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Rice is one of the world’s most versatile foods: You could eat a different rice dish every day for weeks without getting bored. If that sounds appealing, you might appreciate a great rice cooker, which can turn out perfect, plump grains with almost no effort. After more than 150 hours of research and testing, during which we’ve cooked approximately 275 pounds of rice, we recommend the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy NS-ZCC10. It makes the best white rice, across all grain types, of any cooker we’ve tested, and it also turns out great brown rice.
Thanks to a computer chip that can sense things like moisture and temperature and can adjust cooking parameters to account for human error, the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy NS-ZCC10 makes great rice, even in situations where other cookers (including those with similar technology) produce starchy, congealed messes. It’s one of the most compact models we tested, its removable lid makes it easy to clean, and the inner pot has handles for easy lifting out of the machine. The Neuro Fuzzy’s only downside is its relative slowness: Unless you use the quick-cook setting, it takes at least 40 minutes to make a batch of white rice and over 90 minutes to make brown rice. But the rice you get from the Neuro Fuzzy is worth the wait.
The Cuckoo CRP-P1009 makes the best sushi rice of all the cookers we tested—chewy, distinctive grains that hold together perfectly. Because it’s a pressure cooker, it also delivers these results more quickly than the other rice cookers we tested. The Cuckoo is especially handy at cooking brown rice quickly, in some tests taking almost half the time it took the Zojirushi. However, you might need to tweak the amount of water in your recipe if you prefer softer brown rice—our batches came out quite al dente, though not unpleasantly so. And we think the pressurized cooking caused our delicate long-grain rice to come out a bit mushy. Because the Cuckoo is pricey and comes in only a 10-cup capacity, we recommend this cooker to people who want to cook short- or medium-grain white and brown rice often and in large batches.
The Hamilton Beach Rice and Hot Cereal Cooker makes good white rice very quickly—it’s a marvel considering its low cost. Although the results weren’t as tender or well separated as what we got from the Zojirushi or the Cuckoo, this model’s rice was better than that of many other higher-end models we tested. The Hamilton Beach is also faster than our top pick, capable of churning out a good batch of white rice in around 35 minutes. In addition, it sports modes for delayed cooking and brown rice—though our brown rice came out a little underdone.
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