August 14

The Best Rice Cooker for Brown Rice

By trk

Last Updated: August 14, 2022

best rice cooker, brown rice, brown rice cooker, cooking brown rice

Brown rice is tricky. It takes longer to cook, and often turns out badly: dry and chewy, overly mushy, or unevenly cooked. Despite having a brown rice setting, not all cookers--rice and multi-cooker both--make good brown rice. 

We scoured the Internet for rice cookers that actually make great brown rice. We looked at performance, cost, size, ease of use, ease of cleaning, and more--all the important factors in choosing the best brown rice cooker. Here are our picks (and why we picked them).

Don't give up on brown rice! The health benefits are substantial, and when you have the right tools and techniques, brown rice is a cinch to make.

The Best Brown Rice Cookers at a Glance

How we found these rice cookers: We started by looking for cookers with good brown rice reviews, then we tested the models we found to see if they held up by cooking several batches of long grain brown rice (the most common type of brown rice in the US).

Other models we looked at are listed below.

Elite Gourmet ERC006-NST Rice Cooker
Elite Gourmet ERC-006NST
Rice Cooker

-Aluminum or nonstick pot option (!)

-Steamer basket

-6 cups cooked/3 cups dry capacity

-Soups, stews, grains, cereals

-Auto Keep Warm

-One-touch start

-Cook/Warm indicator lights

-300 watts

-1yr warrant/made in China.

Hamilton Beach Digital Rice Cooker 37548
Hamilton Beach Digital Rice Cooker (37548)

-White/brown rice, grains, beans, soups

-Nonstick inner pot

-Steamer basket

-8 cups cooked/4 cups dry capacity

-4 pre-programmed settings

-Auto Keep Warm

-Simple control panel

-250 watts

-1yr warrant/made in China.

Cuckoo Rice Cooker Budget CR-0655F
Cuckoo CR- 0655F Micom Rice Cooker

-Micom logic

-11 menu options

-16 customized flavor/texture options

-Nonstick inner pot

-12 cups cooked/6 cups dry capacity

-Self-cleaning

-700 watts

-1yr warrant/made in China.

Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker front:side view
Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker

-White, brown, sushi, porridge, mixed, more

-Neuro Fuzzy logic

-10 cups cooked/5.5 cups dry capacity

-Extended Keep Warm

-Delay timer

-3 heating zones

-Nonstick inner pot

-Retractable cord

-680 watts

-1yr warranty/made in Japan.

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Brown Rice Vs. White Rice

A quick primer on brown rice.

How Is Brown Rice Different from White Rice?

Brown rice is less processed than white rice, making it a whole grain, which white rice is not.

White rice has all the bran layers removed (which is why it's white). Brown rice still contains the bran layer, the germ, and the endosperm. These are what gives brown rice its color and make it chewier than white rice. Brown rice also has a slightly nutty flavor compared to white rice.

Is Brown Rice Healthier than White Rice?

Yes and no.

Because brown rice has its outer layer of bran, it has a higher fiber content than white rice: 100 grams has 1.6g of fiber, compared to 0.4g in white rice.

Brown rice also has additional nutrients and antioxidants than white rice.

However, brown rice also contains the anti-nutrient phytic acid that makes it difficult to digest. 

It also contains more arsenic than white rice. Most rice on the market today contains small amounts of arsenic, but brown rice tends to have higher amounts than white rice because it contains the outer layers of the rice (which have more contact with the arsenic-contaminated water). 

If you eat a lot of rice, the fact that it contains arsenic should not be a surprise to you. The amounts are small, and as long as you eat moderate amounts, it isn't harmful. Healthline suggests that you not consume more than a few servings per week to be safe.

Rinsing your rice thoroughly before cooking will help reduce the amount of arsenic it contains. Also, be sure to cook it with clean, filtered water.

Types of Brown Rice

Like white rice, brown rice comes in different varieties.

The basic varieties are short grain, medium grain, and long grain. There is also semibrown or light brown rice and GABA brown rice (a setting you will see on many rice cookers). They are all unique, with unique uses and cooking times. (Note: times given here are for stovetop cooking and will differ for different types of rice cookers.)

Here's how it breaks down:

Short grain brown rice is similar to short grain white rice: the grains are short and round and have a sticky texture, making it a good choice for risotto and rice pudding. Short grain brown rice cooks in about 25 minutes after an extended period of soaking; it will take closer to 35 minutes without soaking.

Medium grain brown rice is longer than short grain but shorter than long grain. You may see it in many rice dishes, though it is not as commonly used as long grain brown rice in the US. When soaked for several hours, cooking time is about 20-25 minutes.

Long grain brown rice is the most common brown rice type in the US, and is the type we used to test for the best brown rice cookers. It is the most common brown rice substitute for white rice and seen in Asian dishes, pilaf, and other common rice dishes. It takes about 45 minutes to cook on the stovetop; rice cooker times can be shorter or longer, depending on the rice cooker.

Semibrown/light brown rice has only half of the outer hull removed. It cooks in less time than regular brown rice, about 20 minutes (yes, about the same as white rice).

GABA brown rice is germinated--or sprouted--brown rice. Germinated brown rice has about 15 times more gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) than regular brown rice. GABA is believed to help protect the brain from harmful amino acids associated with Alzheimer's. GABA rice is very popular in Japan. GABA rice also has less phytic acid, the antinutrient that can make it hard to digest. 

GABA rice cooks up just like regular brown rice, so follow directions for short, medium, or long grain brown rice. Many micom rice cookers also have a GABA function that allows you to soak the rice for several hours (settings can vary) before cooking. 

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Who Needs a Dedicated Rice Cooker for Brown Rice

Do you need a rice cooker? That depends on a few factors. 

