The best rice cookers have

  • Induction heating. Induction heating ensures that the rice is cooked evenly, as opposed to a heating element at the bottom of the pot that can burn and cause rice to stick.
  • Micom technology. These rice cookers use a microprocessor to adjust cooking time and temperature. They do a good job with all types of rice.
  • Multiple menu settings. Cooking different types of rice can be challenging; multiple menu settings give you more options.
  • Keep-warm mode. Many rice cookers automatically switch to a keep-warm mode once the rice is done cooking to keep you from burning the rice and/or letting it get cold.
  • A nonstick pan. Pans with a nonstick coating are easier to clean.
  • Steamer basket. Though a steamer basket is not essential, it is convenient to have one so you can cook vegetables or meat at the same time your rice is cooking.
  • Rice measuring cup. The rice measuring cup that comes with rice cookers is about ¾ of a standard U.S. cup -- it is crucial to use the correct measuring cup to get rice to turn out the way you want it.

Know before you go

How often do you cook rice? With the wide price range and selection of rice cookers, you need to determine just how serious a cook you are. If you only eat white rice occasionally, a simple cooker probably would meet your needs. However, if you consider yourself an aficionado who eats rice daily, you likely will want to consider rice cookers with induction heating and a microprocessor.

How much counter space do you have? Rice cookers do not take up a lot of room. If you have an especially small kitchen, though, you might want to consider a multi-purpose cooker that also serves as a steamer and slow cooker. Pressurized rice cookers don't release steam, so they can be used in almost any room of the house.

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