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Best rice cooker 2021: for perfectly cooked rice, every time

Choose the best rice cooker for your kitchen with our guide to high-end and budget-friendly rice cookers from Zojirushi, Cuckoo, and more

Best rice cooker
(Image credit: Instant Pot)

Looking for the best rice cooker for your kitchen? We've selected five of the very top models from Zojirushi, Cuckoo, Instant, Dash, and GreenLife to bring you an option for every home. 

Whether you want to cook simple white rice with the touch of a button, or to prepare generous servings of brown rice, quinoa, or even oatmeal, choosing the best rice cooker will allow you to do it all in one pot. And because of the extensive menus available when you buy from top brands, you can be confident that whatever dish you wish to cook will be perfectly finished every time, with no margin for error. Much like the best slow cookers, buying a rice cooker will let you prep the meal and then do all the cooking for you. 

Our guide includes some more basic rice cookers for under $50, as well as high-end and modern machines from Japan. Our top pick is an induction rice cooker, also known as a microm (micro computerized) machine thanks to the sensitivity of the design and the range of smart cooking modes.

Best rice cooker: our top 5 

Zojirushi rice cooker

(Image credit: Best rice cooker)

1. Zojirushi NP-GBC05XT

The best rice cooker overall: a smart and modern design for the perfect fluffy rice

Specifications
Dimensions: 9.12 x 11.87 x 7.5 inches
No. of settings: Seven
Capacity: Three cups
Power: 700 watts
Reasons to buy
+Microm induction cooking+Storage-friendly design+Modes for brown and sushi rice+Smart and easy-use display
Reasons to avoid
-The capacity may be small for some

The Zojirushi NP-GBC05XT looks smart but doesn't take up more space than is necessary. It has a three cup capacity, which will be more than enough for most families, and modes for all sorts of grains.

Why we love it

Using the modern convenience of induction technology, the Zojirushi NP-GBC05XT is only activated when the pot is on the heating elements. This is a nice safety feature and will also serve to heat the rice directly instead of the pot around it. That speeds along the cooking time.

Made in Japan, you can trust that the Zojirushi NP-GBC05XT (just like any Zojirushi rice cooker) is designed to take the cooking of rice and grains very seriously. That includes brown rice, which has numerous health benefits but is tricky to cook. 

Features

Of course, the Zojirushi NP-GBC05XT is an expensive choice, but it does have more power than most rice cookers. Modes include white/mixed, sushi, porridge, brown, GABA brown, rinse-free and quick cooking.

Cuckoo rice cooker

(Image credit: Best rice cooker)

2. Cuckoo CR-0632F

The best rice cooker for cooking modes: cook rice, quinoa, porridge and more

Specifications
Dimensions: 15.2 x 12.13 x 11.97 inches
No. of settings: Ten
Capacity: Six cups uncooked, 12 cups cooked
Power: 580 watts
Reasons to buy
+Ten modes+Well insulated +Generous capacity+Self-clean setting
Reasons to avoid
-The display is fiddly at first

Available in pink and silver, the Cuckoo CR-0632F is our top pick from the iconic rice cooker brand. It is by no means Cuckoo's most expensive offering, but it has ten cooking modes and a six cup capacity of uncooked rice, which will yield 12 cups of fluffy, cooked grains. 

What we love

The controls are very smart indeed, with a timer to set your rice ahead of time, and a quick cook mode for speedy meals. While the display looks a little confusing at first it is easy to get to grips with, especially thanks to the included instruction manual. 

It also has a self-clean function, which is a blessing for anyone who hates dealing with the sticky remnants of last night's rice, and great insulation for easy keep-warm and reheating. 

Features

Settings include White Rice, Gaba Rice, Quick Rice, Multi Grain/Brown Rice, Porridge, Multicook, Slowcook, Auto Clean, Warm, and reheat.

The pot is nonstick, which is a blessing for easy cleaning. 

Dash rice cooker

(Image credit: Dash)

3. Dash Mini Rice Cooker

The best mini rice cooker: for small portions with the touch of a button

Specifications
Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.5 x 16 inches
No. of settings: One
Capacity: Two cups
Power: 200 watts
Reasons to buy
+Compact dimensions+A range of fun colors+Keep warm mode+Nonstick pot
Reasons to avoid
-No modes for other grains

The Dash Mini Rice Cooker is one of Amazon's bestsellers, and with a reasonable price and easy-to-use design, it is easy to see why. 

What we love

The design may be small and simple, but it is thoughtfully made with a nonstick pot and keep-warm handles. 

Included with the rice cooker is a rice paddle to make serving straightforward, and the included measuring cup is marked for straightforward servings and perfectly fluffy grains, every time. 

