A Japanese rice cooker is hands down one of the best investments in your kitchen you’ll ever make. This appliance is super convenient and saves you A LOT of time making rice, not to mention that the rice it makes is some of the best you can ever have at home.
And with our guide for the best Japanese rice cookers on Amazon, you’re just one step away from making one of the best decisions of your life.
Our all rounder pick for the best overall Japanese rice cooker.
You can’t beat the quality of rice that’s cooked by this cooker!
For those who just want a decent bowl of rice every now and then, without having to pay too much for it
- 10 Best Japanese Rice Cookers 2021
- Japanese Rice Cookers Buying Guide
- How to Use Japanese Rice Cooker
- How to clean your Rice Cooker
- How to Clean Japanese Rice Cooker
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Japanese Rice Cookers 2021
1. Zojirushi NS-TSC10
What makes an appliance worthy of being crowned our top choice? In a nutshell, it has to nail all the essential features without causing too much of a dent in the buyer’s wallet. And, that’s why the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 is our (and countless other reviewers’) top pick for a Japanese rice cooker.
There’s so much the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 has to offer; thanks to it being a Micom rice cooker that can cook multiple kinds of rice at multiple settings with just a push of a few buttons, along with a steaming feature for vegetables. The model even features fuzzy logic, which means your rice will always cook evenly and perfectly, despite the fluctuating weather outside.
All these features in a price that’s affordable for most people, and it’s no surprise that the Zojirushi Japanes rice cooker NS-TSC10 stands out on top.
- Fuzzy logic
- Micom rice cooker
- Offers multiple modes for cooking different kinds of rice
- Can be used for steaming vegetables
- Affordable price
- Not an induction heating rice cooker
2. Zojirushi NP-NVC10
While the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 may have been our top pick for Japanese rice cookers, if you’re a food enthusiast who want nothing but the absolute best kind of rice from his rice cooker, then you’ve really got no other choice than the Zojirushi NP-NVC10 Japanese rice cooker.
The combination of induction heating and pressure cooking is no joke, and every batch of rice the Zojirushi NP-NVC10 cooks is nothing short of perfection, easily outclassing the kind of rice you may get at high end restaurants.
The only caveat here is the steep price, an unfortunate truth that keeps this model from claiming the number one spot.
- Induction heating + pressure cooking makes the best rice possible
- Micom rice cooker
- Cooks every type of rice imaginable, and even porridge
- Fuzzy logic
- Variety of settings for cooking, warming, reheating etc.
- Very expensive
3. IMUSA USA GAU-00011
We’ll say it now, the IMUSA GAU-00011 3-cup Japanese rice cooker is far from an ideal choice for enjoying mouth-watering, perfectly softened rice. Nor is it a very functional rice cooker, since it’s not a micom model. Then why does it deserve the number 3 spot? Simple: the product is surprisingly effective despite being one of the cheapest we’ve ever come across.
It’s obvious the IMUSA GAU-00011 isn’t meant for entire households, nor will it perform well in such demanding situations. But for someone living on a low budget (like a struggling student, for example), it does a pretty decent job and can even be used a crock pot, adding to its versatility.
- Very cheap
- It does a decent job of cooking rice
- Easy to use
- Can be used as a crock pot
- Sturdy design, doesn’t break easily
- Rather unimpressive build
- Rice quality of other models is much better
4. TIGER JBV-A10U
There’s no denying that Micom rice cookers are ultimately quite superior than their traditional counterparts, since they offer much better temperature control and a variety of different settings to cook your rice at. It’s a real shame they can be a bit hard to understand at first, what with their complicated control panel condensed in such a small area.
Not so with the TIGER Japanese rice cooker JBV-A10U, a Micom rice cooker that keeps its complexity completely under wraps, as it presents a simple and easy to use control panel for its users. For those who want the benefits of a Micom rice cooker without the hassle of learning how to use it, this is the perfect product.
- Easy to use and understand
- Micom rice cooker regulates heat at which rice is cooked
- Preset programs for brown and white rice
- Allows for synchro-cooking (steaming and rice cooking at the same time)
- Separate option for steaming and slow cooking
- Not an induction heat cooker
5. Zojirushi NHS-06
Even though Micom rice cookers are far more popular in the market today (and rightly so), there are many people who simply don’t need the extra features they provide. For them the extra features only add to the cost of the machine, and they’d rather not pay for stuff they don’t want or need.
That’s why if you’re not too fussy about how your rice is cooked and just want something that gets the job done quickly and consistently, the Zojirushi NHS-06 might be just the product for you. No complicated LCD displays or a myriad of buttons; just a simple push button is all the Zojirushi NHS-06 offers, and that’s all you’ll ever need.
