Rice cookers have been making lives easier for decades. Over the years, they’re not only smarter, more creative, versatile, and user-friendly, but also smaller.
Whether you’re living in a tiny house or a dorm room, or simply cooking for one and not interesting in wasting counter space on bulky machinery, there is a small rice cooker waiting to be adopted into your household.
What makes for the best small rice cookers? The best small rice cookers are those that cook your rice just as easily as larger machines. When you’re shopping for a small rice cooker, the most important considerations you want to pay attention to are capacity, versatility, and your individual needs.
We’ve put together a comprehensive buyer’s guide showcasing 7 of the best small rice cookers on the online market.
After carefully researching all the pros and cons of each machine, the ones on this list are the best of the best, no matter what your rice cooking habits may be.
Is a Rice Cooker Worth It?
Cooking rice is, admittedly, not one of the hardest recipes to conquer. With a basic pot and lid, you can make rice on the stovetop.
However, have you ever forgotten to set the timer on your stove and ended up with a layer of rice stuck like concrete to the bottom of your pot?
Or maybe you’ve open the lid one too many times as you stared at the rice, willing it to cook faster. This often means your rice cooks unevenly, providing you with the unwanted experience of variable textures with each mouthful.
Rice cookers allow you to prep your rice in a few seconds, turn on the machine, and then go about your business.
They cook the rice nearly perfectly every time, allowing you to focus on the rest of your cooking or other important life activities without worrying about the rice.
How to Choose a Rice Cooker
Understanding what to look for in a rice cooker may help you decide whether having one is worth it.
Larger machines are generally more versatile simply because they have more space. They’re more forgiving. Smaller machines are expected to the same work in a smaller space.
You’ll want to be sure that your machine can meet your needs and won’t leave you with over or undercooked rice. In other words, you want a rice cooker that’s tiny but mighty!
The vast majority of rice cookers that are considered small have a 3 cup capacity. This means you can add up to 3 cups of uncooked rice to the machine, which will provide you with approximately 6 cups of cooked rice.
Even for a small machine, that is a good amount of rice. Depending on what else is included in the meal, 6 cups of rice is enough to feed 12 people at the recommended ½ cup serving size.
If you don’t have that many people to feed, one batch can provide a single person up to 12 meals, if the cooked rice is stored properly.
Some machines have a greater capacity and some can be even smaller. When you’re choosing a machine, consider how much rice you like to cook at once and make sure that a small machine is sufficient for your needs.
As technology advances, so do the abilities of rice cookers. Many machines are not simply rice cookers, but grain cookers or even general food cookers with a variety of settings to choose from.
Plenty of small units will come with a warming feature as well as a timer, which can increase the number of different types of recipes and foods you can cook with them.
Steamer baskets are also quite popular with rice cookers, even when you’re looking at small machines.
There are even a few that will have variable automatic settings, delay timers, and more.
Needing a small machine doesn’t necessarily mean you have to compromise on the features you want, you may just have to search a little harder to find exactly what you want. Luckily for you, we’ve already done most of the work!
Finally, when you’re buying a rice cooker, it’s important that you consider your individual needs and wants.
You’re not just buying a rice cooker. You’re buying a device to make your life easier. Consider some of the following questions in relation to your rice cooking needs:
- Do you like set-and-forget machines with timers to remind you when the cooking is done?
- Are you interested in steaming your veggies at the same time as cooking your rice?
- Do you do all your cooking in a microwave?
- Is space the most important consideration?
- Are you a college student, cooking in a dorm setting?
- Is this rice cooker for one?
- Do you like to bring your rice on the go, either to work, school, or even camping?
There is a rice cooker to fit each of these unique needs and lifestyles and we’ve done the hard work of finding the best so you don’t have to.
7 Best Small Rice Cookers
Now that you’re thinking critically about what you need, it’s time to look at the 7 best small rice cookers available to purchase online.
We’ve carefully weighed all the key features against the biggest drawbacks of each model and provided you with all the most important details.
|1.||Dash Mini Rice Cooker Steamer||Cooker and steamer with accessories|
|2.||Dash Express Electric Cooker Hot Pot||Can make teas, soups, pastas, etc.|
|3.||Aroma Housewares Rice Grain Cooker||8 cup capacity, digital touchpad|
|4.||DCIGNA Mini Electric Travel Rice Cooker||6 cup capacity, accessories included|
|5.||Amazon Basics Mini Rice Cooker||4 cup capacity, simple to use|
|6.||Aroma Housewares Mini Rice Cooker||Smallest, inner pot dishwasher-safe|
|7.||Progressive International Microwave Rice Cooker||Microwave use, 6 cup capacity|
We’ve also highlighted the best feature of each model so that you can quickly find the model that matches your own personal most important preferences.
1. Dash Mini Rice Cooker and Steamer
This is one of the smallest rice cookers available, with a 2 cup capacity.
It’s incredibly handy if you only cook one or two servings at a time and space is a big concern for you.
This machine is a rice cooker and steamer, meaning that it can be used to cook rice or steam vegetables.
It does not have a separate steamer tray. The warming feature also makes it great to use for heating soups or mixed dishes like rice bowls or pasta.
- Rice cooker and vegetable steamer
- Choose from 5 colors: aqua, black, pink, red, or white
- Comes with a rice paddle, measuring cup, non-stick removable pot, and recipe book
This small rice cooker is ideal for white rice that cooks at a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1.5 cups of water. If you’re trying to cook a variety of rice that requires more water, the machine may not be able to handle the capacity.
