Making rice is deceptively easy: Measure, rinse, add water, simmer, steam, and less than a half an hour later, you’re done. And yet so often — no matter if you’re an amateur in the kitchen or consider yourself pretty accomplished — the final result is a letdown. Sometimes the grains turn to mush; sometimes they’re hard in the middle; and all too often they’re stuck to the bottom of the pot (in my house, the ultimate “let it soak overnight” culprit — never a fun thing to wake up to).
Best Overall: Cuckoo CRP-P1009SB Rice Cooker
“I bought a Cuckoo because that’s what my mom and aunts use,” says Joanne Lee Molinaro, better known as the Korean Vegan. “When you go to a Korean grocery store, you see a bunch of Cuckoos all over the place.” Molinaro uses hers — a slightly older but similar model to the one listed — primarily for brown rice as well as mixed rice, the setting for which she uses every time she adds soybeans, farro, pearled barley, and even chestnuts and sweet potatoes. For food writer Justine Lee, who has the more recent model, “the multi-cook setting is where it stuns.” Multi-cook essentially turns the appliance into a pressure cooker and allows you to adjust the time and heat level. “Both are as easy as dialing the knob to set,” says Lee. “It’s how I steam a bunch of Korean sweet potatoes right before road trips and quell my bean hankerings come summertime. I’ve even followed recipes fitted for a traditional Instant Pot such as cinnamon buns and yakbap, which can get sticky. But cleanup with this rice cooker is a breeze across the board.”
If you’re interested in the brand but don’t care so much about the multi-cook feature, Strategist editor Maxine Builder has an even older version of this under-$100 Cuckoo that still works perfectly after she’s used it for the past several years. (Her exact model is older still than the one linked and not available online anymore).