A rice cooker is, first and foremost, convenient. It's a much easier way to cook rice than on the stovetop or in the microwave. You just put the rice and water in, set it, and walk away. The rice cooker will let you know when it's done cooking. Most rice cookers even switch automatically to a Keep Warm mode, which will keep the rice fresh and delicious for hours (days, in some cases).

So if you eat a lot of rice, hate cooking it on the stove, or simply want the ease of hands-off rice cooking--which frees you to work on the rest of the meal while it cooks--then a rice cooker is a great tool.

You may think that you don't eat enough rice to make a rice cooker worth the investment. This may be true, but another way to look at it is that if you don't make rice all that often, you may never get the stovetop method down right, so you'll always be wondering if your rice is going to turn out.

If you want to be free of those concerns, a rice cooker is a great investment. The right rice cooker will give you perfect rice every time. 

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Why Not All Rice Cookers Make Good Brown Rice

Not all rice cookers make good brown rice. Even expensive rice cookers can make mediocre brown rice.

This is because the rice cooker is designed primarily to make white rice. The manufacturer either didn't give brown rice any consideration, or put it in there as an afterthought. The result is often undercooked or mushy brown rice (even though the cooker makes great white rice).

In our testing, we found that you don't have to spend a lot of money to get great brown rice. You don't even need a rice cooker with a brown rice setting. You just have to find a rice cooker that's been tested and verified to make good brown rice, and learn how to use it correctly.

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Can You Use an Instant Pot for Brown Rice?

Yes, you sure can. In fact, you can use any pressure cooker to make brown rice. A stovetop pressure cooker can make brown rice in about 15-20 minutes, plus the time for natural depressurization. 

A pressure cooker is one of the fastest ways to cook brown rice.

The problem with the Instant Pot is that the rice setting won't work, and most of them don't have a brown rice setting at all. So you have to set the pot manually to get good brown rice. 

This isn't difficult, and there are many online sources to help you with the right settings, water-to-rice ratio, and whatever else you need to know.

But Instant Pot rice doesn't always turn out as well as it will in a dedicated rice cooker, probably because the Instant Pot doesn't have quite the right heating system (or who knows). And stovetop pressure cooked rice requires almost as much vigilance as cooking it in a regular pot--you have to make sure the heat is high enough to cook the rice, but not so high that it scorches. This can be a tricky path to walk.

If you own an Instant Pot or stovetop pressure cooker, we highly recommend using it for brown rice before you decide to buy a dedicated rice cooker. But if you don't get the hang of it, then a rice cooker might be in your future.

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What Is a Micom Rice Cooker?

Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH Control Panel

Control panel of a micom rice cooker.

Micom is an abbreviation for "microcomputer." Micom rice cookers have a microcomputer chip that controls the rice cooking process. It controls every aspect of the cooking process, including temperature, moisture, and more. A micom rice cooker uses logic to adjust and adapt the cooking process. So for example, if you didn't add the right amount of water, the rice cooker knows this and adjusts cooking time and temperature to compensate. 

And even though micom rice cookers tend to make better rice than less expensive rice cookers, have better Keep Warm functions and less scorching (as well as more cooking options), they're not all better than cheaper rice cookers, especially for brown rice. 

Not all micom rice cookers make good brown rice. The logic they use is only as good as how they've been programmed, and not all of them are programmed to make good brown rice. A good micom brown rice cooker has to have a good micom brown rice cooking algorithm. (That's where our testing comes in.)

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About the Measuring Cup that Comes With Your Rice Cooker (A Cup Is Not a Cup)

We read several reviews that complained that the capacity given for a rice cooker wasn't in actual cups. This is true: cups of rice are not equivalent to an 8 ounce American cup. As far as we know, this is universal among rice cookers: capacities are not measured in a standard 8 ounce cup. 

Rice cookers come with a measuring cup which is a Japanese measurement called a "gou" or simply a "rice cup." 

The gou rice cup is about 3/4 cup (6 oz, or 180ml). 

So the "cup" capacities given for the rice cookers in this review 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--gou--capacity is good for a family of 3-5 people). 

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About Low Carb Rice Cookers

"Low carb rice cookers" 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 up to 37%. 

However, studies show that low carb rice cookers don't actually do a good job reducing carbs. This article from The Standard discusses a study of low carb rice cookers. Many brands failed to reduce the carb content by more than 4%. 

This Thanko rice cooker 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 couldn't find a low carb rice cooker for the American market that actually reduced carbs. And we couldn't find one that worked for brown rice, either.

Be careful buying a "low carb" rice cooker. They don't all do what they claim they will. 

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How to Choose a Brown Rice Cooker (How We Tested)

Here's what we looked at, tested, and think are the most important features to look for in a brown rice cooker.

Brown Rice Setting

Actually, a brown rice setting isn't really all that important, though if it works, it makes cooking brown rice a snap. But there are a few considerations here, even if the cooker doesn't have a brown rice setting.

Most micom (microcomputer controlled) rice cookers will have a brown rice setting. This is a good start, but it doesn't necessarily mean the rice cooker makes good brown rice. The only way to know for sure is by trial and error, or by reading reviews (like this one) by people who've actually tested the cooker.

Most basic, one-switch rice cookers have no settings at all (just on and off), but this doesn't mean they don't make good brown rice. You usually have to add more water to make a one-switch cooker work for brown rice. But they don't all turn out good brown rice, so once again, your best bet is reading reviews to find the right cooker for brown rice.

So, you don't need a rice cooker with a dedicated brown rice setting--and even one that has it may not make great brown rice. Your best bet is research to find the best brown rice cooker for your needs.

Cooking Time

This is another factor that probably shouldn't be a huge concern. Some rice cookers take an hour or more to cook brown rice; some can do it in about 45 minutes. As long as the cooker is doing all the work so you can do other things, cook time shouldn't matter that much--just know how long your cooker takes to make brown rice so you can plan your meal prep and serving time accordingly.

