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For some (OK, most of us), the words “leftover food” often sound like the punchline of a non-relatable joke. But, whether we like it or not, there are times when we simply can’t soldier through a second serving of fried rice. In moments like this, we can’t help but cherish the virtue of portion control, and that’s where small rice cookers step in.
These size-efficient appliances are specially designed to cook rice for just one (maximum, two people), a hack that keeps you from wasting lots of food and money down the line. So, if you are ready to say goodbye to all those heaps of leftover risotto, these are the 5 best small rice cookers to snatch ASAP.
What Is A Small Rice Cooker?
Also known as a single-serving or mini rice cooker, a small rice cooker is a compact-sized kitchen appliance that is programmed to boil or steam rice (as well as other grains) for just a couple of people which translates into 3-4 cups of food. The device usually consists of a cooking bowl, a heating element that is powered by electricity and a control panel for adjusting several variables such as the temperature, the cooking time, the type of grain being boiled, etc. The latest models also come with a sensor that keeps track of the temps and turns the device off when the desired temperature is reached.
What to Look For When Shopping For A Single-Serving Rice Cooker?
Navigating the market of small rice cookers is no easy feat. From fancy colors and shapes to eye-catching digital panels, these mini appliances are packed with oh-so-impressive features that can dazzle even the tight-fisted of buyers. So, to help you pick the good from the bad, we’ve rounded up the four most important things to keep in mind when shopping for a small rice cooker. No one is gonna rip you off now!
The first thing you need to consider when shopping for a small rice cooker is the pan’s material. If the bowl is made of low-quality coatings, then it is bound to peel off as time passes by. That means that the chips will infiltrate your food and ruin, not just the texture but also the quality. To avoid such issues, keep an eye out for a model made of rust-resistant materials such as stainless steel.
At this point, we’re all familiar with the benefits of non-stick cookware. From making cleaning a breeze to preventing food from burning, non-stick appliances are a dream come true. That said, make sure you invest in a non-stick rice cooker that will upgrade your cooking experience.
We can all agree that cold rice is never as satisfying as when it arrives freshly steamed out of the cooker. If stale rice is not your thing as well, you can always opt for a model with a keep-warm feature that helps retain the rice’s moisture and mushiness for hours after cooking. ‘Cause warm food is good food.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is the accessories. Upon purchase, many models feature a variety of extras which enhance the efficiency of the cooker and make the whole process much more manageable. Some of these add-ons include measuring cups, recipe booklets, rice paddles and steam racks.
5 Best Small Rice Cookers, Reviewed
For some, rebooting their rice cooking approach and adjusting the ratios to fit their solo living needs means that they need to get their hands on the best recipe that ever was. But, for those of us who value our time and budget, all it takes is an affordable and reliable mini rice cooker. But, which one is actually worth the try? To avoid getting stuck with a model that doesn’t make sense to you, we’ve gathered around the 5 best small rice cookers on the market, from “Wow!” to “I must have that ASAP.”
If you are looking for an easy-to-use mini rice cooker that won’t burn a hole through your wallet, this model is definitely worth looking into. Costing way less than most rice cookers these days and sporting a bunch of advanced features, the device will finally help you cook grains to perfection without worrying about the often confusing water-to-food ratios. But, this is just two of the perks that this unit has to offer. Read on and find out just how this appliance will help you up your cooking game.
- Automatic Keep-Warm Feature
One of the most noteworthy aspects of this device is the automatic keep-warm feature which means that the unit automatically switches to a keep-the-food-warm mode once the rice is cooked through. That’s especially helpful for anyone with a busy schedule who doesn’t want to eat the rice just when it’s done being cooked.
- Space-Efficient Design
Thanks to the small bowl and solo-friendly nature, the appliance doesn’t take up much of your counter or cabinet space. That said, it’s perfect for mini-sized kitchens with limited room.
Costing less than 20$, this model is surprisingly cheap. However, don’t let the low price fool you. Thanks to the multiple features and well-built design, the unit is bound to deliver every time with the push of a button.
- Non-Stick Surface
According to the manufacturer, the rice bowl features a non-stick coating which prevents the food from burning and getting stuck to the sides.
- Indicator Lights
The unit has two indicator lights which show when the rice is being cooked and when it’s in keep-warm mode.
- Easy-to-Use Accessories
Being the top-rated mini rice cooker that it is, this model comes with multiple accessories which make the process that much more comfortable. So, along with the unit, you’ll get a measuring cup and spoon and a plastic serving spoon to avoid scratching the non-stick bowl.
- See-Through Lid
It also has a transparent lid which helps you check the food as it cooks. So, even though the process is automated, you can always keep an eye on the device and avoid burning your rice.
- Easy to Clean
It’s no secret that non-stick cookware is very easy to clean. All you have to do is wipe any food residues with a paper towel and load them into the dishwasher. But, non-stick bowl aside, the unit features a bunch of other removable parts (lid, etc.) which helps you keep even those hard-to-reach spots pristine. So, make sure you wash these parts with warm soapy water after every use, and the cooker is bound to last for many years.
