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The 6 best rice cookers

Rice is one of those deceptively basic dishes that's actually kind of tricky to make. The timing, environment, and moisture-to-grain ratio all have to be nearly perfect in order to get a good batch. The best rice cookers will get it right every time, and they have a large enough capacity to feed everyone in your crew (or just you), without taking up too much storage space. What's more, some will upgraded features, like timers, warming settings, and the versatility to make other dishes, too.

The first factor you'll want to consider is the capacity — and since some brands market their rice cookers using uncooked measurements while others used cooked measurements, this can get confusing. Most of the time, rice doubles in volume once it's cooked, so pay attention to how many cups the machine will yield afterwards. This will help you choose the best rice cooker for your needs and household. As a general guideline, smaller rice cookers produce anywhere from 2 to 10 cups, while larger ones range from 12 to 20.

Next, consider things like storage space, additional features, and price. Inexpensive rice cookers typically have fewer settings, while expensive units can often do a whole lot more than just cook rice, although it's possible to find a bargain model that cooks everything from eggs to stew. Regardless of your budget, needs, and household size, these are the six best rice cookers on the market right now.

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1. The gold standard

Capacity: 6 cups cooked (3 cups uncooked)

Zojirushi is considered the gold standard in quality rice makers, and this one in particular is ideal for most people. First, the nonstick inner cooking pot holds up to 6 cups of cooked rice while the glass lid allows you to keep an eye on your food. Second, the stay-cool handles make for easy transportation, and third, the single-switch control is extremely simple to use. This rice cooker makes some of the fluffiest, freshest-tasting rice, according to reviewers, and it automatically keeps it warm when it's finished cooking. It comes with a rice paddle and measuring cup, and if 6 cups isn't enough, you can also opt for a 12- or 20-cup capacity cooker.

One reviewer says: "The best rice cooker I've ever owned. Waited many months to review it. After having other cookers die too soon, I was advised by a chef friend to just buy Japanese. So glad I did. Rice is always perfect and it's lasted a long time."

2. The affordable one

Capacity: 6 cups cooked (3 cups uncooked)

"Affordable" occasionally translates to "not well made," but fortunately for those on a budget, the Aroma Housewares rice cooker is one of the highest-reviewed on Amazon. It makes anywhere from 2 to 6 cups of rice (or stews or chilis) inside the pot — and it comes with an overlapping tray that'll steam meats and vegetables at the same time. It all cooks and stays warm at the touch of a single button, and this unit even comes with a measuring cup and a rice spatula.

One reviewer says: "This thing just keeps making perfect rice every time. And the steamer basket is really a great feature. It's easy to cook (steam) an entire meal in this thing - rice+veggies+meat or gyoza or egg rolls. You can just push the start button, walk away and not worry about it being overdone even if you don't get back to it for several hours due to the keep-warm feature."

3. The compact one

Capacity: 2 cups cooked (1 cup uncooked)

One-person households, small kitchens, dorms, RVs, studio apartments — the Dash Mini rice cooker is ideal for all of the aforementioned scenarios, and that's because it's compact, lightweight, and easy to store. It measures under 9 inches tall and under 6 inches across, and it can produce up to 2 cups of rice at a time. Still, it's surprisingly powerful: the 200-watt cooker has your food ready in 20 minutes, and it keeps it warm while it waits. Get this one in five different colors, all with a matching rice paddle and measuring cup.

One reviewer says: "I've had a National rice steamer/cooker for twenty years. No longer needing such a large one, I just passed it on to my son's family and bought this small DASH for my appropriately small kitchen. It's perfect."

4. The one that works in the microwave

Capacity: 8.4 cups cooked (4.1 cups uncooked)

Joseph Joseph is known for their smart, problem-solving designs, and their microwave rice cooker is no exception. If you're on the fence about buying an electric unit, this 2-liter cooking pot and the included accessories do it all in your microwave: Measure your rice (or any other grains), rinse and drain it in the colander, and then use the rice paddle to lock the lid in place. Then put the whole thing straight into the microwave, and when it's done, you're left with about 8 cups of "delicious, fluffy rice," as one reviewer put it. Just be sure to check your microwave settings and time accordingly.

One reviewer says: "So much easier and faster and better than a pan on the stovetop or even an electric cooker. I use it for all my rice cooking. I will purchase another to have a spare, or extra. Does an excellent job. Am well pleased."

5. The extra-large one

Capacity: 20 cups cooked (10 cups uncooked)

Large families and those who love to entertain have attested that the COMFEE programmable rice cooker is "worth every penny." It's more affordable than many competing high-capacity units, and yet it does significantly more — including steaming, sautéing, and cooking soups, stews, and pasta. It has a user-friendly digital display that offers you a 24-hour delay timer as well as a 12-hour keep-warm function. Most importantly, it makes up to 20 cups of rice in the nonstick interior.

One reviewer wrote: "I needed a bigger rice cooker to accommodate our 6 person family and this is perfect. It’s easy to clean, makes a lot of rice, and keeps it warm perfectly. Not to mention I can now make enough for family gatherings."

6. The most versatile one

Capacity: 12 cups cooked (6 cups uncooked)

If you're going to allocate the space and money for a rice cooker, you might as well make sure it's as functional as possible. That's where the Instant Pot Duo Plus comes in. Yes, this appliance can make up to 12 cups of fluffy rice, but it also has 13 smart programs and nine cooking functions for a huge selection of other dishes: Pressure cook a roast 70% faster, slow cook a stew, make your own yogurt at home, cook eggs to perfection, sauté or steam vegetables, and even bake a cake. When you're done, the stainless steel pot comes out and can go straight into the dishwasher.

One reviewer wrote: "We liked our Instant Pot so much we bought another [...] If you enjoy either rice, melt-off-the-bone meat stews, yogurt, and cakes, then look no further than an Instant Pot. This replaces, at least, three devices, a crock pot, pressure cooker, and rice cooker."