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2 August 2021

Best rice cookers

The best rice cookers make perfect fluffy rice every time. Cook rice dishes easily with our top-rated rice cookers
Joel Bates

A rice cooker could make a very convenient addition to your kitchen if you can't cook rice the way you like it on the hob. We've tested eight rice cookers to find out just how useful they can be.

We found that not all rice cookers are the same. Although some give you perfectly fluffy, delicious rice, others will undercook it or leave your rice dry and stuck together.

In November 2020, we compared cheap rice cookers for less than £50 (some can go up in price to about £200) to see if you can still get delicious rice without breaking the bank. We've included popular brands, such as Argos, Asda, Russell Hobbs and Tefal in our test. 

See our full results below to find out which rice cooker you should buy to get the perfect accompaniment for your chilli con carne, curry or stir-fry. 

Pricing and availability last checked: 2 August 2021.

The best rice cookers

Only logged-in Which? members can view the rice cooker test results below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the rice cookers we tested. Join Which? now to get instant access to our test results and Best Buy recommendations below.

Argos Cookworks 1.5L Rice Cooker

Argos Cookworks 1.5L Rice Cooker

Cheapest price: £17.99, available at Argos, also available at Amazon

Size and weight 26 x 34 x 26cm (H x W x D); 1.95kg

Capacity Maximum 1,500ml/8 cups of rice; minimum 360ml/2 cups of rice

Cooking times Approximately 21 minutes for 2 cups of basmati rice; 28 minutes 30 seconds for 2 cups of wholegrain rice

Other key features Comes with plastic serving spoon, 160ml measuring cup and non-stick cooking pot, not dishwasher-safe, fill lines are labelled, one-year guarantee

This Argos rice cooker is the largest we tested that only cooks rice. Some of the other large models can also steam meat and vegetables, or even be used as a pan to cook other items. But sometimes being a Jack of all trades can mean ending up master of none. How masterful was this Argos rice cooker in our testing? 

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Asda George Home Rice Cooker

Asda George Home Rice Cooker 

Cheapest price: £16, available at Asda

Size and weight 22.5 x 27 x 24cm (H x W x D); 2.13kg 

Capacity Maximum 1,000ml/6 cups of rice; minimum 360ml/2 cups of rice

Cooking times Approximately 16 minutes for two cups of basmati rice; 22 minutes for 2 cups of wholegrain rice

Other key features Comes with plastic serving spoon, 180ml measuring cup and non-stick cooking pot, dishwasher-safe cooking pot, fill lines are labelled, two-year guarantee

This Asda rice cooker is the cheapest rice cooker we tested by some distance. It's a simple, no-frills appliance with only one button to get it cooking. 

Log in now or join Which? to find out whether a push of that button gives you rice just the way you like it.

Breville ITP181 1.8L Rice Cooker and Steamer

Breville ITP181 1.8L Rice Cooker and Steamer

Cheapest price: £22.49, available at Argos, also available at Amazon

Size and weight 25.4 x 29.6 x 29.4cm (H x W x D); 3.2kg

Capacity Maximum 1,800ml/10 cups of rice; minimum 360ml/2 cups of rice

Cooking times Approximately 12 minutes 30 seconds for 2 cups of basmati rice; 26 minutes for 2 cups of wholegrain rice

Other key features Comes with plastic serving spoon, 180ml measuring cup, steaming tray and non-stick cooking pot, can be used to steam meat and vegetables, dishwasher-safe cooking pot and lid, fill lines are labelled, one-year guarantee

Both the lid and the cooking pot in Breville's ITP181 rice cooker are dishwasher-safe, so if you're looking for convenience in cleaning as well as cooking it might catch your eye. But how did it fare at the key task of cooking rice?

