Whether it’s rolled in sushi, sauteed with black beans or stirred into a bowl of steamy risotto, rice is one of those always-hit-never-miss foods we just can’t get enough of. But, despite its drool-worthy potential, this delicious grain often slips under everyone’s radar. The most common excuse? It’s too tricky to cook. Well, not anymore, because Japanese rice cookers are here to shake things up.
With their set-it-and-forget-it attitude, these innovative kitchen appliances boil or steam rice to perfection, allowing you to enjoy your favorite rice-based meals in no time. However, choosing the right one can be a challenge, especially with all the options available in the market. So, to make your life easier (and keep your wallet from feeling the pinch!), we’ve rounded up 5 best Japanese rice cookers that are actually worth splurging on. Are you ready to rice (sorry, raise) the bar?
Table of Contents
- Best Japanese Rice cooker Reviews for 2021
- What Is A Japanese Rice Cooker?
- What to Look For When Shopping For A Japanese Rice Cooker
Best Japanese Rice cooker Reviews for 2021
Now that you know what makes a Japanese rice cooker stand out, you probably realize that not every model is fit for the job. So, to keep you from spending your money on something that’s not worth the time, we’ve scouted out the top 5 Japanese rice cookers you should definitely keep on your to-buy list. Ready to dig in?
1. Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT 3-Cup Rice Cooker
If you are looking for a medium-sized rice cooker with a sleek design that doesn’t take up much of your counter space, then this model is a safe bet. Sporting a stainless steel construction with black accents, this cooker is a perfect addition to any type of kitchen, whether it’s modern or mainstream. It’s also designed to cook up to three cups of rice which makes it a perfect choice for bachelors and new couples alike. But, let’s see what else this cooker has in store for you.
- Multiple Cooking Functions (MICOM Technology)
This device is specially designed to cook various types of rice based on your individual needs. Specifically, it features a microchip which adjusts the cooking temps and times based on the kind of rice you want to cook. So, to put it plainly, it does all the work for you. This MICOM (Micro Computer) Technology is also tuned to time the pre-soaking and final "sitting" phases of certain grains, taking over every aspect of rice cooking from start to finish.
- Even Heat Distribution
The inner cooking pan sports a round-edged design that promotes an even heat distribution. This trait can be a real time-saver.
- Easy to Clean
The inner pot and lid are also detachable which means you can readily remove and clean them without cramming your hands inside the cooker's small chamber.
- Keep-Warm Setting
This product has an automatic feature which keeps your rice warm for hours after it's done being cooked. However, note that you shouldn't keep anything in there more than 12 hours or the food will start spoiling.
- Space-Saving Design
Despite being able to cook up to three cups of raw rice, this cooker has a small footprint which makes it a perfect fit for small kitchens with limited counter or cabinet space.
- Comes With Accessories
It also comes with a bunch of accessories which make the whole rice cooking thing even more accessible to you, even if you are a newbie. Specifically, you get a non-stick spatula and a respective holder and a measuring cup which takes the guesswork out of measurements. Cooking rice was never easier!
- Durable Materials
Primarily made of stainless steel, this product is durable AF. That means that if maintained properly, it may last for many years. So, do your part and take care of it as much as possible.
- Retractable Power Cord
Detangling power cords is never an easy task. To spare you the frustration, this model comes with a retractable power cord that is easily stored in the cooker. That saves you lots of space.
- LCD Control Panel
This model has a high-end LCD control panel which allows you to customize your cooking experience based on your needs. From timers to temps, this rice cooker has it all, and this LCD panel is your way of manning them.
- Steam Vent
It also comes with a vent that gradually releases hot steam from inside the chamber. This way you prevent the lid from cracking wide open due to pressure.
- Inner Pot Peels Off
The inner cooking pot features a non-stick coating. It's common knowledge that this type of insulation doesn't last forever. Luckily, there are some ways to extend its lifespan, and these include using soft sponges to clean the surface and keeping metal utensils away from the pot.
2. Tiger JNP-1800-FL 10-Cup Rice Cooker
If you have a big family and want to cook large batches of rice in one go, then this model is a no-brainer. Capable of preparing up to 10 cups of (uncooked) rice, this device is perfect for anyone with a large kitchen or a genuine love for sushi. Plus, it sports a cute floral design that is bound to steal the show. But, let’s take a closer look at this top-selling rice cooker.
- Safe Materials
Made of stainless steel, this product is safe to use around food and guarantees zero chance of contamination. Plus, it's super durable which means it can last for years.
- Easy to Use
This model has a simple ON/OFF switch that makes the whole process much more comfortable. No adjustment buttons, no temperature setting, no anything.
- Large Capacity
Cooking up to 10 cups of (uncooked) rice, this appliance is ideal for everyone who wants to enjoy large batches of the delicious grain.
- Retractable Power Cord
It may come with a large cooking chamber, but that doesn't mean that this cooker doesn't try its best to save you as much space as possible. Hence, the retractable power cord. This feature allows you to store the power cord inside the cooker, keeping much-needed space to yourself and avoiding any uncomfortable tangling.
