The Zojirushi Rice Cooker and Warmer comes at a steep, steep price—but let’s unpack that a bit. Unlike your average rice cooker which has just two functions (warm and cook), this high-end appliance has settings for a slew of specific rice varieties, from white and brown to jasmine and sushi.
An easy-to-read LCD screen and timer allow you to set your cook time (or delayed start time), and the Zojirushi will alert you when your dish is done with a customizable tone (melody, beep, or just silent). A quick Google search will reveal that the Japanese-made rice cooker receives universally glittering reviews, but we wanted to test it out for ourselves. Read on for all our thoughts on the gadget’s performance, design, features, and competition.
Performance: Perfect rice, not-so-perfect oats
The Zojirushi Rice Cooker uses induction heating technology to prepare several types of rice to restaurant-level perfection. This is a much more tech-forward cooking method than your basic stovetop boil: Induction heating harnesses electrical heat generated by a magnetic field, which floods the cooking environment and results in thoroughly cooked rice. Rice cookers powered by induction heating are also equipped with heat sensors, so they’ll make precise temperature adjustments to ensure even cooking.
Though this model is high-tech, the Zojirushi Rice Cooker and Warmer is surprisingly easy to use. We simply measured our rice using the included measuring cup, then rinsed the rice following the guidelines provided in the instruction manual. (Properly rinsing and draining rice is important for removing excess starch, which causes clumps and gumminess when the rice cooks.) You can rinse your rice right in the cooking pot, but the Zojirushi doesn’t come with a strainer, so you’ll need your own.
Though this model is high-tech…[it’s] surprisingly easy to use.
After rinsing, we poured in the corresponding amount of water, selected the type of rice we were preparing from the LCD-screen menu and hit start. You can see exactly how much time is left in the cooking process on the timer, but no need to pay close attention—the rice cooker will alert you when the cooking is done. Once the rice was ready, the appliance automatically shifted to Regular Keep Warm. When we were ready to serve, we hit “cancel,” unplugged the appliance, and fluffed up the rice to prevent clumping.
The first time we tested the Zojirushi, we prepared a ½ cup of white rice and dutifully followed the manual’s instructions about proper rinsing technique. The rice was ready in 54 minutes and the results were absolutely perfect. The rice was soft and fluffy, and there was no clumping or gumminess. The rice lifted easily from the pan’s nonstick coating, too. We got the same stellar results when preparing the same amount of brown rice, which took 90 minutes to cook.
We prepared a ½ cup of white rice…and the results were absolutely perfect. The rice was soft and fluffy, and there was no clumping or gumminess.
Next, we tried our luck with the Porridge setting to prepare a ½ cup of steel-cut oats. Unfortunately, this experiment was not the smashing success we’d come to expect from this rice cooker. After 79 minutes of cooking time (not ideal if you’re hungry now!), we opened the lid to find a starchy pool of water with overcooked oats sunk to the bottom. Some of the oats had also spilled over the sides of the inner cooking pot and onto the inner lid. After perusing Amazon reviews, we learned that the Zojirushi Rice Cooker does, in fact, make perfect oatmeal, so long as you remove the excess water from the pan. Still, if you’re short on time or don’t want to risk a ruined batch, we’d recommend sticking to the microwave or stovetop to prepare your morning oats.
Design: Easy to use, hard to store
The Zojirushi is simple to get the hang of, despite its technologically advanced design. Its orange LCD control panel is easy to read, and choosing the appropriate cooking setting using the Menu button is intuitive—even if you’re typically tech-averse. All other key functions—including Keep Warm, Extended Keep Warm, Start, Cancel, and Timer—are given their own buttons, too. While the design is streamlined, it’s by no means small. The rice cooker weighs 9 pounds and measures 14 x 10 x 8 inches, occupying a sizeable amount of real estate on your counter or in your cabinet. The cooker’s increased capacity could be a plus for some, though. If you’re feeding a large family or meal prepping for the week ahead, you’ll enjoy being able to make up to 11 cups of rice in one go.
While the design is streamlined, it’s by no means small.
Features: Precisely cooks almost every type of rice
This rice cooker features dedicated settings for nine types of rice: white (you can choose regular, soft, or hard), quick, mixed, jasmine, sushi, porridge, sweet, brown, and GABA brown. If you haven’t heard of the latter, it’s worth looking into; it activates a type of amino acid in brown rice that can reduce stress, improve sleep, and lowers blood pressure.
As the name suggests, the Zojirushi Rice Cooker and Warmer also has a warming feature, which automatically kicks in when the cooking process is done. Alternatively, you can select the Extended Keep Warm setting if you don’t plan on serving your rice for more than eight hours. We found that to be an especially handy feature as we were able to get a head start on prepping dinner before we headed out to work in the morning.
Cleaning and Maintenance: Some elbow grease required
The Zojirushi is a bit of a hassle to clean. It’s not dishwasher safe, so you’ll need to clean its parts, exterior, accessories, and every nook and cranny by hand. A really thorough clean requires some dismantling of its various parts, as well.
You can wipe down the entire exterior with a damp cloth and tend to the inner cooking pot and accessories with a sponge and gentle dish soap. To clean the inner lid, detach it from the base, soak it in water, then clean it gently with a cloth or paper towel. Smaller parts, like the steam vent set, air intake duct, and exhaust duct will need to be detached and cleaned separately; just follow the cleaning instructions included in the manual.
Price: A high price for a high-end appliance
The Zojirushi is a high-end appliance with a high price tag to match. Retailing for roughly $280, the rice cooker is one of the more expensive models on the market, but as we mentioned, its functionality is far superior to basic rice cookers. If you each rice often enough, it’s likely worth the investment.
Zojirushi Rice Cooker and Warmer vs. COMFEE’ 17-in-1 Multi-Cooker
While the Zojirushi is one of the best-performing Japanese-style rice cookers available, its high price point simply isn’t viable for most. As an alternative, consider the COMFEE’ 17-in-1 Multi Cooker. This Japanese rice cooker is also highly rated on Amazon, but at $80, it’s a fraction of the price of the Zojirushi model—and in fact, it’s even more versatile. In addition to automatically cooking and warming several types of rice and grains, the COMFEE’ is loaded with 17 pre-programmed cooking settings, including Browning/Saute, Pasta, Steam, Soup, Stew, Yogurt, Cake, and a DIY function. The nonstick pan in this multi-use cooker holds up to 20 cups of cooked rice, making it an ideal option for those who frequently cook for a crowd.
If you have the budget, BUY NOW.
If you prepare rice several times a week and you have a generous budget, then the Zojirushi is worth the investment. You can expect perfect rice every single time you use it, with virtually no effort on your part.