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How to Pick Rice Cookers for Yourself or as a Gift

Updated on January 16, 2020

A rice cooker is a helpful addition that should be present in every kitchen. However, with the wide variety of appliances available in every possible price range, it can be overwhelming to try and sort out the many choices and find the right one for you. Whether you are looking for your first rice cooker, a replacement for your broken or inefficient one, or the perfect wedding or housewarming gift, this guide will help ensure you make an informed choice.

When it comes to how to pick rice cookers, there are several factors to consider. Capacity, flexibility, price, and reliability should all play a part in choosing the perfect appliance. Fortunately, once you know what to look for, it becomes much easier to select the perfect product.

  • Capacity

The first thing to look at when choosing a rice cooker is capacity. Will the appliance be used by a bachelor living alone in an apartment or a family of six? The two will obviously have much different requirements on how much rice will be made with each batch. Most rice makers have a capacity of about 5-7 cups, which is ideal for the average family of four. The smallest capacity that is easily available in commercial products is 3 or 4 cups, and that is perfect for a single person or couple just starting out. A larger family will need a rice cooker with the ability to cook more in each batch, and you can easily find products with 10 or even 12 cup capacities.

  • Functionality

Next you should look at functionality. If you (or the person the appliance is a gift for) consumes rice frequently, a dedicated rice maker is the best option. These appliances only cook rice, but do it well, and are often more affordable. However, if space is an issue, or rice is not an everyday meal, it might be better to look for a rice cooker that has additional functionality. These devices have settings to not only cook rice, but steam vegetables, cook oatmeal, and sometimes even can serve as an all-around slow cooker for one-pot stews, chili, or other meals.

Another aspect of functionality is accessories. Most rice makers will come with a measuring cup and lid, so this should be considered the baseline requirement. However, steamer baskets, rice paddles, and other bits can also be found included for a very small increase in price. These are an especially nice addition if the rice maker is going to be a gift, and you are not aware of what tools the recipient may or may not already have in their kitchen.

  • Budget

When it comes to how to pick rice cookers, budget is always going to be a factor. You can find appliances to suit nearly every budget, from bargain basic machines to restaurant quality culinary devices. Going for the most inexpensive option is not usually a wise move, as these machines are usually inferior in quality, and are prone to under or over cooking rice, breaking easily, or shorting out and becoming a fire hazard. However, it is not necessary to go to the other end of the spectrum and purchase an overpriced luxury model machine, as they are not usually significantly better than their more affordable counterparts. Instead, look for a mid-priced model. One that has the features you need but not all the bells and whistles you will never use. Take a look at the materials it is made from and avoid machines that rely heavily on plastic parts. These break easily, becoming brittle over time and frequent exposure to heat.

  • Check Reviews

Finally, always read reviews on the product you are considering. Most shopping sites have reviews available on the product page, but even if they don't, a quick search on your favorite web search engine will return a wide variety of results. However, reviews are not always trustworthy. Companies have been known to post fake reviews raving about inferior products in order to drive sales. To combat this technique, focus on the mid-level reviews. These tend to be the most reliable since they will address both the good and the bad aspects of the machine. No device is perfect, and often one person's negative (for example too small or large of capacity) will not apply to you or may be the result of user error. This will give you an all around better look at the functionality and reliability of a particular machine. Be especially aware of complaints that pop up in multiple reviews. If you see over and over that a particular machine frequently burns the rice, then you know that the fault is with the device, and not user error.

Choosing a reliable and affordable rice maker doesn't have to be a chore. The key is doing your homework and becoming informed. When you know what to look for, the right machine will soon become readily apparent. Before you know it, you will be an expert on how to pick rice cookers and will be able to provide insight and advice to your friends and family as well

© 2018 alex steven


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