Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
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Last updated: June 26, 2021
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Rice is one of the most widely consumed foods in the world and is a staple of many cuisines. Just as there are as many cuisines, there is an equal number of ways to cook rice to the desired consistency and getting it right can be tricky. So, it’s no wonder that rice cookers have come a long way when it comes to versatility, function and convenience.
When it comes to restaurant cooking, the best commercial rice cooker will need to offer sturdy construction, longer performance and greater durability to handle larger batches of rice. To meet these and other requirements, we have put together a list of the five best commercial rice cookers available. The Tiger JNO-A36U-XB starts off our list of the best commercial varieties yielding a decent capacity paired with easy use and maintenance well suited for a commercial setting.
Our other contenders also fulfill these requirements along with specs like ample dimensions, volume, weight, and warranty so you can be sure that you get the desired results every time you cook a fresh batch of rice. We have also mentioned basic features to look for in cookers used in a commercial setting such as a nonstick interior, temperature settings, and an ‘auto-shut’ and ‘keep warm’ feature so that you have less to worry about in a busy kitchen. There is a comparison table to introduce our recommendations followed by detailed product descriptions of each model. And finally, we conclude with a buying guide that will tell you everything you need to know about your rice cooker.
One of the best overall options and our Editor’s Pick on this list, the Tiger JNO-A36U-XB is a high quality and efficient rice cooker made for the commercial level. Tiger has always had a reputation for good and reliable quality rice cookers of all types, and this one is no exception.
The JNO-A36U-XB rice cooker has a decent capacity that one would need in a commercial setting like a restaurant. With the ability to hold 20 cups (160 oz) of uncooked rice and capability of making 40 cups (320 oz) from that rice perfectly every time, it’s quite effective too in making fluffy, delectable rice.
The rice cooker has plenty of features that make it much easier to use and maintain. To prevent burnt rice from developing at the bottom, a silicone cooking sheet is included to line the bottom of the inner pot. The interior itself is nonstick and thus easier to clean. The inner lid is washable as well.
An automatic warming feature keeps your cooked rice warm for hours after being cooked, to help it taste fresh no matter when you take it out.
This industrial rice cooker’s exterior is primarily made of stainless steel, making it not only sleek-looking but durable as well.
A 6-ounce rice measuring cup and spatula come included so you don’t need to buy any separately.
While the rice cooker itself is excellent in quality, there could be a possible defect, like a dent, based on shipping and where you’re getting the product from.
Why did it make our list?
Cooks consistently perfect rice based on measurements
The Paloma PR-10DSS rice cooker is a unique one on this list for being natural gas-based, and is also one of the best gas rice cookers you can get. Larger restaurants can especially benefit from this fast and effective jumbo-sized rice cooker.
This rather large 55-cup (440 oz) rice cooker needless to say has a very good rice capacity and will come in handy when a lot of rice is needed or in demand at once. With an auto-ignition feature, no matches or batteries are required to start and cook. There’s no need to worry about the flames either – the makers of this rice cooker have taken every measure to make this operation as safe as possible.
If the pan is misaligned or removed from the cooker’s base, a safety device prevents the main burner from staying lit. If the main burner fails to ignite, a flame failure safety device closes safety valves with magnets to prevent gas from passing to the burners at all.
This rice cooker is easy to clean with removable parts and also includes an automatic shutoff feature. A sensitive ferrite sensor system controls the gas heat and quickly responds once the cooker reaches the right temperature, and will automatically shut off to assure consistently perfect rice.
Of course, being a gas cooker means that there is no warming function, and to keep freshness the rice would have to be taken out as soon as possible because gas cookers are quicker to heat up and cool down than electronic cookers.
The NYC-36 commercial rice cooker from Zojirushi is a good rice cooker for use in restaurant or catering, for situations that may or may not be formal, but will need to supply for a larger amount of people regardless.
This rice cooker makes plenty of rice quickly and with quality. The Zojirushi NYC-36 makes 40 servings of rice from 20 cups, effectively making a large amount of perfectly flavored and textured rice. When cooked, the cooker switches automatically to the “keep warm” warming mode to maintain the rice’s consistency and freshness at the perfect temperature.
The stainless-steel exterior is both stylish and durable while the inside is nonstick and makes cleaning easy. There are measuring lines on the interior for further ease of use to keep batch sizes consistent. The detachable inner lid is washable as well.
A condensation collector on the side keeps the steam from collecting too much which could potentially make the rice too soft or soggy.
An extra-large rice spatula comes included to make sure no rice goes to waste.
Keeping its easy-to-handle size and dimensions in mind, we call it our best portable rice cooker.
Some users have experienced the same potential issue with the longevity of the keep warm mode, that being it stops working at all after consistent use for 9 months on average. If that issue occurs, the 1-year limited warranty should be able to have you covered.
The Aroma ARC-1024E rice cooker is the best affordable commercial cooker you can find for its price. Though it comes with a price tag that looks more like that of a home cooker, it has enough quality to match plenty of cookers that come in a higher price range.