- Additional Accessories
It also comes with a spatula and a measuring cup which help you get the hang of your brand new cooker.
- Keep-Warm Setting
Like many high-end rice cookers, this one features a setting that keeps the food warm. What's impressive about this model, though, is that it can perform this task for up to 12 hours.
- Non-Detachable Inner Pot
The inner pot of this cooker is not removable which makes cleaning a bit of a challenge. So, after every use, you have to wait until the device cools down and then wipe it with a wet, slightly soapy cloth.
- Basic Features
Unlike others, this model comes with a few basic features. That means that it doesn't allow much "movement" such as setting a timer or adjusting the temperature based on the type of rice cooked.
3. Zojirushi NS-LGC05XB Rice Cooker
If you are on the market for a “smart” rice cooker that will do most of the work for you, then you found your match. This model comes with an integrated MICOM Technology system which performs several tasks on its own, from adjusting the cooking temperature to cooking food at the desired time. But, this is just the beginning. Read on to find out what else this cooker has in store for you.
- Compatible With Many Rice Types
From white, mixed and brown rice to steel cut oatmeal, this model can cook a variety of grains to perfection. So, no matter what you're in the mood for, this cooker will make it happen.
- Efficient Cooking
Unlike most rice cookers, this one features a triple heater system. So, one of them is located at the bottom of the device, one on the side and one inside the top lid. That means that the cooking chamber heats up very quickly and the heat is distributed evenly.
- Removable Inner Lid
It features a detachable inner lid which makes cleaning much more relaxed.
- Retractable Power Cord
It's also equipped with a retractable power cord which is placed back inside the cooker's body, maximizing your storing capacity.
- Automatic Keep-Warm Setting
As soon as your food is ready, the device switches to keep-warm mode to reserve the meal's temperature. That's priceless!
- High-Quality Materials
This model is made of stainless steel, a material which is known for its long-lasting and food-friendly nature. The only catch? Never touch the stainless steel pan with metal objects such as metal spoons, forks or scrapers.
- Delay Timer
It also comes with a delay timer that allows you to adjust the cooking time for your food. This way you can enjoy a freshly cooked meal without lifting a finger when you wake up, come back from work or return home from the gym.
- Detachable Steam Vent
It has a vent which is removable which can be helpful when you're cooking at high temperatures and the steam just struggles to get out of the cooking chamber.
- Bonus Accessories
Like all Zojirushi rice cookers, this one comes with a specially designed spatula and a respective holder as well as a handy measuring cup.
- LCD Control Panel
Being the "smart" rice cooker that it is, this model features an easy-to-use LCD panel which allows you to cruise through the device's several functions smoothly. So, whether you want to adjust the temps or set the timer, this easy-to-navigate panel and its soft-touch buttons make the whole process a cinch.
- Melody or Beep Signal
It is programmed to make a distinct beeping sound or melody which indicates that the food is ready or about to start cooking itself.
- Easy to Move
This model comes with a fold-down handle which makes transportation a breeze.
- Limited Warranty
This product comes with a one-year warranty which is kind of short.
4. Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH Induction Heating Rice Cooker
If you are looking for an energy-efficient rice cooker, then your search is complete. This model features a highly efficient induction heating system which distributes heat throughout the chamber and leaves no rice grain uncooked. Plus, it looks fantastic thanks to its stainless dark gray design which can fancy up every kitchen, whether old-fashioned or modern. Intrigued much? Here’s what you need to know about this high-end rice cooker.
- Keep-Warm Feature
This cooker comes with a unique feature that keeps your food warm until you find some time to get to it.
- Efficient Heating System
This model's heating system is tough to beat. To begin with, it has three heaters which are placed in different places (lid, side, bottom) to achieve even heat distribution. Besides that, the cooker uses a heating method known as induction heating.
That means that the coils of the cooker start radiating heat once you place the cooking pan inside the chamber. Specifically, when the two get in touch, a magnetic field is generated, and heat is spread throughout the space using self-produced energy rather than the energy delivered by an external heat source. That's actually a very energy-efficient way to cook food.
- Multiple Cooking Methods
Whether you want to enjoy some homemade sushi rolls or are in the mood for a bowl of porridge, this product has you covered. Featuring a bunch of different cooking modes, it allows you to cook the various types of rice to perfection without lifting a finger. In fact, it's also designed to prepare Jasmine rice which can be a handful.
- Delay Timer
It has a built-in delay timer system that allows you to cook your meals at a pre-set time, even if you are not manning the machine.
- Easy to Clean
This rice cooker has a detachable pan and inner lid. This way you can clean them in no time without struggling to get to all those-hard-to-reach spots inside the chamber and on the cover.
- Melody or Beep Signal
The device also features a sound notification system for when cooking is about to start or comes to an end. So, you get to hear a specific melody or beeping sound once your food is ready. Of course, you can always switch it to silent mode.
