Make the Best Rice With These Rice Cookers

After spending several days researching and testing different rice cookers – and having some delicious rice recipes – we have found that the Breville The Rice Box Cooker is hands down the best rice cooker Australia has to offer. Preparing rice on the Breville is much easier than cooking on a stove and assures you some seriously delicious rice dishes with every grain soft and fluffy. And at a price of AU$119.95, we think it’s reasonably-priced considering how capable it is.

Investing in a rice cooker often pays off – after all, the traditional way of preparing rice can be quite cumbersome. Take your eyes off the pot for one minute, and the whole thing is suddenly boiling over. Forget to stir it, and you’ll end up with burnt grains stuck at the bottom of the pot.

In fact, for a simple food staple, rice is hard work. Rice cookers can help simplify it. There are several models available on the market that offer advanced features with computerised sensors, along with the more budget-friendly variety that might lack modern features but is still efficient enough to get the job done. But which rice cooker is the best for your kitchen?

Let’s dig right into a pile of steaming delicious rice – and the appliances that will make it possible.

Our Shortlist: The Best Rice Cooker Australia 2020

Before talking about the rice cookers in detail, here’s a list of our top six picks:

  1. Breville The Rice Box Cooker
  2. Philips Daily Collection Grain Master Rice Cooker
  3. Panasonic SR-DF181WST Rice Cooker
  4. Oster CKSTRCMS65 Cooker
  5. Sunbeam Rice Perfect 7 Deluxe Jar
  6. Kambrook KRC405BSS Rice Master Rice Cooker

What to look for

Caution: there are several factors you need to consider when buying a rice cooker. We have created a comprehensive list based on our experience.

Types of Rice

Different rice cookers offer the ability to cook different types of rice. You can make brown rice, white rice, multigrain rice, or Basmati rice – whatever you might like.

But this versatility comes at a price – in terms of expense and time.

In other words, if you want a rice cooker that can cook different types of rice, you have to pay a little more. Also, some types of rice take longer to prepare than others.

Types of Lids

Rice cookers have two lid options: unsealed lid and sealed lid.

Unsealed lids, also known as removable lids, are generally made out of glass and let you observe what’s going on inside the vessel. One of the most significant advantages of these lids is the ease of cleaning. But there can be times when the food ends up splattering on your countertop.

Sealed leads or non-removable lids are generally opaque, which means that you can’t see what’s going on inside. They are also harder to clean. However, these lids don’t rattle so you won’t have to worry about ingredient spills.

Cooking Time

A prominent difference between a budget rice cooker and a high-end rice cooker is the addition of a timer function.

If you can afford to spend more, you can get models with a ‘Fast Cook’ option that can prepare a batch within 5 to 7 minutes. But if you buy a lower-end model, it’s likely that you won’t be able to change the timer. These models are mostly equipped for cooking the traditional white rice only.

Capacity

Since most cookers use a cup capacity to indicate the volume of rice you can cook per cycle, we also adopted the same metric. Keep in mind that one rice cup contains about 150 g of uncooked rice.

Generally, you’ll find models offering 8 cups (1890 ml) or 10 cups (2365 ml), which is best suited for families with up to 10 members. While you can find units having a 20-cup (4730 ml) capacity, if you are a small household comprising 2 persons, 3 cups (710 ml) are more than sufficient.

Size

Here’s the catch: if you want a rice cooker with a larger capacity, you have to compromise on the size as the machine will be a bit bulky.

If you have a small apartment with limited counter space, you probably won’t be able to accommodate a large rice cooker. You should instead invest in small rice cookers to avoid storage problems.

Additional Presets

High-end rice cookers also come with additional presets that include 2-in-1 appliances, steaming function, or the ability to use the cooker in the same way as a pressure cooker. Then, of course, are the 5-10 additional cooking options such as crispy rice, sushi, soup, cake, porridge, and more.

Fuzzy Logic Tech

Fuzzy Logic technology lets the appliance automatically adjust the cooking temperatures throughout the different stages of the cooking process. This tech can be useful for ensuring optimal results on every use.

As this is an advanced feature, you will only find it in top-end models.

Display Functions

Again, display functions will vary depending on the price tag. For budget models, you will generally find an LED light for ‘Cook’ and ‘Keep Warm’ settings that are usually controlled by a rocker switch.

