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The best mini rice cooker

More than 4 billion people across the globe count rice as a major part of their diet. To incorporate more of this nutritious grain into your daily meals, invest in a mini rice cooker.
More than 4 billion people across the globe count rice as a major part of their diet. To incorporate more of this nutritious grain into your daily meals, invest in a mini rice cooker. (BestReviews)

Rice is a nutritious, delicious staple grain that is part of a variety of world cuisines. With around 4 grams of protein per serving, plus trace minerals and vitamins and fiber (in brown rice), rice is an affordable, filling base carbohydrate that can be transformed into something truly delicious.

The best dishes all start with perfectly cooked rice. If you've struggled to make fluffy rice in the past, a mini rice cooker can help. The best mini rice cooker — the Zojirushi Rice Cooker — produces delicious, well-cooked rice at the touch of a button.

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What to know before you buy a mini rice cooker

You may have seen enormous rice cookers at your local restaurant, and the ones you'll use at home function much the same way but on a smaller scale. There are a few key considerations before deciding which mini rice cooker is best for you.

How much rice you need

You’ll need to figure out how many people you’ll be feeding when deciding just how small of a rice cooker will actually work for you. The smallest mini rice cookers can produce about 3 cups of cooked rice, while larger sizes make double that.

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Extra features

Some rice cookers come with a simple one-touch operation that doesn’t leave much room for error but limits its versatility. If you like to have more options (i.e., keep warm settings or other types of cooking), look for mini rice cookers with extra features included.

Portable or home-use only

A portable mini rice cooker can be great if you’d like to save money on eating out when traveling or if you’d like to easily incorporate rice into your vacation meals. These smaller rice cookers can be lightweight and compact for travel, but if you’d prefer something sturdier or has room for more rice, look for something that is less portable.

Mini rice cooker features 

Accessories

Your mini rice cooker should come with a  measuring cup that is calibrated to your specific rice cooker as well as a traditional rice paddle for serving. Some of the larger mini rice cookers come with a metal steamer basket. This goes inside the rice cooker with the lid on to steam vegetables as your rice cooks.

Easy clean-up

A non-stick inner pot makes for easier clean-up. This is most often dishwasher safe, as are the utensils or accessories that come with your rice cooker.

Adaptable

Mini rice cookers are most frequently used for what their name suggests, but this appliance is also capable of making a wide variety of foods.

In a mini rice cooker you can:

  • Soak and prepare overnight oats.
  • Cook ancient grains like quinoa and farro.
  • Make pancakes for a crowd.
  • Cook ribs.
  • Make pizza.
  • Easily turn uncooked rice into rice pudding.

Extra functions

Although the one-touch mini rice cookers get the job done, some people like added functionality. If that sounds like you, look for mini rice cookers with a “keep warm” function and the ability to delay the start of your rice cooking. This “set-it-and-forget-it” mode means you can have fluffy, perfect rice anytime you want.

Mini rice cooker cost 

There is a wide range of prices for mini rice cookers. Look for basic, smaller models around $25, with more elaborate and larger mini rice cookers closer to $100.

Mini rice cooker FAQ

Do you need to wash rice?

A. It is traditional to wash rice thoroughly before cooking. This not only removes any debris that may be in the rice but also rinses off excess starch that can cause the rice to clump.

To wash the rice, place it in a strainer and rinse with cold water, gently massaging it until the water runs clear. Alternatively, you can place the rice in a bowl and rinse and drain several times until the water is mostly clear.

Do you need a mini rice cooker?

A. No. Cooking rice on top of the stove is possible. But if you struggle to make a pot of rice that isn't burnt, too crunchy, clumpy or mushy, a mini rice cooker eliminates the guesswork and makes consistently perfect rice.

Which mini rice cooker should I get?

Best of the best mini rice cooker

Zojirushi Rice Cooker: available at Amazon

Our take: If you don't want to take a lot of time to figure out how to work a new appliance, this rice cooker is for you.

What we like: Cook up to six cups of rice in this simple mini rice cooker. It has one-touch operation. This rice cooker includes a measuring cup, rice paddle and book of recipes.

What we dislike: This rice cooker does not cook brown rice properly without some tweaking to the measurements.

Best bang for your buck mini rice cooker

Aroma Mi Cool Touch Rice Cooker: available at Amazon

Our take: If you like your rice on the go, this portable mini rice cooker is a good choice.

What we like: Simple digital controls are easy to use and allow you to produce up to three cups of cooked rice. This mini rice cooker comes with a recipe book.

What we dislike: The hole in the lid allows sticky rice water to froth out as it cooks. Cover loosely with a towel when you cook or place a towel underneath it.

Honorable mention mini rice cooker

Cuckoo Electric Heating Rice Cooker: available at Amazon

Our take: With a space-age look and a larger capacity, this funky mini rice cooker can make enough rice for the family.

What we like: This rice cooker is fast — use the turbo boost option to have rice on the table in 12 minutes. Program your rice cooker with the delay setting for rice in the future. The digital display is multilingual and easy to read and navigate.

What we dislike: There are no handles on this rice cooker. The instructions for use were confusing to some users.


Suzannah Kolbeck is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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