- Steam Vent
This model also comes with a specially designed vent which allows the built-up steam to leak through the cooking chamber. This feature prevents any violent bursts of the cooker due to increased pressure.
Even though it’s referred to as a rice cooker, this device can do so much more than just boiling the popular grain. That said, you can use the appliance to cook a variety of foods such as oats, quinoa, and legumes. In some cases, you can even use it to warm up your stews and soups.
- Makes a Mess (Or Maybe Not?)
One of the most common complaints about this unit is that it tends to spit some of the food and water during operation. While that may seem like a design flaw on the manufacturer’s side, you should remember that the bowl can’t take more than 1 ½ cups of uncooked rice. If you do ignore this guideline, both the water and rice will spill out of the unit causing a mess. So, whatever you do, don’t add more rice than the bowl can take.
If you are in the market for a small rice cooker that always delivers but also looks fantastic on just about any kitchen counter, this model is a no-brainer. Looking a lot like something you would buy in a very distant future reality, this space-age cooker has more to offer than just a sleek design. It is also equipped with a digital control panel which grants you access to a variety of cooking options. So, if you want in on the action (and flavor), these are the seven things you need to keep in mind to make an educated decision.
Thanks to the small size, light weight, and collapsible handle, this cooker is very easy to move around, so it’s the perfect choice for anyone who’s always on the go (see: RV-ers, and gadget-loving campers). The portable nature of the unit also favors college students who move from dorm room to dorm room.
- Newbie-Friendly Design
One of the main attractions of this model is the easy-to-use interface. You see, it features a digital control panel which allows you to choose the type of rice you want to cook, whether that’s white or brown. On top of that, the device comes with an automatic keep-warm feature which switches the unit into warming mode as soon as the rice is cooked through. This trait can be of great help to people with no time to check on the food or those who are a bit forgetful.
- Non-Stick Cooking Bowl
The device features a non-stick rice bowl which keeps the grains from sticking to the sides and burning. Genius!
- Easy Clean-Up
Since most of the unit’s parts are removable, you can readily load some of them (specifically, the pot) into the dishwasher and call it a day. However, to keep your cooker in tip-top condition, you can always wash the individual parts by hand. Don’t worry; it’s not that hard or time-consuming. Just remove any food residues with a paper towel and then scrub the parts gently with warm soapy water. That’s pretty much it.
- Versatile Cooking Options
Besides steaming and boiling two different types of rice (white and brown), you can use the device to cook a variety of other foods and dishes such as pancakes, omelettes, one-pot pasta, oatmeal and much more.
- Easy to Store
Given its small footprint and compact size, the cooker makes storage a breeze. Just tuck all the removable parts in the unit’s body to save some more space, and place it in your cabinet.
- Cool-Touch Exterior
Another cool thing about this model is the cool-touch surface. It is specially designed to isolate the heat from the cooker’s interior, sparing you any burning accidents.
- Overflowing Pot
According to many previous owners, the cooker tends to overflow and spit the water and the grains after a while. It’s worth mentioning, though, that this is a misuse side effect as the pot can take up to 1 ½ cups of uncooked food, and no more. So, to avoid such issues, make sure you always stick to the recommended portions.
For years, many have argued that rice cookers are a one-hit wonder, meaning they are only suitable for cooking just one type of food. However, this model is here to prove this claim wrong as it can serve as a rice cooker, omelette maker, slow cooker and soup pan, among others. But, versatility is just one the things we love about this best-selling device. If you want to find out more about the unit’s potential, here’s a list of how it can advance your cooking experience.
Even though many have associated Instant Pot with pressure cooking, this model goes against the grain (literally!) and doubles as a rice cooker, among others. The unit’s interface comes with multiple buttons, allowing you to choose which food you want to cook next. So, whether you are in the mood for porridge, stew, rice or eggs, this device has you covered.
- High-End Features
Being the reputable brand that it is, Instant Pot has equipped the model with various high-end features which can take your experience to the next level. One of these features includes a 24-hour delay start which allows you to cook your food at a preset time even when you are not around. It also has an automatic keep-warm feature which can keep your rice fresh and fluffy for up to 10 hours. Lastly, you can adjust the temperature while sauteing and slow cooking.
- Helpful Accessories
Upon purchase, the model comes with a variety of accessories which help improve your cooking experience. These utensils include a measuring cup, a rice paddle, a soup spoon, a stainless steel rack for steaming veggies and a recipe booklet filled with ideas on how to use your brand new rice cooker efficiently.
- Largish Capacity
While most mini rice cookers can steam up to 1 ½ cups of uncooked rice, this model goes beyond this standard and is ready to accommodate up to 6 cups of your favorite uncooked grains.
