Anyone who’s ever burned or otherwise botched rice on the stovetop can understand the appeal of a rice cooker. Rice cookers turn out fluffy, delicious rice every time, whether you’re serving it warm in a bowl to enjoy with chopsticks or packing it in a bento box for lunch the following day.
But, for many people, standard-size rice cookers are just too large for their needs. Small rice cookers serve up smaller portions and pack away easily afterward. This guide highlights the best small rice cooker in several categories and the key factors to consider before you shop.
- BEST OVERALL: Zojirushi NHS-06 3-Cup (Uncooked) Rice Cooker
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BLACK+DECKER RC506 6-Cup Cooked/3-Cup Uncooked Cooker
- MOST VERSATILE: Zojirushi NS-TSC10 5-1/2-Cup (Uncooked) Micom Rice
- BEST FOR MICROWAVES: Joseph Joseph 45002 M-Cuisine Microwave Rice Cooker
- BEST STAINLESS STEEL: Cuisinart CRC-400 Rice Cooker, 4-Cup, Silver
- BEST FOR SINGLE SERVINGS: Dash DRCM200BK Mini Rice Cooker Steamer
- BEST WITH STEAMER: TIGER JBV-A10U 5.5-Cup (Uncooked) Micom Rice Cooker
- BEST PORTABLE: Aroma Housewares MI 3-Cup (Cooked) Mini Rice Cooker
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Small Rice Cooker
As you shop for a small rice cooker, keep the features outlined below in mind, including the type of rice cooker, the construction materials, settings and controls, versatility, ease of cleaning, and any additional features that would make a particular product the best rice maker for your needs.
Before beginning your search, decide which type of small rice cooker would meet your needs. Among the best small rice cookers, you’ll find:
- Conventional: With these traditional models, home cooks need to give the rice time to soak before turning on the rice cooker and must turn the rice cooker off to allow it to finish steaming.
- Microprocessor: Also called micom rice cookers, these appliances further simplify the task of cooking rice. Cooks simply need to place clean, rinsed rice in the rice cooker, and then the microprocessor controls most of the rest of the process, including soaking, boiling, and steaming the rice. After the rice finishes steaming, simply fluff and serve.
- Combination: These versatile devices provide other functions besides rice preparation, such as steaming or even baking.
- Induction: These rice cookers work without the use of direct heat. They utilize a conductive material and radio frequency electricity to heat the inner pot to cook the rice.
Small rice cookers hold from 2 to 7 cups of rice. Read product specifications carefully. Some manufacturers cite how many cups of dry rice the cooker holds, while others cite cooked rice capacity. Generally, 1 cup of dry rice cooks to about 2 cups, depending on the type of rice. Consider how much rice you’ll likely make at one time, and look for a rice cooker that will accommodate that.
Pay attention to a rice cooker’s overall dimensions, too. Choose a model that will fit in both the counter and storage space you have available for it.
When shopping for the best small rice cooker, look for a model with a durable exterior, whether you choose hard plastic or stainless steel.
Also pay attention to the interior pot and lid. Choose a durable, easy-to-clean, BPA-free material. Stainless steel and nonstick pots are two popular options. For cookers that include removable lids, look for tough materials that won’t easily break if an accident happens. When it comes to glass lids, tempered glass resists cracks best.
Cook Settings and Control
Basic rice cookers may include only a single switch to cook rice. Others come with more advanced settings, such as separate white and brown rice functions, the very useful “keep warm” setting, and even steaming and baking options. On some rice cookers, buttons or switches control the settings. Others may include a more high-tech digital display.
Compare the settings and controls on each small rice cooker to select a model that will suit your needs and preferences.
Some rice cookers offer special settings for white, brown, or other types of rice. Other rice cookers also function as multi-cookers that steam fish and vegetables, prepare porridges, bake cakes, and more. Decide whether you’d like a simple rice cooker or one of these multifunctional appliances.
Ease of Cleaning
A small rice cooker that is easy to clean makes the whole rice-cooking experience more enjoyable. Nonstick inner pots will be easier to clean than stainless steel or other materials. Some pots and lids go in the dishwasher.
Finally, decide whether you’d like to see any other features in your small rice cooker. Some features you may find include:
- Glass lids to monitor the progress of the rice as it cooks.
- Stay-cool handles for safe moving and handling of the rice cooker.
- Steaming baskets for preparing fish or vegetables.
- Customizable alerts, which allow users to choose the tune or beep that indicates when the rice is ready.
- Rice paddles to fluff and serve the rice.
Our Top Picks
The following products rank among the top choices for the best small rice cooker in various categories. Each pick takes into consideration the features outlined above as well as quality, durability, and cost.
