Best Japanese Rice Cooker

Trying to cook rice without a rice cooker is a recipe for disaster (pun intended).

You’re unlikely to get perfect rice by simply sticking it in a pan, adding some water, and hoping for the best.

There’s so much that can go wrong. Check out Insider's article about all the things that can upset the balance and make your dinner a tragedy.

Plus, a pan of rice takes up precious stove-top real estate.

And if you want rice to be a regular accompaniment to your meals, as many people do, then you would be well advised to invest in a Japanese rice cooker, and get perfect results every time.

And the good news is, there are some great ones out there. We’ve been checking them out, and after much deliberation, we were able to handpick our top 5 favorites, which we can’t wait to show you!

After that, we have a handy buying guide for you that talks about the different features a rice cooker can have, and goes through some of the things you might want to consider before you buy.

Then, we’re going to top that off with a section where we answer some of your most frequently asked questions on the subject.

So, without further ado... 

OUR TOP PICK

Panasonic 5 Cup (Uncooked) Japanese Rice Cooker with Induction Heating System and Pre-Programmed Cooking Options for Brown Rice, White Rice, and Porridge or Soup - 1.0 Liter - SR-HZ106 (Black)

This Japanese rice cooker from top brand Panasonic also comes very highly rated.

But we’re going to level with you here – it's only for those with a big budget. It’s more expensive than the other Japanese rice cookers we’re showing you, but it’s clear that many customers feel it’s worth it – on Amazon they rated it 5 stars out of 5 for value for money.
They also rated it at 5 stars for “easy to clean” and “easy to use”.

Did you know it was Panasonic who developed the world’s first induction heating rice cooker?

What makes this particular Japanese rice cooker stand out against its counterparts is that all sides of the container feature induction heating elements. Not just the bottom and sides, but also the lid!

It is composed of 7 individual layers of premium quality materials, thoroughly tested for durability.

And the rice cooker uses optimal control of its 1,400 watts of heat, using techniques of science to get the perfect texture for your rice. (If you’ve got time, you should totally check out the video on the Amazon page which explains it all for you.)

You can cook several kinds of rice, including white rice, brown rice, and multigrain. You can also set it to sushi rice if you like. Or even cook rice from frozen.

In addition to cooking rice with it, you can also use it to make porridge, which is a great way to start the morning. Or to make soup – just what the doctor ordered for a cold winter’s day.
We also love how you can use it to steam fresh vegetables and fish too – yum!

It has what would argue are relatively compact dimensions, and shouldn’t take up too much space on your kitchen countertop.

But despite its compact dimensions, it can cook up to 5 cups of uncooked rice – that's enough portions for 10 people!

It’s very easy to use, with a large display, and very few, uncluttered buttons to be concerned about.

It also comes with a special measuring cup for portioning the desired amount of water, a ladle, and an authentic Asian-style serving spoon.

We love its keep-warm setting, it really gives you as much time as you need to get all the other meal elements ready to serve everything up together, as intended. And there’s a reheat function too, which is great for using up leftovers several hours later.

But you don’t have to worry about leaving the rice cooker on too long. One of its safety features includes an automatic shut-off to prevent any overheating.

Pros

  • Large 5-cup capacity - enough to feed 10 people
  • Can cook way more than just white rice, cooks other rice's, and it cooks soup and porridge and steams veg and fish
  • Very easy to use, with a large display, and very few buttons
  • Very highly rated by customers – check out the ratings & reviews 

Cons

  • Some customers say it’s better for cooking Japanese short-grain rice than for cooking Carolina rice or other longer grain rice Americans typically eat.
  • The display panel is not backlit, so can be hard to read in low light.

EDITORS CHOICE

Toshiba TRCS01 Cooker 6 Cups Uncooked (3L) with Fuzzy Logic and One-Touch Cooking, Brown Rice, White Rice and Porridge

Now, this is a rice cooker with outstanding customer feedback. It’s quite rare for a product to get a full 5 stars out of 5 with online retailers such as Amazon, but this one managed it – even after over 1000 individual customer ratings.

It comes from a top well-established brand, Toshiba. Toshiba has been around since 1875, and although they have a very broad product base, they seem to excel when it comes to the quality of any item they produce. And they’ve been making rice cookers for longer than I’ve been alive!

It may look modest in its dimensions, but it’s hiding a very large capacity. This beauty can accommodate up to 6 cups of uncooked rice, which can result in enough tice for 12 individual servings.

And better yet, there’s also a quick rice feature which will cook your rice in 30 minutes or less!

It’s a very sleek and smart-looking machine. All white with a silver panel at the front, and with a carry handle that folds down behind it.

It can cook different types of rice, including white rice, brown rice, mixed rice, short or long-grained rice. And it can whip up a nice porridge besides. But you’re not limited to using it for rice alone. You can also use it to steam cook meat and vegetables.

What we love about it is its use of Smart Fuzzy Logic. This is where the machine automatically changes and adapts the cooking times and temperatures according to where the rice is in its 6-step cooking process. (Check out the graph on the product page.)