This Budget Pick prepares up to 48 cups of any kind of rice, producing an impressive 60 cooked cups that are ready to eat.
The usability is very simple – it works and controls like any other electronic rice cooker. With its automatic keep warm feature, your rice will stay fresh long after cooking and you won’t immediately have to take everything out.
The interior of the pot is nonstick and the device is overall easy to clean. With a durable aluminum body and stainless-steel lid, this rice cooker could actually last you quite a bit.
For commercial use, measuring cups and an extra-large spatula are included.
Though many users have expressed their satisfaction with the Aroma ARC rice cooker, some notice that the rice can get cooked unevenly, varying slightly in dryness and temperature. The bottom of the cooker can even tend to slightly burn the rice which may seem like a non-issue but could be visually unappealing in food from a commercial setting.
The Aroma ARC-1024E is overall a great device for the price, and you’ll be making a decent enough purchase helping your small restaurant or catering business with it.
What makes it special?
Very good large capacity
What cons did we find?
Rice can be cooked unevenly
Bottom prone to slight burning of rice on the bottom
The Panasonic SR-42HZP commercial rice cooker is the best large-capacity electric rice cooker on this list. This NSF approved and qualified appliance has the sanitation and functionality perfect for the commercial setting.
With a 23-cup uncooked rice capacity, this rice cooker has an impressive efficacy, outputting more than double the initial amount at 54 cups (or 74 three-ounce servings). The result is perfectly fluffy, moist rice as expected every time. This is all done within about half an hour and is kept warm for up to two hours. Both modes shut off automatically.
The exterior stainless-steel lid and aluminum alloy pan liner help make cooking quicker, while the aluminum prevents any rice from getting stuck when used properly.
A built-in thermal safety fuse provides protection from overheating, making it safe.
This large-capacity rice cooker is also one of the more affordable models compared to others on this list and elsewhere in general.
The interior of the SR-42HZP isn’t nonstick and would need a liner if you want that option available. Otherwise, mixing well and removing the rice a while after cooking should do the trick.
Some users have reported that the warming function doesn’t work too well, and this may be a manufacturing defect and should be able to be returned.
What stands out?
Large capacity and more than double cooked rice output
Thermal safety fuse for overheat prevention
Two-hour rice warming mode
What cons did we manage to find?
No nonstick interior
Issues with warmer function
Things to Consider
A rice cooker is a great appliance to have in your kitchen. Instead of standing over the stove waiting for your rice to cook, the rice cooker will cook and warm your rice for you so you can do other tasks in the kitchen while waiting. A commercial rice cooker takes a standard cooker to the restaurant level quality.
What to expect of a commercial rice cooker?
What you want from a good quality commercial rice cooker is a durable, long-lasting product that can handle long working hours and big loads of rice at one time.
You want a large pot that has a large capacity. Electric cookers are usually classified as commercial cookers since they can handle the heat levels better to ensure its even. There are less chances of the rice being uneven or even burnt. The automatic features will promise you more time to divert your attention somewhere else while the rice is cooking.
A commercial rice cooker should be expected to make rice at restaurant standard. Light and fluffy, or dense and textured. The technique you use to cook your rice will determine these factors but the cooker will ensure your rice is made on time and with consistency.
How to use a rice cooker in a restaurant
The whole purpose of a rice cooker is to make cooking rice hassle free for you. Rather than standing over the rice on the stove, you can leave the cooker to monitor, cook, and warm the rice while you do something else in the kitchen. It’s this kind of convenience that restaurants look for, and it is for this reason commercial rice cookers are relied on. On your part, all you need to do is add rice and water, and let the cooker do its job.
The price range for a commercial rice cooker starts from around the $100 mark. You can find most commercial rice cookers ranging between $100 and $200.
It is possible to find some rice cookers that go over $200. These cookers will have an immense reliance on automated controls. While you can find automatic features on a $100 cooker, but it’s highly unlikely that this cooker will be entirely automated.
Features to consider while buying the best commercial rice cooker
Finding a good cooker isn’t a very hard task, it becomes a little more complicated when you have to consider more commercial purposes, however. It has to be able to handle bigger jobs and longer hours of work, which makes it a heavier duty appliance than a regular rice cooker.
Naturally, the brand can help you make a better decision. The first trick is to figure out which brands are better-known and trustworthy. Listed are some brands that make quality rice cookers;
There are plenty more you can select from. The best tactic to figure out whether the brand is worth investing in is to search up the brand and read some customer and professional reviews.
Commercial rice cookers naturally offer a larger volume than standard varieties. Most will start with a 20-cup volume with the largest going up to 55 or so cups. The Tiger JNO-A36U-XB and the Zojirushi NYC-36 can both handle a 20-cup volume while the Aroma ARC-1024E and the Paloma PR-10DSS can work with larger volumes of 48 and 55 cups respectively.
