Cooking rice in the correct way is a form of art. It is possible to boil or steam rice in a normal pan, but this takes skill and a watchful eye.
Thousands of years of rice perfection are now in the hands of electronics. A rice cooker will complete the task with no oversight
You just need to measure the correct quantities, and the cooker does the rest.
Making good steamed rice needs an exact balance of rice to water, which is easy to do. The best way to do this is to keep the rice away from the boiling water and have the steam do all the work.
Rice, such as basmati, needs more care and attention. The timing needs to be exact: if it’s either too quick or too long, the rice is ruined.
Electric rice cookers cover a range of modes to suit different breeds of rice and optional ways of cooking it.
The best Japanese rice cookers will make perfect fluffy rice without sticking or burning to the pan. You can even set the cooker to run on a timer while you are out.
They can do more than just cook rice, they are great for making curries, and stews.
But, if you want something to make the best rice, you need to get the best Japanese rice cooker out there.
What Are the Best Japanese Rice Cookers?
- Best 10 Cup: Tiger JNP-S18U-HU
- Best Tiger: Tiger JKT-S18U
- Best Induction: Tiger JKT-B10U-C
- Best Zojirushi: Zojirushi NL-AAC18
Best Japanese Rice Cookers – Full In-depth Reviews
Read my in-depth reviews to see why I’ve chosen exactly them.
Tiger JNP-S18U-HU 10-Cup (Uncooked) Rice Cooker and Warmer
This rice cooker has one job, and that is to make perfect rice.
As Simple As It Gets
No complex array of buttons for different settings. Turn it on, the cooker is activated, and it begins to cook your rice.
After the rice is cooked, the JNP automatically goes into warming mode, and you can leave the rice for 12 hours this way until you are ready to eat.
If you eat a lot of rice, then an appliance that cooks only rice and nothing else makes a lot of sense.
The unit can sit in another part of the kitchen, keeping the counter free for other important things.
Super Easy to Clean
The internal pan is non-stick and dishwasher safe.
Other Notable Features
The unit has a lid and pressure release value, so the JNP cuts out much of the mess overcooking on a stove.
The best part is how simple the S18U-HU is. Even without the manual, making rice with absolute ease gives you more time to make other foods to go with it.
Some people may complain about the styling, but you could look at it as being a little quirky and different. The manufacturing is perfect, why make something more complex than it must be – Tiger gets that, and customers appreciate it.
- Warming mode
- Washable steam vent
- Not versatile
Tiger JKT-S18U 10-Cup (Uncooked) Multi Purpose IH Cooker (Rice Cooker, Synchro-Cooker, Slow Cooker, Bread Maker, etc.) with Tacook Cooking Plate
This is one of Tiger’s most capable cookers and my personal favorite.
Much More Than Just a Rice Cooker
It has 11 functions that cover steamed rice to being able to bake bread.
The bread-making mode still needs you to mix the ingredients and knead the dough. But once this is done, you can add the dough to the cooker to warm and help ferment the bread and even cook it.
Greatly Reduces Cooking and Cleaning Time
The Tacook plate that comes with the cooker allows you to cook rice and a pot meal at the same time.
The Tacook is shaped to fit the pan in such a way that the flavors of the pot do not mix with the rice.
This is an interesting idea, and the use of the same machine to cook both the rice and the main dish saves even more work and cleaning.
With a broad range of ways to cook rice and other dishes, this is a favorite choice for many families with tight kitchen space.
Additional Features That Make This One the Best Japanese Rice Cooker
The Rinse-free button refers to a new type of rice available in some shops that is pre-washed and designed not to stick together in the pan.
The pan has measuring lines inside, which is another great idea, meaning you do not need an extra measuring cup. These lines instruct you on the amount of water to add to Jasmine rice. If you prefer porridge, there are two separate marks for a hard or soft mix.
Not so Easy to Use
The functions may be at a level of complexity beyond what you are looking for and will take a little bit of learning from the manual.
- For all rice types
- Cooks a Variety of Meals
- Stainless Steel
- Rinse-Free Mode
- Pan Coated with Fluoropolymer
Tiger JKT-B10U-C 5.5-Cup Stainless Steel Rice Cooker
This is the baby brother of the S18-HU, with a small, but acceptable 5.5-cup capacity.
Perfect Choice for a Couple or One Person
This one would suit a small family or even a single person. 5.5 cups are still a lot of rice, and the smaller size has the advantage of taking up less workspace.
Small and Cute
The B10U has a Japanese, cute, and concise appeal that the larger units do not.
The other functions are the same; the cooker can cook any type of rice as well as porridge and oatmeal.
In the pan, there is the same marking which makes adding water to the pan convenient.
No bread-making function in this model, but how often do you need to make bread in a rice cooker?
The cooker uses induction rather than traditional heating elements. Induction tends to be a more efficient way of heating, as energy is directed to the entire pot, not just the bottom.
