You may know by now, but rice is a staple food in Japanese cuisine. The Japanese have very high standards when it comes the rice, since they eat it every day and at every single meal. Many Japanese are very picky about the quality of the rice, and they can usually judge if a restaurant is good or not just by how their rice is cooked. Rice in Japanese food culture is that important. You want the right texture, fluffy and shiny, but neither too mushy nor too hard. Traditionally in Japan, rice was cooked in a donabe clay pot, which makes perfect and delicious rice. Now with the latest technology, rice cookers can make perfect rice in one touch of a button.
The cheaper old-school electric rice cookers just simply cook rice, but they do not bring out the highest potential of the rice. For people who want delicious and perfectly cooked rice, you should really consider investing in a higher grade Japanese brand rice cooker. Here are the best Japanese rice cookers we recommend. With any of these, you can cook a perfect pot of rice every time. But make sure to use the measuring cup that comes with the rice cooker and not the ones you use at home for cooking. The Japanese rice cooker measuring cup is equivalent to 6.7 oz and it is specifically for cooking rice. If you use the regular measuring cup that holds 8 oz, you will have a mushy rice.
- How To Choose The Best Rice Cooker
- Top Japanese Rice Cooker Brands
- Zojirushi Rice Cooker
- Tiger Rice Cooker
- Panasonic Rice Cooker
- The Conventional Electric Rice Cooker
How To Choose The Best Rice Cooker
1. Rice Cooker by Size
The first thing you want to think about when buying a rice cooker is which size to buy. Rice cookers come in several sizes from ones for single people up to larger families, so take into consideration how often do you cook rice and how many people you have in your family. Also, do you host a lot of dinner parties? If so then you might want to get a larger rice cooker. The capacities range from types that cook 3 or 3.5 cups up to 10 cups. The smaller 3 or 3.5 cups rice cookers make about 6 or 7 small bowls of rice. The medium 5 to 5.5 cups rice cooker makes up to 10 small bowls of rice, and lastly, the largest 10 cups rice cookers make up to 20 small bowls of cooked rice.
The capacity of any rice cooker starts from 0.5 or 1 cup and you can technically cook 1 cup of rice in all of these rice cookers, but this doesn’t give the best results when cooking such a small amount of rice. The rice tastes better when you cook at least 2-3 cups at a time rather than just one cup, and you can always save the remaining rice for later. If you are a single person household or a couple, the smallest size rice cookers should meet your needs. The most popular rice cooker is the medium size, which you can use to cook for yourself and for big parties if you want to. If you have a large household or really like to entertain, then you should get the largest 10 cups size rice cooker.
2. Types of Rice Cookers
Japanese rice cooker companies brought rice cookers to another level by using microcomputer chips to cook rice. You will find three cooking technologies in these high-end Japanese rice cookers; Micom (micro-computerized) rice cooker, induction heat rice cooker, and induction heat pressure rice cooker. Any of these rice cookers will cook delicious rice. In addition to these high tech options there is still the conventional electric rice cooker that usually cheaper, and when you switch on the rice cooker it simply turns off by the timer whether the rice is fully cooked or not. This is why, with the conventional electric rice cookers, it’s crucial to add the exact amount of water to the pot or else the rice will be too hard or too mushy. The Micom rice cooker, in comparison, has a built-in microchip that senses the temperature of the water and will adjust the time to make sure the rice is perfectly cooked.
So which one to pick? If you have a lower budget and cook less than 3 cups of rice a day, then the Micom rice cooker is perfect for you. The micro-computerized fuzzy logic technology will make perfect rice every time. If you eat rice at every meal, then the induction heat rice cooker is a great choice. For serious rice connoisseurs, the induction heat pressure rice cooker gives you the best results for cooking the type of rice that you expect to get at high-end sushi or authentic Japanese restaurants. If you want to make brown rice rather than white rice, we suggest that you soak it in water overnight for it to get the perfect texture when cooked. However, with the induction heat pressure rice cooker, you can cook brown rice in a quick cook setting, and is another reason you might want to go with this higher-end option.