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Crock-Pot 2.2L Sauté Rice Cooker

Crock-Pot 2.2L Sauté Rice Cooker

Cheapest price: £39.99, available at Argos, also available at Amazon

Size and weight 24.8 x 31.2 x 30.8cm (H x W x D); 3.18kg

Capacity Maximum 2,200ml/12 cups of rice; minimum 360ml/2 cups of rice

Cooking times Approximately 16 minutes for 2 cups of basmati rice; 29 minutes for 2 cups of wholegrain rice

Other key features Comes with plastic serving spoon, 180ml measuring cup and non-stick cooking pot, can be used as a pan/sauté pan to cook other items in (but you can't change the temperature), dishwasher-safe cooking pot and serving spoon, maximum fill lines present but not labelled, two-year guarantee

Crock-Pot's rice cooker can also cook pasta and it even has a sauté setting so you can use it to get your other dishes sizzling. But we ignored the frills and tested it purely on whether it answered the all-important question - does it cook great rice?

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Lakeland 2 Portion Mini Electric Rice Cooker

Lakeland 2 Portion Mini Electric Rice Cooker

Cheapest price: £34.99, available at Lakeland

Size and weight 19 x 16.5 x 14.5cm (H x W x D); 1.2kg

Capacity Maximum 500ml/approximately 2.66 cups of rice; minimum capacity not stated

Cooking times Approximately 33 minutes for 1 cup of basmati rice; 53 minutes for 1 cup of wholegrain rice

Other key features Comes with plastic serving spoon, 135ml measuring cup and non-stick cooking pot, can be used to cook porridge, delay-start timer of up to 12 hours, not dishwasher-safe, fill lines are labelled, three-year guarantee

Not everyone has the kitchen space or mouths to feed to justify buying a large rice cooker, so we put a couple of small rice cookers through our tests, too. Lakeland's rice cooker can cook enough rice to feed around three people.

Log in now or join Which? to see if it was good enough to earn our recommendation.

Russell Hobbs Rice Cooker and Steamer 19750

Russell Hobbs Rice Cooker and Steamer 19750

Cheapest price: £24.99, available at Amazon, John Lewis and Robert Dyas, also available at AO.com and Very

Size and weight 24.5 x 28 x 32cm (H x W x D); 2.56kg

Capacity Maximum 1,800ml/10 cups of rice; minimum capacity not stated

Cooking times Approximately 13 minutes 30 seconds for 2 cups of basmati rice; 35 minutes for 2 cups of wholegrain rice

Other key features Comes with plastic serving spoon, 160ml measuring cup, steamer tray and non-stick cooking pot, can be used to steam meat and vegetables, not dishwasher-safe, fill lines are labelled, two-year guarantee

Russell Hobbs is a household name when it comes to kitchen appliances. This rice cooker cooked basmati rice in a very fast 13 minutes 30 seconds in our tests, but was the rice we got fluffy and delicious or crunchy and underdone?

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Tefal Cool Touch RK1568UK Rice Cooker

Tefal Cool Touch RK1568UK Rice Cooker

Cheapest price: £28.99, available at Currys PC World, also available at Amazon, Robert Dyas and Very

Size and weight 23.5 x 31 x 31.5cm (H x W x D); 2.4kg

Capacity Maximum 1,800ml/10 cups of rice; minimum 720ml/4 cups of rice

Cooking times Approximately 20 minutes for 4 cups of basmati rice; 34 minutes 30 seconds for 4 cups of wholegrain rice

Other key features Comes with plastic serving spoon, 160ml measuring cup, steamer tray and non-stick cooking pot, can be used to steam meat and vegetables, not dishwasher-safe, fill lines are labelled, two-year guarantee

This Tefal rice cooker cooks a minimum of four cups of rice in one go, which means it's a rice cooker for households with at least six mouths to feed (depending on how hungry those mouths are). 

Log in now or join Which? to discover whether the mountains of rice that came from this cooker were worth eating.

VonShef 0.3L Personal Rice Cooker 13/342

VonShef 0.3L Personal Rice Cooker 13/342

Cheapest price: £21.99, available at Vonhaus, also available at Amazon

Size and weight 25.8 x 18 x 18cm (H x W x D); 1.53kg

Capacity Maximum 270ml/1.5 cups of rice; minimum 90ml/0.5 cups of rice

Cooking times Approximately 19 minutes for 1 cup of basmati rice; 34 minutes for 1 cup of wholegrain rice

Other key features Comes with plastic serving spoon, 135ml measuring cup and non-stick cooking pot, not dishwasher-safe, fill lines are labelled, two-year guarantee

VonShef's mini rice cooker was the smallest we tested, but with a capacity of one and a half cups of rice it should still be able to feed two or three people. If you want to be economical with your kitchen space this could be a great choice - provided it cooks rice properly.