Having said that, micom rice cookers tend to take the longest to cook rice, including brown rice. Yes, the rice will be perfect every time, but be aware of the long cook time so you can plan around it.

Size/Capacity

Size is probably the most important feature (other than that it makes good brown rice). Rice makers come in a huge array of sizes, from 3 cup all the way up to 16 cups (maybe more). A good size for most people is somewhere in the middle of this range.

Two things to remember: first, remember that the capacity given is not in 8-oz. cups but rather in the 6-oz gou; this means you may need a larger one than you originally thought.

Second, most rice cookers operate best when you don't fill them to capacity. So if you buy a 5.5 cup (gou) rice cooker, you'll get best results with a 2-4 cup capacity. 

So again, if you have a lot of mouths to feed, you may need a larger cooker than you'd originally thought.

Ease of Use/Settings

Ease of use is a somewhat arbitrary measure. What some people find easy, others can't figure out to save their lives--not because they're stupid, but because the control panel just doesn't make any sense to them. (Hint: most people who find micom rice cookers easy to use are those who've used them before. If they're new to you, expect a bit of a learning curve.)

One-switch rice cookers are the easiest to use because there's nothing to go wrong, except of course the water-to-rice ratio you use. But once you get this down, these are foolproof and pretty hard to beat in this category.

Micom or other types of fuzzy logic machines are more complicated, and the control panels aren't always intuitive to use. Add to that the Japanese and Korean models often have terrible instruction manuals. But once you learn the basic method for white or brown rice, it's just as easy as a one-switch cooker. And the added value is that micom cookers offer you many more options and ways to control the rice cooking: you can make rice soft or chewy, for example, and you can make other types of grains, too. 

All the rice cookers we picked have fairly easy-to-use control panels, although they're not all intuitive. If you're concerned about figuring out the control panel on a micom rice cooker, we recommend going with a one-switch model. Both the Hamilton Beach and the Elite Gourmet models we recommend are one-touch models that make great brown rice. 

Ease of Cleaning

Most rice cookers are pretty easy to clean. On the more sophisticated micom rice cookers, the inner parts should be removable so you can wash them by hand. This is something you can only determine by research, and sometimes you won't know until after you buy that a part that should be removable is not.

Inner Pot

Nonstick: Most inner pots are, unfortunately, nonstick, which is something you'll just have to live with. If you can find a great brown rice cooker with a stainless steel inner pot, please let us know! The best we found was the unlined aluminum pot you can get with the Elite Gourmet one-touch rice cooker.

Markings: All rice cooker inner pots have etched markings to show you where to fill the water to for the amount of rice you're making. However, some markings are easier to read than others. Zojirushi has excellent white markings which are super easy to read. Some are harder. Markings are not a deal breaker, but they are certainly something to consider, especially if you have vision issues.

Handles: Handles are another really nice feature of inner pots. You don't find them on very many models, but the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy has them, and they make handling a hot pot of rice so much easier. Handles are also not a dealbreaker--most rice cooker inner pots don't have them--but they are a very nice feature that you will appreciate if you have them.

Keep Warm Feature

Nearly all the rice cookers we tested had a Keep Warm feature. This is a huge issue in Asian cultures, where people will make large batches of rice and keep it warm for days. In the US, it's probably not such a big concern, but it's nice to have because you don't always plan your meal perfectly and it's nice to know the rice can sit without drying out or getting mushy.

Not all Keep Warm functions are the same, though. Some do an excellent job of keeping rice hot and fresh, while others will dry out the rice or make it mushy. As with so many other features, the only way to know if a rice cooker has a good Keep Warm feature is by doing your research before you buy.

Extra Cooking Options

A lot of rice cookers have extra cooking features so you can cook other grains, cereals, soups, and stews, plus they have a steamer basket so you can cook veggies or proteins atop your rice as it cooks for one-pot meals.

People who eat a lot of whole grains tend to get the most use out of these extra features; if you're buying a rice cooker just for rice--or mainly for brown rice--then the extra features probably won't matter that much to you. 

Other Features

Here are some miscellaneous additional features to consider when buying a rice cooker:

Retractable Power Cord: A retractable power cord is a great feature because it makes the cooker easier to store. Many Zojirushi rice cookers have retractable cords, but not all of them. 

Delay Start: Some rice cookers have a delay start feature so you can program the rice cooker to start cooking when you're not home and have fresh rice waiting for you when you get there.

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 they appeal to you. 

Indicators: Indicators are the sounds and lights that alert you to the rice cooking process. Most Japanese rice cookers have indicator sounds that you can change or turn off completely. None of these should be a deal breaker when choosing a rice cooker, but if you really hate Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, know that you can change it to a beep if you want to.

Warranty and Price

Most rice cookers come with a one year warranty no matter how much you pay for them, so you don't have a lot of options in this category. If you buy from Amazon, you may want to get an extended warranty, but unless you're spending a few hundred dollars, it probably isn't worth it (but if it's worth it to you, go ahead and get that protection).

As for price, we chose brown rice cookers in a wide price range: from about $20 up to about $200. All the models are good choices, depending on what you're looking for and how much you want to spend. And yes, the $20 rice cooker makes brown rice just as good as the $200 cooker. It's just got a more fragile build quality so it won't last as long, and it lacks all the extras you find on a more expensive rice cooker.

There's no right or wrong answer. It's up to you how much you want to spend and what kind of features you want.

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Tips for Cooking Brown Rice

Here are a few tips for making perfect brown rice.

Best Brown Rice Cooker featured image
  • If your rice cooker doesn't have a brown rice setting, use a measuring cup or weigh the rice and water. 
  • If using a pressure cooker, let the pressure release naturally, and let the rice sit for 10 minutes before eating.
  • The water ratio is different for different rice cookers. Stovetop brown rice requires a ratio of rice to water of 1:2.5 (or possibly 3 if you are in a dry climate or want softer rice). Pressure cookers give off less steam, so you can use a rice to water ratio of 1:1.25 (or 1.5 if you are in a dry climate or want softer rice). For dedicated rice cookers with a brown rice setting, use the rice to water ratio given by the cooker. 
  • You should get a rice cooker larger than what you think you need because rice cookers often don't perform as well at full capacity. For example, if you typically make 3 cups of rice, a 5 cup size is best.

