The Best Rice Cooker

Or how to get rice right every time, without slaving over the stove.

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November 7, 2019
Best rice cookers

Rice Cookers

Like pushing a door clearly labelled ‘pull’, there are certain easy tasks that we rarely get right - this includes cooking rice on the stove top. If you find it’s either so overcooked it’s stuck to the pan or so undercooked it crunches, you should leave rice cooking to the pros: rice cookers. The best rice cooker is simple to use and easy to clean. It should produce perfectly fluffy rice, keep it warm until you’re ready and maybe tackle other cooking jobs, like steaming veggies. Here are the top rice cookers in Australia. We’ve chosen these from hours of research; they’re informed by expert opinions and real Aussie feedback.

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Our top picks

Breville BRC460 The Rice Box
Best Overall

Breville BRC460 The Rice Box

See price on Amazon
Make your rice cooker work a little harder with Breville The Rice Box. A combination rice cooker and steamer, it produces steamed and crispy rice, plus congee, sushi, porridge and soup as well as steamed veggies, poultry and seafood. 10-cup capacity, it’s programmable and has an auto keep warm function.
Shop Now
Panasonic SR-DF181WS
Also Great

Panasonic SR-DF181WS

See price on Amazon
The 10-cup capacity Panasonic SR-DF181WST is a compact, easy to use rice cooker with 4 cooking modes. It handles white, brown and sticky rice, with quick cook functionality. It’s the only 1 of our picks to mention fuzzy logic: it automatically adjusts the settings to cook your food most effectively.
Shop Now

Rice Cookers

Like pushing a door clearly labelled ‘pull’, there are certain easy tasks that we rarely get right - this includes cooking rice on the stove top. If you find it’s either so overcooked it’s stuck to the pan or so undercooked it crunches, you should leave rice cooking to the pros: rice cookers. The best rice cooker is simple to use and easy to clean. It should produce perfectly fluffy rice, keep it warm until you’re ready and maybe tackle other cooking jobs, like steaming veggies. Here are the top rice cookers in Australia. We’ve chosen these from hours of research; they’re informed by expert opinions and real Aussie feedback.

Rice Cookers
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How we picked

Rice cookers are a bit of a niche nice-to-have. This made our job of picking Australia’s best rice cookers easier. We started with CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group. This gave us a shortlist of rice cookers that had been put through their paces by CHOICE experts. 

We then consulted ProductReview.com.au, Australia’s first consumer opinion website. We cross-referenced rice cookers that had been reviewed by CHOICE with how popular they were on ProductReview.com.au. We were looking for around 4 out of 5 stars, with at least 50 reviews. These reviews gave us insights into how the rice cookers performed in real Aussie kitchens

We ended up with a list of rice cookers that performed well in the lab and the real world. We ensured the rice cookers covered a range of budgets and functionality, from simple rice cooking to multi-functional appliances. They also all needed to be easy to use and clean and come in around $100. With that criteria in mind, we decided Australia’s top rice cookers.

Important features to consider

With microwavable rice pouches, rice cookers may seem a little obsolete. But let’s be honest, rice that’s been nuked in the microwave is rarely fluffy and flavourful. Enter rice cookers, which can improve the flavour and texture of rice. They range from handling basic rice cooking to tackling a range of cooking jobs, like steaming meat and veggies. Here are the features that most rice cookers should be packing.

Capacity

The rice cookers we reviewed have 7-10-cup capacity, which can produce up to 20 cups of cooked rice at a time. Smaller rice cookers only have about a 5-cup capacity. Consider the size of the family or crowd you’d like to feed. Regardless of the capacity you choose, you’ll probably need to cook a minimum of 2 cups each time. 

It’s also good to understand that rice cups are smaller than standard cups. One rice cup is around 150g of uncooked rice. Use the measuring cup provided with your rice cooker to ensure you get all the measurements, and associated cooking times, spot on. 

Lid type

Rice cookers offer 2 lid options: removable and non-removable. Removable are usually glass, which means you can see what’s going on. They’re also easy to clean. However, food can rattle, bubble up  and splatter on your benchtop.

Non-removable lids tend to not be transparent, so you won’t be able to peek inside. They’re fiddlier to clean too. However, they won’t rattle, and ingredients won’t spill out from under them.

Easy clean

Regardless of the lid type, your rice cooker should be easy to clean. This is normally achieved through a removable, non-stick cooking bowl that doesn’t need scrubbing to remove stuck-on rice.

Auto keep warm

If your food is ready but you’re not, an auto keep warm feature is handy. Once your food is cooked, the auto keep warm will kick in. This prevents overcooking but ensures your food is kept warm. All our rice cookers have this feature, although the length of time varies. Most last up to 5 hours, with 1 lasting up to 24.