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How we tested these rice cookers

We set up and used all eight of these rice cookers in a kitchen to find out which was the best cheap rice cooker.

We paid for every rice cooker we tested and don't accept freebies, so you can have confidence in the independence of our reviews.

Ease of use

Rice cookers are all about convenience, so it's important that any rice cooker you buy is straightforward to set up and program.

We assessed how simple each rice cooker was to set up for the first time, how helpful the instructions were for assembling it, and the advice it gives on capacities and water-to-rice ratios.

Advice on cooking times was also a plus for ease of use, as none of the cheap rice cookers we tested have timers that give a clear indication of when your rice is going to be ready.

Useful indicator lights for when the rice cooker is cooking or on the keep-warm setting were also a plus, and the more straightforward it was to switch on, the better.

Basmati rice cooked in a rice cooker
Freshly-cooked basmati rice ready to be tasted and assessed

Rice quality 

It's striking how different we found the taste and texture of the same rice to be when cooked using different rice cookers.

We cooked Essential Waitrose Basmati Rice and Essential Waitrose Whole Grain Rice in each rice cooker, always following the rice cooker's instructions on water-to-rice ratios (where given).

Where rice-to-water ratios were absent in the instructions, we defaulted to using a 1:1 ratio for basmati rice and 1:2 ratio for wholegrain rice, as these were the most widely accepted ratios for these rice types that we could find. All of the rice we cooked was rinsed thoroughly before cooking.

We cooked the minimum required amounts of rice in each rice cooker in order to reduce the food waste from our tests. We also ate as much of the cooked rice as possible - lots of chilli and Thai green curry were consumed during testing.

In our assessments, we looked for rice that had flavour, a fluffy texture and that separated easily, and rated rice that was dry, mushy, clumped, crunchy or starchy poorly.

Build quality and cooking

Rice cookers can get very hot during cooking, so it's important that they're stable, that they don't slide around on the kitchen counter, and that their handles and lids are easy to grip and remove.

We assessed each rice cooker on these before cooking. During cooking we also assessed how well each rice cooker controlled the steam and heat released. Rice cookers that got excessively hot on the outside, that billowed out steam uncontrollably or that spat during cooking were penalised.

Basmati rice having its temperature checked
Basmati rice having its temperature checked after being left for an hour on the keep warm setting

Keep-warm setting

Every rice cooker has a keep-warm setting that aims to keep your rice fresh if you aren't quite ready to eat it when it's finished cooking.

We left the lid on each rice cooker after cooking and left it for an hour on the keep-warm setting to see how well each model kept the rice.

The rice for the keep-warm assessment was cooked separately to the rice judged in the rice quality test, as removing the lid and inspecting the rice can affect how much moisture and heat is retained in the cooking pot.

The texture and flavour of the rice was assessed again once the hour was up and checked that the rice was kept at a safe temperature.

Bacteria thrives in temperatures between 40 and 60°C, so it's essential that rice cookers don't let rice drop below 60°C on their keep-warm settings. Fortunately, none of the rice cookers we tested let their rice slip into the danger zone.

Cleaning

To ensure uniform testing conditions, every rice cooker was thoroughly cleaned and dried after each use. We noted how easy it was to clean the cooking pot and lid of each rice cooker, looking for any stuck-on bits that needed some extra oomph with the sponge, or any nooks and crannies that were difficult to get into during cleaning.

See our kitchen reviews to browse the long list of tools and appliances we recommend for your cook station.

How we picked these rice cookers

For our tests, we chose rice cookers that cost less than £50 to buy, as search and demand for cheap models was higher among people than for more expensive rice cookers.

The cheap rice cookers we selected were widely available from major UK retailers such as Amazon, Argos, Currys PC World and John Lewis & Partners.

We paid for all the rice cookers we tested. At Which? we don't accept freebies, so you can be sure that our test results are impartial and accurate.