- One button to operate, can’t get simpler than that
- Cheaper than Micom rice cookers
- Automatic keep-warm system
- Allows steaming over rice
- Durable non-stick inner pan
- Sacrifices on the cool features of a Micom rice cooker
6. Zojirushi NS-ZCC10
You might not notice it at first, but your rice cooks differently in different seasons and weathers, since the temperature of the surroundings ultimately affects the cooking rice. This is also why you’d get inconsistent rice with normal rice cookers, since they can’t account for these fluctuations.
Not with the Zojirushi NS-ZCC10, however. Using Fuzzy logic, this rice cooker is able to accurately determine the best temperature to cook your rice at, and can adjust it on the fly. And since it’s a Micom rice cooker too, it’s also one of the smartest you’ll find on the market today.
- Best Fuzzy logic rice cooker
- Micom rice cooker
- Spherical non-stick inner pan
- Included non-stick serving spoon and measuring cups
- Makes every type of rice and steam food too
- Not an induction heating cooker
7. Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH
Ever had a problem with unevenly cooked rice or burnt remains stuck on the bottom? Well, with an induction heating rice cooker like the Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. After all, induction heating uses the entire inner bowl to cook the rice instead of just the bottom, so you can rest easy knowing your rice is cooked through.
Plus, with all the great features that come standard with a Micom rice cooker, there’s not a lot to complain about here.
- Induction heating, rice cooked evenly
- Micom rice cooker
- Multiple menu cooking functions
- Clear coated stainless-steel exterior
- Cooks all kinds of rice and more
What’s better than an Induction heating (IH) rice cooker? A rice cooker that uses pressure cooking too! There’s absolutely no beating the IH + pressure combo when it comes to cooking rice and the Cuckoo CRP-DHR0609FD is the perfect example of that. Throw fuzzy logic into the mix and you’ve really got a great product on your hands.
It’s just a real shame about the price though; if it weren’t so expensive, we’d definitely have recommended it higher on our list.
- IH + pressure cooking
- Micom rice cooker
- Fuzzy logic
- Very appealing exterior
- 14 cooking functions
- Very expensive
- Compared to Zojirushi, Cuckoo is a relatively unknown brand; so less reliable
Buying a rice cooker can be a pretty hefty investment, so most people prefer to buy something they’d be able to make the most out of, like a good versatile Micom rice cooker. But if we’re talking about the rice cooker that is the most versatile out of the box, there’s no competing with the COMFEE All-in-One Multi Cooker.
Cooking rice, steaming vegetables, baking bread, stewing meat, making noodle soup, preparing desserts, or even making yoghurt, this one appliance can do it all. And the cooker is fully programmable, increasing its usability ten-fold!
- Very versatile
- Micom rice cooker
- Programmable, user can set it how he likes
- Easy to use and clean
- Handle for easy transport
- No induction heating
10. Aroma Housewares
Cooking for a large number of people can be tough, especially if you have to cook the same meal twice because of your smaller pots and utensils. This is why a large capacity rice cooker like the Aroma ARC-7216NG is a really handy appliance in such scenarios; it can cook a whopping 16 cups of uncooked rice at the same time.
It’s just a shame this is only a conventional rice cooker, so learning the right timing and the amount of water to put in is a matter of trial and error.
- Best for cooking large batches of rice
- Simple one push button
- Transparent lid for easy monitoring
- Steam vegetables and meat while rice cooks below
- Can be used as a large crock pot
- Water can spill out when rice is boiling
- Takes a little practice to get the rice done just right
There you have it, our picks for the top Japanese rice cookers in 2020. But you might be thinking: a list of the best products isn’t enough to make my decision right away; there’s a lot more I need to know before I’m ready to buy a Japanese rice cooker.
So, why not take a look at our Japanese rice cooker buyer’s guide to get a better idea of what you need?
Japanese Rice Cookers Buying Guide
What’s better, a Micom rice cooker or a traditional one? How large a rice cooker do I need? What kind of heating is best for my rice cooker? Get the answers to these and more with our Japanese rice cooker buyers guide:
The 6 Main Features to Look Out
The first thing to decide is how big of a Japanese rice cooker you want. Obviously, the optimal choice is the one that caters exactly to your needs, depending on how frequently you eat rice and how many people you have to cook for at a time. Consult this list as a rough guide for what may work for you:
- Small: cooks up to 3合, feeds 1-2 people.
- Medium: cooks 3.5 – 5.5合, feeds 3-5 people.
- Large: cooks 6.0 – 8.5合, feeds 4-6 people.
