Rice Cookers Reviews
Rice cooker reviews indicate that consumers really like the models on our list. Many purchasers lament not having bought one sooner, although some reviews claim that the results are no better, and the process certainly not simpler, than cooking rice in a pot atop the stove.
On/Off Rice Cookers.The most basic rice cookers -- that is, those with just an off/off switch and maybe a keep-warm function -- are typically the cheapest. We found several high-quality on/off rice cookers at both ends of the cheap price spectrum: the Aroma ARC-1266F (starting at $27) and Panasonic SRG-06FG (starting at $25) at the bottom, and the Zojirushi NS-RNC10 (starting at $92) grazing the top. The Aroma ARC-1266F automatically switches to keep-warm mode when cooking is complete, as does the Zojirushi NS-RNC10, which specs say keeps the contents warm and moist for up to 12 hours. The Panasonic SR-G06FG doesn't have a keep-warm function (two larger and pricier Panasonic rice cookers do), so you'll have to keep the lid on if you don't plan to serve right away.
On/off rice cookers profess to be one-trick ponies, but creative cooks find other uses for them. In rice cookers reviews of the Zojirushi NS-RNC10 on Amazon, for example, one consumer writes about throwing in some beans with the rice, preparing oatmeal with raisins, and cooking apples to a tasty end. The Panasonic SR-G06FG works for lentils and chickpeas but may require an extra on-cycle or two, says a review. Other treats that emerge from these small, low-cost appliances include one-pot meals, pilafs, soups, stews, dips, and ramen noodles and lo mein (don't cover, advises a fan of these Asian pastas). Budget rice cookers can also be used to reheat yesterday's brown rice, notes a review on Best Buy of the Rival RC61 (starting at $19) - just add a few drops of water and let it steam. An enterprising cook uses the warming function on the Cuisinart CRC-800 (starting at $76) to make yogurt, according to a review at Abe's of Maine.
Some cheap on-off rice cookers, including the Aroma ARC-1266F, Rival RC61, and Cuisinart CRC-800, come with steamer baskets or trays that can hold vegetables, fish, meat, and leftovers. If steaming foodstuffs is a high priority in your kitchen and rice a close second, the Black & Decker HS1000 Handy Steamer (starting at $20) is an option. Billed as a steamer with a 4-quart steam basket, this model steams a dinner's worth of rice, vegetables, or protein (meat, fish, chicken), and features a spot for eggs and a small compartment to hold flavorings that waft into whatever is steaming.
Fuzzy Logic/Micom Rice Cookers.Computerized rice cookers, such as the Sanyo ECJ-S35K (starting at $91), provide set-and-forget-it ease but start at prices near the top of the Cheapism niche. LCD clocks and timers are standard for fuzzy logic rice cookers, and a computer chip controls the temperature and timing for whatever you happen to be cooking -- rice of all kinds, porridge, and with the Sanyo ECJ-S35K, even bread. The Sanyo ECJ-S35K, like other fuzzy logic rice cookers, also lets you program an end-time up to 24 hours in advance, which ensures at least part of a meal is ready when you want it. Consumers laud the convenience and performance of this model in rice cookers reviews on Amazon, saying the varied settings deliver perfect results.
Indeed, once you move into the fuzzy logic realm, the whole cooking thing becomes much more precise than with on/off rice cookers. For example, the Sanyo ECJ-S35K features keep warm, reheat, and pre-soak (necessary for certain types of rice) functions as well as menu settings for several rice varieties, porridge, and bread (baking only; the mixing and kneading is up to you). Rice cookers reviews tell of using this low-cost fuzzy logic rice cooker to prepare artichokes, corn, hard boiled eggs, bread pudding, sweet rolls, and soups in addition to the usual rices and oatmeal. The removable rice pot can also be used on the stovetop to prep ingredients for the finished dish; reviews on the Sanyo site mention browning or braising meat before adding the rice and then proceeding as usual.