zojirushi NP-NWC is also an excellent choice for about the same price. The Cuckoo has a few more features, such as the steamer tray, which you will probably miss on the Zojirushi. But they're both great cookers that won't disappoint.
- Makes up to 12 cups of cooked rice (capacity 6 cups uncooked)
- Induction heaters use less energy than standard electric heaters
- Can cook white rice in 20 minutes or 15 minutes on Turbo setting
- Stainless steel inner pot with PTFE nonstick coating
- Handles on inner pot make it easy to remove when hot
- LED touchscreen display
- Industry high pressure level
- Delay timer
- Reheat option for leftovers
- Automatic keep-warm function (can keep rice warm for up to 3 days)
- 16 menu options
- My Mode lets you customize every menu setting
- Auto clean function
- Removable inner lid for easier cleaning
- Includes spatula, measuring cup, steamer tray, user manual, and cleaning pin
- 1 year warranty on parts and labor
- Several safety features such as pressure release valve, overheat indicator, and more
- Made in Korea.
check price of cuckoo CRp-bhss06097f rice cooker on amazon
Model Number: CRP-BHSS0609F
Housing: White polycarbonate and stainless steel
Power Hookup: Standard 120V/60Hz outlet
Capacity: 6 cups uncooked, 12 cups cooked (1.08L)
Menu Options: Glutinous Rice (White Rice), Mixed Rice, High Heat, Sticky Rice, GABA Rice (Brown Rice), Black Bean Rice, Nu Rung Ji, Nutritious Rice, Porridge, Multi-Cook, Ferment Bread, Ferment, Baking, Power Save, My Mode, Turbo, Pressure Cook, Reheat, Auto Clean, Keep Warm, Preset Timer
Wattage: 1027 watts
Pressure: 11.4 PSI
Display: White LED on black background
Size: 10 x 14.7 x 10.6 inches
Weight: 13.2 pounds.
Pros and Cons
We love Cuckoo products. They're high quality and have a lot of great design features that other rice cookers and pressure cookers don't have. They're also compact and modern-looking. If you want a top-of-the-line rice cooker that does it all and don't mind that the menu takes a little time to learn how to use, we think this is the best induction/pressure Japanese rice cooker on the market.
Buy cuckoo CRP-BHSS0609F on Amazon now:
Choosing our favorite models of Japanese rice cooker was hard because there are many good choices on the market. In most cases, the deciding factor for us was how many positive reviews the rice cookers got on Amazon. However, that may just mean that they're models that have been around for awhile.
Here are some others that have the features we looked for and also got stellar reviews (just not as many).
Budget Pick: Tiger JBV-A1OU Micom Rice Cooker. For about $75, you can get a fuzzy logic rice cooker with food steamer basket. It doesn't have as many features as other Japanese rice cookers, and it also doesn't have as many features as our pick for the best budget rice cooker (though the steamer basket is sold separately), but it gets excellent reviews. Tiger is a Japanese brand, but this cooker is made in China. Nonstick inner pot.
Umami: Zojirushi NL-GAC10 BM Umami Rice Cooker. About $260. This is a newer model by Zojirushi, so doesn't have as many reviews, but it's a great model. The fuzzy logic soaks the rice longer to bring out the umami, or flavor, of the rice. Can make several types of rice and grain, and has a slow cook function as well. Made in Japan. One drawback is that this model doesn't have the retractable cord of the Zojirushis we review above--do not underestimate how much you'll like that feature. Nonstick inner pot.
Standard Fuzzy Logic Alternate: Tiger Jax T10U-K Rice Cooker. This is a standard micom/fuzzy logic rice cooker for about $140. It gets great reviews and is made in Japan. Nonstick inner pot.
Induction/Pressure Cooking Alternate: Zojirushi NP-NWC10XB. About $485. We could have picked this one for our main choice because it's a great model that gets great reviews. We preferred the display lighting and some of the features on the Cuckoo, although this one will probably be easier for most people to use. Made in Japan. Nonstick inner pot.
Best Small (3 cup) Rice Cooker: Zojirushi NS-LGCO5CXB. About $140. Almost all the features of the larger Zojirushi and the same great design. Lacks jasmine and porridge functions and no steamer basket (the 5.5 cup model has a steamer basket and is also a good choice). Made in China. Nonstick inner pot.
Stainless Steel Inner Pot: Buffalo White IH Rice Cooker. About $310. This was the only Japanese style rice cooker we could find with a stainless steel inner pot not lined with PTFE. (Here's a larger Buffalo model that also has a stainless steel inner pot.) This was the only brand we could find without a nonstick inner pot. Unfortunately, they don't get great reviews, so we decided to make it an honorable mention rather than do a full review on it. It makes good rice, but people don't like the controls. So if having a stainless steel inner pot is important to you, one of these Buffalos will probably fit the bill, even if they're not quite as high-end as a Zojirushi, Cuckoo, or Tiger. Made in China.
Final Thoughts: Is a Japanese Rice Cooker Worth It?
A good rice cooker can change making rice from a stressful, hit-and-miss task to a simple, set-and-forget one that gives you perfect rice every time and makes dinner prep much easier. If you want this kind of peace of mind, then a high-end Japanese rice cooker is well worth the investment.
No matter how often (or infrequently) you use it, you will love with how easy it is to make rice. Add in the Keep Warm feature that holds your rice at the perfect temp for hours, and the Timer feature that lets you prep the rice cooker hours in advance, and you've got a powerful tool that de-stresses getting a meal on the table.
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