- Jumbo: cooks 10合+, feeds 6+ people.
Note: 合 (pronounced “gou”) is the traditional measurement of rice for Japanese rice cookers. One 合 equals around 180 ml of rice, and almost all rice cookers come with a cup that measures one 合 of rice.
We would recommend getting the medium size for most people, since it can be used for small servings, while still allowing you to cook more rice on days you need to.
Materials (outer body and inner pot)
The material for the outer body determines how stylish and durable your cooker will be, so it’s best to pick a material like stainless steel that can handle both just fine. Plastic cookers will cost less, however, so if you don’t mind the less than premium vibe they give, then go for it.
As for the inner pot, a stainless-steel bowl with a non-stick coating is more or less the norm for Japanese rice cookers in the market today, owing to how well it retains heat and how easy it is to serve. Ceramic pots are less common, but they do have great heat retention so they might be worth looking into.
As far as heating is concerned, there are basically three tiers of Japanese rice cookers you’ll find on the market. Here they are listed in increasing order of quality and efficiency (be wary of the rising prices as you go down the list):
- Coiled heating element: These are the base models and feature only a coiled heating element at the bottom to cook your rice. They may not cook rice as well as the next two, but for they’re still pretty effective and a great choice for budget customers.
- Induction heating: Using an alternating magnetic field, induction heating utilizes the entire pan as the heating element. This allows for rice to be cooked more evenly and rapidly, with lesser chance of overcooking or burning. A great choice for those who want great rice every time.
- Induction heating + pressurized cooking: Adding pressurized cooking on top of induction heating, the rice that comes out of these cookers is nothing short of restaurant quality. Rice made in these cookers retains just the right amount of softness; easily the best rice you can ever have at home.
Versatility (Baking, steaming veggies, crock pot)
Most Japanese rice cookers are pretty versatile from the get-go, allowing you to do much more than simply cook rice. However, if manufacturers design the cooker to actually accommodate more versatile operations, like baking bread, steaming vegetables (providing a steaming basket), or even using as a crock pot, then that automatically increases the value of the appliance.
Which instantly makes it a better product and one worthy of your consideration.
Smart vs Conventional cookers
Not surprisingly, smart cookers are much more expensive than their simpler one-button counterparts. Question is, do the extra features they provide justify the price?
Well, in our opinion, they most definitely do, but only if you have an actual need for these extra features. Smart cookers make cooking rice very convenient and give you a ton of preset options to choose from, which is great if you want to try different things or cook different kinds of rice.
But if all you really need is a bowl of rice every now and then, then you’re much better off saving your money and going for the simpler, traditional models instead.
Going through the list of the best Japanese rice cookers, you might have seen one or two products that claim to use this technology, and how using this technology they cook rice much better than their competition.
Sparing you the technical details of how fuzzy logic works, we’ll guarantee that these claims are all legitimate, since fuzzy logic cookers are able to better compensate for the temperature of the surroundings. Being able to adjust cooking temperatures on the fly, these cookers are accurately able to control how much water is evaporated or absorbed by the rice, which can have a huge impact on the overall quality of the cooked rice.
Well, now that you know which rice cooker to buy based on your preferences, all that’s left is to buy it. But what if you don’t know how to use a Japanese rice cooker to begin with.
Not to worry dear reader, we’ve got you covered here too!
How to Use Japanese Rice Cooker
Step #1 Prepping the cooker (cleaning and plugging in)
Before you do anything, make sure the rice cooker is clean before you put rice in it for cooking. Many of us have the bad habit of leaving the rice cooker unclean since its last use(s), meaning there’d be some residual rice stuck to the bottom of the inner pot. Using an unclean bowl makes both cooking the rice inefficient and leaves a bad taste of leftovers in the fresh rice.
Once you’ve cleaned up your rice cooker, plug it in the wall socket. You don’t really have to worry about power ratings or whatnot here, a simple kitchen socket will do just fine.
Step #2 Measuring out the rice and placing it in the cooker
Since different models of Japanese rice cookers vary in size and rice capacity, and your own need is such a large deciding factor, it’s hard to give a standard for the amount of rice you need to use every time when cooking. The exact amount of rice you’ll need to add will vary case to case, and you’ll only really be able to get a hang of it after a little trial and error.
There are a few things you can keep in mind, however. First, you should note the maximum capacity of rice (measuring in cups is much simpler than others, so that’s what we recommend) your rice cooker can hold; you don’t want rice to be forcing its way out of the cooker as it boils.
Second, always opt to cook only as much as you need. One and a half cup of uncooked rice is enough to feed 3-4 people on average, so we recommend you use this as a rough guide when starting out.