Accessories

Ensure your rice cooker comes with a rice cup. As we’ve discussed, this isn’t standard measuring cup size. A plastic serving ladle that won’t scratch the non-stick coating is also helpful.

Fuzzy logic

Fuzzy logic means the rice cooker can work out if you’ve added too much, or too little, water and adjust the cooking time accordingly. We found that not all rice cookers specifically mention the phrase ‘fuzzy logic’ – in fact only the Panasonic SR-DF181WST claims to have it.

Cooking modes

Think about what you want to cook in your rice cooker. Just white rice? What about brown rice, or other grains? Do you want to steam meat or dumplings at the same time?

How you’ll use your rice cooker should influence the cooking modes it offers. If you’re after basic rice cooking, then you probably don’t need to upgrade to a more expensive model with multiple cooking options.

Speed

A rice cooker probably won’t be quicker than cooking stove top rice. But it’s a lot easier. You don’t have to stand there monitoring and stirring. Simply chuck in your rice and water and let it do its thing. Pay attention to cooking time. Rice cookers normally take about 30 minutes to cook white rice. Brown rice can be up to 2 hours.

An alert

Not all rice cookers will let you know when your food is cooked. If you’re not ok setting an alarm for yourself, be sure to look for this feature. 

Warranty

All the rice cookers we reviewed came with a 1-year warranty, even the most expensive RRP $129 Panasonic. This seems to be standard. We’d expect a rice cooker to last much longer than 1 year. If you’re concerned, see if you can extend the warranty through the retailer for an extra cost.

What you get if you spend more

Pay more and you’ll get more convenience, but no difference to the cooking result. 

Quick cook mode

Only 2 of the rice cookers we reviewed offered this feature, and they’re both over $100. So, it’s a high-end feature. It doesn’t massively save you time, around 5 minutes, but at the end of day dinner dash, that 5 minutes can be invaluable.  

Digital timer

As well as being easy to read, a digital timer lets you programme when your food will be ready. This means you can set the cooker when you leave for work, and it’ll delay the start and be ready when you come home. Only our Breville winner offers this feature.

Best Overall: Breville BRC460 The Rice Box

See price on Amazon
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Breville BRC460 The Rice Box
Make your rice cooker work a little harder with Breville The Rice Box. A combination rice cooker and steamer, it produces steamed and crispy rice, plus congee, sushi, porridge and soup as well as steamed veggies, poultry and seafood. 10-cup capacity, it’s programmable and has an auto keep warm function.
Shop Now

You might be all about the rice life, but if you want a rice cooker that works a little harder, meet the Breville The Rice Box. It’s a combination rice cooker and steamer. It can handle both white and brown rice and it makes steamed and crispy rice, congee, sushi, porridge and soup. With the included stainless-steel steaming tray, you can steam veggies, poultry and seafood too. 

It has a 10-cup capacity, which produces up to 20 cups of cooked rice. So, it’s cook-for-a-large-family size. The minimum it’ll take is 2 cups of uncooked rice, which will feed around 4 people. 

Programmable, you can have rice ready when you want it – you can preset the finished cooking time up to 15 hours in advance. This smart rice cooker senses when your rice is cooked perfectly and switches itself automatically to ‘keep warm’. This prevents overcooked or burnt rice. 

As well as its 6 ingredient settings (steamed rice, congee, crispy rice, sushi, porridge and soup), it has fast cook and reheat settings too. The fast cook mode is suitable for 2-4 cups of uncooked rice. It can be used for white rice, but not brown, and will knock about 5 minutes off the cooking time. Two cups of uncooked white rice take about 25-30 minutes on fast mode for fluffy steamed rice. 

Like all rice cookers, it’s not exactly fast. Two cups of uncooked brown rice take around 55-60 minutes to cook, with no fast option available. It has a non-stick coated cooking bowl for easy cleaning and has an auto shut-off feature. This means it’ll stay in keep warm mode for 24 hours before shutting off. 

It comes with a steaming tray, rice measuring cup and plastic serving spoon. It’s covered by a 1-year warranty. It’s been reviewed by CHOICE, has good consumer reviews and a RRP of $109.95. 

Why buy the Breville BRC460 The Rice Box

Functionality – it’ll steam your rice beautifully, but will also produce crispy rice, congee, sushi, porridge and soup. 

Steaming – as well as rice, you can steam veggies, poultry and seafood in it too.

Cooking modes – it offers fast cook, reheat and auto keep warm options. 

