As Chinese, Indian, and Thai cuisine has continued to top the tables for the UK’s favourite foods, the popularity of rice – either as a tasty side or a standalone dish – has rocketed.
Available in an assortment of forms and flavors, rice offers a lighter carb alternative to potatoes or pasta – and with increasingly chaotic schedules and COVID closures, more people than ever are trying their hand at cooking this fluffy foodstuff in the comfort of their own home.
This article will review the best rice cookers in the UK and what to look out for when buying one.
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Best Overall – Yum Asia YUM-EN15 Sakura Rice Cooker
Creators of the first premier rice cooker introduced to the UK, award-winning brand Sakura launched their Yum Asia rice cooker range in 2016.
The YUM-EN15 Sakura Rice Cooker offers a variety of features making it a worthy winner. With 3D heating and advanced fuzzy logic technology, a 7-stage cooking cycle maximises the quality and consistency of cooking results, whilst its keep warm cycle can be preset for up to 24 hours.
This model also boasts a touchscreen LED display with a 10-minute countdown timer, a ceramic bowl with stay-cool handles, and a 1.5 litre rice capacity – capable of cooking 8 cups of raw white rice or 6 cups of brown.
With six extra add-on functions, the YUM-EN15 also can prepare porridge, soup, yoghurt, and slow cook meats and casseroles – making it an appliance suitable for meals and snacks throughout the day.
The YUM-EN15 also comes with a complimentary steam basket, measuring cup, rice spatula, spatula holder, and soup ladle, and several parts – the steam cap, stainless steel inner lid, and condensation collector – are all removable for easy cleaning.
- 1.5 Litre/8 cup capacity
- 24-hour keep warm
- Quick cook setting
- LED Touchscreen
- 2-year warranty
- Reliable rice results
- Attractive appliance
- Easy to clean
- Non-digital timer
- Slightly awkward design
Best Small – Lakeland Mini Multi-Cooker
Formed in 1956 in the Lake District, UK, the Lakeland brand has been an established home appliance brand for over 50 years. Advertised at 1.8L, it has a cooking capacity of 1.4 litres – suitable for 2-3 people.
A compact, lightweight design ideal for those keen to salvage kitchen space, the Lakeland Mini Multi Cooker has 8 programme settings that allow it to cook both white rice and brown rice, as well as other grains such as quinoa and couscous.
Its slow cook setting can run for up to eight hours, whilst its quick-cook setting can make rice ready to serve in as little as 15 minutes. Its range of one-touch functions also allows a user to make yoghurt, prove bread dough, and even bake cakes.
Although there is no option to set a specific slow cooking temperature, the cooker does have an internal temperature monitor, allowing it to adjust the temperature accordingly. It also incorporates an automatic keep-warm function once the cooking process is complete.
This Lakeland Mini model also has a non-stick inner bowl and a detachable inner lid to maximise heat preservation. It comes with a complimentary measuring cup and rice spoon.
- 400W /120V
- 1.4L/6 cup capacity
- 8 programme settings
- One-touch LED Display
- Countdown timer
- 8 hr keep warm
- 3-year warranty
- Value for money
- Easy to use
- Can overcook at bottom
- Easy to overfill
Best Japanese – Yum Asia Panda YUM-EN06 Mini Rice Cooker
Another popular rice cooker from the Yum Asia range, this petite rice prepper can cook 3.5 cups of white rice or 2.5 cups of brown – making it ideal for couples and 2-person families.
Running at 350W and equipped with advanced fuzzy logic, a digital count up timer and a 24-hour preset option, this 0.63 litre machine’s piece de resistance is fluffy white rice – but with 4 cooking functions it can also brew porridge and soup, slow cook, or be used as a standalone steamer for dumplings or vegetables.
The inner ceramic bowl is engraved with measurement lines and honed with a honeycomb design which encourages even heat distribution during use. It comes with a selection of accessories which include a measuring cup, a rice spatula, and a soup ladle.
- 0.63/3.5 cup capacity
- 24 hr keep warm
- 10-minute countdown
- LED display
- 2-year warranty
- Cute, slimline design
- Useful accessories
- Clear instructions
- Steamer option
- Slow cooking time (same as pan)
- Prone to odours and sticking
Best Zojirushi – Zojirushi NS-TSQ18 Rice Cooker
A revered Japanese company with roots going back over a century, Zojirushi has since gone on to establish itself as a premier brand in rice cookery.
Crafted in a unique brown stainless steel design, the Zojirushi NS-TSQ18 model incorporates many functions to make it the ideal kitchen aid for those in need of a more heavy-duty appliance.
With a 1.8 litre cooking capacity, this mighty machine can yield up to 10 cups of white rice or 8 of brown – enabling it to serve larger families and home entertaining requirements with relative ease.
Its one-touch digital display has a clock and timer function with automatic temperature adjustments and an extended keep warm setting, allowing cooked rice to be kept warm for up to 12 hours.
The NS-TSQ18 comes with a complimentary measuring cup, steaming basket, and a spatula and holder. Its other handy extras include a removable steam vent, a detachable inner lid and power cord, and a dishwasher-safe inner bowl.
- 1.8L/10 cup capacity
- 24 hr keep warm
- Steamer setting
- LED Display
- Delay timer
- Ideal for 6+ servings
- Easy to use & clean
- Top-quality cooker
- Bulkier appliance
- Slightly more expensive
Best Budget – Reishunger Rice Cooker and Steamer
Reishunger is a niche e-commerce platform that was first launched in 2011 in Germany, which markets various rice-related products.
Running at 500W with a 1.2 litre capacity, the Reishunger Rice Cooker and Steamer can make enough rice portions for 4-6 people – making it a great option for families, whilst still being compact enough to allow for comfortable storage.