It’s also a good idea to rinse out your rice at least once before putting it into the rice cooker, since this helps in removing excess starch, making the rice fluffier, whiter, more fragrant and tastier once cooked.
Step #3 Adding water
After measuring and pouring the uncooked rice inside the inner pot, add water before you close the lid and start cooking. A good rule of thumb is to keep the water to rice ratio 2:1, making sure the rice is submerged at least one digit under the water.
If you’re using different kinds of rice, however, the optimal water to rice ratio varies quite a bit, so looking up an estimate on the internet might be a good idea.
Step #4 Closing the lid and operating the cooker
With the water and rice inside the inner pot, it’s time to close the lid and start cooking. This step is an absolute no-brainer with traditional rice cookers, since they only really have one or two buttons to operate the cooker. Simply closing the lid and pushing down on the start button is enough.
However, with Micom rice cookers that offer a wider variety of operations for cooking your rice, a quick peak into the instruction manual is necessary. It’ll give you a great insight into how to operate your cooker the right way, and may even highlight some useful features you may have overlooked before.
Step #5 Cook and serve
After you’ve started the cooker, there’s not much else left to do. Almost all rice cookers on the market cook on their own, using sensors and efficient algorithms to judge the optimal time to stop cooking, after which they automatically keep it warm till you’re ready to start serving.
So, just relax and wait for the beep that’ll tell you that your rice is done. All that’s left then is to open up the lid (mind the steam!) and scoop out the rice into a serving bowl.
And that’s it. Itadakimasu!!
Using your Japanese rice cooker for cooking food other than rice
Besides their convenience, Japanese rice cookers are quite well-known for their versatility and how they can be used to cook food other than rice. And for those of you who’re curious how to use your Japanese rice cooker to bake bread, steam veggies, or simply use it as a crock pot, here are some helpful pointers:
- While we can’t really tell you how to prepare the dough (sadly not our domain of expertise), we can tell you how to bake your dough once it’s ready.
- Instead of letting it rise outside the cooker completely, we recommend you place the dough inside the cooker mid-rising, so that it rises and takes the shape of the cooker on its own.
- After the dough has risen, cover with the lid and bake for one hour on your normal setting.
- Then flip the dough and bake for another hour.
- Finally, flip the dough again and bake one final hour.
- Remove the bread and let it cool before digging in.
- You need to have a steamer basket to be able to steam vegetables on your rice cooker.
- Pour 2-3 cups of water inside your cooker, and place the steamer basket with the vegetables inside.
- Make sure the vegetables are OVER the water, and not submerged in it (otherwise you’d just be boiling them, not steaming them).
- Turn your cooker on and keep an eye on your vegetables as they steam.
- Once they’re done, pull the power cord to stop the cooker from steaming any further (standard rice cookers won’t shut off on their own since they’re meant to cook rice).
- If you have a cooker that offers a separate button for steaming, then we highly recommend you use that.
Using it as a crock pot
- A rice cooker can be used as a crock pot to make many dishes such as a pot roast.
- Place the ingredients inside the inner bowl and turn the cooker on.
- Cook on the normal rice setting until the mixture is up to boil.
- Switch the rice cooker to the “Keep warm” setting and cook till the dish or roast is done.
Learning how to use your rice cooker is important, but learning how to clean it after use and maintain it properly is perhaps just as important. Which is why we’ve prepared a helpful guide for you on how you can clean your Japanese rice cooker effectively. Take a look:
How to clean your Rice Cooker
Step #1 Unplug your cooker and let it cool down
Unless you’re absolutely new to this, you probably already know that mixing electricity and water is a big NO-NO, so unplugging your appliance from the kitchen socket is logically the first step you need to take.
This may feel like a trivial point, but bear in mind that many people have accidentally ruined their appliances and even electrocuted themselves washing plugged-in electronics, so we don’t mind sounding tedious if it means you always remember this crucial step.
The other thing you need to check before you can start cleaning your rice cooker is if it’s cooled down after its last use. Not surprisingly, attempting to wash a hot cooker puts you at direct risk of burning your hands and arms.
A hot cooker is also more susceptible to damage if exposed to cold water while cleaning. Metal inner pots and heating elements only really get stained if they come into contact with cold water if still hot, but ceramic and stoneware parts don’t take kindly to drastic changes in temperature and will crack.
So, after you’re done cooking for the day, empty out your cooker and let it cool down to room temperature before you start cleaning it.
Step #2 Remove the inner pot and clean
Removing the inner pot is a relatively simple task, with most models letting you directly pick it out of the cooker without having to deal with any tricky latches at all. Once you’ve pulled your inner pot out, thoroughly examine it to assess how much you need to clean it.