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Review: Elite Gourmet Rice Cooker (ERC-006NST)

https://amzn.to/3bKD2fb

See the Elite Gourmet Rice Cooker on Amazon (About $21)

This is a basic, no frills rice cooker with one-switch operation and no settings; once the water is absorbed, the temp rises and switches it into Warm mode, and that's all there is to it, no matter what type of rice or grain you're cooking.

Since the pot markings are for white rice, you have to ignore them and go with a 2:1 ratio of water to rice (or anywhere from 1.5-3 times the water-to-rice ratio; you will have to experiment with it. We found that 2:1 worked well for long grain brown rice--the most common brown rice in the US--but you may prefer a different texture.) 

Features and Specifications

The Elite Gourmet rice cooker gets surprisingly positive reviews for how inexpensive it is. We, too, were surprised at how well it made brown rice. This rice cooker is far from perfect, but it has enough positive features to make our list.

(Note that just because it's listed first doesn't mean it's our favorite. Our recommended rice cookers are listed in order of cost from lowest to highest. They are all adequate options for brown rice.)

  • Aluminum or nonstick pot option
  • 6 cups cooked rice/3 cups uncooked capacity
  • Steamer basket for proteins and veggies
  • Can make rice, grains, cereals, stews and soups
  • Auto Keep Warm when cooking cycle is complete
  • Simple controls: one-touch start button
  • Cook and Warm indicator lights
  • 300 watts
  • 7.5 x 7.5 x 9.5 inches, 3.2 lbs
  • Includes steamer basket, spatula, and measuring cup
  • 1 year warranty
  • Made in China.

What we like: It's really hard to find a rice cooker at any price point without a PTFE-lined inner pot. So we'll be honest; one of the reasons we picked this rice cooker is because it's available with a bare aluminum or a nonstick-lined aluminum inner pot. We would prefer stainless steel, but aluminum is almost as good, as long as you don't use the rice cooker for acidic foods, which can take on a metallic taste when exposed to aluminum. (There are also concerns about aluminum toxicity and being associated with Alzheimer's, but those claims have been largely debunked.)

This rice cooker is super easy to operate, having just one switch to "make it go." It automatically goes into Keep Warm mode after the water is absorbed and the rice is done cooking.

The steamer tray adds functionality, so you can steam proteins and/or veggies on top of your rice. It works great.

Finally, it's hard to beat the price: if you're looking for a bargain, this is a great little rice cooker--for the price, it will provide great brown rice.

What we don't like: As we said above, there is no brown rice setting (there are no settings of any kind), so you have to figure out through trial and error how to cook your brown rice. We found that, much like cooking rice on a stovetop, using a 2:1 ratio of water to rice works well for long grain brown rice. So if you're cooking 1 cup of rice, use 2 cups of water. You may have to experiment with this ratio to get your preferred consistency.

And as much as we love that this rice cooker has a nonstick inner pot option, you may want to opt for the nonstick coating because this cooker tends to scorch the rice on the bottom of the pot. You may think that is an automatic disqualification (and that's fine if you do), but some people love the scorched rice on the pot bottom. In fact, there's a name for that scorched rice in a number of languages. If you don't mind a little scorching, there's arguments both ways: a nonstick pot is easer to clean, but an aluminum pot is easier to scrape all the deliciousness off the bottom without harming the pot. Your choice.

As much as we love the easy one-switch operation, you may not like that you have to unplug the rice cooker to power it down. So if it's in Keep Warm mode and you forget to unplug it, it will stay warm (hot, actually) until you unplug it. It's a small complaint, and something you'll get used to, but it's something that needs mentioning.

Though this rice cooker has a 6 cup capacity, you'll have best results if you don't try to use it at full capacity. This is true for most rice cookers, even expensive ones: if you put the full capacity of rice in, the rice tends to cook unevenly--especially true for brown rice. The cooker can also spit out steam and water if it's too full, making a real mess on your counter.

Finally, this is an inexpensive appliance, and the build quality is not that great. It's not quite throw-away quality, and should last you several years if you use it once a week. But the build quality is about what you'd expect from a $20 rice cooker: light and on the flimsy side. So if you're on a tight budget or not sure you want to commit to a dedicated rice cooker, this is a decent choice. But if you can afford a rice cooker of more robust quality, that may be a better choice for the planet.

see the elite gourmet rice cooker on amazon


Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Extremely easy to use (one button)
  • Inexpensive
  • Steamer tray/rice rinser adds functionality
  • 6 cup capacity in a relatively small appliance
  • Indicator lights for Cook and Keep Warm make it easy to operate
  • Option for nonstick or aluminum inner pot.
Cons
  • Can scorch on the bottom
  • No brown rice setting
  • May leak water out top at full capacity
  • A few reviewers said it only lasted about a year.

Recommendation

If you're looking for a budget rice cooker that can make decent brown rice, this is the one to get. It's far from perfect, but at this price, you probably know it will have limitations. If you're willing to live with them, this is a great, inexpensive rice cooker--and we love that it has a non-nonstick inner pot option.

Elite Gourmet ERC006-NST Rice Cooker

buy the Elite Gourmet Rice Cooker:

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Review: Hamilton Beach Digital Rice Cooker (37518)

Hamilton Beach Digital Rice Cooker 37518

See the Hamilton Beach Digital Rice Cooker (37518) on Amazon (About $47, $48 for 14 cup model--37548)

Or: Hamilton Beach Advanced Micom Rice Cooker 37570 on Amazon (About $60)

The Hamilton Beach Digital Rice Cooker is kind of a sleeper that you would never expect to make great rice, much less brown rice. But after we read a review of it on Serious Eats, we had to give it a try, and we were amazed at its ability to make brown rice. It doesn't even have a brown rice setting, but we found that the Whole Grains setting worked great. 