The more expensive rice cookers have an intuitive LED display with several buttons for controlling the different presets and features.

Automatic Keep Warm Function

Preparing rice dishes sounds simple – theoretically.

There are so many instances where you can end up overcooking or burning it. These two issues are often a result of the rice being kept on direct heat to serve it fresh despite having been cooked.

With the ‘Keep Warm’ function, you can keep the rice warm for hours. For home cooks, models with a 6-hour ‘Keep Warm’ timer is a good choice, while commercial restaurants can opt for models that have a 24-hour ‘Keep Warm‘ timer.

Warranty Period

Like all home appliances, there will come a time when you need to replace your rice cookers. It would be wise to look for models that offer an adequate warranty period, preferably one or two years.

If you buy a cheaper model that costs between AU$30-AU$50, it won’t be as big a pocket pinch as purchasing expensive ones, which can be as high as AU$300.

Availability

Not all retail shops will have rice cookers, so you need to find out which Australian stores offer the model you are interested in buying.

Kmart and Big W, for example, don’t have good availability of these appliances. It would be better to look at Harvey Norman or Myer that stock several of our top picks along with other major brands.

We were also happy with the rice cooker collection at The Good Guys.

Top Pick: Breville The Rice Box Cooker

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Our top pick, the Breville The Rice Box Cooker is a combination of rice cooker and steamer, specially designed to make your life as simple as possible. It makes white and brown rice, soup, porridge, congee, and can be used to steam seafood, poultry, and veggies thanks to the stainless steel steaming tray.

This rice cooker is best for large-sized families. It can prepare a minimum of 2 cups (475 ml) of uncooked rice, which is enough for a family of three, and up to 20 cups (4730 ml) of cooked rice (10 cups or 2365 ml for uncooked rice), making it suitable for larger families with about 10 members.

The programmable digital timer lets you reset the finished cooking time up to 15 hours in advance. So you can have your rice ready exactly when you want.

The appliance can also sense whether or not your rice is cooked, and if it is, it automatically switches to ‘Keep Warm‘ mode. This feature reduces the chances of you ending up with overcooked or burnt rice. It can stay in ‘Keep Warm‘ mode for 24 hours after which the auto shut-off feature will turn the appliance off.

It offers six ingredients settings: steamed rice, crispy rice, congee, porridge, sushi, and soup, along with ‘Fast Cook’ and ‘Reheat’ settings. You can use the ‘Fast Cook’ setting for preparing 2-4 cups of uncooked rice, cooked within 5 minutes flat. One reviewer pointed out it’s better to stick to white rice and not brown when using the ‘Fast Cook’ mode.

In terms of efficiency, this rice maker cooks 2 cups (475 ml) of uncooked brown rice in about 55 to 60 minutes, which isn’t exactly fast. But then again, several other time-saving benefits of the Breville make it worth the extra time.

Case in point: the aluminium nonstick cooking bowl that is easy and simple to clean.

We also liked the additional accessories that come with every purchase. You get a steaming tray, plastic serving spoon, and a rice measuring cup. Plus your investment is secured by a one-year warranty.

Available at a price of AU$119.95, this rice cooker has excellent durability because of the brushed stainless steel housing and sturdy lid.

The lid has pros as well as cons. While it has an embedded element to minimize condensation to keep your rice fluffy and moist, it is fixed and non see-through. You have no idea what’s going on inside and will have to learn the optimal time settings for your recipes and trust the cooker. Since it’s non-removable, cleaning the lid is difficult as well.

Despite that, the Breville The Rice Box Cooker offers consistent results that make it worth your money. We would highly recommend it as the best rice cooker Australia has on the market, if you want an easy-to-use and reliable rice maker for your home.

Runner Up: Philips Daily Collection Grain Master Rice Cooker

pasted image 0 10Philips is one of the most dependable brands when it comes to quality and efficient home appliances. As one would expect, the Philips Daily Collection Grain Master Rice Cooker makes an excellent addition to our list.

This AU$159 appliance is more than your standard rice cooker mostly because of its eight cooking modes and 24 hours presetting option. You can set the rice cooker to prepare risotto or multigrain rice for dinner right before heading for office without having to worry about overcooked rice.