Fixed lid – this prevents what’s inside from bubbling up and spilling over. See below for why a fixed lid can also be not-so-good.

Easy clean – the non-stick aluminium cooking bowl is easy to clean.

Programmable – going out for the day, but still want rice for dinner? Use the digital timer to preset the finishing time up to 15 hours in advance.

Size – with a 10-cup capacity (and minimum 2 cups), it’s capable of producing a large amount of rice, making it suitable for big families or crowds.

The not-so-good bits

1-year warranty – which is standard across all the rice cookers we reviewed but would still be nice to be a little more extensive. 

Fixed lid – the fixed non-see through lid means you’ve got no idea what’s going on inside. You’ll need to trust the cooker and invest time in learning the optimum time settings. Because it’s not removable, it’s also more difficult to clean. 

In summary 

If you’re going to invest over $100 in a rice cooker, it’s a good idea to have a multi-functional appliance that’ll make your life easier. We think the Breville The Rice Box will do that. Not only does it cook white and brown rice, it makes crispy rice, congee, sushi, porridge and soup and can steam veggies and more. The fast mode speeds cooking up a little and its programmable nature means you can set and forget until it’s time to eat. Great for cooking for families, it’s easy to clean and automatically keeps your food warm once it’s done.

Also Great: Panasonic SR-DF181WS

See price on Amazon
Breville BRC460 The Rice Box
The 10-cup capacity Panasonic SR-DF181WST is a compact, easy to use rice cooker with 4 cooking modes. It handles white, brown and sticky rice, with quick cook functionality. It’s the only 1 of our picks to mention fuzzy logic: it automatically adjusts the settings to cook your food most effectively.
Shop Now

The Panasonic SR-DF181WST offers a little less than our Breville winner, for a little more money – it has a RRP of $129, $20 more than our winner. What you’re getting is a compact, easy to use rice cooker. It has the same capacity: 10 cups uncooked rice. 

It has 4 cooking modes: quick cook / steam, white rice, brown rice and porridge / soup. These are accessed by large 1-touch buttons, making it simple and user friendly. It can also cook cake and offers multiple rice cooking options: white rice, quick cook, brown rice and sticky rice.

The included steam basket also means you can steam small things, like dumplings. Driven by fuzzy logic, it automatically adjusts the power and time to cook your food most effectively. Once cooking is complete, it automatically switches to keep warm mode, which lasts up to 5 hours.

The removable pan is non-stick for easy cleaning. It comes with a measuring cup and scoop and a 1-year warranty. It’s been reviewed by CHOICE and has good, although limited, consumer reviews. 

Why the Panasonic SR-DF181WST is worth considering

Easy use – with just 6 intuitive, large, 1-touch buttons this is a simple to use rice cooker.

Cooking modes – you can cook white and brown rice, as well as porridge, soup and cake. It’ll handle sticky rice too.

Fuzzy logic – this is the only rice cooker that specifically mentions ‘fuzzy logic’. Panasonic claims that this rice cooker will adjust the temperature and cooking time depending on the ingredients you put in, i.e. too much or too little water.

Auto keep warm – once cooking is complete, it’ll automatically switch to keep warm mode which lasts up to 5 hours. 

Easy clean – the non-stick removable pan is easy to wash.

Steamer – with a steam basket included, you can also steam dumplings, veggies and more. 

Sealed lid – which stops your food splattering and bubbling over. 

Quick cook – whip up some beautifully fluffy white rice in about 30 minutes.

The not-so-good bits

Looks – the colourful child-like button icons aren’t to everyone’s taste. 

Not programmable – which means you can’t set this up and leave it for multiple hours.

No end sound – once your food is cooked, this rice cooker won’t beep to let you know. Instead, the indicator lights up. Ensure you set a timer somewhere else if you’re likely to overlook the indicator light.

No LED display – there’s no way of seeing how much cooking time is left.

Time taken – brown rice takes around 2 hours to cook. 

1-year warranty – again, this is standard across all the rice cookers we reviewed. A more extensive warranty would be nice though.  

In summary 

We reckon rice cookers don’t come any easier to use than the Panasonic SR-DF181WST. Four large 1-touch buttons help you easily make perfectly fluffy rice, each time. With a quick cook mode, plus the ability to handle both white and brown rice, porridge, soup, cake and even steam dumplings, it offers great functionality. It’s also the only rice cooker to directly mention that it’s driven by fuzzy logic. Compact, it has the same capacity as our Breville winner with the ability to make up to 20 cups of cooked rice at once.

The Competition

Being a niche nice-to-have, the Australian market isn’t exactly flooded with rice cookers. Here are the other ones we recommend.