The microcomputer can also control the temperature in a more rapid and precise manner than an element heater.
Other functions include a timer and warmer so that you can have the rice ready for when guests arrive.
If you are in a hurry or just plain starving, you can speed up the process with one of the fast cook options.
The thick metal of the pan is great for dissipating heat all around the rice rather than having it burnt at the bottom.
This is the JKT-S18U for less volume and less money.
- Carry Handle
- Cooking Timer
- Thick Metal Pan
- Rinse-Free Mode
Zojirushi NL-AAC18 Micom Rice Cooker (Uncooked) and Warmer
The NL-AAC18 has a large 10-cup rice capacity, which will expand to 20 cups of cooked rice.
Best For Making Sushi
Still made in Japan, the cooker is built for what the Japanese are famous for, sushi.
The White Sushi Mode uses less water and carefully cooks the rice to a perfect firmness for later forming.
The fuzzy logic part of the cooker means that it has modes within functions.
The AAC18 performs heating and steaming in stages, giving the rice time to expand and not burn.
Steam Basket Included
The steamer basket is a nice and authentic addition to the cooker, and you can use it for rice and steaming other foods such as chicken or fish.
Being BPA-free, it’s a great way to get perfect and healthy rice.
Easy to Clean
The pan and the lid come off the cooker and can go in a dishwasher.
Being non-stick, this Zojirushi is an easy machine to clean by hand.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
The power is lower than the other rice cookers, and although 820 watts sounds like a lot, this low power will increase cooking time.
It will take an hour to cook 10 cups of rice, though you can weigh this against the fact that the longer time means you can set it a long time in advance. Rice will also be much better for taking a long time than rushing it on a stove.
They could have put a little more effort into the white plastic styling.
- Large Capacity
- Included BPA-Free Basket
- Detachable Lid for Washing
- Carry Handle
- White Plastic
- Low Power
Is A Rice Cooker The Same As A Pressure Cooker?
A rice cooker is not the same as a pressure cooker. They are made from different materials, cook differently, and are made for cooking different types of food.
The main function of a rice cooker is cooking rice.
While you can cook much more dishes, its main focus is still rice.
It operates in a simple way: cooks the rice until the water boils away. Once the water is gone, the temperature rises quickly – that’s when the thermostat shuts the machine off (or activates the “keep warm” function, if your rice cooker has this option).
Simple, yet effective – rice is cooked to perfection in about 20-30 minutes without any supervision.
Pressure cookers are designed quite differently than rice cookers.
They are also made from different materials and their cooking method is different.
Their main job is to soften tough tissues and fibers (like those of pig’s trotters, meat shanks, and kale), usually at boiling temperatures or below.
Are Rice Cookers Worth The Money?
Simply put, if you eat rice frequently, love soups, and steaming vegetables, then investing in a rice cooker is not a bad idea.
It is a time-saver, but not only because it shortens cooking time.
There are many ways you can cook rice (in a microwave or on the stove, for example) but you need to constantly supervise the cooking with stirring.
If you don’t, then the rice will stick, burn, boil over, etc.
A rice cooker does all that for you.
If you’re searching for a Japanese rice cooker, then you’ve already figured out it is worth every penny.
What Is IH Rice Cooker?
IH (induction heating) rice cookers revolutionized the industry when they first appeared on the market in the 1980s.
Instead of direct heat (conduction heating) rice cookers (which heat up only the bottom of the pot), IH rice cookers pass electric current around the pot, which creates a magnetic field.
This field produces an electric current in the pot’s metal, heating the entire thing – bottom and sides.
Are Induction Rice Cookers Better?
The main advantage IH rice cookers have over the traditional direct heat is that the entire pot heats up nice and even instead of just the bottom.
In general, induction rice cookers are more expensive but the rice is cooked to perfection every time: it’s cooked evenly and there are no hot or cold spots.
And because the entire pot is heated there are no risks of rice becoming burned at the bottom (or any other place).
What is the Best Japanese Rice Cooker?
For a simple and economical cooker, it does not get much better than the S18U-HU.
It cooks rice and does it exceptionally well, the only negative being limited functions. This is suitable for a purist, who believes one device does one function.
Zojirushi is another great brand, a popular model in Japan, and around the world.
It has all the functions of a machine twice its price, and the extras make it a very convincing cooker to buy.
Though still run by Zojirushi of Japan, it is mostly made in China, a large reason for it being less expensive.
The Tiger Brand is made in Japan, it shows in the quality, and the price. Even the small, 5.5 cup B10U-C, is a pricey machine if you eat rice on occasion
Think of these rice cookers as an important part of the kitchen, and not another gimmick that stays on the shelf.
If you eat rice many times a week, the Tacook from Tiger is the best Japanese rice cooker.
The Tacook triples up its functionality from a rice cooker to a bread maker and porridge maker. It will cook your rice fast and well. The extra plate makes the Tiger Tacook an all in one food making machine.
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