The eight multifunction menus include standard cook, quick cook, brown rice, multigrain, lentils, porridge, quinoa, and reheat. It’s the fact that it can prepare such a wide range of foods that makes it so versatile. After cooking, you can activate the ‘Keep Warm‘ mode for up to 12 hours as well.

It uses fuzzy logic technology for tasty and even cooking. The other tech is the innovative FragrantTaste technology that, as the name suggests, ensures that every grain of rice is well cooked for a shiny and fluffy appearance.

You see, the rice cooker has a unique steam return loop design that keeps the water content of the rice locked in, retaining the original fragrance of the rice. As the FragrantTaste technology is a trademarked property, you won’t find this in any other rice cookers.

The maximum capacity of the Philips Daily Collection Grain Master Rice Cooker is 8 cups (1895 ml), which is more than sufficient for an Aussie family with four members. Another excellent feature is the five-layer crystal black pot that ensures even heating. The pot has a nonstick and anti-scratch coating that enhances its durability and makes it easier to clean.

Having said this, we would have preferred for the appliance to be more lightweight, especially considering the easy-to-carry structures of its competitors. The Philips weighs over 4 kg that limits its portability.

When researching the cons of the appliance, several review blogs highlighted how the power plug is unreliable and disconnects with even the slightest movement. Even a steaming tray is absent.

It’s these problems that make it score a little less when compared to the Breville.

Both the Breville The Rice Box Cooker and Philips Daily Collection Grain Master Rice Cooker are made with premium quality materials and cook rice exceptionally well.

If you like steaming your vegetables or poultry, the Breville will make a better choice. But if you have a smaller family, and want a slightly cheaper option with a 2-year warranty, the Phillips would be better.

Other options

Panasonic SR-DF181WST Rice Cooker

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With its easy-to-use features and compact size, the Panasonic SR-DF181WST Rice Cooker falls just a little short when compared to our top picks.

This rice cooker retails for AU$180, which is AU$60 more than the Breville while offering the same 10-cup (2365 ml) capacity. It’s four cooking modes include quick cook/steam, brown rice, white rice and porridge/soup. You can access these settings through the large one-touch buttons fitted in the intuitive control panel.

You will also find a ‘Keep Warm’ mode that can last up to 5 hours. The appliance can automatically switch to this mode once the cooking is complete.

It uses a microcomputer and fuzzy logic technology that allows the rice cooker to adjust the power for consistent and precise cooking by itself. Panasonic claims that the cooking time and temperature are adjusted depending on the ingredients you add. So if you put too much or too little water, the rice cooker will adjust the settings accordingly.

In addition to multiple rice cooking options like brown rice, white rice, and sticky rice, you can make cake and steam items like dumplings using the Panasonic.

The inner pan has a nonstick coating and is removable that makes cleaning easier. You also get a measuring cup and a rice scoop in addition to the steam basket.

One major disadvantage for us was the limited customer reviews.

Amazon users pointed out how the markings inside the bowl are difficult to read, and considering the inconsistent cooking, many were not pleased with the higher price tag.

We would have also preferred a more contemporary design, programmability, and faster cooking too. It takes about two hours to prepare brown rice, which is too long when compared to the Breville and the Philips Daily Collection Grain Master Rice Cooker.

We would recommend the Panasonic SR-DF181WST Rice Cooker mainly for its simplicity and large capacity. You can choose your cooking setting from the one-touch buttons for making different varieties of rice, soup, porridge and more. It’s also one of the few appliances that use the fuzzy logic tech.

Oster CKSTRCMS65 Cooker

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The Oster CKSTRCMS65 Cooker can be a great option if you’re looking for something that is compact, affordable, and easy to maintain.

It has a 3-cup or 710 ml capacity (6 cups for cooked rice) and has a tempered glass lid with a steam vent. While the compact size of the machine helps you cook faster, the glass lid allows you to monitor the progress and is simple to clean.

The ease of cleaning extends to the inner cooking pot too due to its nonstick coating and the fact that it is removable. Despite the affordability, the Oster has an auto shut-off feature as well.

This rice cooker lacks an alarm or timer to notify you once the cooking is done. Instead, it has an audible click to indicate when the device shifts to the ‘Keep Warm’ mode from ‘Cook’ mode.

You can use the one-button operation to make white rice, sushi, and sticky rice. Along with a ladle and rice measuring cup, the appliance also comes with a steaming basket that can be used to steam fish and vegetables.