Making all these adjustments yourself manually would be headwork, especially while you’re busy preparing all the other elements of your meal. So much easier to let the machine take of all that for you.

We also love the removable steam valve. It can preserve much of the steam so that you get perfectly fluffy rice every single time. And there’s no bubbling over or overflow to worry about.

Like most rice cookers it has that ever-popular keep-warm function that we all love. But this machine goes one step beyond that and also provides a delay time feature. This way you can prepare your meal in the morning before going to work, and come home to a lovely warm meal. (Great for using along with a slow cooker!)

The inner pot is entirely non-stick, so you won’t have to scrape bits off and scrub it down. It’s very easy to clean. It’s also completely chemical-free. And the inner lid is also removable for easy cleaning.

It also comes with soup and rice ladles, a serving spatula, a measuring cup, and a steam basket. And you get both a user manual and a book of recipes which are also downloadable from the product page.

Of all the machines that made our top 5 picks, this one is the most affordable, and gives you great value for money. Moreover, you could save yourself a little money if you manage to catch one of Amazon’s occasional deals on this product. 

Pros

  • Top, well-established brand
  • Outstanding customer ratings
  • Large 6-cup capacity, serves 12
  • Delay time & keep warm features
  • Great little recipe book included
  • Fair and reasonable price tag
  • Best bang for your buck

Cons

  • Some customers who’ve used it say that they prefer the Zojirushi brand

BEST VALUE

Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker, 5.5-Cup, Premium White

The customer feedback on this machine has been phenomenal. It’s not very often a product gets rated at 5 stars out of 5 on Amazon – especially after so many individual customer ratings.

It may look rather small, but its appearance is deceptive. It actually has a very large capacity, able to cook 5 and a half cups of rice, that’s enough to serve 11 people.

It features Zojirushi’s Neuro Fuzzy Logic technology, whereby the machine adapts its cooking time and temperature according to how it senses the rice is cooking, taking into account the type of grain and amount of rice.

You can use it to cook all kinds of rice, including white rice, brown rice, sweet rice, and semi-brown rice.

You can remove the scratch-resistant, non-stick inner pot to prepare your rice. Rinsing the rice beforehand is recommended, but there’s also a rinse-free option. And when you are ready to serve up your rice, you can use the cool-to-the-touch handles to bring the inner pot back out again to serve up.

It’s very straightforward and easy to use. There’s a large display panel, and very few buttons to be concerned with. And once the uncooked rice is in position with its water, it’s mostly just a case of selecting the right setting for your particular rice. Then just sit back and let it do its magic.

We also like that it’s white rather than black, looks nicer in your kitchen. We also love how it plays you a little ditty “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” when your rice is ready.

But if you’re not ready to serve it right away, that’s no problem at all, thanks to how it automatically switches to its keep-warm mode for you.

And if the family is too full after one meal, you can leave the excess rice in the cooker and reheat it for your next meal.

It also comes with 2 measuring cups, which is an important feature because you have to get the right amount of water for your chosen amount of rice. Moreover, the measurements are slightly different from traditional American cups. And you get a non-stick serving spoon to boot.

Amazon occasionally has deals on this product – certainly worth a look. There’s also a larger version of this model available on the same Amazon page.

Pros

  • Phenomenal customer ratings
  • Looks & sounds delightful
  • Large 5.5 cup capacity
  • Cooks all kinds of rice
  • Removable inner pot for serving
  • Keep warm & reheat functions

Cons

  • Some customers were disappointed that it doesn’t have the steam function that other models from this brand have

RUNNER UP

Zojirushi NS-LGC05XB Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer, 3-Cups (uncooked), Stainless Black

Here’s yet another great Japanese brand from top brand Zojirushi. And again, it's one that has seen incredible customer feedback. 5 stars out of 5 on Amazon, even after 2,500 individual customer ratings.

It’s a very smart-looking little machine, with a stainless-steel exterior, and an intuitive and easy-to-understand front panel, inclusive of a large LCD display and a few boldly labeled buttons. It’s super easy to use. For a quick guide, you can check out the video on the product page on Amazon.

It can cook up to 3 cups of uncooked rice, which is enough to make 6 individual servings. It’s a great option for hungry couples and small families.

It can cook all kinds of rice for you, including white or mixed short grain rice, sushi rice, GABA brown rice, brown rice, and long grain white rice. And that’s not all, it can also prepare steel cut oatmeal for you too, for that perfect porridge.

It’s equipped with advanced fuzzy logic technology, which automatically adjusts times and temperatures, to get your perfect rice texture consistency every single time. You do away with all the guesswork.

The heat that cooks the rice comes from the bottom, the sides, and the lid, which is why you get such even heating and great results. And there’s a removable steam vent cap that allows for high-temperature cooking without any messy overflows.

It’s easy to stow away when not in use, because it’s handle folds right down and it has a retractable power cord.

The inner pot is completely removable, as is the inner lid, which makes it very easy to keep clean.

