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Electric Rice Cookers

Rice cookers are easy to use and produce perfect fluffy rice

We can always make perfect rice using the stovetop method and careful babysitting. But when we're busy, it's sometimes easier just to toss it into a cooker and walk away without worries. Here are a few cookers that are on the market.

Black and Decker. Cooks and warms; 7-cup capacity. Includes spatula and measuring cup. Removable bowl, cool-touch handles, and glass lid. Cord detaches. Approx. $28.

Hamilton Beach. Nonstick. This is one of more economical and largest capacity cookers on our list. It runs around $40 and has a 20-cup capacity. Cooks and warms with plastic bowl and glass lid, which are dishwasher safe.

Breville. Duo cooker. The 10-cup capacity model is about $50. Warming option and stackable trays for steaming additional foods. Cord is removeable.

Krups. Cooks rice, but also does double-duty as a slow cooker and steamer. Auto-timer and 10-cup capacity. Locking lid stays cool. Non-stick, removable bowl and steamer basket are dishwasher safe. Approx. $80-$100.

Sanyo. Built with "fuzzy logic" microcomputer. Cooks any type of rice to the desired texture. Also can be used as slow cooker and steamer. Boasts rounded bottom for improved heat distribution. Also provides steaming tray, measuring cup, spatula, and recipe manual. Retractable cord. Approx. $130.

Zojirushi. Fuzzy logic cooker. Claims quick-cooking capabilities. Steam cap retains moisture. Rounded pan aids heat distribution. Cooks white and brown rice (but brown rice should still be soaked per instructions). Nonstick inner pan should be hand-washed. Approx. $190.

Note: when a cooker states cup capacity, that indicates uncooked rice quantity. Some larger models are not as good for cooking smaller quantities. "Fuzzy logic" cookers can do much more than cook and warm rice. They are programmable for time, type of rice, texture, and required water quantity.

And what do we use the most? An inexpensive microwave cooker. It's easy to store away in the jumble of other plastic accessories that we own. We also like that all the parts can go right into the dishwasher. What we have found, however, is that the one-cup-cooked serving doesn't turn out very well. Even when we make a single serving, we use the two-cup-cooked amounts. One drawback: we have to place a plate underneath because the liquid somehow manages to overflow and create a white sticky mess. We still use it frequently.


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