The solution? A rice cooker, naturally. With the right machine at your disposal, you can enjoy restaurant-quality rice with virtually no effort. Plus, many rice cookers double as food steamers, making one-pot meals easier than ever. For the 2023 Tasting Table Awards, we tested an assortment of devices, from starter models to multi-cooking machines, to find the best rice cookers to suit your needs. We capped our search for machines priced under $210, and with an eye for fluffy rice, an easy-to-use set-up, and portability, these are the devices we recommend.
Best Multi-Use: Cuckoo CR-0351F
Cuckoo has amassed a sizable following among home chefs since its debut in 1998. It produces some of Korea's bestselling rice cookers, and it's even been endorsed by Korean stars like Lee Min-Ho and Rain. The first thing we noticed about the brand's sleek CR-0351F model was its impressive build. Compared to entry-level models like Hamilton Beach, the hefty, 7-pound candy apple red contraption looks and feels far more durable. The cooker's electronic display flashes engaging illustrations, and its lid mechanism glides open with luxurious ease. Unfortunately, we were saddened to find Cuckoo merely beeps its way through the menu selection and cooking process.
Still, despite its lack of musical talent, the CR-0351F pulled through in the rice department. It cooked grains quickly and efficiently, producing pillowy beds of rice that hardly required any fork-fluffing. Rice and starchy foods release easily from its nonstick cooking pot, making cleanup an absolute breeze. Best of all, this futuristic-looking appliance is seriously versatile — beyond rice, it can prepare a number of dishes, from baby food and pumpkin porridge to vegetable-studded soups. It's a great rice cooker for college students, busy parents, and, of course, those who adore modern kitchen décor.