Hamilton Beach Advanced Multi-Function Rice Cooker 37570

Hamilton Beach Advanced Multi-Function Rice Cooker

If you want to spend a little more (about $60) or want more capacity than even the bigger model, you can get the Hamilton Beach Advanced Multi-Function Rice Cooker, which also gets excellent reviews and makes great brown rice. It took longer than the less expensive model--as micom rice cookers tend to do--but it turned out great, has a dedicated brown rice setting, and looks (we think) a little cooler sitting on your counter. Its inner pot has handles for easy removal (an excellent feature). We don't recommend it because it's huge--16 cups cooked capacity--doesn't have good instructions, and was slower than the more basic model.  

Features and Specifications

This is an electronic rice cooker that's a step up from the Elite Gourmet model above, but not quite as sophisticated as the more expensive Micom rice cookers we review below. For about $47, you can get a great brown rice maker that's easy to use yet has a lot of features that make it surprisingly versatile.

  • Makes white rice, brown rice, grains, beans, and soups
  • Includes a steamer basket for proteins and veggies
  • Nonstick inner pot
  • 8 cups cooked/4 cups uncooked capacity
  • 4 pre-programmed settings: White Rice, Whole Grain, Hot Cereal, and Steam
  • Auto Keep Warm after cooking cycle is complete (plus a Warm setting)
  • Simple-to-use control panel
  • Removable inner lid for easy cleaning
  • 250 watts
  • 8.25 x 9.74 x 9.88 inches; 4 pounds
  • Includes steamer basket, spatula, and measuring cup
  • 1 year warranty
  • Made in China.
Hamilton Beach Digital Rice Cooker 37518 control panel

What we like: First and foremost, the Hamilton Beach rice cooker makes fantastic brown rice. It's soft yet chewy and evenly cooked throughout, even in large batches (6 cups cooked was the biggest batch we made). Since that's what this review is about, you may just want to stop here and go buy this guy; if you eat a lot of brown rice, you won't regret it. (No more stovetop monitoring! No more scorching! No more hard rice!)

And of course, we like the price: about $45 for an electronic rice maker that actually works--amazing!

We also like the super simple control panel. The rice cooker is sophisticated enough to do a great job of cooking rice, but it's so simple to use. 

This rice cooker was also quite fast: faster than any of the micom rice cookers we tested, even for brown rice.

We also just like that this Hamilton Beach rice cooker is nothing fancy--it just does its job without being fancy or expensive. It's a great choice for most families. 

The removable inner lid makes this easy to clean.

What we don't like: Like the Elite Gourmet above, the Hamilton Beach rice cooker does not have a brown rice setting, so you have to use the whole grain setting. And you may have to ignore the markings in the pot and figure out on your own how much water to use (a 2:1 water-to-rice ratio should work). But once you have it figured out, the reward is perfect brown rice every time.

We're not crazy about the nonstick pot, but unfortunately, that's almost impossible to avoid in rice cookers. And the pot scratches rather easily, so you have to be careful with it; we recommend that you don't even scrape the pot with the plastic spatula if you can avoid doing so (scoop it from the middle of the pot, not the edges).

If you keep the pot on the Warm setting for longer than a few hours, the bottom will scorch. It's not too bad, but it makes cleanup a little harder.

This is a small complaint, but the two models on the Amazon page don't just differ in size; they also have slightly different control panels. 

The Quick Cook setting--which you will probably never use for brown rice--wasn't much faster than the regular setting, and produced (white) rice that was a little bit chewy and unevenly cooked.

The user manual isn't the best; it's a small font and not very helpful.

Finally, the build quality isn't great. Though this rice cooker gets overwhelmingly positive reviews (more than 80%), a few said that their cooker died after about a year. There were also complaints about it being hard to clean. We can't speak to the longevity of the unit (but even if it's only a year, that's not too bad for a $45 cooker), but we had no issues with cleaning; it was pretty standard for most electric multi-cookers and rice cookers we've tested.

Some poor reviews also said the rice cooker took forever to make rice, but in our testing it was actually the fastest brown rice cooker: about 40 minutes for a 3 cup (uncooked) batch.

see the hamilton beach advanced digital rice cooker on amazon

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Makes excellent brown rice
  • Excellent price for an electronic rice cooker
  • Fastest brown rice cooker of all we tested
  • Simple, easy-to-use control panel
  • Automatic Keep Warm mode
  • Removable inner lid for easier cleaning.
Cons
  • Nonstick inner pot
  • No brown rice setting (you have to use Whole Grains)
  • May scorch rice if left in Keep Warm mode for too long (more than a few hours)
  • Flimsy inner pot that scratches fairly easily, mediocre build quality 
  • Some reviewers found it hard to clean
  • User manual hard to follow
  • Quick Cook setting (white rice only) produced unevenly cooked rice.

Recommendation

If you want a no-frills, affordable rice cooker that makes great brown rice, the Hamilton Beach Digital Rice Cooker is a great choice. It made brown rice faster than any other model we tested and is super simple to use. It has a few drawbacks, such as scorching rice if it's on Warm for too long and a poorly written instruction manual, but for about $47, it's a great buy.

Hamilton Beach Advanced Multi-Function Rice Cooker 37570

buy the Hamilton Beach Digital Rice Cooker:

Amazon buy button

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Review: Cuckoo Micom Rice Cooker (CR-0655F)

Cuckoo Rice Cooker Budget CR-0655F

See the Cuckoo Micom Rice Cooker on Amazon (About $90)

This rice cooker is a crossover recommendation from our article on the best Japanese rice cookers, which should be no surprise, since a great rice cooker should make all types of rice well. This isn't always true, but for this Cuckoo rice cooker, it is.

