Consumer Reports: Which rice cooker should you buy?

We are all cooking more at home and a staple for many meals is rice, so Consumer Reports tested rice cookers and has advice on which ones to buy.

If you cook a lot of rice, whether it's brown, white, sushi or basmati, there are lots of ways to overcook it or burn it. Rice cookers can come to the rescue if you get the right one.

Consumer Reports tested six rice cookers from popular brands, ranging in price from $20 to $270. Testers not only looked at the quality of the finished rice, but also how easy they were to program and clean, how much energy they used, and how long it took to cook rice.

"An ideal batch was cooked evenly from top to bottom with soft fluffy grains, and no pockets of mushy or crunchy rice," said Perry Santanachote, Consumer Reports home editor.

The big difference between them was the amount of time they took to make a batch of rice. For a cup of white rice, machines ranged from 20 to 45 minutes. For brown rice, they ranged from 30 to 90 minutes.

Here are CR's top picks:

The Zojirushi NP-GBC05 is the most expensive model in CR's test at $270, but it scored the highest. It uses induction technology to heat up, so the heat is distributed throughout the pot, not just from the bottom. It has clear markings inside and produces fluffy rice.

For a lot less, the Instant Zest 8-Cup rice cooker at $30 takes up to four cups of uncooked rice. It has simple to use controls and it turns out very good rice that is on the sticky side.

"Some of these cookers only come with one setting, while some of them have programs that let you cook different types of rice and grains. One model we tested even has a sauté function in case you wanted to soften some onions and garlic before throwing in your rice," said Santanachote.

It is worth noting that these rice cookers refer to a cup as their cup, which holds less than a regular cup measure. So, check for the amount of cooked rice that the machine makes.
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