Rice cooker - yea or nay? Do I really want another appliance? No. Am I tired of ending up with disappointing rice about 30% of the time. Oh, yes. Thoughts on whether a rice cooker is worth it (and if so, which model)? If not, what is your secret for consistently perfect rice?

  • Posted by: AEC
  • October 21, 2010


Ophelia October 22, 2010
Go for it. I have almost no space in my kitchen and only two usable burners on my stove; my rice cooker and hot water pot are what make cooking for more than one person possible. Even the cheapest can be used to cook beans, heat soups or keep almost anything liquid warm... Pretty much anything that cooks at boiling temperature can be cooked in a rice cooker, but may need to be timed, the heat won't turn off (or lower to warm) until the temperature gauge reads at higher than boiling, so it'll just cook off all excess moisture if you don't keep an eye on your oatmeal (or congee).
innoabrd October 22, 2010
I was a sceptic for many years, but then bought one (a Zojirushi) about a year ago and haven't looked back!

Besides perfect rice, when I'm cooking for a crowd that free extra burner is a huge help. Also, if I have to be there every moment when cooking for my family it can get in the way of better things, like taking my kid to the playground for a few minutes after school. Can dump the stuff in and switch it on and whenever I'm ready, the rice is ready. The warming feature works great on the Zoji, I've never had a burnt batch.
Gale October 22, 2010
I am with those who like their rice cooker. Some of us are juggling family needs, being disorganized, time constraints, cooking other things on a cook top, etc. ALL while savoring a glass of something, that being able to cook perfect rice every time, regardless of amount, automatically is a real godsend. It is also money well spent to get a good Zojirishi - you will love the versatility.
anyone October 22, 2010
Yes, Allie has it right!
allie October 22, 2010
AEC, I think it's probably best to use the pasta method for large batches. The most I ever make using the pilaf method mentioned above is 2 cups of dry rice.
AEC October 22, 2010
Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts & suggestions! (Pierino: Small, family-size batches are no problem; it's the larger ones that are often disappointing here.)
pierino October 22, 2010
I guess I'm the sole dissenter here. It's so damn easy to cook rice on your stove top, or your outdoor grill (as I did last night). I remain an analog cook. Another digital appliance? What do I need that for? What's so hard about cooking rice as there are at most three ingredients; rice, water, salt (or butter).
luvcookbooks October 22, 2010
luv rice cookers, my husband bought me one at a church auction for $10 and I've never looked back. I can make good rice for my family but when I need to make other quantities I blow it consistently. With the rice cooker, it's reliably good. Also helps when you have company and need all yr burners and yr oven.
monkeymom October 22, 2010
Rice is a staple in our house and I have always used a rice cooker. I'd also highly recommend a Zojirushi. I use it to cook all types of rice and they cook perfectly EVERY time. It keeps the rice warm without drying it out and you can easily rewarm the rice by simply adding some water and the rice. They have different size models.
anyone October 22, 2010
If you use a rice cooker more power to yah-But, if you want perfect rice with out the editiion of another countertop space hog and pilaf method isn't working for you than you can always do pasta method. Just boil the rice until it's done (20 min). It takes longer than cooking pasta but same method and you have to keep checking for doneness but It's hard to hurt rice this way.
Pilaf : If you are having a hard time with pilaf method just remember that you use the suggested ratio of rice /water just like a rice cooker and cook with med high heat covered for ten minutes then let rest for ten minutes and you should have perfect rice (Don't lift the lid). Add a pat of butter to your liqiud and you can also use stock and add herbs and spices to the rice and water mixture. Pilaf: 10 minutes on 10 minutes off. Good luck !
betteirene October 22, 2010
The answer is D. All of the above. Plus this:

I'm half Filipina. Knowing how to cook perfect rice every time is in my DNA. I didn't think I needed a rice cooker until 10 years ago, when my youngest son told his best friend, a pure Filipino, that I only made rice once or twice a week and he could eat it every day, so he received a rice cooker as a gag Christmas gift so that he could make rice whenever he wanted it.