The Oster CKSTRCMS65 Cooker costs around AU$117 and has a one-year limited warranty. But availability is a big problem since only selected sites like Australia Desert Cart and Amazon have them on offer. So we would recommend this rice cooker only if you’re okay with doing a bit of research to find the model.

Sunbeam Rice Perfect 7 Deluxe Jar

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If you’re on a tight budget but still want functionality and higher durability, the Sunbeam Rice Perfect 7 Deluxe Jar is one of the best cheap rice cookers that you can find on the Australian market.

This home appliance is a multifunctional appliance that lets you cook a perfect batch of rice as well as steam ingredients like vegetables, poultry, and fish with the complementary steamer basket. The rice cooker can easily feed families with up to 12 members with its 14-cup or 3315-ml capacity (cooked rice).

Although the sealed locking lid isn’t see-through, it keeps the steam trapped inside the vessel throughout the cooking process, giving you fluffy, perfectly separated grains of rice that retain their shape for hours.

Both the nonstick cooking pan and steaming tray are removable, making cleaning and maintenance simpler. You’ll also find built-in handles on the lid, letting you carry the rice cooker easily.

In terms of functionality, the appliance has an automatic ‘Keep Warm’ function that keeps your food warm until it’s ready to be served.

Available in black or silver colours, this no-fuss cooker has a small footprint that makes it suitable for small kitchens. It also comes with a removable cord for storage.

Past users have complained about the lid being a little loose and that the rice sticks to the bottom at times, which is surprising as the pan is nonstick.

Nevertheless, we would recommend the Sunbeam Rice Perfect 7 Deluxe Jar if you’re new to rice cookers and want to invest in a great budget option. It has all the necessary functions to help you get started and comes with a steamer tray, measuring cup, spoon, and spoon holder.

Kambrook KRC405BSS Rice Master Rice Cooker

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This list would have been incomplete without the Kambrook KRC405BSS Rice Master Rice Cooker, which is an excellent and compact rice-making appliance.

Kambrook is a subsidiary of Breville Group focusing on the budget end of the small appliances market. As you might have guessed, this rice cooker is the cheapest model that we reviewed, at AU$44.95.

The Kambrook is available in two different capacities – a 5 cup (1185 ml) and a 10 cup (2365 ml). So you can choose between the two options, depending on the number of people you have at home. We have to point out that irrespective of the capacity variation you select, the overall structure remains compact, letting you store it in small counter spaces.

With its stainless construction, not only is the appliance easy to clean, but it’s also very durable. The cooking pot features clear markings for rice and water. It has a one-touch operation, which is suitable for culinary experts as well as beginners.

The ‘Keep Warm’ function keeps your cooked rice warm but doesn’t let it overcook as there is no direct heat warming. The other useful feature is the presence of a steamer basket that can steam vegetables, chicken, or fish. You also get a measuring cup and a serving spoon.

Having said this, you have to be careful when operating the rice cooker as you can get scalded from the amount of steam it produces. There are a few design flaws too that cause the starchy water to collect on the lid, and sometimes, the water splatters everywhere.

These are the main reasons why the Kambrook KRC405BSS Rice Master Rice Cooker isn’t as good as our top picks. But as the rice cooker still produces well-cooked, fluffy rice in a relatively short period, it’s a decent budget and compact option to consider.

What exactly is a rice cooker? How does it work?

A rice cooker is an appliance specially designed to cook rice automatically. Its structure consists of a cooking bowl, a heating element, and a thermostat. You need to pour a specific ratio of water and uncooked rice into the cooking bowl, choose your setting, and the appliance will do the rest.

After bringing the rice and water to a boiling point, the appliance switches to ‘Keep Warm’ mode to ensure your rice is ready to serve whenever you want to eat.

Rice cookers work using the absorption method. While you have to add a specific ratio of water and rice, the correct proportions will always vary depending on the type of rice and the cooker.

When the cooking bowl’s contents reach their boiling points, the leftover energy will then evaporate the water. But most of the water will be absorbed by the rice. Once no water is left, the temperature will rise above 100°C. The thermostat will detect the rise in temperature and then activate the warming mode.

You need to be very careful with the amount of water you add – too much will overcook the rice, and too little will burn it.

Always read the user’s manual before you start using the appliance if you want to avoid making mistakes. Once you figure out the settings, it can take around 30 minutes to an hour for your rice to cook.