Zojirushi’s small rice cooker makes up to 6 cups of cooked rice with the flip of a single switch. A see-through glass lid with a stay-cool knob keeps the rice visible while it cooks. Stay-cool handles make for safe and easy transport. After dinner, the nonstick inner pot cleans up easily.
This model comes with a 6-ounce plastic measuring cup.
Black & Decker’s rice cooker holds up to 6 cups of cooked rice. Once the rice is ready, this smart appliance automatically switches to “keep warm.” A dishwasher-safe, removable nonstick pot makes cleanup a cinch. The Black & Decker model comes with a steaming basket, a plastic spoon that’s safe for nonstick surfaces, and a measuring cup.
Zojirushi’s small rice cooker is a great choice for those who want to do more with a rice cooker. The micom rice cooker uses computerized technology to ensure rice is cooked just right each time. Automatic keep warm and extended keep warm settings, a reheating cycle, and two delay settings facilitate any meal schedule. Customizable alerts indicate when the rice is ready. With settings for brown rice, steaming, and baking, this appliance can prepare an array of dishes from appetizers to dessert. A removable nonstick pot, inner lid, and steam basket make cleanup quick. A built-in retractable cord simplifies storage and transport.
The Joseph Joseph rice cooker includes all the tools necessary to measure, wash, cook, serve, and transport fluffy rice, which is steamed in the microwave. A 2-liter inner pot doubles as a colander for rinsing rice. The outer pot doubles as a serving bowl. The included rice paddle latches onto the lid and serves as a handle for easy storage and transport. All the pieces, including a measuring cup, go safely in the dishwasher.
Cuisinart’s small rice cooker holds up to 7 cups of cooked rice and comes in a modern square shape with a brushed stainless steel finish. This sleek gadget includes a stainless steel steaming basket, nonstick anodized aluminum cooking bowl, tempered glass lid, measuring cup, and rice paddle. A built-in steam tray lets home cooks steam fish or vegetables while the rice cooks for a complete one-pot meal from a single appliance. Once the appliance completes the cooking or steaming cycle, it switches to the keep-warm mode. Indicator lights make clear the status of the rice or other ingredients in the pot.
Dash’s mini rice cooker and steamer makes just enough for one person and keeps it warm once it’s ready. Simply add rice and water to the pot, turn it on, and wait 20 minutes or less. This little device whips up single services of pasta, quinoa, soup, and oatmeal, too. It fits nicely on countertops and cabinets and is ideal for dorm rooms or RVs. The Dash includes a rice paddle, measuring cup, and recipe book. Choose from white, black, red, pink, and aqua.
Tiger’s micom rice cooker features a special syncro-cooking function. With this setting, home chefs can cook rice in the nonstick inner pot and steam meat, fish, or vegetables in the inner steam cap at the same time. With easy-to-use button controls, this small rice cooker includes slow cooking and warm modes as well as an additional setting for brown rice. The device comes with a nonstick spatula, measuring cup, BPA-free cooking plate, and cookbook.
Carry rice to the table or take it on the road with the Aroma Housewares MI rice cooker. A collapsible carry handle, locking lid, and stay-cool surface join forces for easy transport and storage. Operation is as simple as transport. Simply switch the control to start or stop the rice preparation. After the cooking cycle finishes, the rice maker switches to a 12-hour keep-warm mode. This 3-cup rice cooker features a dishwasher-safe, nonstick cooking pot and includes a measuring cup and spatula.
FAQs About Small Rice Cookers
Refer to the frequently asked questions below for additional insight and guidance as you shop.
Q. What is the best rice-to-water ratio?
A ratio of 2 cups water to 1 cup rice is ideal.
Q. How do you make fluffy rice in a rice cooker?
If you desire fluffier rice, allow the cooked rice to sit in the rice cooker for an additional 10 minutes after it has completed cooking. Be sure to leave the lid on and undisturbed during this time.
Q. Why does my rice burn in my rice cooker?
Too little water can lead to burned rice. Too much starch on the rice may also cause it to stick and burn; however, rinsing it before placing it in the rice cooker helps prevent this.
Q. Why does my rice always come out soggy?
Too much water can lead to soggy rice. Stick with the ratio of 2 cups water to 1 cup rice to avoid soggy rice.
Q. How do I clean my small rice cooker?
To clean a small rice cooker, follow these steps:
- Take the pot out and place it in warm, soapy water to soak. Clean it using a sponge or soft cloth.
- Remove the lid and wipe it down using soap and warm water.
- Use sandpaper, if necessary, to gently loosen dried-on rice from the hot plate.
- Mix a solution of one part water and one part vinegar to clean the rice cooker’s exterior.
Keep in mind that each model may require different care, so be sure to consult with the manufacturer’s care instructions for the specific small rice cooker you purchase.