Cuckoo is a Korean company known for excellent quality micom rice cookers and multi-cookers. This is one of their made-in-China rice cookers, which is why the price point is so low (for a Cuckoo product). It's not quite as high quality as their more expensive Korean-made models, but even so, it's very well made and has a solid, durable feel.

This rice cooker has hugely positive reviews on Amazon, with more than 90% positive. It is not without its drawbacks, but it is a solid little micom rice cooker at a reasonable price.

Features and Specifications

  • Micom logic adapts and controls the cooking process for perfect brown rice every time (even if you don't get the water-to-rice ration quite right)
  • Capacity: 1-4 cups uncooked/2-8 cups cooked brown rice (6 uncooked/12 cooked white rice)
  • 11 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
  • 16 customized rice texture and flavor options with the My Way mode (chewy, soft, etc.)
  • Quick Cook mode (not great for brown rice)
  • Delay timer (up to 13 hours)
  • Self-cleaning mode
  • Nonstick inner pot
  • Removable inner lid for easier cleaning
  • 700 watts
  • 9.4 x 8.6 x 13 inches; 7 lbs
  • Included measuring cup, spatula, and user manual
  • 1 year warranty
  • Made in China.

What we like: As with all the models we recommend here, the Cuckoo makes great brown rice. The rice comes out soft yet chewy, and very evenly cooked. If brown rice is your primary concern, this cooker is tough to beat.

Cuckoo Rice Cooker control panel

The control panel (shown above, taken from user manual) may look complicated, but it is fairly easy to use, especially if you are using it primarily for brown rice. You just press the Menu button to scroll through the cooking options until Brown GABA is selected, then press Cook/Turbo to start the cooking cycle.

(As we talked about above, GABA is a special type of brown rice that's germinated to have more gamma-aminobutyric acid availability). The cook setting is the same for GABA and regular brown rice.)

If you're really into rice or want a more granulated level of control, this Cuckoo has a My Mode setting that allows you to customize the soaking time, the heating time, and the cooking temperature. These are great if you want to cook artisan rice. If you aren't into fancy rice or specialized settings, it's easy to ignore this feature (but isn't it nice to know it's there?).

If you want to take advantage of the multi-cook features, you can use your Cuckoo basically as a slow cooker. It can sear and will slow cook for up to 10 hours, but it isn't pressurized, so you can't use it like an Instant Pot.

We also really like that this is a powerful rice maker: at 700 watts, it's more powerful than any of the other cookers we recommend (though the Zojirushi comes close). This typically means that it will cook fast, although that doesn't quite hold true for brown rice, which takes about 90 minutes to cook (however, white rice cooks in about 30 minutes, which is fast for a micom rice cooker).

The self-cleaning mode is a nice extra feature that you might really like, however, you can remove the dirty parts (inner pot, inner lid, steam cap) pretty easily and clean them by hand. As nice as a self-cleaning rice cooker is, you still have to wash these parts by hand (or at least, we couldn't figure out how to have the appliance clean all of these parts by itself).

This Cuckoo rice cooker is also adorable, and a little quirky. It has a personality all its own.

What we don't like: Probably the biggest issue with this rice cooker is how it opens: when you press the latch, the lid "jumps" open rather violently, and this can cause the cooker to move around your counter top dangerously. If it's too close to the edge, it might even fall off. So you have to hold the cooker with one hand while you open the lid. It's not a deal breaker, but it is definitely something to be aware of. 

The brown rice cooking cycle takes about 90 minutes. This isn't all that long for a micom rice cooker, but it may be longer than you want to wait; it would actually be shorter to cook on the stovetop. We don't mind the long cooking cycle because the excellent results and hands-off cooking make it worth the wait.

If you try to use the cooker for more than just rice, the control panel can be a little confusing. A lot of the negative reviews were about the panel being hard to use. Part of this was because it's not backlit, so it can be hard to read, and part was because people couldn't figure out the settings. For example, to start a cooking cycle (after selecting an option from the display panel with the Select button, like GABA Brown), you use the Cook/Turbo button. A dedicated Start button would be much easier to use.

And to set the time, you use the Hrs button for hours and the Min/My Mode button for minutes--it's weird that the minutes button is the same as the button for customized menu options.

It's actually quite simple to use, especially for brown rice--and it will remember your last setting, so if you always make brown rice, you'll never have to do anything again except hit the Cook button. But if you're not used to micom rice cookers, we can see how it could be hard to figure out. The instruction manual isn't terrible, and the information is in there. But some reviewers found it really hard to use.

Some users also said that their Cuckoo rice cooker lacks rubber feet, so it moves around more easily than it should. (We did not have this problem, and only a few reviewers complained about it.) If your cooker comes without rubber feet, you can easily solve this problem by placing a towel under the cooker or buying adhesive rubber feet for it.

Finally, it may not be as durable as the Cuckoo rice cookers made in Korea. But even if this is the case, we found it to be a surprisingly durable and well made cooker that does a great job with brown rice.

Overall, we really like this rice cooker and think it is well worth the $90 price--this is much less than other sophisticated micom rice cookers on the market, and you get a lot of features for the price.

see the Cuckoo cr-0655F rice cooker on amazon

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Makes great brown rice
  • Excellent quality, even though it's a cheaper model Cuckoo (made in China) 
  • Can customize your rice several ways
  • Removable parts for easy cleaning
  • Self-cleaning mode (though we did not test this).
Cons
  • Nonstick inner pot
  • No steamer basket (can be bought separately)
  • Lid pops open hard so you should hang onto the cooker when you open it
  • No backlighting on control panel
  • Control panel is a little confusing, especially for multi-cook and My Mode settings
  • Brown rice takes almost an hour (pretty standard for micom rice cookers)
  • Some users complained that it slid around the counter (the one we tested did not).

