Rice is a staple for many cuisines and homes, and if you want to ease up the time spent in dinner prep, a rice cooker is a nice appliance to have. Rice cookers are ideal for apartment dwellers and small homes, and the advanced models can actually do a lot more than cooking rice. Finding the best small rice cooker can be a bit overwhelming, given the number of choices and brands. To make things simple, we bring a guide that will sort the features, factors and aspects worth considering.
What to look for?
Since we are focused on small rice cookers in this post, we will try and cover the aspects that matter for the category. Below are the things you must check.
- The capacity of the model is the most obvious thing to check. If you have a small home with not more than four people, a cooker with 3-liter capacity is more than enough.
- Eventually, you would want the appliance to be easy to use and operate. Some of the simplest products come with a single button. Just add the rice and required amount of water and press the button. When the rice is ready, the cooker will stop. The advanced models can have LCD panels and more buttons for added functionality.
- Cooking process. Most rice cookers either use heat induction or thermal cooking, but the former is better because of precision. A heat induction rice cooker will cook the grains to perfection each time.
- Timer and additional features. The best small rice cooker is the one that comes with a digital control. The appliance should be able to work when you are away, once the settings are done. Also, it should indicate that the rice is ready and how long it would take to reach that point.
- Power cord. Check if the product comes with a detachable power cord. While this might not seem like a not-so-important feature, it does ensure easy storage and transport when need be.
- Easy maintenance. Cleaning a rice cooker can be a bummer if the maintenance aspect is not focused on. Most of the new models can be cleaned easily using dish cleaners and sponge and doesn’t require extensive effort.
- Easily one of the important feature to look out for, warranty says a lot of things about the product. Some brands do offer the choice of extended warranty, but typically, it is one-year from the date of purchase.
The price factor
Eventually what you get for your home depends on your budget, as well. Rice cookers can cost as less as $15 or as much as $400, but the smaller ones usually cost less than $100. The pricing is usually dependent on many things like features, brand, warranty, popularity of the model and overall rating.
Other features to look for
Rice cookers, as mentioned earlier, do much more than getting rice ready for the dinner table, and this is true even for the smaller models. Below are some of the additional features that you may want to have in the appliance.
Option for keep-warm
Unlike cooking rice in a standard pot, rice cookers don’t require a lot of personal attention – one of the other reasons to buy this for your home. Some of the products does come with a keep-warm feature, so the rice stays warm for the specified time, while you get dinner ready. This is a good inclusion, especially if you don’t want to eat right away.
Cook and serve
With smaller rice cookers, you can expect to have a setup for cook and serve. The cooker is light and easy to transport with firm handles, so the ready rice goes straight to be the dinner table without actually being transferred to a separate bowl.
The option to cook more
Rice cookers can double up as a steamer or can be used to cook veggies and meat, as well. If you are buying a small product, make sure that it doesn’t release steam, which makes it usable in any part of the house and apartment.
Smaller things to take note
The best small rice cooker will come with a non-stick bowl, which makes it easy to clean. You may also want to check if the product has big handles, which makes it easy to move around. Controls and features should be clear and explained in the manual.
Top three products
- Aroma Housewares 6-Cup (Cooked) Pot-Style Rice Cooker and Food Steamer
Priced at about $20, this comes from the known brand Aroma with 6 Cups Cooked Capacity. It can also steam veggies and meat when rice is cooking below. It has keep-warm feature and can be used to make soup. The package also comes with a serving spatula and you can see everything through the tempered-glass lid.
- Hamilton Beach (37508) Rice Cooker with Rinser
If you are buying something expensive, this one priced at about $25 is a great deal. It’s also bigger and can cook four cups of uncooked rice. This is a multi-grain cooker, so you can cook buck wheat, barley, quinoa, sorghum, millet,and more. Keep-warm feature is included, and the cooking pot is non-stick and removable.
- BLACK+DECKER RC506 Rice Cooker and Food Steamer
Ideal for small homes, you can use this BLACK+DECKER rice cooker to cook up to 3 cups of uncooked rice. It has an Automatic Keep Warm feature, so the rice is always hot and ready to be served. The rice pot is non-stick and removable. You can easily clean the pot in the dishwasher. There is also a food steaming basket, for cooking veggies, fish, and meat. This product comes with its own cup, which should be used for measuring the rice. The same company also offers a 3-cup cooked rice capacity options, which is ideal for smaller homes with two people or less.
Check the features, decide your budget and consider the best small rice cooker for your home! The brand, product and ratings from other users are aspects that should eventually guide your final choice.