What other recipes can you make in a rice cooker that isn’t rice?

Some ideas for recipes that you can make in a rice cooker other than rice:

Hot Breakfast

You can use a rice cooker to make oatmeal and other hot cereals – just add a little less milk or water than you usually would when cooking on a stovetop. The ‘Keep Warm’ function will prevent your breakfast from getting gooey and cold, keeping it fresh until everyone wakes up.

Cheesy Risotto

Though technically still a rice dish, cooking risotto in a rice cooker is easy and delicious.

Start with sautéing onions in butter in an open rice cooker. Add one part Arborio rice and four parts liquid – this can be either broth or wine. Cook the mixture for about 25 minutes or if you have the ‘Porridge’ or ‘Slow’ preset, use that. Mix in grated cheese and your favourite herbs at the end.

Soups and Stews

You can slow cook soups, stews, and beans in a rice cooker. For this, you need enough liquid (and time!) to create a long-simmering dish without boiling over. Think of the process to be similar to how you would use a slow cooker.

Our favourite is a split-pea soup with chicken or ham. You can also use the browned beef along with vegetables and herbs to make a delicious main course.

Steamed Vegetables

Several rice cooker models come with a steamer rack. You can use this accessory to create a one-pot meal by cutting and cooking vegetables, potatoes, tofu, etc.

If you’re looking for non-vegetarian options, chicken breasts, shrimp, and fish fillets work just as well.

Poached Fruit

You can use your rice cooker for preparing healthy fruit desserts or even fruit sauces. Add the fruits you want and then simmer it in juice, maple syrup, or wine.

Secrets to making perfect rice every single time

Rice should be fluffy, fragrant, shiny, and tempting – not the porridge-like gump that it sometimes turns out to be.

When rice clumps together, it means that you cooked it without removing the extra starch coating found on every one of the grains. Similarly, there can be several reasons why your recipe didn’t turn out the way you wanted it.

To make sure that you never have to eat gummy rice again, here are our top secrets to help you deliver the perfect batch every time.

Rinse

You might have noticed a thin layer of chalky powder on your rice. This layer is actually the outer starch layer that is scratched off when the rice grains rub against each other.

When you pour the rice directly into the cooking bowl, the boiling water will make the starch bloom, giving it a sticky texture. Finally, once the water is absorbed, the rice grains will start sticking together to form large clumps.

To avoid this problem, you should rinse the uncooked rice before cooking it. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the uncooked rice. Use your hands to give the grains a good rub.

You’ll find the water will get a little cloudy, which is actually all the stuck starch. Strain the rice through a mesh sieve. Repeat the process about 3 to 4 times until the water runs clear.

Ratio

The ratio is a big influencer that determines the texture of your rice. Remember, it will take you a few attempts before you get the water to rice ratio right as there are several other factors like the type of pan, the fitting of the lid, and so on, that need to be considered. But on a rice cooker, the whole process is much faster.

A good rule of thumb is using 1 cup of rice (150 g) with 1 cup of water for short grain white rice. In case of long grain white rice, use 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) of water.

Rest

Even after doing the above two steps correctly, you can still mess up the rice if you don’t let it rest.

Opening the lid and spooning out the rice just after it has absorbed water will leave you with unevenly cooked grains that are firmer on the top and mushy at the bottom. To avoid this problem, you simply need to let the rice rest.

The Bottom Line: Which Rice Maker is Worth It?

We have chosen our best picks after considering several features and studying the pros and cons of multiple models.

Either of our two picks, the Breville The Rice Box Cooker and the Philips Daily Collection Grain Master Rice Cooker, will ensure your rice dishes are flawless and flavourful. For us, these two are undoubtedly the first and second picks for the best rice cooker Australia has on the market as of 2020.

  • Best Overall Rice Cooker: Breville The Rice Box Cooker
  • Best Rice Cooker for Consistency: Philips Daily Collection Grain Master Rice Cooker
  • Best Rice Cooker for Versatility: Panasonic SR-DF181WST Rice Cooker
  • Best Rice Cooker for Beginners: Sunbeam Rice Perfect 7 Deluxe Jar
  • Best Rice Cooker on a Low Budget: Kambrook KRC405BSS Rice Master Rice Cooker

Photo by Pille-Riin Priske on Unsplash

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