Does anyone out there use a rice cooker? I've mastered many things in the kitchen...but simple rice eludes me so I might break down and get one. But i can't tell the difference between the expensive ones and the cheap ones. Is there a difference? Is it worth buying one at all? Thanks!

  • Posted by: Lyla
  • November 6, 2010


innoabrd November 7, 2010
Love my Zojirushi. Not only does it work really, really well, it saves me a burner when I'm doing a big indian feast. Also, great during the week if I'm doing something that's quick for the protein, or made ahead, I can just dump the rice in the cooker and take the kid to the playground and not worry about it. The warming function works brilliantly and it never burns the rice.
luvcookbooks November 7, 2010
I have a rice cooker and it is a lifesaver when I have a crowd over. I love cooking rice on the stove but have not mastered rice for a crowd. The rice cooker cooks up to 14 cups of rice and it comes out good (not outstanding) with zero effort and thought.
nutcakes November 6, 2010
Rice cookers are super handy and if you make rice often then get one. I don't make it often enough to justify the space, but freeing up a burner is an advantage. Also check out Roger Ebert's obsession:

Since no one mentioned it, I think you should try cooking rice in the oven and see how it comes out for you.
Abra B. November 6, 2010
I too can make perfect stovetop rice in my sleep, and I too have a Zojirushi that I use all the time. Even within Zoji there are various levels of expensiveness, and I sure don't have the top of the line. I love the feature that keeps rice warm for hours, which allows one to make it well ahead of time, knowing that it will still be perfect when served.
pierino November 6, 2010
I'm really interested following this discussion because I don't own one. Maybe because I'm still an analog person; nothing more analog than a pan and fire. I can cook rice in my sleep---which doesn't mean I'm not interested in Zojirushi. But I will also side with Sadassa_Ulna on the flame tamer. I have two, one of which is just a flat sheet of copper. Because I cook in earthenware cazuelas frequently (including for dishes such as arroz con pollo) it's handy to have something which evenly distributes heat. Even that total amateur Thomas Keller uses one.
tinarina November 6, 2010
We have the cheapo Panasonic that's $20 or so. It shuts off when the rice is done, and it's substantially smaller than the fancier models, which is great if space is tight. Ours is almost 10 years old and going strong--we use it at least twice a week.
mrslarkin November 6, 2010
Mine was 3 bucks at a tag sale, like new. It works great! I make rice, quinoa, grains, made rice pudding once, steam veggies all the time.

If you've got the counter space, it'll free up stove top burners/oven, especially around the upcoming high-traffic holidays.
LynnSomerstein November 6, 2010
I use a rice cooker- a zojirushi, and I like it very much when I want to cook something and not pay attention. It's slow, though. Nice to set it and forget it- then remember when you're hungry. Makes good oatmeal too.
Kayb November 6, 2010
I have a no-name cheapo I got for $19.99 at WalMart, and it works just fine.
Lyla November 6, 2010
Thanks everyone...sounds like the general consensus is that it's worth to figure out which one. High or low...zojisushi or no-name cheapo...will do some digging around on prices and try to find a deal somewhere.
SpecialSka November 6, 2010
We received a rice cooker as a wedding gift 21 years ago, and it is still going strong. Back then I had never seen a rice cooker, so was a bit leery. Ours is a National--not sure this brand even exists anymore. Very basic--on and off only. It makes small and large amounts of rice equally well. It's great to have a tool like this that's reliable and doesn't use up a burner while you're cooking other stuff. Get one!! You won't be sorry.
Mr_Vittles November 6, 2010
Go with a Zojirushi. They are expensive, but never fail to cook perfect rice. They can hold rice for long periods of time without burning the bottom and can cook a multitude of different types of rice, from wild, to brown, to short grain, to sweet. They are recognized as the best for a reason. You can also cook other grains in them, like porridge, and barley. I use mine everyday and have never regretted it. I recommend getting a "Micom" model that uses a micro computer to time out the rice. If just want to eat rice, use the stovetop, your results will be inconsistent, but edible. If you want experience rice in a new way, buy a Zojirushi, it will make perfect rive everyt ime.

On the flame tamer, don't buy that. You can make one by taking a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and twisting it into the shape of a ring. It will work essentially the same way.
calendargirl November 6, 2010
Having used a simple low-end rice cooker for many years (perfect rice of all kinds, also farro, barley and other grains) as well as having mastered cooking rice on the stovetop, I must say I miss the rice cooker tremendously. Decided not to replace it for lack of space, but am re-visiting that decision. It does provide you with all the burners on your stove and allows you to forget about the rice while you deal with other aspects of a meal. The folks I know who have them, adore the fuzzy logic style of many of the more sophisticated rice cookers, especially the Zojirushi brand. If you have the space in your kitchen, you just might find it to be a really valuable tool. You can spend anywhere from $20 to $200, and my inexpensive simple cheap model was terrific. It was either on and cooking rice or in the "keep warm" mode or off --- no steamer shelf for veggies, no setting for turning it on before I got home, no way of differentiating among various kinds of rice, though it did a great job with them all. If you know someone who has one you could borrow, that might help you to decide what to get or whether you want one at all. Good luck!
Savorykitchen November 6, 2010
I use a rice cooker and love it. I have a super cheap model I got from Amazon - I think it was $20. It doesn't have an on-off switch - you plug it in and it cooks, unplug when you're done. So it would be bad for you if you wanted to time your rice cooking or are forgetful about unplugging it.

That said, I us it for rice (white and brown), quinoa, millet, etc. Any grain I could cook by steam I do in the cooker.

I do cook rice on the stovetop pretty well, but for me this is a more convenient method.
Sadassa_Ulna November 6, 2010
This answer is not a rice cooker recommendation but is a rice cooking method. I use something called a "flame tamer" or a heat diffuser. The method is to heat the water in a pan withe diffuser on the burner and under the pan. Add the rice when the water boils, put the lid on the pan and wait a minute. Then lower the burner to the lowest setting. The diffuser prevents scorching on the bottom of the pan. After the proper amount of cooking time turn off the burner but leave the lid on and the pan on the diffuser for another five minutes. My old one was a perforated metal disk with a handle and my current one is an enamel cast iron burner "cap" with no handle. I love my diffuser and it permanently sits on one burner of my stove. I'd be curious to know if other foodpicklers use and love their "flame tamers."
cambridgecook November 6, 2010
I LOVE my rice cooker. Perfect rice every time with no effort. Mine is National Brand (same as Panasonic) with buttons for different kinds of rice, timer/delay start, doubles as steamer/slow cooker. Simple ones with just on/off also make perfect rice. Buy size you need with features that make sense for how/what you cook. Get one! You won't be sorry.
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