Recommendation

The Cuckoo CR-0655F is one of Cuckoo's lower end rice cookers, but it has a lot of features and most importantly makes excellent brown rice, so even if you don't use the other features, this is a good pick. But if you're a rice connoisseur, this is an especially good pick because it offers you several ways to customize your rice cooking.

If you don't like waiting, you may want to go with the Hamilton Beach model above, which had a faster brown rice cycle; this cooker takes almost an hour. But the results are worth waiting for, and we love the solid feel and quirky looks of this rice cooker. 

Cuckoo Rice Cooker Budget CR-0655F

buy the Cuckoo micom rice cooker:

Amazon buy button

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Review: Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker (NS-ZCC)

Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker

See the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker on Amazon (About $230, made in Japan)

See Zojirushi NS-TSC10 on Amazon (About $190, made in China)

Zojirushi just may be the undisputed king of micom rice cookers (although Cuckoo is a close second). This neuro-fuzzy model we picked here is a top-of-the-line model, which you can tell by its $230 price tag. If you want the best brown rice maker in what's probably the most durable, longest-lasting package, this is the rice cooker to get. 

If you want to spend a little less yet still get excellent Zojirushi results, the NS-TSC10 is an option. It's not got all the features of the Neuro-Fuzzy model (such as heat only on the bottom, and less sophisticated micom technology) and it's made in China rather than Japan, but it has a dedicated brown rice function, it's easy to use, and it makes great brown rice. 

If you're really serious about your rice and want to spend more, you can go with Zojirushi's induction model for about $500. We didn't test it, but at this price, it should do everything but walk your dog.

Features and Specifications

  • Advanced Neuro Fuzzy® technology (patented)
  • Makes white rice, brown rice, mixed grains, porridge, sushi rice, and more
  • 10 cups cooked/5.5 cups uncooked capacity
  • Automatic Keep Warm/Extended Keep Warm settings (13 hours plus 8 hours)
  • Round inner cooking pot with surround heating system
  • Handles on inner pot make it easy to remove
  • Delay timer with 2 settings
  • Retractable power cord
  • Spatula holder
  • 3 alert settings (High Melody, Low Melody, or Beep)
  • 680 watts
  • 8 x 14 x 9 inches; 3 lbs
  • Includes 2 measuring cups, nonstick rice spatula, spatula holder, user manual with recipes
  • cETLus listed
  • 1 year limited warranty on parts and labor
  • Made in Japan

What we like: The Zojirushi Neuro-Fuzzy rice cooker won our top spot in our article on the best Japanese rice cookers, and it is our favorite for brown rice too. This rice cooker gets high praise on dozens of cooking and review sites. It's cute, it's compact, and it's extremely high quality.

Most importantly, it makes excellent brown rice. A lot of micom rice cookers are great at white rice but not at other settings. This Zojirushi makes brown rice just as good as white rice. Zojirushi did not skimp on the brown rice fuzzy logic.

The rice cooker has three heating zones: the bottom, around the pot, and in the lid. Most standard micom rice cookers have only a bottom heating plate, which can result in scorched rice. Surround heating is a much more sophisticated design and will produce more evenly cooked rice. 

Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker Control Panel

The Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker is easy to use. If you're making brown rice, you just put the rice and water in the cooker, select the Semibrown or Brown setting with the Menu button, then press the Cooking/Reheat button. The cooker will play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to let you know the cooking cycle has begun. It plays another tune ("Amyrillis") when cooking is complete and it has switched to Keep Warm mode.

If you don't like the songs, you can change the alerts to a beep.

The cooker 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. 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. 

The porridge setting is for rice porridge (congee). 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.)

Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker inner cooking pot

Inner pot: spherical shape heats more evenly and handles make it easy to move. 

The handles on the inner pot are a great feature. It's easy to lift the pot out of the cooker when it's hot. This is a great feature only found on a few Zojirushi models.

The measurement markings on the inner pot are white, so they're easy to read. You'd think this would be standard on all rice makers, but it's not.

The retractable cord is great, too. You may not think you'll use it, but it makes storage a lot easier: no more winding up the cord or leaving it dangle. (All appliances should have a retractable cord.)

The Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker comes with two measuring cups, a clear one and a green one. Use the clear one for regular white and brown rice, semi-brown, and sweet rice. Use the green one for rinse-free rice (Pre-Washed rice; not available in the US as far as we know).

What we don't like: As with all rice cookers, we wish this one did not have a nonstick inner pot. It's a small complaint because it's nearly impossible to find a rice cooker without a nonstick inner pot, but it's something we dislike.

There's no steamer basket made for this unit, so not only doesn't it come with one, but you can't buy one for it. If you like to steam veggies and/or proteins with your rice, this is not the right rice cooker for you.

Though this cooker gets overwhelmingly positive reviews, some of the negative reviewers mentioned that the steam vent is not removable, which makes it hard to clean. It will collect gunk over time and it needs to be cleaned. You can get in there with a damp cloth and wipe it out, but it should be removable.

Another complaint from long-term owners is that the lithium battery is not replaceable. This battery keeps the clock going, and when it dies, you either have to keep the rice cooker plugged in all the time, live without a clock (the cooker will still function), or send the cooker to Zojirushi--at your own expense--to have the battery changed. We wonder if handy people could figure out how to change it themselves, but no one seems to have figured it out. 

And it's a small complaint, but it isn't the prettiest countertop appliance we've seen. The white plastic looks kind of cheap, even though it isn't.