3. Inner Pot is the Key!
In making the perfect bowl of rice, we know that rice cooked at a higher temperature has a better texture and more flavor. The donabe clay pot, the traditional Japanese rice cooker, did exactly that; it cooks rice at a high temp and evenly disperses heat through its natural far-infrared properties. This allows the rice to cook evenly while at the same time retain its moisture. With a stove top or open flame, you are able to cook over high heat, but with electric rice cookers, you only get a limited voltage 100V if in the U.S., 120V if in Japan. So how do we get delicious perfect rice with the modern rice cookers? The Japanese kitchen appliance brands did a really good job at inventing an inner pot that functions similar to a donabe clay pot.
There are three important qualities that the inner pot or a rice cooker should have. First, is how well the pot retains heat; second, how quickly the inner pot heats up; and third, how well the heat is distributed. With the induction heat rice cooker, the inner pot is designed to heat up quickly and evenly, emulating the way a donabe works. The induction heat pressure cooker has the best of both worlds of an induction heat rice cooker and a pressure cooker. For this reason, the best rice cooker for serious rice eaters will be the induction heat pressure rice cooker. The induction heat pressure rice cooker cooks with very high heat and pressure cooks the rice which results in fluffy but sticky perfect rice that you get in high-end authentic Japanese restaurants. In Japan, most households own these higher-end rice cookers because they eat rice with every meal and they are very particular about their rice.
Top Japanese Rice Cooker Brands
If you are a rice connoisseur, first of all, you will want to go with a Japanese brand rice cooker. Trust us, Japanese are very picky about rice so they know their rice well. Which is the best rice cooker? The best inner pots for Japanese rice cookers have a donabe coating to ensure the donabe clay pot cooking quality. The higher end Japanese rice cooker will have a thick inner pot that is made with 6 or 7 layers of metal that acts like donabe clay pots. Let’s take a look at the most popular Japanese rice cooker brands: Zojirushi, Tiger, and Panasonic.
Zojirushi Rice Cooker
Zojirushi, founded in 1918, is one of the most popular kitchen appliance companies in Japan. Zojirushi is the leading kitchen appliance company and they created the glass lined vacuum insulated thermal bottles. To this day, Zojirushi’s thermal bottles and jars are popular for people who want to keep their drinks or food warm or cold as they prepared in the morning. Zojirushi also manufactures other kitchen appliances such as rice cookers, bread makers, coffee makers and tabletop grills. Although only sold in Japan, Zojirushi’s top line models have the shallow shape inner pot made of Japanese cast iron which costs over $1500.
Best Micom Model
Zojirushi NS-LHC05XT Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker
This is the Zojirushi’s Micom 3-cup rice cooker and warmer and is a great and well-made rice cooker. It is a much needed upgrade from your conventional electric rice cooker. It has a micro-computerized fuzzy logic technology that senses the water level and temperature and will adjust the amount of time cooking to make the perfect rice. It also has 6 menu settings that can cook various types of rice such as white, brown, sweet or porridge. Keep in mind that if you had a conventional electric rice cooker before, it will take a little bit more time to cook in this cooker, but the quality of rice is really worth the wait.
>> “Zojirushi NS-LHC05XT Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com
Best Induction Heat Model
Zojirushi NP-HCC10 Induction Heating Rice Cooker
If you want an upgrade from a Micom rice cooker, this induction heat model is for you. This Zojirushi NP-HCC10 induction heating rice cooker and warmer is made in Japan and cooks rice flawlessly. It cooks 5.5 uncooked cups of rice which equal to about 10 small bowls of cooked rice. It also has a multi-menu cooking function to cook your rice in 3 ways regular, soft and hard as well as settings for quick cooking, basmati rice, flavored rice, sushi rice, sweet rice, brown rice, porridge and GABA sprouting. The triple heater on the lid, side and bottom of the pot assists in evenly distributing the heat when cooking. This Zojirushi induction heat rice cooker also keeps the rice warm once the rice is cooked, and the warm setting has a low temperature to avoid the rice from becoming too dry.
