Best Rice Cooker: The 2023 Tasting Table Awards

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

For many, eating rice is a daily part of life — but cooking it can be an entirely different story. The staple grain forms the backbone of various global dishes, from risotto to mee goreng, yet it's notoriously tough to consistently get right. The slightest miscalculation in temperature or water ratio could leave you saddled with soggy or undercooked grains, and even well-executed rice can singe the bottom of your Dutch oven when left unattended. And after one too many rice-related mishaps, it can be enough to put anyone off.

The solution? A rice cooker, naturally. With the right machine at your disposal, you can enjoy restaurant-quality rice with virtually no effort. Plus, many rice cookers double as food steamers, making one-pot meals easier than ever. For the 2023 Tasting Table Awards, we tested an assortment of devices, from starter models to multi-cooking machines, to find the best rice cookers to suit your needs. We capped our search for machines priced under $210, and with an eye for fluffy rice, an easy-to-use set-up, and portability, these are the devices we recommend.

Read more about the 2023 Tasting Table Awards methodology and all the top picks here.

Best Overall: Zojirushi NS-TSC18

Those who know a thing or two about rice cookers recognize the prestige associated with Zojirushi. The Japanese company manufactures top-of-the-line machines for home and commercial use, programmable to create everything from congee to cake. We'll cut to the chase: everything you've heard about the brand is true. From the moment we unpacked the Zojirushi NS-TSC18, we were impressed. The retractable power cord is a huge plus for those with cluttered countertops, and its cooking pot's measurement lines were detailed and easy to read. As this model can hold up to 10 cups of uncooked rice, it's on the larger side, weighing around 12 pounds. If that sounds too cumbersome, you'll be pleased to learn that a lighter, 5.5-cup version of this model is also available. 

Using Fuzzy Logic technology, a computerized sensor that adjusts cooking conditions with human-like precision, the NS-TSC18 yields expertly cooked, fluffy rice. If you struggle with cooking perfect brown rice, here is your saving grace. As a bonus, it sings when the rice is complete — and you can even swap out the stock "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" jingle for another song. With its stunning array of functions and superb final product, the Zojirushi NS-TSC18 is a must-buy.  

Purchase the Zojirushi NS-TSC18 rice cooker on Amazon for $209.

Best Value: Toshiba TRCS01

Our first impression of Toshiba's 6-cup TRCS01 rice cooker was positive, largely due to its thoughtful design. Though hefty, weighing around 9 pounds, it's easy to transport with a built-in handle and detachable power cord. Toshiba's menu interface is large, easy to read, and even has Japanese Braille translations printed alongside each button.

Now, Toshiba's rice cooker isn't exactly cheap. But if you're looking for exceptionally tender, fluffy rice that will impress your dinner guests for years to come, the price tag is easily justifiable. Using the Toshiba TRCS01 is a pleasurable experience from start to finish, thanks to its user-friendly controls and melodic chimes. It may not be able to bake a birthday cake, but it can serenade you with a festive tune as it cooks grains, porridges, and steamed treats. So forget about finding the perfect rice cooking method — after trying Toshiba's superior rice, you'll never want to boil rice on the stove again.

Purchase the Toshiba TRCS01 rice cooker on Amazon for $150.

Best Multi-Use: Cuckoo CR-0351F

Cuckoo has amassed a sizable following among home chefs since its debut in 1998. It produces some of Korea's bestselling rice cookers, and it's even been endorsed by Korean stars like Lee Min-Ho and Rain. The first thing we noticed about the brand's sleek CR-0351F model was its impressive build. Compared to entry-level models like Hamilton Beach, the hefty, 7-pound candy apple red contraption looks and feels far more durable. The cooker's electronic display flashes engaging illustrations, and its lid mechanism glides open with luxurious ease. Unfortunately, we were saddened to find Cuckoo merely beeps its way through the menu selection and cooking process.

Still, despite its lack of musical talent, the CR-0351F pulled through in the rice department. It cooked grains quickly and efficiently, producing pillowy beds of rice that hardly required any fork-fluffing. Rice and starchy foods release easily from its nonstick cooking pot, making cleanup an absolute breeze. Best of all, this futuristic-looking appliance is seriously versatile — beyond rice, it can prepare a number of dishes, from baby food and pumpkin porridge to vegetable-studded soups. It's a great rice cooker for college students, busy parents, and, of course, those who adore modern kitchen décor.

Purchase the Cuckoo CR-0351F rice cooker on Amazon for $100.

Best Budget: Aroma ARC-914SBD

We'll admit that we didn't have high hopes for Aroma. After trying our share of mediocre rice cookers, we questioned whether this budget-friendly model could truly be "America's #1 rice cooker," as proposed by its packaging. At just under $30, the 4-cup ARC-914SBD was one of the most affordable rice cookers we tested. Functions are a little limited compared to higher-end models, but its flash rice option is a godsend for busy home cooks. By using the flash rice setting, Aroma users can make freshly steamed white rice in as little as 18 minutes. 

Given Aroma's low price and lofty claims, we were certain we'd encounter another round of gruel-like grains that were par for the course with other budget buys. To our delight, this little rice cooker proved us wrong. It costs a fraction of what you might pay for luxury models, yet the resulting soft, fluffy white rice matched the quality produced by several upper-tier rice cookers. It's hard to believe that such a reasonably priced device could deliver restaurant-quality rice, but the Aroma ARC-914SBD pulled it off. 

Purchase the Aroma ARC-914SBD rice cooker on Amazon for $30.

Best for Small Kitchens: Hamilton Beach 37518

Often found in popular department stores like Target or Walmart, Hamilton Beach products are a familiar sight for millions of consumers. Since 1910, the American brand has produced affordable, durable appliances for the kitchen and home. Hamilton Beach offers several types of rice cookers, but its 8-cup 37518 model is a standout for small kitchens.  

The handsome stainless steel device looks and operates a bit like your standard pressure cooker, and it can conveniently steam food while preparing rice. In fact, its steamer basket was our favorite among all the rice cookers we tried. The plastic component is perfect for rinsing rice without losing a single grain, thanks to its fine, mesh-like perforations. To ensure a fair fight between our rice cookers, we rinsed each round of grains thoroughly to remove excess starch before adding them to the devices. In doing so, we found ourselves returning to Hamilton Beach's unique design over again.

In terms of its rice-cooking abilities, this one isn't quite as intuitive as higher-end competitors. While the rice it makes is sufficiently fluffy, it has a tendency to dry out when left to warm — causing a bit of a sticky situation during clean-up time. Aside from that, we were very pleased with the overall performance of the 37518, especially for the price. It whips up a substantial meal in minutes without compromising much counter space.

Purchase the Hamilton Beach 37518 rice cooker on Amazon for $40.