If you eat a lot of rice or you’re just tired of making it on the stovetop, a good rice cooker can make better-quality rice than you can on the stove, all while you’re busy cooking other elements of your meal. It can turn out perfectly cooked rice and porridges of any type — all you need to do is measure accurately. But with different brands and technologies it can be hard to know which rice cookers are worth your hard-earned money.
To find the best rice cooker for you and your kitchen, we spent weeks testing 18 different rice cookers from popular brands such as Zojirushi, Tiger, Cuckoo and more. After dozens of test cooks and eating way too much rice (a phrase we never thought we’d write), two rice cookers stood out among the rest.
Best overall rice cooker: Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker
The Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker was the clear winner in our testing. Whether we cooked sushi rice, brown rice or basmati rice, the rice came out fluffy and delicious every single time. It was the highest-quality cook we got out of all the rice cookers we tested, tied with the Tiger JKT-D10U, which cooked similarly delicious rice but costs about $80 more.
The rice from the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy was top-notch, and the machine has plenty of features that make cooking rice an easy and pleasant experience. The Zojirushi’s microprocessor (“Micom” for “microcomputer” in the company’s nomenclature) uses software (“fuzzy logic”) to determine how much water and rice is in the cooker so it makes the perfect pot every time — even if you aren’t perfect in your measurements.
That means if you accidentally add too much or too little water to your rice, the Zojirushi will make up for your mistake and adjust its cooking process to produce delicious rice. We tested this ourselves by adding an extra cup of water in one cook and a cup fewer in another. This would normally result in a completely ruined batch of rice, but with the Neuro Fuzzy it was still edible and actually not that bad.
It’s easy to cook rice in the Zojirushi, and thankfully it’s a breeze to clean as well. Most cookers we tested had between two and three detachable parts that can easily be hand-washed. The Neuro Fuzzy has two elements — the inner pan and the inner lid — that can be removed and washed in mere minutes (like most pots in rice cookers, it can’t be thrown in the dishwasher).
The Zojirushi is all about ease of use, whether that’s in the form of its forgiving software, easy-to-clean elements or the Neuro Fuzzy’s useful “Keep Warm” and “Extended Keep Warm” features. These automatically turn on after cooking and will store your rice at the perfect temperature (about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, warm enough to inhibit bacterial growth that can cause food poisoning) so you can scoop up leftover rice to eat hours after its finished cooking. The normal Keep Warm will last for 12 hours, after which the Extended Keep Warm will activate for an additional eight hours.
The Zojirushi also has a “Quick Cook” function, which brought its normal cook time for sushi rice from 42 minutes down to 31 minutes. The quality of the rice isn’t as good as the full 42-minute cycle, but it’s still much better than any stovetop rice we’ve eaten.
Features like Keep Warm and Quick Cook are featured in many of the other rice cookers we tested (including our other winner), so while they’re nice to have, they aren’t what pushed the Zojirushi over the top. Our selections really came down to the quality of rice, and in that area, the Zojirushi just couldn’t be beat. So if you want a rice cooker that’s simple to use but most importantly makes an amazing pot of rice every single time, the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy is the one for you. If you want to learn more about our favorite rice cooker, check out our full, in-depth review here.
Budget pick: Cuckoo CR-0655F Rice Cooker
The Cuckoo CR-0655F Rice Cooker made rice that was delicious and of a similar quality as other rice cookers we tested that were double its price, though not at the same level as the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy or Tiger JKT-D10U. If you don’t need the best of the best, this Cuckoo rice cooker provides the perfect balance of price, ease of use and quality rice.
In our rice tests, the Cuckoo CR-0655F made far better rice than the budget options and other mid-tier cookers we tested. Its closest competitors were the Tiger JAX-T10U-K and the Hamilton Beach Digital Programmable Rice Cooker. The Tiger and the CR-0655F had similar performances, especially in the rice tests, but the Tiger JAX-T10U-K costs more than twice as much. On the other hand, the Hamilton Beach is only $60, but it couldn’t quite compete with the quality of the Cuckoo; however, if you want to save even more money, it’s a good buy.
The Cuckoo’s rice was a bit stickier and gummier than what we made using the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy, but it was still fluffy and had a nice consistency. The Cuckoo also had a shorter cook time than many of the other rice cookers at just 34 minutes. Its Quick Cook function didn’t cut much time off the process, however, and still took 32 minutes.
The CR-0655F has the standard features you’ll find in most quality rice cookers like a Keep Warm mode and Quick Cook, along with different presets for different types of cooks like brown rice and porridge. However, this Cuckoo has one feature that we didn’t see on any other rice cooker: Auto Clean. If you don’t want to scrub the nonstick pot after you make rice (which isn’t all that hard, to be fair), you can put some water in the pot and turn on Auto Clean, which uses steam to loosen up any debris. It does take 25 minutes, so it’s a slower process than just washing it in the sink, but it requires less labor, which might be appealing to some.
