Whether you want to make sushi, shabu-shabu (Japanese stew), or even just rice to go with your very western Sunday roast, nobody knows rice like the Japanese. The market has so many Japanese Rice Cookers that choosing the right one can be tricky. I hope to take some of the guesswork out of buying a Japanese Rice Cooker with these Top Ten Japanese Rice Cookers available on market.
How to Use a Japanese Rice Cooker
Japanese is not a written language that non-Japanese people can figure out. Dutch, German, and Afrikaans words are often easy to figure out by learning from the written words for similar words, sentences, or some sign language thrown in.
Many English words translate across all languages, no interpretation needed.
Asian languages are just so far removed from western languages that it is more art than communication to the average person.
But how can you buy and use a product that does not come in English?
Here is a quick guide to the basic symbols you can expect to find on a Japanese Rice Cooker.
Japanese rice cookers are displayed in GO (合) which is the Japanese word for rice, 1 GO is roughly 150 grams. 10 GO is called 1 Sho (升). 3 Go is great for single people or couples, 5 Go is perfect for a family of three or four, 1 Sho is ideal for a family of more than four or a family who has multiple teenagers.
Most rice cookers (and especially those available on market) do come with the function buttons in English. I would recommend you pay attention to that if you are in the market for a rice cooker and cannot read Japanese.
This is a very basic guide to the symbols on most Japanese rice cookers that have Japanese function buttons:
メニュー This is the menu button. If you press this button a black arrow will appear and cycle through the different cooking settings
白米 (はくまい) Hakumai is for cooking white rice
早炊き (はやだき) Hayadakiis for fast cooking
無洗米 (むせんまい) Musenmai is to prewash rice
炊込み (たきこみ) Takikomi is for cooking mixed rice or cooking something that is mixed in with the rice
おかゆ Okayu is for making rice pudding
玄米 (げんまい) Genmai is for cooking brown rice
予約 (よやく) Yoyaku is for pre-set cooking – for example, you would set the timer and at the pre-set time your rice will start cooking and you will come home to a ready-made meal
炊飯 (すいはん) Suihan just starts cooking rice
保温/取り消 (ほおん/しとりけし) Hoon/Torikeshii keeps your rice warm NOTE: this is also the button you would click to cancel a cooking cycle
If you understand the different symbols on the display menu, cooking rice in the cooker easy. All you do is add as much rice as you need, add water and season, close the lid, start it up by pressing the ‘Cook Rice’ button, and wait for the machine to beep to sound out that your rice is ready.
Most Japanese rice cookers are easy to operate, can be preprogrammed to have your meal ready when you get home after work, and can cook a lot more than just rice.
I set out on a journey to the ten best Japanese rice cookers and found myself completely unprepared for what I found.
Let’s look at Amazon’s best fan favorites.
Top 10 Best Japanese Rice Cookers
Panasonic is a brand that needs no introduction. It has been a global leader in technology and household appliances since 1918. The company was founded in Japan by Konosuke Matsushita.
Konosuke Matsushita really set a global standard for quality, technological products that others are still fighting to keep up with.
The Panasonic SR-ZE185 Electric Rice Cooker uses a 6-layer diamond fluorine-coated inner pan that transmits and retains heat to efficiently cook a lot more than just rice. Fine bubbles send heat to every grain ensuring your rice is light and cooked to perfection.
A microcomputer (something else Panasonic is brilliant at) controls the heating process and ensures the eleven menu programs deliver quality meals every time.
I love the Keep Warm function. I think there are people in this world who hang around outside my home and just wait until dinner is ready to be served then knock on the door and try to sell me something.
The LCD is a good size and menu items are in English.
I love this beautiful set with all its extras to add value to your purchase.
The stainless-steel rice cooker holds five and a half cups on uncooked rice (when cooked this is about eleven cups) making it great for large families and even professional kitchens.
It has eight menu cooking settings to cook everything from rice to porridge.
It has a three-layer, 1.5mm inner pan that has a convenient grip handle for carrying; with a washable, detachable inner and outer lid with a steam vent for safe cooking.
The function I love is the pre-set timer. For me, nothing is worse than coming home at the end of a long, exhausting day and still having to prepare a meal. With the pre-set timer, you throw in all the ingredients, set the timer, it starts to cook at the pre-set time, and when you get home dinner is ready to be served.