Finally, replacement parts for this rice cooker can be expensive. A replacement inner pot costs upwards of $50--and you will have to replace it eventually, because nonstick peels no matter how well you take care of it.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Makes excellent brown rice with advanced Neuro Fuzzy technology (better than micom)
  • Easy to use; remembers last setting
  • 3 heating zones and spherical pot make very evenly cooked rice
  • Handles on inner pot make it easy to move
  • Markings on inner pot very easy to read
  • Retractable cord for easy storage
  • Made in Japan.
Cons
  • Nonstick inner pot
  • No steamer basket for this model
  • Non-removable steam vent is hard to clean
  • Must send to Zojirushi to replace lithium battery
  • Expensive replacement parts.

Recommendation

The Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker makes excellent brown rice and gets hugely positive reviews. It has a few drawbacks, such as the non-removable steam vent that's tricky to clean, but overall it's a durable, easy-to-use rice cooker that should last for many years.

Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker front:side view

buy zojirushi neuro fuzzy NS-ZCC rice cooker:

Amazon buy button

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Other Models We Looked At

Here are some other models we found that were pretty good, but didn't quite make the cut for brown rice (or were disqualified for other reasons, e.g., too expensive, poor reviews, etc.). Some of these are listed above as alternative options. 

We looked at other models, but these are the ones that came closest in performance to our recommendations.

Hamilton Beach Advanced Micom Rice Cooker 37570 on Amazon (About $60): The upgrade to our Hamilton Beach Digital rice cooker. Micom technology and mostly great reviews, but a lot of people found it hard to use and the instruction manual was poorly written. But if you want a bigger rice cooker, this one has a 16 cup capacity (huge).

Instant Pot Duo 9-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker (About $100 for the 6 quart model): If you want an all-in-one unit instead of a dedicated rice cooker, an Instant Pot is certainly an option. And yes, this cooker will make good brown rice (like any pressure cooker), but you can't use the Rice settings if you want good results. Look up a recipe for Instant Pot brown rice online and use the measurements they give and the manual setting on your Instant Pot. It will give you decent brown rice, but we don't think it's quite as good as what you can get from a dedicated micom rice cooker; it's easy to under- or overcook and get hard or mushy rice. 

Tiger JBV-A10U Micom Rice Cooker (About $80): Easy to use, price is good, but the Keep Warm function dries out the rice, and the instruction manual was hard to follow.

Tiger JNP-S10U-HU Rice Cooker (About $140 for the 5.5 cup model): This is a one-touch operation rice cooker, super easy to use, made in Japan--so one of Tiger's higher end models--but it got some poor reviews for brown rice, so we didn't test it.

Zojirushi NS-TSC10 on Amazon (About $190): This is a slightly cheaper version of Zojirushi rice cooker that's made in China but has micom technology and will make great brown rice. It's also a little prettier (we think) than the Neuro Fuzzy model we recommend. It even has a retractable power cord. But the heat won't be as even as on the Neuro Fuzzy, so the rice won't be quite as perfect (but really close).

Zojirushi NP-NWC10XB (About $500): If you're really into rice and want the best technology available, this is the model to get. Induction heating is incredibly even and being pressurized (like an Instant Pot) makes faster rice that's still perfect every time due to advanced fuzzy logic technology. 

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Brown Rice Cooker FAQ

Is a Rice Cooker Worth It?

It may be, depending on how often you eat rice, how much you hate cooking it on the stove, and other factors. Even if you don't eat rice often, a rice cooker can be a wise investment: it's a hands-off method of cooking rice, freeing you up to do other things while it cooks, and you never have to worry about gummy, chewy, or scorched rice. For a lot of people, that makes a rice cooker "worth it."

What Is the Best Size Brown Rice Cooker?

This depends on how many people you're feeding, if you like to meal prep, and other factors. In general, a 5.5 cup rice cooker works for most families. It's best to not fill a rice cooker to capacity, though, so if you have a large family or like to cook large amounts of rice, you may want to go with a bigger size. Keep in mind, though, that bigger ones are bulkier, heavier, and take up more space, so you can often make multiple batches with a smaller rice cooker.

Is Brown Rice Better for You than White Rice?

Yes and no. It has more fiber and more nutrients, but it also has more phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that makes foods harder to digest. Brown rice also has more arsenic than white rice (all rice has some degree of arsenic in it). You can counter some of the negatives by soaking brown rice to remove phytic acid, rinsing brown rice thoroughly to remove some of the arsenic, and using clear, filtered water to cook it. You can also buy sprouted or GABA brown rice, which has more nutrients and less phytic acid than regular brown rice.

Can You Cook Brown Rice in a Regular Rice Cooker?

Yes, you can, even if the rice cooker doesn't have a brown rice setting. However, not all rice cookers make good brown rice, whether or not they have a setting for it. You have to do your research to find a cooker that makes good brown rice (like reading this article).

Why Does Brown Rice Take Longer to Cook?

Brown rice retains its outer layers of bran. This makes it chewier and requires a longer cooking time to soften the outer layers. Different types of brown rice have different cooking times, but long grain brown rice--the most common brown rice in the US--takes about 45 minutes to cook on the stovetop and sometimes over an hour in a rice cooker. The fastest way to cook brown rice is with a pressure cooker, which reduces the cooking time of long grain brown rice to about 20 minutes.

How Long Does Brown Rice Keep?

White rice will keep pretty much forever, as long as it's in a dry container (although its official shelf life is two years). Brown rice, however, has oils in the bran layer that will go rancid much more quickly, so it only keeps for about 6 months if it's not refrigerated or frozen.

If you're not going to use up your brown rice quickly, you should keep it in the refrigerator or freezer. It will last up to a year in the refrigerator, and indefinitely in the freezer.

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Final Thoughts on Brown Rice Cookers

brown rice in dish

When it comes to brown rice, all rice cookers are not created equally. A rice cooker that makes perfect white rice may scorch or undercook brown rice. And this is true no matter how much you spend. 

If you're primarily concerned with brown rice, how do you know if a rice cooker will work? The best way is to research. The rice cookers we recommend here all make great brown rice. Whether you want to spend $20 or $200, we've got you covered.

Thanks for reading!

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