Accessories include a spatula for serving, a spatula holder, and a measuring cup. 

Pros

  • Outstanding customer ratings
  • Very intuitive and easy to use
  • Automatically adjusts temperature
  • Cook all kinds of rice to perfection
  • Also features an oatmeal setting

Cons

  • Relatively small capacity at 3 cups, whereas others in a shortlist can do about 5 cups

RUNNER UP

Zojirushi NS-LHC05 Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer, Stainless Dark Brown

Zojirushi has done it yet again – another Japanese rice cooker with a 5-star rating on Amazon! And it’s available at a very fair and reasonable price too. And an even better price if you manage to catch one of Amazon’s occasional deals on this product.

It’s very smart and sleek with a stainless-steel exterior, and fold-down black handle.

It can cook up to 3 cups of uncooked rice, which is enough to make 6 individual servings. It’s a great option for hungry couples and small families.

And while many rice cookers are designed to cook all sorts of rice, white, brown, sushi rice, etc, this machine goes one step further and can also be used to jasmine rice, which is great news for those who love their Thai dishes.

It’s equipped with computerized micro fuzzy logic technology, which automatically adjusts times and temperatures, to get your perfect rice texture consistency every single time. You don’t have to worry about doing any guesswork, it’s all automated for you.

It’s very easy to set up and program. There’s a large display, and a small array of well-labeled buttons. Once you’ve measured your rinsed rice and water into the inner pot, you simply position the lid, select your rice type, and press start. Couldn’t be simpler.

We love that it has a keep-warm option, it’s a great feature to have when all the other elements of your meal are not quite ready, or if your dinner guest is running a little late.

There’s also a handy reheat option, which is great if you’ve had to dash away at short notice and are coming home to food a little later.

The inner pot is completely removable, as is the inner lid, which makes clean-up super easy.
Accessories include a spatula for serving, a spatula holder, and a measuring cup. 

Pros

  • Outstanding customer ratings
  • Very intuitive and easy to use
  • Automatically adjusts temperature
  • Cook all kinds of rice to perfection
  • Jasmine rice cooking option

Cons

  • No rinse-free option
  • It takes a long time to cook Jasmine rice
  • Relatively small capacity at 3 cups, whereas others in a shortlist can do about 5 cups

Best Japanese Rice Cooker Buying Guide

As promised, here’s your Japanese rice cooker buying guide.

We’ve tried to cover everything you might want to think about before you buy, and give you some ideas of what to look out for.

Array of Dishes It Can Cook

White rice is probably still the most popular rice dish around, but it’s certainly not the only one. You should go ahead and experiment.

The health-conscious amongst you may be interested in making brown rice. With its higher glycaemic index, it releases carbohydrates more slowly in the body, and it fills you up quicker, so you don’t need as much to feel full.

Or you may also be interested in cooking GABA brown rice.
Many Japanese rice cookers can also be used to make porridge from steel cut oatmeal too.

Some Japanese rice cookers can also be used to steam meat, fish, or vegetables too. If this is of interest to you, we can recommend our number 1 pick, the Panasonic 5 Cup Japanese Rice Cooker.

Easy and Intuitive to Use

All of the Japanese rice cookers are very easy and intuitive to use. We would even argue that after the first successful use, you’ll no longer need the user manual.

Cooking rice perfectly the manual way takes a lot of changing temperature for different sent lengths of time during the cooking process.

But all of the rice cookers that made our top 5 picks all feature smart automatic temperature changes to deliver perfect results each and every time. Pretty cool right?

Keep Warm Feature

Sometimes you don’t always manage to have all the elements of a meal ready at exactly the same time. That’s why it’s very handy to have a machine that can keep your rice warm for you, once it’s cooked, while you continue to get the remaining elements of the meal ready to serve.

Or, if you’d be more interested in a delay feature, say if you want to prepare your rice in the morning and have it ready for when you get home at the end of the day, then we would recommend our number 2 pick, the Toshiba TRCS01 Rice Cooker,

Capacity

If you’re cooking for a large household with plenty of hungry tummies, you may want to invest in a rice cooker with a large inner capacity.

Half a cup of rice is enough for one modest serving. So, although a 3-cup rice cooker might not sound like much, it’s actually large enough to feed 6 people. Which in most instances will probably be more than what you need.

Brand

There are a few brands of Japanese rice cookers that really dominate the market. The main one is Zojirushi, and we naturally included several rice cookers from this top, well-established brand in our top 5 picks.

We also included some other top, well-established brands in our shortlist too. Namely Toshiba and Panasonic. And granted, Toshiba and Panasonic aren’t best known for their Japanese rice cookers per se. However, they both produce a variety of products of excellent quality, and this goes for their rice cookers too.

Cost

Japanese rice cookers can vary quite considerably in their price tags. With some costing less than $100, most costing between $100 and $200, and others costing upwards of $500.

So, our advice to you is to check the prices as you’re going along, and learn what your money gets you.