The one feature the Cuckoo rice cooker doesn’t have that we’d love is a handle. Most other rice cookers we tested had one, which makes them a lot easier to take in and out of storage. But besides that small detail, there really isn’t much to not like about the CR-0655F. It’s simple to use, it cooks delicious rice and its red coloring looks cute on the counter. If you’re looking for a good but not great rice cooker for less than $100, the Cuckoo CR-0655F is definitely the one to buy.
Everything you need to know about rice cookers
Rice cookers can vary a lot in price; you can find one at your local Target or Walmart for $25 or spend upward of $700 on Zojirushi’s latest model. To help you figure out what you want out of your rice cooker, we’re breaking down the basics.
With the more expensive cookers, you’re paying for more advanced cooking technology, larger capacity, additional pressure cooking features and more elaborate digital controls.
At the most basic level, a rice cooker will just be a little pot with a lid that is placed on a heating element to cook rice — the same process as what you’d do on the stovetop, just in its own appliance and on a timer. These cookers don’t normally make rice any better than you would over a burner, but they do tend to be small so you can save space.
We suggest stepping up to at least the next level, the slightly more expensive rice cookers that have a lid that locks in place and seals, so less steam is released during the cooking process, meaning a higher-quality cook. The Hamilton Beach Digital Programmable Rice Cooker & Food Steamer is a great example of a machine like this, and there are other popular options from brands like Aroma, Tiger and Zojirushi that are built similarly. Normally this level of rice cooker introduces more modes for specific types of rice like brown rice and functions like Quick Cook and Keep Warm.
The next level introduces digital controls and computer chips to help perfect the cooking process. Like the “Micom” (Zojirushi’s abbreviation for “microcomputer”) in the Neuro Fuzzy, these computer chips help judge the ratio of water and rice to adjust the cook and produce the best possible rice regardless of type or recipe. These rice cookers can vary a lot in price depending on other features.
We think this level of rice cooker is enough to satisfy almost everyone’s rice cooking needs, thanks to their ability to cook deliciously fluffy rice. Throughout our testing, we tried some fancier machines that use induction heating, but found that the quality of rice didn’t improve much. We tested three rice cookers with induction heating, but we thought the Neuro Fuzzy cooked as good if not better rice than all of them. But if you do want to invest more in a rice cooker, induction heating produces higher temperatures, which can theoretically lead to fluffier rice.
The real top-of-the-line rice cookers are induction units as well but are also fully sealed so they can function like pressure cookers, supposedly creating the perfect environment for rice. We didn’t test any rice cookers with every one of these features in this round because they tend to be extremely expensive — like the $700 top-of-the-line Zojirushi.
We did test a couple of pressure cookers like the Instant Pot to pit them against traditional rice cookers, but every batch of rice we made in them came out extremely gummy and wet; the quality just wasn’t on par with most of the other rice cookers we tried.
How we tested
We tested 18 rice cookers by cooking 2 cups of the Nishiki medium grain rice on the plain/white rice setting. We compared the taste and consistency of each rice against similar models and narrowed the pool down to a smaller group of finalists. We then cooked another batch of white rice, a batch of Lundberg long grain basmati rice and a batch of Lundberg short grain brown rice. We compared the cook of these batches against one another and weighed other factors such as extra features, ease of cleaning, size, design and more.
- Sushi/medium grain rice: We cooked 2 cups of Nishiki medium grain rice on the cooker’s plain/white rice setting. We then tasted and directly compared the flavor and consistency of the rice with other rice cookers. We looked out for burnt bottoms, wetness, fluffiness and overall taste. We eliminated rice cookers that made the worst rice.
- Brown rice: After narrowing down the pool, we cooked 2 cups of Lundberg short grain brown rice on the cooker’s brown rice setting. We then tasted and directly compared the flavor and consistency of the rice with other rice cookers.
- Basmati rice: After narrowing down the pool, we cooked 2 cups of Lundberg long grain basmati rice on the cooker’s brown rice setting. We then tasted and directly compared the flavor and consistency of the rice with other rice cookers.
- Different modes: We counted how many different modes each rice cooker had, such as settings for brown rice, porridge and more.
- Other settings: We counted how many extra features and settings each rice cooker had, such as Keep Warm, a timer and Auto Clean.
- Ease of cleaning: We removed all washable elements from each rice cooker and cleaned them, judging how hard or easy it was and how long it took.
Design/build quality assessments
- Capacity/sizes: We counted how many size options are available for each rice cooker.
- Footprint: We researched each rice cooker’s dimensions.
- Weight: We weighed each rice cooker on a kitchen scale.
- Cord length: We measured each rice cooker’s cord with a measuring tape.
- General design/look: We judged how each rice cooker looked and any extra design choices.