The rice cooker comes with a five-piece premium silicone spatula set that has a pancake turner, a large spatula, a small spatula, a basting brush, and a whisk. All the utensils are non-toxic and non-stick.
If that isn’t enough, included in the bundle are two different sized, non-stick rice paddles made of beechwood.
Sunpentown is a very well-known brand that is used widely in the hospitality industry. Sunpentown has an amazing customer support service that offers one-on-one service online with well-trained technicians available to help troubleshoot any issues.
The menu and buttons are in English and are simple to follow. Their products are very user-friendly and high quality.
This is a surprisingly well priced Japanese rice maker, and it is great for so many reasons.
Aroma is also marketed as Mirama Enterprises, Inc. and was established in 1977. Aroma has developed a neat balance of product and service.
When I saw the number of items I could prepare in this cooker, I was amazed. I am not old, but I grew up in an average, middle-class home where if any appliance was bought, it was bought to perform one trick only.
This elegant cooker is big enough to provide a good size (eight cups of cooked rice) meal to a large family.
The menu has seven pre-set controls. It can cook vegetables, rice, oatmeal, risotto, stew, soup, whatever you can think of. It even has a built-in steamer function to lock in all those nutrients.
This rice cooker comes with a non-stick inner pot, rice measuring cup, a plastic rice spatula, and a steam tray.
This versatile cooker is easy to clean, is scratch-resistant, and is priced very attractively.
This rice cooker is a breeze to work with. Its design is simple and user-friendly.
The Tiger Corporation was founded in Japan in 1923 and has globally grown into a household name.
The JBX-B10U Rice Cooker is worth buying, it has two unique extras that none of the other cookers on the list has. This multifunctional rice cooker really is multifunctional. It allows you to simultaneously cook two dishes at the same time via its synchronized cooking function and it has two separate timers to start cooking your two dishes so that both will be cooked at the same time.
Tiger’s cooking plate is designed to lock in the flavor and the nutrients without influencing the texture of the rice and to cook everything from stew to rice pudding.
It has a five-point-five capacity with eight pre-set functions to cook plain rice, synchro-cooking, quick rice, short-grain rice, mixed rice, brown rice, porridge, and slow cook.
The inner pot is 1.7mm, spherical, and has a non-stick coating.
It looks great, not something that needs to be hidden after each use. This is a cooker that can sit on the counter and look sophisticated and elegant.
The Tiger JBX-B10U Rice Cooker is a lot pricier but well worth it.
This beautiful rice cooker is made of traditional earthenware ceramic with heat resistant glazing.
The technology used dates to the early 1800s, proving that we really don’t need to fix what was not broken in the first place.
Elegant and sophisticated, this cooker will cook your rice beautifully, keeping the structure, smell, and taste of the rice perfectly.
Whatever you would normally cook in a convection pot can be made in this versatile cooker; porridge, stews, it all tastes better when served with this much class.
The capacity of quite generous, it can serve four to five people easily.
As I mentioned before, Tiger is a known and trusted brand.
This is a smaller rice cooker with a 2.2kg capacity. This is still sizable enough for a family of three.
The aluminum inner pot is designed to last and to distribute heat evenly.
This cooker comes with a rice paddle, measuring cup, power cord, and Japanese manual.
8. Berryku YF223 1.2L De-Sugar Mini Rice Cooker
Truth be told, I have never even heard of Berryku. My research on this product led me to a relatively new brand (established in 2015) that has been steadily growing its product range and its reputation for quality and good workmanship.
This Berryku product has a long list of benefits to the users, especially health benefits.
The innovative technology used can reduce sugar and starch intake by up to 50% (as marketed by Berryku).
By reducing the sugar and starch intake, the product is great for those wishing to lose weight or keep weight off, those who have diabetes, and those struggling with hypertension.
It is a smaller unit, with only a 1.2-liter capacity (five cups of rice), so it works well in a smaller household.
It is very versatile, and it can be used to cook soup, vegetables, and more.
The inner pot and steam pot are made of stainless steel which is very easy to clean. The inner lid is easy to detach and clean.
Its pre-set timer also makes coming home a pleasure. You can come home to a delicious, nutritious, and healthy meal every day.
You had me at bake bread.
I love the multi-purpose functions on all these rice cookers, but I am a lover of homemade bread. I love the idea that one machine can make soup and bread to go with it (sadly, you can’t do both at the same time).
Its stainless steel is easy to clean and built to last.