>> “Zojirushi NP-HCC10 Induction Heating Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com
Best Induction Heat Pressure Model
Zojirushi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker NP-NVC10(5.5 cups)
For people who want the perfect bowl of rice, the Zojirushi induction heating pressure rice cooker and warmer is for you. With this induction heating pressure rice cooker you can get a 5-star sushi restaurant quality rice at home. It is priciest compared to the Micom model or the induction heat model, but worth it. The non-stick inner pot infused with platinum changes the water quality and allows the rice to absorb water better, which in the end enhances its texture and flavor. It also has an umami setting and also a multi-menu cooking setting allows you cook perfect sushi rice, brown rice, flavored rice, porridge, and GABA sprouting brown rice.
>> “Zojirushi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker NP-NVC10” on Amazon.com
Tiger Rice Cooker
Tiger is another kitchen appliance company who pioneered the glass lined vacuum insulated thermal bottles just like Zojirushi. Tiger was founded in 1923 and the company name comes from the king of the beast that represents their strong products. It is also said that the rival company Zojirushi renamed their company name Zojirushi, a combination of “Zo” which means elephant and “jirushi” which means mark, in response to the Tiger brand. Tiger has top line models of rice cookers and distinguishes themselves from other competitors by using an actual clay inner pot. This makes the rice a donabe quality and also 5-star restaurant grade rice. They also make a unique square shape rice cooker for people who want to have fun and add a little variety to their kitchen!
Best Micom Model
Tiger JBV-A10U-W 5.5-Cup Micom Rice Cooker
This is an introduction model for people who want to upgrade from a conventional electric rice cooker. This Tiger Micom rice cooker cooks up to 5.5 cups of uncooked rice which is about 10 small bowls of cooked rice. It is easy to use and you can make delicious and perfect rice every time. It also comes with a steamer tray for synchro-cooking your vegetables or proteins, such as meat or fish. This micro computerized Tiger rice cooker has 4 menu settings that allow you to steam while cooking rice, cook regular white or brown rice, and a slow cooking option. The menu settings are illustrated so the directions are easy to use and understand. It keeps the rice warm up to 12 hours.
>> “Tiger JBV-A10U-W 5.5-Cup Micom Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com
Best Induction Heat Model
TIGER JKT-S Multi-Functional Induction Heating (IH) Rice Cooker
If you cook a lot of rice, this induction heat rice cooker is pricey but well worth the cost. This Tiger rice cooker has 11 computerized cooking menu settings such as basmati rice, brown rice, mixed flavored rice, porridge, slow cook, oatmeal, and even a bread baking function. The multilayer ceramic coated inner pot heats and cook the rice evenly for the perfect fluffy rice. It also comes with a steamer basket, the tacook cooking plate, which is designed to steam and cook your main or side dish without affecting the flavor of the rice. The top lid and the inner lid comes off which makes it easy to wash.
>> “TIGER JKT-S Multi-Functional Induction Heating (IH) Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com
Panasonic Rice Cooker
Panasonic, founded in 1918, is another mega Electric company and is known worldwide for their electric appliance brands not only limited to kitchen appliances but any electric devices from phones, cameras, and faxes to air conditioners and batteries. Panasonic rice cookers have a stylish look and they also make perfect rice which is cooked with their unique high steam function. Their higher-end models have a charcoal finished inner pot and a unique feature on the lid called umami catcher ball. The ball in the overflow prevention cap is similar to the pressure cooker whistle valve in that controls the temperature to assure delicious fluffy rice.
Best Micom Model
Panasonic SR-DF101 5-Cup Rice Cooker
This Panasonic Micon rice cooker has a minimal and stylish look that goes well with any kind of kitchen. The 5 cup rice cooker is micro computerized and will make perfect rice each time. It comes with 6 different cooking settings with simple icon buttons that are easy to navigate. This cooks up to 5 cups of uncooked rice which is 10 cups of cooked rice. If you want to cook for a large crowd, there is a 10 cup rice cooker model which cooks 20 cups of cooked rice as well. The non-stick pot is easy to clean and the power cord is detachable so it will look good on a kitchen island or on a dinner table.