- Detachable Power Cord
If safety is your #1 priority, you are going to love this feature. You see, the unit sports a removable power cord which is easily detached when pulled. That means that if you accidentally trip on the cable, it will disconnect from the plug, sparing you the accident.
- Uneven Cooking
The only problem with this model is that food tends to be cooked unevenly. That happens because the heating element is placed at the bottom of the unit and may not reach the upper side of your food when the pot is filled. One way to go about this issue is to add less food in the bowl every time you cook.
It’s no secret that Japanese rice cookers are the best of the best in the field. Thanks to their high-quality materials, efficient design and high-end features, they can provide you with an array of options which can take your meals to the next level. So, if you want to get a glimpse of the rice making magic in all its Japanese glory, here’s what you should expect from this Amazon favorite.
- Easy to Use
For many, figuring out just how a rice cooker works can be beyond confusing. But, this no-frills model doesn’t fall into that category. Equipped with just one ON/OFF switch, it’s perfect for anyone who wants to keep things as simple as possible. That’s one of the reasons why this device is considered a top choice for cooking newbies such as college students and singles.
- Keep-Warm Function
Just because your food is ready to serve, it doesn’t mean you have to eat it now. If this sounds like you, then the keep-warm feature on this model will come in pretty handy. Now you can have warm rice even 5 hours after it’s done being cooked.
- See-Through Lid
Unlike many rice cooker, this Japanese masterpiece comes with a transparent lid that’s made of tempered glass. This way you can check on your food while it’s cooking and make sure it’s perfect every time.
Who said rice cookers can steam just… rice? According to the manufacturer, this unit can also be used to cook veggies. However, we’ll take things a step further and encourage you to add more foods and functions to the mix. That said, next time you want to warm up your stew, give this puppy a spin. You won’t regret it.
- Heat-Resistant Parts
The device also features a stay-cool know which allows you to open the lid without burning. The same principle applies to the side handles which are also made of heat-proof materials. That means you can man the cooker safely.
It also comes with a measuring cup and a serving spatula for some added convenience.
- Easy to Store
Given its compact size and small footprint, the appliance can be stored quite easily. Just tuck away any accessories inside the cooker’s pot, top with the lid and put it away.
- Uneven Heat Distribution
Many previous users report that the device tends to overcook the rice at the bottom, leaving the grains on the top crunchy and tasteless. While that may seem like a design shortage, it’s actually a matter of just how much rice you put in the pot in the first place. If you add more than the unit can handle, then chances are some of it will not be cooked thoroughly.
If you want to invest in a rice cooker that will last a lifetime (and then some), this model should be your go-to choice. Made of stainless steel inside and out, the device is a synonym for durability – that is, of course, if you take good care of it. But, sturdy materials aside, the appliance comes with several other features that not only guarantee a great result but also make your life easier. But, enough talk, here’s the scoop.
- Long-Lasting Materials
Unlike many models on the market today, this one is mostly made of stainless steel to ensure a lasting experience. The parts that consist of this durable material include the exterior, the attached steaming basket and the rim of the cover.
- Air Release Vent
The cover of the cooker also has a small hole which allows the steam to leak outside the chamber and, thus, prevent any pressure-related accidents.
- Keep-Warm Feature
Cold rice sucks, and the people at Cuisinart know it. To help you enjoy warm food every time you use this cooker, they made sure the unit automatically switches to the warming mode as soon as cooking is done.
- Indicator Lights
The device is equipped with two indicator lights, one for showing whether the food is being cooked and the second for when the unit automatically switches to the warming mode.
- Multiple Cooking Options
The device comes with a built-in tray which allows you to steam other foods even when the rice is cooking.
- Nice Looks
Thanks to the shiny stainless steel finish, the cooker gives off a futuristic vibe which instantly upgrades any kitchen, from classic to modern.
- Safe to Use
Another feature that makes this rice cooker stand out is the fact that it’s made according to the North American Electrical Standards. That means that there’s little to zero chance it will ever burst out into flames due to electrical malfunctions. The manufacturer also notes that the rice bowl contains zero BPA which is a toxin that is found in Teflon and plastic products.
- Transparent Lid
It also features a tempered glass lid which allows you to keep an eye on the food as it cooks.
The unit comes with a measuring cup and a rice paddle which are adapted to the bowl’s size, making the whole process much more comfortable.
- Bulky Design
Compared to most mini rice cookers, this one is a bit larger, occupying more space and making storage a bit difficult.
- Water Spills Out
Many owners claim that the cooker’s design causes the water to spill out the chamber and onto the counter, making a huge mess along the way. To avoid that, make sure you add less water than usual.
Though some superheroes manage to whip up delicious rice from scratch, others still struggle with the water-to-grain ratio for a single serving. If you are one of them, the answer is simple: mini rice cookers. These space-saving appliances can whip up a batch of flawless rice every time with the simple push of a button. So, if you ready to leave those takeout days behind and enjoy the convenience of freshly cooked rice from the comfort of your home, these top 5 small rice cookers are just the thing to get you started.