Buying a Rice Cooker as a Gift

buying-a-rice-cooker-as-a-giftBuying a rice cooker as a gift for Christmas 2012 for those rice lovers in your life can prove to be a smart move. This is a gift item they will likely use and cherish for many years to come. The added benefit is that this cool gadget will help them save time and eat healthy meals.

A natural question is what to look for when shopping for a rice cooker. Too many brands, too many models, too many features and price points can be overwhelming at times. This guide consists of a few important questions for you to think through. It’s my hope that by going through this simple process, you will be well-versed with the right information to make a wise buying decision.

Why a Rice Cooker?

The first question is to think about why they might need a rice cooker. Do they eat rice a lot? If so, what types of rice such as white vs. brown rice?

While a rice cooker is designed first and foremost for cooking rice, many models can also be used as a slow cooker, a steamer, a baker for baking cakes (believe it or not). If they use for cooking rice most of the time, then you might want to focus your energy looking for one that does it very well.

Then comes the white vs. brown rice question. If they cook white rice 90% of the time, spend a little more time looking for one with refined white rice menu options such as white rice with regular, softer or harder texture.

Are They Into Design, Style and Color?

Rice cookers on the market come in with so many distinct styles. Some are more stylish with unique industrial design features in shape and color, others are just another utility tool for you to cook rice. If their kitchen is equipped with white appliances, buying a white rice cooker might help them match the color.

How Many People Are They Cooking for?

This question addresses the size and capacity. Cooking for one person will require a smaller size as opposed to cooking for many. Some rice cookers are marketed in cooked rice as in Aroma rice cookers. When it says 20 cups, it means 10 cups in uncooked/dry rice. The Japanese manufacturers do the opposite as in dry rice. You may choose from 2 cups in dry rice to 10 cups depending on the number of people in the family.

Heating Element

You might be surprised to find out that a simple rice cooker is equipped with fancy technologies from conventional heating, fuzzy logic, induction to pressurized heating. For each step up, the rice gets cooked and tastes better. The price also goes up accordingly. If you are interested in finding out more about the heating technologies, click here.

What Is It Made of?

Two things you need to look into when it comes to materials. One is for the exterior and the other for the inner cooking pot. I’ve already talked about the style, color, etc. earlier. Now let’s focus on the material of the inner cooking pot. Typically two types of materials are used: Non-stick or stainless steel. Some people are very concerned about the non-stick material as it may be scratched after so many uses and the material may get decomposed under extreme high temperature (e.g. at 550 F). This could be a potential source of health concern. I’d like to remind you that a rice cooker will never be heated higher than 212 F at boiling point. So decomposition is a mood point here. Still if they are very health-conscious, the one made of 100% stainless steel might be more appropriate.

Control Panel, Timer and Menu Options

A timer is a convenient feature for one to pre-set the cooking time while being away. Some timers allow you to set up 24 hours ahead of time. So by the time you get home from work, the rice is cooked. That’ll save from 30 minutes to an hour or more in preparing a dinner.

The control panel can be as simple as a one-button operation to very sophisticated selections in white rice, brown rice, different types of brown rice, etc. etc. If the person is very in tuned with gadgets and technologies, more options might be good. On the contrary, you may want to choose one that’s simple to operate.


The price of rice cookers ranges from $20 to as much as $200 or more. The median price is around $100 to $150 where you’d buy a leading brand with more advanced heating element. Japanese manufacturers are leading the way in the space of rice cookers such as Zojirushi, Panasonic, and Tiger.

I hope by now you know a lot more about a rice cooker than you started. This site is full of rice cooker reviews and comparisons. In fact, I just wrote a review of the hottest rice cooker for the holiday season.

Please do not hesitate to contact me in the Comment area or via the Contact Form with any questions. I’ll do my best to respond within 24 hours.


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