How to use a rice cooker

If you're unsure about what to expect from using a rice cooker, we've listed some handy tips below that we discovered during our testing to help you cook your rice the way you like it:

  • Read the instructions This is a step many will be tempted to skip, but it's very important as no two rice cookers are the same. The method you use with one may be very different in another. Always read the instructions first to check the method advised.
  • Rice-to-water ratios vary As you'll find from reading the instructions, rice cookers have varying requirements for rice-to-water ratios. Several of the models we tested had different ratios for the same types of rice.
A burned, stuck together layer of rice at the bottom of a rice cooker
A burned, stuck together layer of rice at the bottom of a rice cooker
  • The crispy layer at the bottom of the pan is common Rinsing your rice before cooking is useful way for removing excess starch and reducing the chances of your rice sticking together or crisping up at the bottom, but in our tests every rice cooker had at least a thin layer of rice like this. You'll likely end up with some crunchy rice at the bottom of your rice cooker after you've used it.
  • Portions and cups are not the same Rice cookers always measure rice in 'cups', as it's a more straightforward way to work out rice to water ratios (eg one cup of white rice usually needs one cup of water). But cups are often much bigger than portions - one cup is around 150 to 180g of rice, and Bupa recommends that 75g of rice is one portion.
  • 'Dishwasher-safe' is debatable As rice cookers are electrical appliances, none of them are entirely dishwasher-safe. Some of the cooking pots and lids are, but even then, on the ones we tested, it wasn't recommended that you clean them in the dishwasher as it will dull the non-stick material over time. Warm soapy water and a sponge is the way to go.
  • The keep-warm setting will impact the quality of your rice Although the drop in quality was small with the best models we tested, we found that after being left for an hour on the keep-warm setting at least a small drop in the quality of the rice was inevitable. The rice will likely be drier and need some fluffing before you serve it.

What can be cooked in a rice cooker?

That depends on which rice cooker you're using. All should at least be able to cook white rice, basmati rice and brown/wholegrain rice. But some (although not those we tested) can also cook other types, such as risotto or sushi rice.

Make sure to check the instructions before attempting to cook more challenging types of rice your rice cooker, as simpler models especially are unlikely to be able to cook every type without issue.

It's also possible to use stock instead of water and to add nuts, raisins or peas to add extra flavour - although adding these extras will mean that you'll need extra water for cooking. Unless instructions are provided on how much more water will be needed, some experimentation will be required.

Some rice cookers can also be used to steam meat and vegetables. Those that can will come with a steamer tray that sits above where your rice and water sits during cooking. Plenty of rice cookers come with recipes for steamed meals you can enjoy with your rice. Other rice cookers can double up as pans or sauté pans.

Some pressure cookers can also be used to cook rice. Check out our expert pressure cooker reviews if you're looking for more of an all-in-one appliance for your kitchen.

Are rice cookers dangerous?

Lots of people search for answers to this question, but the rice cookers we tested all seemed safe after we used each one four times and followed the instructions.

Like other kitchen appliances that deal with heat and steam, such as kettles, ovens and hobs, it is always possible to burn yourself if you're not careful.

When using a rice cooker, take care to avoid steam vents and avoid touching any part of the cooking pot that might be exposed.

Among the cheap rice cookers we tested, we found that the lip at the top of the cooking pot was often exposed during cooking, and because it makes direct contact with the heating element, that part of the rice cooker is prone to getting very hot when cooking.

Treat the cooking pot like a baking tray that you've put in your oven and wear oven gloves before handling them.

Is a rice cooker worth it?

If you have the kitchen counter space and rice is a staple that you struggle to get right on the hob, then absolutely. Rice cookers can be a very convenient and stress-free way to get rice the way you like it.

You'll have to be patient with them at first, though. Rice cookers are prescriptive appliances, so you'll have to experiment a little at first with your rice-to-water ratios before you get your rice the way you like it.

For rice cookers that don't have cooking timers, like the ones we tested, you'll also have to learn your rice cooker's cooking times through experimentation. Amounts of rice and water, and which rice cooker you have, all make a difference.

No two rice cookers are the same, so make sure to read our full test results before you buy. Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.