Breville Set & Serve 7 Cup BRC310

If 10 cups of rice is excessive for you, consider the Breville Set & Serve 7 Cup. As the name states, it handles 7 cups – which is still around 17 cups of cooked rice. It’s much simpler than our Breville winner and that’s reflected in its low RRP: $69.95. It’s the second most affordable rice cooker we reviewed.

As you’d expect for a lower price, it has less functionality. It cooks rice, and it has an auto keep warm mode which will keep food warm for up to 5 hours. It has a stainless-steel steam tray for steaming veg, poultry and seafood. 

Rather than an integrated lid, it has a removable glass lid. This allows you to keep an eye on your food as it cooks, but also increases the chances of mess bubbling over the side. The non-stick cooking bowl does help with easy cleaning though.

You can serve at the table thanks to the removable cord. As well as the steaming tray, it comes with a measuring cup, serving spoon and 1-year warranty. It’s been reviewed by CHOICE and has good consumer reviews. 

Choose this if – you’d like an affordable, simple rice cooker with basic functionality and a removable glass lid.

Kambrook Rice Express KRC5 / KRC8

Looking like the Breville Set & Serve 7 Cup (not surprising as Kambrook is the more affordable arm of Breville), the Kambrook Rice Express is the cheapest rice cooker we reviewed. It has a RRP of just $39.95.

It has an 8-cup capacity and easy 1-touch operation. It has 2 functions: cook or warm. The included steaming tray means you can also steam fish or veggies. A removable glass lid allows for easy cleaning, as does the non-stick aluminium cooking bowl. Plus, you’ll be able to keep an eye on your rice as it cooks. 

It includes a steaming tray, serving spoon, rice measuring scoop and the standard 1-year warranty. The downside? It hasn’t been reviewed by CHOICE, or its Kiwi equivalent Consumer, so we’re not sure how it performs in the lab. It has lots of consumer reviews, although they are mixed. 

Choose this if – you’d like to spend the minimum on a rice cooker which you intend to mainly use  for cooking rice.

Breville the Multi Grain BRC550SIL

If you want to use your rice cooker for more than just cooking rice, consider the Breville the Multi Grain. Its name refers to its ability to make rice as well as stir-free risotto, fluffy quinoa, creamy oat and quinoa porridge and lentils. If that’s not enough, it also has a sauté / sear setting, which almost tips this rice cooker into slow cooker territory. It has a 10-cup capacity. 

As you’d expect by now, it too has a steaming tray for steaming veg, poultry and seafood. It’s the only rice cooker we reviewed that also has a sauté function, which allows you to brown and caramelise things like mushrooms, onions and meats to deepen the flavour. The removable glass lid and non-stick cooking bowl make it easy clean. The lid is also dishwasher safe. 

It has an auto keep warm mode for up to 5 hours. It also has auto shut-off: after 5 hours for rice, and 30 minutes for risotto. As well as the steaming tray, it comes with a measuring cup (but no serving spoon), a 1-year warranty and a RRP of $99.95. It’s been reviewed by CHOICE and the limited consumer reviews are middling. 

Choose this if – you’re gluten-free and want to be able to perfectly cook a range of grains, or are after additional functionality, like creating risottos or sautéing ingredients.

The Bottom Line

A great rice cooker replaces hours spent slaving over a stove in search of perfectly fluffy rice. Although it may not quickly cook rice, you can throw rice and water in, turn it on and let it do the hard work for you. It should be easy to clean with a non-stick bowl to ensure you get beautiful rice that doesn’t get stuck to the bottom. It should also be simple to use, with user-friendly buttons. Ideally, it’ll cost you around $100.

We reckon Breville BRC460 The Rice Box is Australia’s top rice cooker. That’s because it’s a multi-functional appliance that’ll make your life easier. It can cook rice, crispy rice, congee, sushi, porridge and soup as well as steam veggies and more. The fast mode speeds cooking up a little while we like that it’s programmable: set and forget until it’s eating time. Because of the auto keep warm mode, it’ll sense when your food is ready and automatically keep it warm, avoiding overcooked, gluggy rice. 

For something a little more basic, consider the Panasonic SR-DF181WST. Its 4 large 1-touch buttons make it super simple to use. It too has a quick cook mode and will handle porridge, soup and cake as well as white and brown rice. Although it has the same capacity of our Breville winner, it’s more compact. It’s also the only rice cooker we reviewed that specifically mentions having fuzzy logic.

Sarah Idle
Words by Sarah Idle

Sources

1. "How to buy the best rice cooker", CHOICE

2. "Rice Cookers", ProductReviews.com.au

3. "Appliance Science: How rice cookers cook rice without burning", CNET