This is an intelligent rice cooker (it uses Fuzzy Logic and Intelligent Cooking Algorithm) that is even able to detect grain type and adapt time and temperature accordingly.
This rice cooker has seventeen cooking functions. It is smart enough to navigate by voice in three languages – English, Chinese, and Korean.
Cuckoo very clearly has the consumer’s safety at heart, they have several checkpoints, from steam emission to overheating, to prevent injury.
This steam cooker has a massive capacity (ten cups of cooked rice), ideal for a large family and great for professional kitchens as well.
This is my favorite by far. This is the picture I had in mind when I started my hunt for rice cookers.
It has the real Japanese feel to it. My impression of the Japanese is that they are unflappable, calm, patient, and steeped in culture.
For me, this cooker says all the above.
It is a bit more expensive, but it does make for a more intimate meal.
It has a three-cup capacity, so it is really a one or two-person pot.
The clever design ensures that heat is evenly transmitted and that the rice remains moist. It has one wood and one ceramic lid that make it easier to cook through all the rice.
Waterlines are clearly indicated to ensure that you are using the correct amount of water.
The pot is made from high-quality clay and the wooden lid is made from sawara (Japanese cypris).
Sometimes it is better to keep things simple. Thousands of generations on, Japanese culture is still going strong – thank goodness for that.
How does a rice cooker work?
Rice cookers basically steam food until the moisture is either absorbed by the food or just boils off.
How long will it take to cook rice?
This varies by what type of rice you are cooking. White rice takes about ten minutes per uncooked cup of rice to cook while brown rice takes about twenty minutes per cup of uncooked rice.
Is the removable non-stick bowl dishwasher safe?
For most makes and brands the non-stick bowl is microwave safe. If you are unsure, always check your instruction manual.
How much rice should I cook per person?
A single portion of rice is anywhere between a half cup and a full cup, depending on what you are making for supper.
Can I use a rice cooker to cook other things?
As I learned, the sky is the limit. I love vegetables and I love couscous. I found mouthwatering recipes for stews, puddings, soups, and porridges. Rice cookers are very useful.
Why do I need to rinse the rice?
Excess starch is removed by rinsing the rice resulting in lighter, fluffier, and tastier rice.
What features should I look for when buying a rice cooker?
A timer is very important (especially for a pre-set timer), instructions in your language, durable materials (stainless steel, non-stick), a reliable brand, and a keep warm feature.
How much water do I need to use?
For every cup of uncooked rice, use half a cup of water.
Can I add peppers, salt, and seasonings to the rice in the rice cooker?
Yes, you need to add seasonings as you like them. Nothing is off limit.
Should I use wood, metal, or plastic spoons when dishing my rice from the pot?
I recommend wood or plastic. Steel could damage the non-stick covering in the cooker.
How do I know when my rice is cooked?
Some units have an auditory beep to indicate the rice is cooked, but most units just automatically switch to the keep-warm mode when the rice is ready.
Why is my rice cooker turning brown inside?
The color change is normal, it has to do with the action of the steam and water. It will help to thoroughly rinse the rice before cooking as this removes excess starch and husks from the rice.
Should I first cook vegetables before adding them to the rice cooker?
There is no need to first cook vegetables before adding them to the rice cooker. The vegetables will be properly cooked by the water and/or steam in the rice cooker.
What brands are better?
The most widely known, reliable brands are (but not limited to) Panasonic, Toshiba, Tiger, Sunpentown, and Aroma.
Do you feel ready to tackle one of the best buys of your life? I hope so. I am really in awe of the range of Japanese and Korean rice cookers and I am in awe of the number of recipes available.
The world has looked to Japan for so many years and wondered how the Japanese stay as healthy and slim as they do? I think the answer lies in a balance of healthy eating habits, socialization, stress management, and maintaining inner calm through techniques like meditation.
Technology has changed the world. That is not always a good thing; I often think we are growing further apart with each new app. But when it comes to technology and artificial intelligence powering household appliances, it is hard not to be impressed by the multi-functionality of these products.
I am a firm believer in the idea that your team is only as good as your weakest player, and in the business world, that is normally your customer service attendants. Therefore, it is important to do your homework and try to stick to big brand names that are established and responsive to queries.
I think it is time for you to go play around with sushi, shabu-shabu, Indian rice, and whatever else you can think of cooking in your new Japanese rice cooker.
(Best Japanese Kitchen Knives: https://mycookingtown.com/best-japanese-kitchen-knives)