>> “Panasonic SR-DF101 Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com
Best Induction Heat Model
Panasonic SR-AFG186 Induction Heat Rice Cooker
If you want to invest more in a rice cooker that cooks great rice and also has additional special features, this one is for you. This stylish induction heat Panasonic rice cooker cooks up to 10 cups of uncooked rice which is 20 cups of cooked rice. It also has 13 different menu options for cooking a variety of different rice, porridge, cereals, soups, cakes, steamed food and slow-cooked food. But the main thing is this rice cooker cooks perfect rice. It also has a built-in umami enhancing function to cook fluffy rice, a 12-hour keep warm function and a 24-hour timer.
>> “Panasonic SR-AFG186 Induction Heat Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com
Best Induction Heat Model
Panasonic SR-HZ106 Rice Cooker – Made in Japan
This Japan made Panasonic induction heating system rice cooker and multi-cooker is one of the priciest rice cookers but well worth your investment. You will have beyond perfect rice every time. This has a special high-efficiency 5-layer induction heat rice cooker with a 7-Layer diamond-coated inner pot and copper exterior that cooks up to 5 cups of uncooked rice which is about 10 servings of cooked rice. It comes with a steamer basket which allows you to simultaneously steam and cook vegetable, fish or anything you desire. The 13 menu settings cook a variety of rice including regular rice, quinoa, quick setting, mixed flavored rice, sticky rice, rinse-free rice, brown rice, sushi rice, and even frozen rice. This rice cooker also has a 12-hour keep warm function and a 24-hour timer.
>> “Panasonic SR-HZ106 Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com
Best Induction Heat Pressure Model
Panasonic W-Odoridaki Steam & Variable Pressure Induction Heat Rice Cooker SR-SPX106
This Panasonic W-Odoridaki steam and pressure Induction heat rice cooker is close to $1000! The most expensive rice cooker of all 5 Panasonic rice cookers we reviewed. Panasonic’s specialty is in induction heat cookers, and their Odoridaki feature is a heating technique that uses pressure and heat going from high to low which makes the rice dance. Fittingly, “Odori” means dance and “daki” means to grill or heat. They also use the high-temperature steam to finish up the fluffy rice. Just note that this is a 100V Japanese machine and will need a volt transformer to convert your voltage to 100V.
>> “Panasonic W-Odoridaki Steam & Variable Pressure Induction Heat Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com
The Conventional Electric Rice Cooker
If you are new to cooking rice or never used a rice cooker before, start here. These conventional electric rice cookers are budget friendly and are perfect for beginners to start with. You simply add rice and water, push the button and you are done. Make sure you use the rice measuring cup that comes with the rice cooker which is 3/4 size of the regular U.S. measuring cup. If you use the U.S. measuring cup you will not be happy how the rice turns out.
Zojirushi NHS-06 3-Cup Rice Cooker
This 3 cup Zojirushi rice cooker is a simple rice cooker which also comes with a steamer function. It also comes with a clear lid, aluminum pot coated with nonstick teflon, stainless steel steaming tray, rice measuring cup, and a non-stick plastic rice spatula.
>> “Zojirushi NHS-06 3-Cup Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com
Tiger JNP-S55U 3-cup Rice Cooker
This stainless steel Tiger 3 cup rice cooker cooks great rice and keeps it warms up to 12 hours. Another plus is that this rice cooker is manufactured in Japan. If you want great rice and an easy cleaning rice cooker, this one is for you.
>> “Tiger JNP-S55U 3-cup Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com
Panasonic SR-G06FGL Automatic Cup Rice Cooker
This stylish silver Panasonic rice cooker does the job. It cooks up to 6 cups of cooked rice that is enough for about 2-4 people. This model doesn’t come with a steam basket but it has its own measuring cup and rice scoop. This basic rice cooker is easy to use and also includes an automatic shutoff function.
>> “Panasonic SR-G06FGL Automatic Cup Rice Cooker” on Amazon.com