Everything else we tested
$59.99 at Amazon
The Hamilton Beach rice cooker was almost one of our picks, but it just couldn’t beat out the Cuckoo CR-0655F. If the Cuckoo is still a bit too expensive for you, we’d definitely recommend going for the $60 Hamilton Beach Digital Programmable Rice Cooker. It’s got the same features as more expensive machines like Quick Cook and Keep Warm, and it cooked rice better than any other rice cooker in its price range — other than the Cuckoo CR-0655F. The rice quality is definitely a step down from the CR-0655F, but it’s still solid and will do the job for people who eat rice only every once in a while.
The Tiger JKT-D10U made rice just as delicious as the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy. It was a top performer in all of our rice tests, but since it’s more expensive than the Neuro Fuzzy at around $300, we think the Zojirushi is the better buy. However, if you are a loyal Tiger fan and you’re looking for top-notch rice, you can’t go wrong with the JKT-D10U.
$294.99 at Zojirushi
This Zojirushi rice cooker also cooked delicious rice, but it wasn’t quite at the same level as the Neuro Fuzzy or the Tiger JKT-D10U. It does have induction heating, so if you want a rice cooker with that technology this is a good option. However, this cooker is only available in a 3-cup size, so if you’re making rice for more than two to three people at once it might be too small for your needs.
$196.49 at Zojirushi
This Zojirushi cooker has a computer chip in it just like the Neuro Fuzzy, but it didn’t make the same quality of rice. It’s a solid rice cooker, but we think the Neuro Fuzzy outshines it in nearly every way. For $30 more, we think our best overall pick is the way to go.
$149.95 at Amazon
This rice cooker had a very solid performance. It cooked tasty rice and had plenty of useful features. It was in contention for our runner-up spot, but the Cuckoo CR-0655F had similar qualities for just $80. It’s more expensive than our pick, but you definitely won’t be disappointed if you choose this Tiger machine.
$99 $79.56 at Amazon
The Tiger JBV-A10U just didn’t cook rice as well as most of the other rice cookers. We think your money is better spent on the Cuckoo CR-0655F, which is around the same price as this one.
$539.95 at Amazon
The Panasonic rice cooker features induction heating, but we didn’t think it made a better pot of rice than the Neuro Fuzzy. In fact, we thought the Panasonic’s rice was on par with some of the mid-tier cookers we tested, which is why we don’t think it’s worth the $500 price tag.
$39.99 $37.19 at Amazon
This Aroma rice cooker was almost our budget pick, since it made a solid pot of rice and has great features like quick cook and keep warm. However, we had issues with the steam vent when we cooked rice. The steam that came out would pool on the top of the lid and spill over onto the counter, making a wet, sticky mess.
$47.99 at Amazon
This rice cooker has a simple lid that doesn’t trap in much heat, leading to a mushier rice. Most rice cookers we tested with this feature didn’t make very good rice, and the Zojirushi was no exception. We did like it better than the other simple options, so if you want a tiny rice cooker and don’t mind mediocre rice it could be a good purchase; however, we think you’re better off spending the extra $10 for the Hamilton Beach.
$64.99 $54.99 at Cuckoo
This massive, 10-cup rice cooker took up tons of counter space and didn’t cook very good rice. The bottom of the rice was burnt and it didn’t taste quite as fluffy as the rice from the Hamilton Beach machine. Unless you’re cooking for a large family and need the 10-cup capacity (the Hamilton Beach can cook 7 cups), we don’t think this rice cooker is worth your money.
$24.99 $19.99 at Target
The Oster DiamondForce made some pretty mediocre rice. It’s cheap, but we think spending the extra money on the Hamilton Beach or even the Zojirushi NHS-06 is well worth it.
$21.24 at Target
Similar to the Oster DiamondForce, we really don’t think this rice cooker is worth buying. If you spend the extra money on the Hamilton Beach, you’ll get much better rice and a better cooking experience too.
$24.99 at Amazon
This tiny, 2-cup rice cooker is cute, but it didn’t cook very good rice. It could be a good gift for someone living in a small apartment or a college dorm, but we still think the Hamilton Beach or Zojirushi NHS-06 are better options.
$39.99 $29.99 at Amazon
The rice from this Aroma had a burnt bottom and didn’t come out very well at all. The Professional Version is definitely a better option than this one for about $10 more, but we still recommend the Hamilton Beach over both Aroma machines.
$129.99 at Instant
We wanted to see if a pressure cooker could make rice at the same level as a dedicated rice cooker, but unfortunately the results were underwhelming. The rice from the Instant Pot Duo Plus was gummier and mushier than most of the traditional rice cookers we tried. If you want to consolidate kitchen appliances, the Instant Pot is a great pick, but if you’re just looking for a rice cooker we don’t think it can compete.
$298 $279.95 at Amazon
This pressure cooker from Cuckoo had similar results as the Instant Pot. The rice we cooked was mushy and didn’t taste very good at all. The machine has tons of other functions, so it might be worth a look if you’re in the market for a pressure cooker, but it isn’t worth the money if you just want a rice cooker.