If the rice cooker has only been used once or twice since it’s last clean, the most you’d need to do is give it a good scrub with sponge and dishwash to remove the stuck rice grains and gunk.
However, if you’re guilty of having used your rice cooker many times in a row without cleaning it, you might have to leave it submerged in hot detergent water overnight for you to have any chance of dealing with the food particles thoroughly stuck to it. After the pot is done soaking give it a good scrub and set it aside to dry.
In both cases, remember to only use the soft side of the sponge while scrubbing the pot. Most Japanese rice cookers in the market use stainless steel inner pots with a non-stick coating, which might easily get scratched if cleaned with coarser materials like a steel wool or the scruffy side of the sponge.
Check your steamer for any other loose parts that you can take out to clean, like the steamer tray, the condensation collector, or the oil catching cup to name a few. Be sure to clean the lid gasket and heating element too, using a sponge and dishwasher to scrub, and a damp towel to wipe the soap off as you clean.
Step #3 Clean the outside of the rice cooker
With a slightly soapy sponge or a damp dishcloth, begin by wiping down the outside of the cooker, cleaning its exterior and lid to remove any dirt and food particles that may have gotten stuck to it over time.
Clean your control panel or control buttons in the same way, trying your best to target the gunk that builds up in between these buttons and the display. Be careful about how much water you use as you work though, since you don’t water leaking inside the appliance, which can very well ruin the appliance in one fell swoop.
Step #4 Air dry and reassemble
Once you’ve wiped the entire cooker at least once with a damp cloth, leave both the cooker and the parts you took out of it to air dry. After that’s done, simply reassemble the cooker as it was before, returning each piece you took out to its proper place.
And that’s it. Your Japanese rice cooker is clean and ready to fight another day.
How to Clean Japanese Rice Cooker
Thinking maybe such a thorough process of cleaning is a little too tiring for your liking? Would you rather not have to go through the trouble of disassembling it every time?
Well, worry not, because keeping your cooker clean is actually really simple; all you need to do is clean it after every use. Since you’d be cleaning your Japanese rice cooker so frequently, all you’d really need to do is wash the inner pot every time, and quick wipe with a dry cloth would take care of any dust buildup since the last use.
And if you store your rice cooker in the cupboard or even cover it up with a cloth when it’s not in use, you could save yourself a lot of time and effort here too!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do induction-heating Japanese rice cookers work?
They use an alternating magnetic field, which in turn utilizes the entire pan as the heating element. This makes rice cook more evenly and rapidly, with lesser chance of overcooking or burning.
What is a gou 合?
合 (pronounced “gou”) is the traditional measurement of rice for Japanese rice cookers. One 合 equals around 180 ml of rice, and almost all rice cookers come with a cup that measures one 合 of rice.
How much water do I need to use in my rice cooker?
The amount of water should be almost twice as much as the amount of rice you put into your Japanese rice cooker.
Can I use my rice cooker to steam vegetables/meat while rice cooks below?
Yes, but only if your Japanese rice cooker comes with a steamer tray. For more details please refer to our section on “How to use a Japanese Rice Cooker”.
How long do I cook my rice with a Japanese rice cooker?
With a Japanese rice cooker, you don’t need to worry about this, since the machine stops cooking automatically when the rice is done. Just keep an ear out for the beep that signals the rice being done.
How long does it take for a Japanese rice cooker to make a batch of rice?
While this varies from model to model and the amount of rice you’re cooking, the general ballpark is around 30-50 minutes.
Do I have to be worried about steam releasing from my Japanese rice cooker as it cooks rice?
Yes, the steam coming out is very hot and you need to keep away from the cooker while it cooks. We recommend facing the cooker to release steam away from you, and keeping your kids away while the appliance is cooking.
How much electricity does a Japanese rice cooker use?
A Japanese rice cooker does not consume a lot of electricity when operating, using a mere 620-700 watts of electric power while cooking, and only 35-40 watts when keeping the rice warm.
How do I rinse the rice before using it?
Pour the rice into a bowl and run cold water over it. Gently rub the grains in the bowl with your hands and drain the water away, taking care not to spill the rice. Repeat at least once.
What is a Micom Japanese rice cooker?
A Micom Japanese rice cooker uses a micro-computer to control how rice is cooked, giving you better cooked rice. It even offers you a wider variety of options when it comes how you want to cook your rice.
Well that’s about all we can tell you (and frankly all you’ll need) when it comes to Japanese rice cookers. So, go forth with this knowledge and buy the Japanese rice cooker that’s perfect for you.