Styles of Rice Cookers

by Amy Chang

Styles of Rice CookersThere are many styles of rice cookers available to suite the kitchen needs of any size household. Though many rice cookers look alike, the variations are mainly in the capabilities and the multiple uses the owner can expect from the appliance.

The most superficial differences in rice cookers are in the types of construction. The top will either be attached by a hinge at the back of the rice cooker or it will be removable. Removable lids are usually glass but some are made of the same material as the rest of the outer construction and usually lock in place to keep the steam in more effectively. The more capable rice cookers usually have the hinged top.

Another construction variation will be the type of interior bowl of the rice cooker. The materials that the bowl can be made of are stainless steel and ceramic. Some inner bowls will have a non-stick surface coating while others are non-stick due to the nature of the material. Many styles will have a removable interior bowl for ease of cleaning and food preparation.

Rice cooker/steamers will have a steaming basket or tray included to enable the user to cook more than rice with the cooker. The steaming tray is especially handy for cooking vegetables, fish and poultry. These appliances will usually have more setting options including “steam cook”.

The fit of the steamer basket will determine whether or not the user can cook two food items simultaneously. Some styles of rice cooker/steamers allow for steaming while the rice is cooking and this is best in order to get the most use out of the appliance. The packaging will almost always boast this capability if it is applicable.

Rice cookers with induction heating give the user many more options. This is the best kind of rice cooker to experiment with different recipes such as bread and stronger rice kernels. This style of rice cooker will have many more controls and settings than the other styles. They will always have the hinged lid.

Programmable rice cookers allow for advanced preparation and cooking while the user is away from home. This style of rice cooker is ideal for the busy chef. This style can also perform many of the same tasks as slow cookers. They automatically switch to the warming function when the food is ready.

The function settings of rice cookers can be digital or dial controlled. Generally, if there are more complicated functions such as advance programming, time delay or multiple cooking features the settings will be digital. The simpler rice cookers that only have the basic “cook” and “warm” functions will have a dial or switch that controls the appliance. Digital rice cookers usually offer the most flexibility of use.