2. Dash Express Electric Cooker Hot Pot
For anyone in college or living in a dorm, this cooker hot pot is ideal.
Not only can you cook rice, but you can also boil your water for coffee or tea, make soup or pasta, and generally use it for a one-pot electric kitchen.
- Choose from 4 trendy colors: aqua, white, red, or grey
- Adjustable temperature control dial and indicator lights help prevent overcooking
It is not a conventional rice cooker and therefore does not automatically turn off. It cooks rice beautifully but you will have to set a timer for yourself to remember to turn it off at the right time.
3. Aroma Housewares Rice Grain Cooker
This rice cooker has it all. Though not the smallest on our list, it’s still under 10” in diameter.
It can cook up to 8 cups of rice, includes a steamer tray, has a timer with delay and multiple settings, and the inner pot is even dishwasher-safe
- Has a timer
- Cooks up to 8 cups of white or brown rice
- Features a digital touchpad, delay timer, and multiple settings
This is far from the fastest machine on our list. It works admirably well but it does take longer to properly cook rice than some of the other rice cookers.
If time is your biggest deciding factor, this may not be the unit for you, but it has so many additional features that make up for this minor drawback in most situations.
4. DCIGNA Mini Electric Travel Rice Cooker
This miniature rice cooker comes with a steamer tray and a convenient handle, making it ideal to bring on the go with you.
Prep and cook an entire meal for 1 – 2 people on only 200 watts of power, which is especially beneficial for use in RVs.
- Travel cooker
- Makes up to 6 cups of rice (cooked)
- Comes with a measuring cup, spoons, and steamer tray
It is a very small machine, so if you’re not careful with your water measurements, you may experience some leakage. There are measuring lines inside the pot, but it’s easier to overfill this way than using a measuring cup.
5. Amazon Basics Mini Rice Cooker
This is a basic, no-fuss rice cooker that is perfect for single-person households.
It cooks rice brilliantly, cleans easily, and doesn’t take up too much space. If you’re not looking for bells and whistles, you’ll be very happy with this machine.
- Personal rice cooker with the perfect capacity for 1 or 2 people
- Cooks up to 4 cups of rice (cooked)
- Simple one-touch functionality and auto-warming settings
The lid on this rice cooker needs to be placed in the right direction or it is very difficult to open after it’s finished cooking.
If you get it right, it’s easy. But unfortunately, there are no indicators, so if you’re not paying attention and you place the lid on backward, you might have to fight to claim your cooked rice.
6. Aroma Housewares Mini Rice Cooker
This tiny, portable unit can cook up to 3 cups of cooked rice or other grains and even has a warming cycle that will operate for up to 12 hours.
It has simple one-touch controls and you can choose from either digital or analog.
- Features a cool-touch surface and safe steam vent
- The inner pot is non-stick, BPA-free
Even though it specifically states it is dishwasher safe, handwashing the pot will dramatically increase the life-span. The non-stick coating will wear and chip much more quickly if exposed to the high temperatures of your dishwasher.
7. Progressive International Microwave Rice Cooker Set
If you prefer to use your microwave for cooking, this microwave rice cooker set is for you.
It is especially useful if you have limited counter space. It’s highly versatile and, even though it’s designed for rice, it will nicely steam any variety of meals.
- Made to be used in the microwave
- Cooks up to 6 cups of cooked rice or other grains
- Comes with a microwave-safe rice cooker and locking lid, rice paddle, and measuring cup
Because this is not a conventional rice cooker, it won’t automatically adjust the cooking time for the perfect rice like an electric rice cooker will, but it still steams rice well as long as you follow the instructions.
Can Rice Cookers Be Used as Slow Cookers?
Rice cookers are made to cook rice and, depending on the machine, sometimes other types of grains like quinoa or oatmeal.
They’re not designed to be used as a slow cooker. Even if you’re cooking something with enough liquid to keep the machine running long enough to slow cook your food safely, it can wear out the electrical components much faster.
Rice cookers should also never be left unattended, unlike slow cookers. On the flip side, slow cookers can be used to cook rice and this will not harm the machine at all.
Slow cookers operate on a timer basis, however, so they won’t turn off automatically when the rice is cooked, but rather when you have set it to stop cooking.
We have another article detailing the differences between a pressure cooker vs. a slow cooker if you’re interested in learning more on the subject.
Are Rice Cookers Dishwasher Safe?
The machine itself is not dishwasher safe and you should never put any electric devices in the dishwasher.
The bowl that the rice is cooked in may or may not be dishwasher-safe, depending on the unit you have.
It’s best to check the specifics from the manufacturer, but a good rule of thumb is to keep any non-stick or aluminum surfaces out of the dishwasher, as the high heat can warp, chip, or otherwise deteriorate the quality of your bowl.
How Do Rice Cookers Know When to Stop?
Have you ever wondered how rice cookers know when the rice is cooked? The vast majority of standard rice cookers will cook slightly longer or shorter depending on the exact amount and type of rice you use and how much liquid is in the bowl.
Water conducts heat differently than rice does. The rice cooker heats up the water, encouraging the rice to absorb some of it and what is left steams to carry off some of the heat.
When all the water is gone, the metal bowl begins to heat up much more quickly, triggering the machine to shut off.
Up Next: How To Reheat Rice in a Rice Cooker