Rice is one of the most versatile things you can cook at home, and though you could just order it from takeaways, a rice cooker can ensure top-quality rice even faster than delivery.
We’ve already researched the best-rated rice cookers on Amazon, but to determine the true best of the best, we reached out to food industry pros across the UK and Europe to find out what rice cookers they swear by.
We spoke to seven experts in total, including one half of a cookbook-writing duo, a recipe developer, and a number of chefs at some of London’s most acclaimed restaurants to uncover their favourites — and though most of these are used in professional kitchens, many are priced to please home cooks, too.
Best overall rice cooker
This model was recommended by three of our seven experts, including Vivek Singh, Executive Chef and CEO of The Cinnamon Collection restaurant group. “When it comes to using rice cookers I do think that the quality is reflected in the price,” he says. “For home cooking, the Russell Hobbs machine makes small portions of perfectly fluffy rice every time — and it’s very reasonably priced.” Peter Joseph, executive chef at Kahani in Kensington, is also a fan, and he particularly likes the steamer basket that comes with it. “Not only does it cook lovely rice, but I also steam my vegetables in this,” he says. This model automatically switches off when the food is ready, which Joseph says makes it really useful.
Emily Chung, who with her sister Amy wrote The Rangoon Sisters: Recipes From Our Burmese Family Kitchen, grew up with a “single switch” model like this and says they’re all she needs. “To this day, I’m yet to be convinced of the benefits of a new-fangled device with digital display and multiple options,” she says. “I’ve used this inexpensive Russell Hobbs cooker at various friends’ houses, and it works a dream. Once I’m in the front door, it only takes 20 minutes to cook perfect rice.”
Best luxury rice cooker
Zojirushi, a Japanese manufacturer, makes a rice cooker that came recommended by two of our experts. They’re not cheap, but Chris Riley, a recipe developer and founder of The Daring Kitchen, says they’re worth it. “Yes, they’re more expensive than average but they’re well-built and will last you a long time,” he says.
Riley recommended the NHS-06 3-cup cooker, calling it perfect for most people. “It holds up to 3 cups of uncooked and 6 cups of cooked rice, but they do larger options, too,” he says. The cooker has single-switch controls and features a non-stick inner cooking pot. “It’s extremely easy to use, and you don’t need to stand by the stove to make perfect, fluffy rice. Just turn it on, and use the time for something else.”
Padam Raj Rai, Executive Chef at Hot Stone, Islington, also likes the Zojirushi. “I’d definitely recommend it,” he said. “At Hot Stone we cook large amounts of rice each day for our fresh sushi dishes, so having the best rice cooker available is very important.”
[Editor’s note: the Zojirushi NHS-06 cooker is currently sold out, but we found this other rice cooker by Zojirushi that’s still available].
Best mixed grain rice cooker
Tefal’s 8-in-1 cooker came recommended by two of our experts. Keith Squires, of the Dru Yoga Centre in Snowdonia, said the versatility was definitely part of the appeal since he operates from a small kitchen. “Rice is a perfect accompaniment to a lot of the dishes we make, as well as one-pot stews, hearty soups and plant based proteins, like lentils,” he says. “So when I was looking for a rice cooker, it made sense to get one that could do so much more. Not only does it do all my cooking, but the rice cooker is particularly good.” He uses it to make kitcheri, a risotto-like dish made with two different grains. “I like it with lentils and rice, and it’s cooked perfectly in this device.”
Joseph agrees, saying it’s “super convenient” — he cooks everything from daal and biryani in his. This model, which has a 5L capacity, includes a delayed start programme. “It allows you to set it to cook up to 15 hours in advance, so that your meal is always ready when you are, and can keep it at an ideal temperature for up to 24 hours,” he continues.
Best rice cooker with removable bowl
“This is a brilliant piece of kit, and I would be lost without it,” says Luis Gonzalez, who founded Cuca, the Cuban supperclub that pops up across London (it’s headed to Ealing throughout August). This Brevil model is 1.8L, or about 8 cups, and the inner bowl can be lifted out and carried to the table, ready to serve. “I wouldn’t be able to run Cuca’s supper clubs without my Brevil rice cooker. It gives you the very best results every time you use it. Cuban is a cornucopia of rice dishes — Moros y cristianos (rice and beans) and Arroz Imperial, a wickedly indulgent dish involving cooking rice with mayonnaise, which is incredible. You could even use it to make arroz con leche, our version of rice pudding.”
Best large rice cooker
Singh also mentioned this rice cooker by Buffalo, noting that it was best for large quantities. “If you cook in bulk, or need to cook large quantities of rice like we do at all restaurants across The Cinnamon Collection, Buffalo machines are efficient and consistently produce lovely, steamed rice.” This is a six litre model, which works out at about 33 portions of rice, and the cooker features an anti-stick silicone mat, inserted into the inside, to prevent sticking. It also features an auto-warm function, which lowers the temperature once the rice has cooked, and has a small well to collect water from condensation.
Another rice cooker we like
When we looked at the best-rated rice cookers on Amazon (according to hyperenthusiastic reviewers), this mini cooker by Judge proved popular. The size frequently came up as a selling point in reviews — 24 people said they liked how compact and lightweight it was. But despite its size (eight inches tall), it can still cook enough rice for two people; one couple said it made exactly enough rice for their curry night, with no waste leftover.
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