What Is The Best Japanese Rice Cooker of 2017?
Are you ready to upgrade from the old style of electronic rice cookers with a removable lid to a real, Japanese rice cooker? There’s not doubt that Japanese rice cookers are more advanced than other inexpensive rice cookers, and there’s a good reason for that: Japan consumes a lot of rice!
A quality Japanese rice cooker can make rice perfectly every time as long as you follow the instructions and are even equipped with functions that make washing, cooking, and warming rice easier than ever before.
Let’s take a look at what makes the best Japanese rice cooker and then highlight the top 5 Japanese rice cookers on the market today.
**Below, you'll find more detailed reriews, but you can click links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon
Before You Buy A Rice Cooker…
Before investing in a rice cooker, you should do a bit of research about what features make a good rice cooker and what features are most important to you to have in a rice cooker.
Some people think of cooking rice on the stove and nothing else. Others have only ever used cheap, electric rice cookers that burn rice or leave it underdone more often than not.
For thousands of years, people in Japan have been cooking rice. The original technique (pictured above) is still used by some, but for the most part, Japan has advanced to incredibly reliable and complex rice cookers that make delicious rice every time.
Let’s get an understanding of the most important things to know about Japanese rice cookers as well as what features to look for when choosing your rice cooker.
The Four Types Of Japanese Rice Cookers (And Which Is Best)
There are four basic types of Japanese rice cookers, and each has their advantages. Before choosing which type is best for us, let’s introduce each type.
Old School Electric
Old school electric rice cookers are rarely used anymore as more than a backup rice cooker. This type of rice cooker only has one or two buttons and doesn’t do more than make a very simple batch of rice and keep it warm.
These are probably the most common type of rice cooker for the budget-conscious, and there’s a good reason they’re so popular. These rice cookers are very easy to use. They have cook and warm functions as well as a timer so that you can set the rice to be ready at a specific time. Only the bottom of the pan heats up, but rice is fluffy when cooked.
Induction (Heat IH)
Most family homes in Japan today have an Induction Heat rice cooker. These rice cookers heat the entire inner pan to a higher degree and make the fluffiest rice you can imagine. It also has all the functions that fuzzy logic cookers have. These rice cookers can be anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars.
These rice cookers use both induction heat and pressure cooking techniques to make delicious rice faster than any other type on this list. While the are the most efficient in terms of both time and energy, they are also the most expensive.
Among these, the most logical choices for most homes are the IH rice cookers and the fuzzy logic cookers. These models both come in a variety of price points and have all the functions that you need to make great rice.
While the IH pressure cookers are great, the extra cost is not currently worth the investment.
Features Every Model Needs
No matter which type of Japanese rice cooker you choose to buy, there are functions that it absolutely must have. If the rice cooker does not have these functions, you should not bother spending money on it.
A “Keep Warm” button
Once rice is cooked, you want to be able to keep it warm for a couple of hours after so that, if wanted, you can eat the rice all day. Every good rice cooker has a good warming function that does not burn the rice. If there’s no warming button, move on to one that does have it.
A removable, non-stick container
For the best results and easy cleaning, you want the pan inside the rice cooker to be removable and non-stick. If the pan cannot come out of the rice cooker, it will be next to impossible to clean, and you will be frustrated every time you use it.
If the rice pan is not non-stick, it will be more difficult to clean. While you can soak the rice pan to make it easier to clean, this is an unnecessary step that can be avoided by purchasing the right rice cooker.
While it’s great when rice cookers have a lot of available functions, you want to be able to simply press a button and start cooking your rice. It’s okay if other functions (like making rice porridge) take more steps, but you should be able to start cooking rice in just one-touch.
While not the most important factor, you should consider what the rice cooker looks like. Do you like the look of it? Will you mind having it sit on your countertop, or will you need to hide it when not in use because you do not like the design?
Silly as it may seem, this will play a big role in how much you actually use any rice cooker.
No Matter What You Get…
No matter which rice cooker you get, you’re going to have to learn how to use it! This video will show you the basics of using one rice cooker. Lucky for us, there are a lot of videos like this one showing how to use every different kind of rice cooker. With these videos the user manual, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all!
The Top 5 Best Japanese Rice Cooker Options
1. Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 5-1/2-Cup (Uncooked) Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer
The Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 is one of the many rice cooker models by Zojirushi that is worth consideration when purchasing a rice cooker. This fuzzy logic rice cooker is very simple to use and has intuitive buttons. In addition to the necessary cook, warm, and timer functions, it also has a useful reheat function. This rice cooker can even keep your rice warm for days, which is probably why I love it so much.
2. Tiger JKT-S10U-K IH Rice Cooker with Slow Cooker and Bread Maker Stainless Steel
Next up is a model made by another popular rice cooker maker, Tiger. Their JKT S1OU K Cooker is a great option. Not only do I love the sleek, stainless steel design of this rice cooker, I also love that it has easy-carry handles on the inner pot, making it easier to carry and clean the pot even when it is still warm. Another great feature is that this rice cooker is an induction heat cooker, meaning you get the fluffiest rice around! It does take a long time, however, if you want the best rice, you have to be willing to wait!
3. Zojirushi NS-TSC10 5-1/2-Cup (Uncooked) Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer
Next up is another fuzzy logic rice cooker from Zojirushi. This model (the NS-TSC10) is a bit different than the first fuzzy logic cooker. I love that you are able to change the alarm sound on this model, as the alarm on some rice cookers can be a bit much for some people! This model also shows the time remaining that your rice has to cook which many models do not show until there are only 10 minutes left. Usually, cooking white rice takes about one hour.
4. Zojirushi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer 1.0 Liter
As you can tell, Zojirushi has a huge presence on this list! This model is an induction & pressure rice cooker, the NP-NVC10. My favorite feature of this rice cooker is the Umami setting. This setting extends how long the rice is soaked and steamed, and the product is so much more delicious. Another cool feature is the scorching setting, which allows you to intentionally scorch some rice.
5. Zojirushi NS-VGC05 Micom 3-Cup (Uncooked) Electric Rice Cooker and Warmer
The final option from Zojirushi is the NS-VGC05, and I love this option for the affordable value that it offers those new to the world of rice cookers! This fuzzy logic rice cooker is incredibly easy to use, and only has a few different buttons and settings that you need to get familiar with. The pan and set up are not as durable as more expensive models, but they cook great rice efficiently and will likely last for a few years
And The Best Rice Cooker Is…
That’s a wrap on the top 5 Japanese rice cookers! As you can see, there’s a lot of similarities between the cookers, but durability and available features change depending on the brand and price point.
Of these rice cookers, I have to say that the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 5-1/2-Cup Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer is the best option for most at-home chefs.
This rice cooker has all the basic rice cooking functions that you need without being too complicated, and it has a great warming function that is logical and easy to use. It’s also made by the incredibly popular brand Zojirushi which makes rice cookers at all price points.
The Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker simply has the best features at a value price, and this is the kind of rice cooker that most people need.