Features 

The Dash Mini Rice Cooker has one button, so there will no hassle in choosing the right mode for you. It also has a keep warm function to make sure your rice is ready to eat whenever you need it. 

Instant Pot Zest 8 Cup Rice Cooker

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

4. Instant Pot Zest 8 Cup Rice Cooker

The best rice cooker for large capacities: serve enough rice for the whole family

Specifications
Dimensions: 8.74 x 8.46 x 9.25 inches
No. of settings: Five
Capacity: Eight cups
Power: 180 watts
Reasons to buy
+Generous capacity+Durable, removable pot+Can be used as a steamer+Delay start and keep warm functions
Reasons to avoid
-Hinged lid

Instant pot makes some of the best air fryers we've reviewed, and the brand also has a budget-friendly and smart rice cooker. The capacity is eight cups, which is plenty of entertaining, and there is even a 20-cup option for feasting. 

Why we love it

You can use the Instant Pot Zest 8 Cup Rice Cooker to steam veggies and meat as well as cook rice. There is a dishwasher-safe steaming rack included with the rice cooker, and a thick and easy-to-clean pot.

With a button for delayed starts and one to keep warm once your grains are cooked, the Instant Pot Zest 8 Cup Rice Cooker is also an excellent option for busy homes. 

Features

There are five modes in total: white rice, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and steam for vegetables and fish. 

The lid is hinged, which can be a pain if you're storing it under countertops and want to open it easily. 

GreenLife rice cooker

(Image credit: GreenLife )

5. GreenLife Healthy Ceramic Nonstick Go Grains

The best rice cookers for looks: a cute addition to any kitchen

Specifications
Dimensions: 9.8 x 9.4 x 8.7 inches
No. of settings: Four
Capacity: Four cups cooked
Power: 240 watts
Reasons to buy
+Four cute colors+Compact and easy to store+Dishwasher-safe parts+Smart touch controls
Reasons to avoid
-Best suited to small households

It looks the part, and the GreenLife Healthy Ceramic Nonstick Go Grains also has smart and easy-to-use controls to make sure your rice is cooked perfectly. 

Why we love it

The four colors include white, pink, blue, and yellow, and they are all very easy on the eye. The dishwasher-safe removable parts will also ensure that cleaning is easy, and the exterior is heatproof to be safe for use in the busiest kitchen. 

Features

The four cooking modes are for white rice, brown rice, quinoa, and steel cut oats for perfect oatmeal. 

Delay start will allow you to preset your rice so is fluffy and ready to eat whenever you need it. 

How do I choose the best rice cooker?

GreenLife Healthy Ceramic Nonstick Go Grains

(Image credit: Dash)

First and foremost, the best rice cooker should cater to your entire family with no limitations in capacity. If you only need to cook portions for one or two, a smaller rice cooker will be more than enough. However, we have also included rice cookers with a capacity of up to 12 cups of cooked rice. 

Another thing to consider is functions, because while many smart rice cookers offer up to ten settings for all sorts of grains, beans, and pulses, others are far more simple and designed to cook only brown and white rice. The Dash rice cooker, which is the cheapest in our guide, is also the most simple. For those who want to cook white rice only, it is a top choice.  

What is the best rice cooker brand? 

Instant Pot Zest 8 Cup Rice Cooker

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

Many opt for Asian rice cooker brands such as Zojirushi and Cuckoo, and it's easy to see why. These rice cookers often lead the way in smart designs and, most importantly, perfectly cooked rice.

That said, many brands such as Instant and Dash have come out with excellent alternatives that often cost far less, and are designed to make oatmeal and quinoa as well as white and brown rice. 

How much should I spend on a rice cooker?

Zojirushi rice cooker

(Image credit: Zojirushi)

You can buy a decent rice cooker for as little as $50, but some of the best rice cookers in our guide come up to $200, or more. 

For your added money you will get a micom rice cooker. Micom cookers are the most modern options on the market. They are often powered by induction cooking, which is not only safer, but more efficient. 

What else can you make in a rice cooker?

Many of the best rice cookers in our guide have steaming modes to cook vegetables and fish as well as making rice.

More than just white and brown rice, you can cook dehydrated beans and grains such as quinoa and even oatmeal in some rice cookers. 

Millie Fender
Millie Fender

Millie has been an Ecommerce Editor with the Homes and Gardens team since early 2021, bringing with her a love of cooking appliances and alfresco entertaining. She writes about stand mixers, blenders, and other small appliances, and loves putting grills and pizza ovens to the test. Millie thinks that the kitchen is the most important room in any home, but then, she is very biased.