It turned out to not be such a joke. A couple of reasons I liked it: It freed up a burner if I need to cook on all four, and I could be outside grilling while the rice was inside cooking without being watched over.

Joey moved out and took his rice cooker with him, so now I usually do a pilaf-type thing by putting some butter or olive oil or vegetable oil in a pot or skillet that has a tight-fitting lid. Add one part unwashed rice, let it cook until it becomes milky white, then add a bit of salt and two parts water or stock. Allow it to come to a boil over high heat and let it boil until the level of the liquid reduces to just below the level of the rice. Clamp the lid on and turn the heat off. Let the pot sit on the hot burner for 15 minutes. Serve.

Read Roger Ebert's new book "The Pot and How to Use It." It'll make you want to get a rice cooker right now.
allie October 22, 2010
Nay - unless you eat rice as a staple many times a week. I tend to heat up a few T. oil, saute the rice in the oil for a few minutes, then add water and salt and cook (on low) until water has been absorbed or rice is tender. Sometimes add extra water if it's not tender enough so that it can cook a bit longer. Salt generously.

Anyone in NYC who wants my rice maker, which I never use? Drop me a line and I will happily pass it along!
Mr_Vittles October 21, 2010
I will try to answer all your questions AEC. Yea, buy one. Yes you really need another appliance. The reason a rice cooker is an invaluable appliance is really a number of reasons. A good rice cooker has many functions, they can cook rice expertly, they can steam vegetables, and can make soups in them. Nice ones work a little like a pressure cooker, but almost all rice cookers take more time then on the stove. As to what brand, if you want the KING of rice cookers go with a Zojirushi, they are Japanese, and expensive. "Zoji's", as they are called by the cool kids, are made to highest standard and cook rice the best. I have a MiCom model that uses a microcomputer to somehow adjust the settings in order to cook the rice perfectly. Brown rice, wild rice, sweet rice, white rice, Basmati rice, Jasmine Rice, all rice can be cooked by my Zoji and it has many settings to accommodate each variety. A Zoji is expensive, but it will last for a long time. Find them on Amazon for the best price.

As to how to cook rice on the stove top, use a heavy bottom pan that it suitable to the amount of rice cooked. Measure in ratios, I use (for white rice) one cup rice to 1 and a half cups water, and a pinch of salt, scaling up or down as necessary. Rinse rice three times in cold water, add rice to water in pot, heat over high heat, when the water boils, turn stove to low, add a tight fitting lid (if the lid is not tight put some Aluminum foil over pot then lid), cook over low heat for 15 minutes, uncover, fluff with fork, cover again for 5 minutes, serve.
askann October 21, 2010
I can't live without my rice cooker. If you are worried about not getting enough use out out it, you may want to go for one of the more deluxe models that can cook porridge or beans. I have a mid-range type with the keep warm setting but without programming abilities. I also use it for making things like quinoa. You might want to check out "The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook" by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann for some ideas.

If you don't want to go for a rice cooker in the end, there is a method of cooking rice in tons of water and then draining it like pasta.
mrslarkin October 21, 2010
I love my rice cooker. Makes awesome steamed veg too. Aroma brand. 1 switch, two settings - cook & warm. Got it @ a tag sale for 3 bucks. Cooks other grains as well.
El J. October 21, 2010
If you make rice more than three times per week, buy one. For me, buying a rice cooker was one of the best things I've ever done for my kitchen. Look for any model with a clamping lid and a nice deep bowl. Mine has a setting for every kind of rice you can imagine which comes in handy. You can also steam vegetables while your rice is cooking in most models. See, Alton? It's not a unitasker!

The secret to cooking rice is knowing your rice. If you want separate fluffy grains, go for a long grain. If you want to make risotto, go for short grain. If you want to make sushi, get sushi rice. And, unless you're making risotto, rinse your rice thoroughly before cooking. Dump it in a mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear. This washes away excess starch that, when cooked, would make your rice a gummy mess.

Protip for rice cookers: If your model has a warming feature, always add a little extra water before starting the cooking process. That warmer stays at cooking temperature for a few minutes after the cooking cycle ends, and without the extra water your rice will start burning.
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