- Eye-Catching Design
Sporting a stainless dark gray design, this rice cooker is a sight for sore eyes. So, if you want to add some class to your kitchen, this edgy-looking device is the way to go.
- Limited Warranty
Lasting just one year, this cooker's warranty is rather short. That means that you have to replace any broken or worn out parts yourself after the first year has passed. Sometimes that can be costly.
5. Zojirushi NS-VGC05 3-Cup Rice Cooker
If you want a compact-sized rice cooker that will fit your cute little kitchen, then you need to check this model out. Don’t be fooled, though. This device still has enough space to cook up to 3 cups of raw rice which means it can facilitate the needs of a medium-sized family. Love what you’re hearing? Here’s the full scoop.
- Automatic Keep-Warm Feature
Like most high-quality rice cookers, this one comes with an automatic feature that keeps the food warm for hours after it's done being cooked.
- LCD Control Panel
It also has a user-friendly LCD control panel which allows you to choose the preferred cooking program depending on the type of rice you are having for dinner.
- "Smart" MICOM Technology
Equipped with "smart" technology, this appliance can cook various types of rice on its own. All you have to do is to set the kind of choice, and it will take care of the rest, from soaking to steaming the grains.
- Doubles As A Cake Baker
Thanks to one of its unique cooking modes, this model can double as an easy-to-use cake baker. So, instead of tossing some rice in there, add some cake batter and let the device take it from there. That's impressive, don't you think?
- Detachable Power Cord
Unlike most models, this one comes with a removable power cord that saves you lots of space. Consider storing it inside the cooker between uses to avoid losing it.
- Coating Peels Off
The pan is coated with Teflon. This material is likely to peel off if you don't take good care of it. So, avoid scraping it with metal objects, and you'll be golden.
What Is A Japanese Rice Cooker?
As the name suggests, a Japanese rice cooker is a compact kitchen appliance originating from Japan (or China/Korea) and is primarily used to cook rice. What makes this device superior to a regular rice steamer is that it makes rice taste so much better thanks to a variety of high-end features such as diverse cooking functions, metric increments, spot-on timers, etc. Not to mention that Japanese folks are pros when it comes to cooking a batch of delicious rice. So, why not follow their lead?
What to Look For When Shopping For A Japanese Rice Cooker
Choosing the right Japanese rice cooker is no easy task. From the size of the device to the materials used to make the bowl, there are a lot of parameters you need to consider to nail your choice down to the very best of the kind. But, since you (and we alike) want to make the most out of this purchase, we rounded up the six only things you need to keep in mind when shopping for a Japanese rice cooker. Let’s get a bang for our buck, shall we?
The first thing that you need to take into account is the cooker’s size. In particular, how many people you are going to cook for using this device. If the answer is more than just a couple, then going with a large rice cooker is the best option. However, if you want to cook for one (maximum two) people, it’s best to stick to a small or medium-sized version of the appliance.
You should also pay attention to the bowl’s material of choice. After all, it’s the only part of the device that gets close to your food. The two most common options include aluminum and stainless steel.
At this point, it’s worth noting that stainless steel is considered a much healthier option since it doesn’t react with rice and other acidic foods such as sauces. That means that it doesn’t peel off as time passes by and it most certainly doesn’t infuse your food with harmful substances and unpleasant odors.
Detachable Inner Lid
This feature is a synonym for easy and fast cleanup. So, if you hate spending on those hard-to-reach spots, then you should definitely opt for a Japanese rice cooker with a detachable inner lid. Trust us; this feat will cut your cleaning time in half.
When it comes to rice cookers and their heaters, you are usually presented with two options: coiled electric heating or induction heating. While both of them can do the trick, induction heaters are considered far more efficient than their coiled counterparts because they tend to cook the rice evenly, leaving no room for burning/charring.
You are only human. Sometimes you barely find time to cook, let alone stand on top of the rice cooker waiting for your food to get ready. That is where the keep-warm setting steps in. Even if it’s not a must-have feature for your future cooker, this setting allows you to keep your rice (or any other food you tossed in there) warm until you get to eat it. Also, fret not! High-end rice cookers with a keep-warm setting are tested a hundred times over. So, they are perfectly safe to use.
Versatile Cooking Methods
From brown to mixed, rice has gone through a renaissance of sorts. This healthy transformation has influenced the style of many rice cookers worldwide as manufacturers try to keep up with consumers’ ever-growing need to cook more than just the white stuff. With that in mind, many modern Japanese rice cookers come with a special setting that allows you to steam various types of rice to perfection, whether they are meant for porridge or sushi.
Let’s be honest; there’s something so comforting about a bowl of freshly cooked rice. But, between adding too much water and letting it cook for too long, this comfort food usually ends up turning into a pile of hot mushy mess. Well, thanks to their high-end features, Japanese rice cookers are here to change all that. So, if you are ready to put the “watery grain” days behind you, these top 5 Japanese rice cookers are second to none.