This model boasts a minimalist design with a one-button operation and an automatic switch to keep warm mode once the rice is cooked – allowing the rice to maintain its just-cooked temperature for up to eight hours, with fresh, fluffy rice ready to eat in as little as 10 minutes.
Its inner bowl is dipped in a double non-stick coating and hosts a heat-friendly honeycomb design. Unlike many others of its kind, every removable part of this low-drama rice cooker is also dishwasher safe.
- 1.2L/6.5 cup capacity
- 1-touch toggle display
- Steam cook setting
- 8 hr keep warm
- Cooks other food well
- Minimalist design
- Easy navigation
- Quick results
- No countdown timer
- Limited functionality
Great Value Alternative – Judge JEA63 Mini Rice Cooker
As part of the established UK brand Horwood Homewares, Judge Kitchenware markets a product range of over a thousand kitchen accessories.
Though claiming the smallest capacity in our lineup at 300ml, the Judge JEA63 Mini Rice Cooker can still serve up enough steaming rice for two people – and although a cost-effective choice best suited to rice, the JEA63 has four multi-cooker functions.
Its other strengths include simple analogue settings, a digital timer, a removable non-stick aluminium inner pot with filler markings, and a feature to keep cooked rice warm for up to 6 hours.
Running at an energy-friendly 200W, this model scores an efficiency rating of A+ and comes with a 2-year manufacturer guarantee. A handy measurements guide is also provided in an information booklet accompanying the appliance.
- 0.3L/1.25 cup capacity
- One-touch operation
- Fully automatic
- 6hr keep warm
- Space and energy saving
- Fuss-free operation
- Good value
- Slightly awkward design (e.g no handles)
Considerations When Choosing a Rice Cooker
Rice cookers are a useful addition to any kitchen appliance collections – but with so many clever creations to choose from, there are a few key points worth considering before buying to ensure that you can gain the most from your new gadget.
Do you simply want to steam some rice to compliment your favourite curry? Or are you planning to try your hand at paella or sushi? This is an important question as although all rice cookers cook rice, they by no means necessarily cook all rice – nor different types of rice to the same standard.
Think also about if there are any other extra cooking functions you would get good use out of, such as porridge or yoghurt. Deciding which cooking functions would best suit your lifestyle can help you to hone in on the right rice cooker for you.
Rice cooker capacity is normally indicated in litres or cups – with each cup a standard 180ml size – ranging anywhere between just shy of ⅓ of a litre to near 2 litres (approximately 1-10 cups).
A key consideration is how much rice you would require in one sitting – taking into account not only the number of diners but also personal preferences in regards to portion size.
It can get confusing when no clues are given as to the conversion between litres and cups but as a rough guide, 3-5 ½ cups (0.7-1.3 litres) is sufficient to comfortably feed between up to 4 people, whereas for larger groups of 5+, cookers with a capacity above 6.5 cups/1.5 litres are advised.
The heftier capacity of around the 2 litre/10 cup mark is a viable option for larger families and those who regularly entertain or batch cook.
If space is a precious commodity in your cooking area, it is worth deciding where the cooker will be placed and exactly how much room you have to work with before making your selection.
Mini and slimline models can cut a considerably more compact footprint – and in addition, some rice cookers offer additional features designed to save space, such as removable cables or retractable handles.
Whether Keep Warm Function is Needed
Most good rice cookers offer some kind of keep warm function, but this can vary widely in both duration and quality.
If you need to cook meals in advance and keep them warm for long periods, look for cookers with an advanced heating function and the ability to automatically switch to keep warm mode once the food is cooked.
Always ensure that the maximum ‘keep warm’ period the cooker accommodates is workable for your routine.
Timer and Temperature Gauges
When it comes to getting your rice right, both of these factors are crucial. Cookers with digital operation often have a timer function and either the means to adjust the temperature automatically or the option to do so manually.
If you would prefer to have more control over these elements of the cooking process, double-check that any rice cookers you consider have these built-in functions as part of the package.
A rice cooker worth its salt will have an internal rice container that can be removed for washing. Check whether this – and any other detachable parts – are dishwasher safe or need hand washing, and how this would work on a practical level in regards to your routine and how often the appliance may be used.
Another useful addition is other removable parts (such as lids) and a non-stick bowl coating, which can minimise the risk of dreaded rice sticking.
Every cooker in our line-up has value to offer a buyer keen to raise their rice prepping game – and with some of these cookers, it is pretty close to call.
The Yum Asia YUM-EN15 Sakura Rice Cooker came out on top for striking an excellent balance between functionality, useful features, and fast, reliable rice results – and with a 1.5 litre capacity, is large for most households and smaller hosting needs.
Meanwhile, the Lakeland Mini Multi-Cooker is our number one choice for consumers seeking a compact appliance able to serve up to 3 portions of rice or grains towards the lower end of the price scale.
The Yum Asia Panda YUM-EN06 Mini Rice Cooker takes the top spot for Japanese rice cookers and is also the perfect pick for those who mainly want to work with white rice and have minimum portion requirements.
Taking pride of place as the top Zojirushi rice cooker, the NS-TSQ18 model is ideal for consumers with more cash to spare – whatever the occasion, this is an appliance that will not disappoint.
For buyers with less generous budgets who are willing to sacrifice some of the flashier features, the Reishunger Rice Cooker and Steamer is a great choice, whilst the Judge JEA63 Mini Rice Cooker is a fine fit for those seeking a simple, cost-effective rice cooker that is easy to use and doesn’t take up too much space on the countertop.
Whatever the needs, budgets, and expectations, there is a rice cooker out there to suit everyone, and ensure your favourite rice recipes can be served just right.