We tested the Hamilton Beach 37508 2-to-8 cup Rice Cooker against our top pick as an option for smaller households. In our tests, the 37508 made good short-grain brown and long-grain white rice, but the rice was not as fluffy as our top pick’s. And this small cooker couldn’t yield good sushi rice. After three attempts using three different ratios, we got everything from undercooked to soggy and overblown. As for size, the smaller Hamilton Beach measures 10½″ tall and 8″ diameter, compared with our top pick at 10″ tall and 9″ diameter. The meager 6-square-inch size difference isn’t worth its shortcomings as a rice cooker, even for small homes.
Our favorite pressure cooker, the Instant Pot, is a combination slow cooker, yogurt maker, and rice cooker (among other things). Although it’s an excellent pressure cooker, it doesn’t make for as great a rice cooker as our top picks. If you want perfect rice, this model is not for you. But if you want to save space by combining a bunch of functions into one device and don’t mind compromising a little on rice quality, the Instant Pot might be something to consider.
Our 2013 pick, the Hamilton Beach Digital Simplicity Rice Cooker and Steamer, 20-cup (Cooked) Silver (37536), has been discontinued. We found it produced great Japanese-style white rice with good texture and flavor. We think our new Hamilton Beach pick performs just as well.
The Hamilton Beach 37541 4-to-20-cup Digital Simplicity Rice Cooker and Steamer is the larger version of our new pick, the Hamilton Beach 37549 2-to-14-cup Digital Simplicity Rice Cooker and Steamer. Although it made good white rice in our tests, its 20-cup capacity seemed a bit too much for most households.
The Tiger JAX-T10U was one of the strongest performers in our latest round of tests. It has a nice thick inner pot (1½ mm for 5½ cups), 10 computerized cooking menus, two preset cooking timers, a stainless steel exterior, detachable steam cup, and a detachable inner lid. It is on-par with the winning Zojirushi when making Japanese rice, which is why it moved forward into the latter rounds of testing. But we were not impressed with its brown, long-grain, or quick rice.
The Tiger JAH-T10U we tested for our 2013 review is another high-end rice cooker that’s competitive with the high-end Zojirushi or the Cuckoo, but it was marred by some flaws in design performance. It produced very good rice; it was quicker to cook brown rice than the Zojirushi and it had an even better cooking pot. But the restaurant professionals didn’t like the white rice as much; it was much trickier to take apart/reassemble for cooking; when it’s done cooking your rice, the noise it makes is so quiet that it’s extremely easy to miss; the lid gets hotter than most of the other models; and it tends to have a ring of stuck rice in the pot if you don’t turn it out right.
The Panasonic SR-DE103 was the most affordable of the high-end machines in our 2013 testing, but the pros really disliked the rice from it, universally ranking it low, especially for clumping and taste. It’s also extremely slow to cook brown rice, could hold less of the stuff than the competition, had a problem with scorching brown rice, did a very poor job with sticky rice, and its bowl is harder to read and use than the other high-end models’. That said, the home cooks really liked its white rice, and it’s very quick to cook white rice. It’s a possible alternative if you want to spend less than $100, but there’s not enough to recommend it over a really good high-end model.
The Aroma ARC-914SBD, which we tested in 2013, is another super-affordable rice cooker with a low price tag, a tiny footprint, and a 4-cup maximum capacity. Unfortunately, its rice wasn’t really up to scratch, with home cooks rating it bottom of the barrel for both white and brown rice and the pros likewise disliking it (barring one ex-sushi chef who was a fan). It also has a tendency to gather condensation on top of the lid, and while it was very quick to cook both brown and white rice, its brown rice was really poor.
The Zojirushi Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-HCC18 was a new model since we’d done our original testing, and it has an added setting for jasmine rice and an easier-to-read display. We really wanted to taste rice that had been cooked with IH to see if the technology was worth the cost. Though the rice from the NP-HCC18 was very good, we felt that the rice from our runner-up pick (the lower-end NS-TSC10) was even better. And at almost half the price, we quickly decided to hold on to our original.
The Tiger JKT-S10U, another IH cooker, was in a similar boat. Sure, it made a good batch of Japanese white rice, but not enough to garner double the price tag of the other Tiger model we tested. In this case and with the Zojirushi’s, we preferred the rice from the lower-tech machines.
The 3 Squares 3RC-3010S TIM3 MACHIN3 20-cup (Cooked) Rice Cooker and Multi Cooker is a relative newcomer, and we loved its capabilities, its design, and its look. What we were not so enamored of, however, was its rice, which was devoid of aroma and great flavor. Note: The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently issued a recall of this product for causing shocks when turned on.
Tatung is another brand, along with the Cuckoo, that was recommended by our readers from the original 2013 rice cooker review. We wanted to give the Taiwanese maker a whirl, so we ordered the TAC-11QN 11-cup Multi-Functional Stainless Steel Rice Cooker, which appeared sturdy, capable, and well-reviewed. The double-boiler pot was unique, but ultimately the cooker was loud and splattery, and the rice stuck to the bottom—an unforgivable act for a rice cooker.
As much as we wanted to love the VitaClay for its adherence to using a traditional clay pot for cooking rice, this is not one we could recommend for most users. The rice stuck to the seasoned clay, and the nub of the scalding hot interior lid was difficult to grasp.
We looked at a number of Cuckoo models with pressure cooking technology, but found that our pick, the CRP-G1015F 10-cup Electric Pressure Rice Cooker, offered the best combination of price and higher ratings. Here’s a comparison chart of our main pick against Cuckoo’s other cookers:
Cuckoo CR-0631F – A basic model without pressure cooking, this model didn’t look quite as promising as some of the other basic models we opted to test. It also was out of stock when we were doing our research.
Tatung TAC-6G-SF 6 Cups Indirect Heating Rice Cooker – Although this comes with decent reviews, we opted to test the larger version of this cooker instead.
Aroma Professional 12-cup (Cooked) Digital Egg-Shape Rice Cooker, Food Steamer and Slow Cooker – This looked promising, but but in our 2013 taste test the brand did not fare well with any of the chef or lay testers. We opted to skip testing.
Aroma Professional 20-Cup Digital Rice Cooker, Food Steamer & Slow Cooker – Another well-priced and positively reviewed model, but as above, we opted not to test based on our experience with the brand in our 2013 tests.
Zojirushi N2-ZCC10/18 – This gets great Amazon reviews, but for the price and performance, we didn’t think it looked better than the two Zojirushi machines we opted to test this round.
We were also taken with the design of the Oster models, but not enough to call them in. Most had glass lids, limited functionality, and fairly poor reviews. The same is true of the Black+Decker models, most of which were quite basic.
We also passed on other Panasonic models. As mentioned, in our 2013 testing the Panasonic SR-DE103 5-cup “Fuzzy Logic” Rice Cooker produced clumped, tasteless rice, and brown rice that stuck to the bottom of the pot. They have replaced their MGS102, MS183, and MS103 models with the 5-cup SR-DF101 and the identical 10-cup SR-DF181, but the feature list and product reviews weren’t compelling enough to call them in.