The best rice cooker 2018: make perfect rice every time

Basmati, long grain, jasmine – whatever your pilaf preference or goulash go-to, there’s a rice cooker out there that’ll help you nail it every time

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As anyone who’s watched Jamie Oliver make rice is well aware, it’s as simple as one cup of rice to two cups of water, and boil for 12 minutes. In theory. Anyone who’s ever suffered from a burnt-on layer of rice stuck to the bottom of the pan or hard-as-bullets grains knows differently. So why bother with it at all? The best rice cooker can make short work of long-grain and ensure your basmati is the business, and we’ve got seven of them right here.

Heston and Hobbs (Russell) both make star turns in our list of great rice cookers, but our top spot goes goes to James Martin for the ZX916 Multi Cooker. It might do more than simply cook rice, but reviewers say it does just that to perfection, and after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

In fact, a good number of our picks double up (or in the case of the Tefal RK302E15, octuple up) as versatile kitchen appliances, so if you’re in two minds about shelling out for a rice cooking machine, you can rest assured it’ll earn its keep.

James Martin by Wahl ZX916 Multi Cooker

1. James Martin by Wahl ZX916 Multi Cooker

Your one-stop shop for rice, stews, puddings, and more

Best for: Multi-use
Power: 700W
Capacity: 4 litres
Reasons to buy
+Large capacity+Great slow-cooking capabilities

Testers loved the Wahl ZX916 Multi Cooker for its ability to make, in their words, the perfect light and fluffy rice. For anyone looking to buy the best rice cooker, that should be testament enough, but for anyone who likes to cook full stop, this is an even more remarkable buy.

A great alternative to a slow cooker for those who don’t have the time or the inclination to saute beforehand, this multi-cooker has a 24-hour delay timer and six different modes for steaming, sauteing, stewing, desserts and of course brown and white rice.

With a four-litre capacity it’s great for batch cooking and big family meals, and testers were left very impressed by the easy-clean non-stick and dishwasher-safe parts.

Tefal RK302E15 8-in-1 Multi Cooker

2. Tefal RK302E15 8-in-1 Multi Cooker

Cook every kind of rice under the sun, and more besides, with this multi-talented multi-cooker

Best for: Other grains
Power: 700W
Capacity: 2.2 litres
Reasons to buy
+Dedicated modes for multiple grains

Another excellent rice-cooker-slow-cooker hybrid, this Tefal multicooker has delayed start and automatic keep-warm functions to help you time your meal to perfection, even if you’re out all day with no time to sweat over a saucepan.

As well as presets for oatmeal, steaming, dessert and a catch-all slow-cooking mode, there are three dedicated modes for rice alone and one for grains, so if you feel like swapping out your quick rice for quinoa one night, this ensures it’ll go off without a hitch.

Reviewers loved the ease of use and maintenance, too, between the lift-out dishwasher-safe bowl and the included rice spoon, measuring cup and recipe booklet, making this a triple whammy for busy cooks.

Zojirushi NS-TSQ10

3. Zojirushi NS-TSQ10

This big-ticket rice cooker is a must for grain adicionados

Best for: Different types of rice
Power: 610W
Capacity: 1.2 litres
Reasons to buy
+Automatic modes for different types of rice

It’s all very well and good having a preset for every food under the sun, but what if you really do just want a rice cooker? Well, according to happy owners, this Zojirushi model should just about do it. One for the rice-obsessed, it has dedicated settings for white, brown, sweet and even sushi rice. California roll? Sorted. Rice pudding? You bet. Regular plain old white rice? If you insist.

Users loved the thoughtful design: the countdown timer, the excellent keep warm function… it even plays a little tune when your rice is ready. This specialism does mean that it has a lower profile than most of our slow-cooker-alike designs, but we hear it does have one extra helpful function: it steams a mean bit of veg.

Russell Hobbs Rice Cooker and Steamer

4. Russell Hobbs Rice Cooker and Steamer

Cook and steam to perfection with this devilishly simple appliance

Best for: Keep-warm
Power: 700W
Capacity: 1.8 litres
Reasons to buy
+Automatic turn-off and keep-warm functions

Again, anyone who’s in the market for a dedicated rice cooker is probably pretty serious about their grains, but if the impeccable Zojirushi above has nonetheless shown you that you’re not quite £200 serious, there is some comfort: this Russell Hobbs rice cooker.

At under £25 RRP, it’s quite a jump down from our previous pick in terms of price, but reviewers say it still makes a really great bowl of rice, automatically turning off when your choice of grain is cooked to perfection and keeping it warm until you need it. And if you do find yourself wistful for that extra bit of functionality after all, even better news: it also comes with a tray for steaming fish or vegetables.

Aigostar Happy Chef 30IWY

5. Aigostar Happy Chef 30IWY

With a multitude of modes, this slow-cooker-meets-rice-cooker is great for busy families

Best for: Big meals
Power: 900W
Capacity: 5 litres
Reasons to buy
+Large capacity

Sure, it’s a great rice cooker, but with 15 smart programs this offering from Aigostar Happy Chef is pretty much a great anything cooker. There are modes for rice, bread, pasta, frying, stewing, steaming, baking and even more besides, including making your own yoghurt, and there’s even an ‘add ingredient while cooking’ function to ensure that even the forgotten bits get the best chance at proper cooking.

The large LED display with 24-hour preset timer makes for a great, easy-to-set slow cooker on those blurry early mornings, and the automatic keep-warm function keeps food at serving temperature for up to 12 hours. Last night’s curry still smelling delicious the next day? It’s got your back.

Sage by Heston Blumenthal Risotto Plus

6. Sage by Heston Blumenthal Risotto Plus

If you love risotto but hate slaving over a stove, take this one for a whirl

Best for: Risotto
Power: 760W
Capacity: 3.7 litres
Reasons to buy
+Makes risotto without constant stirring

If you’re really dedicated to risotto, you’ll know how much tender loving care it requires to turn out perfectly. But with this Sage by Heston Blumenthal rice cooker, you can actually throw that knowledge out the window, because even without constant stirring, testers found it makes risotto quickly, with less liquid, and – perhaps a little depressingly – with a taste barely distinguishable from a dish slaved over for hours. Users found the Food Sear mode easy to use for getting maximum flavour out of add-ins, and starting off slow-cooked dishes, and loved that it slow-cooks, fast-cooks and steams on top of cooking rice.

Sistema 1110 Microwave Cookware Rice Steamer

7. Sistema 1110 Microwave Cookware Rice Steamer

For a space-saving alternative to an appliance, try this on for size

Best for: Simplicity
Power: None
Capacity: 2.6 litres
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use; easy to store

Perfect rice in the microwave? We’re not talking Tilda pouches (despite how scrummy they may be), but your very own regular rice cooked to fluffy, non-clumpy perfection in a matter of minutes. Inexpensive, space-efficient and economical, this microwave rice cooker can fit easily into your tupperware cupboard and uses no electricity, instead acting like a pressure cooker to make up to 11 cups of perfect rice, all before the beep.

In true Sistema fashion, it’s sturdy, with easy locking clips and a steam release vent, and it’s all BPA-free too. Plus, the whole thing can be put in the dishwasher, and it comes with its own rice paddle.