Keep in mind, measuring cups made specially for rice are not the same as standard measuring cup sizes. It’s better to get a rice with its own measuring cups or find a cooker that has the measurements printed inside of the rice bowl. Using any other measuring cups will ruin your portions.
There are two common materials you will come across when you are looking at a cooker. There are stainless steel models which are more durable and have better thermal regulation. To replace stainless steel, you have the variants aluminum, copper, ceramic, diamond powder coating, and pure carbon. These all have different heat conductivity ranges and can make the taste of the rice vary as well.
There are also plastic microwavable models which won’t be as strong and durable as a stainless-steel option. Regardless of the material however, there should be a nonstick coating over the rice bowl. This will not only make your cleaning easier, but it will prevent rice from sticking to the bowl.
Electric or gas
Authenticity is the key selling point for gas cookers. They tend to create a more rich, genuine taste in the rice which is favored specially in sushi. A gas cooker will cook much faster since its source of heat is direct fire. There is a great amount of maintenance when using a gas stovetop however. The pipes and burners should be consistently cleaned to make sure there is no blockage.
The Paloma PR-10DSS is an excellent option to consider if you want to invest in a gas cooker.
An electric cooker is an easy to use machine which heats the entire inner pot. It’s an environmentally friendly choice which creates less heat and is easier to manage. There is less chance of burning the rice in comparison to a gas cooker. Electric cookers can control the heat better which makes it better for businesses. They are also portable which allows them to be taken on the go.
For many people, getting a multi-purpose cooker is a priority. Space or convenience may be an issue for you, so getting two appliances rolled into one is a great deal. The most common combination is having a steamer and a slow-cooker compressed into one unit.
There are also automated or one-push operations. This helps make the cooker easier to understand and use. Digital controls will offer a greater variety of settings. There will be a wider selection of cooking styles and heats. This will naturally raise the price of the cooker.
One of the best advantages of owning a rice cooker is that it doesn’t require your constant attention. The cooker already has a set timer to cook your rice. If you aren’t going to eat the rice right away, or you are still preparing the rest of your meal, the rice cooker will keep your rice warm. It won’t over-cook the rice, but keep it at the right temperature until you’re ready to take it out. Some models will automatically turn on the keep-warm setting while on others you have to turn it on yourself.
Although a rice cooker won’t be the most expensive appliance you come across, it is still a kitchen appliance. You don’t want to have your cooker ruin within the first few months you have it. Always purchase kitchen appliances that have a guarantee on them. This ensures that your purchase is backed with a guarantee from the producer that it works, otherwise you either get repairs, a refund, or a return.
How to maintain a commercial rice cooker
To make your rice cooker last longer, maintain it at its peak condition and always keep an eye on how safely you are using it.
Whether it is to wash the cooker or to store, always make sure you have properly unplugged the cooker from the outlet. You also want to ensure the cooker is cool before you touch it otherwise, you could burn your skin.
The best way to clean the cooker is to use lukewarm water and a dishwasher. Stray away from detergents since they can discolor the pot. Any harsh abrasives will remove the non-stick coating, so avoid using these as well.
You want to make sure the pot is entirely dry before you use it again. If it is still wet, there is a chance of steam bubbling off the sides of the cooker, discoloring and removing the non-stick coating.
Be sure to clean the heating plate and the outer side of the pot with a damp cloth. Food particles can become an issue, but it’s best not to get any detergent on the hot plate.
It’s not recommended to use a regular one in a restaurant since it may not be able to handle heavier loads of rice all at once. It will also be used constantly throughout the day, so it’s better to get a rice cooker that can handle long shifts of bigger loads, such as a commercial rice cooker.
Yes, it is possible to make sticky rice inside of a rice cooker! A rice cooker can even make cooking sticky rice a faster, easier job. It’s extremely quick to make, and only needs water and salt in the process. You can let it sit for longer so it becomes stickier, or do not leave the rice to soak so you get a heavier texture.
Jasmine rice can also be made inside of a cooker. You place the rice in the cooker with water at a 1:1 cup ratio. The cooker should have an automated white rice option; this is the option you are going to set your cooker at. Once the cooker is done, let the rice sit inside of the cooker for 10-20 minutes. Fluff the rice gently with a spoon once it’s done and your rice is ready to be served
The best overall commercial rice cooker is none other than the very well-rounded Tiger JNO-A36U-XB. This reliable quality restaurant cooker is safe, easy to use, and has its proper place in nearly every commercial setting. Equipped with everything you need to use and maintain it with ease, this cooker is as functional as it is stylish.
For those seeking a viable gas option, Paloma has you covered with their PR-10DSS rice cooker. It’s large enough to suffice for the larger restaurants and is quick, reliable, and more than safe enough in your restaurant kitchen.
The best commercial rice cooker on a budget is the Aroma ARC-1024E. This rice cooker is simple and friendly for any caterers or small restaurant businesses. It’s simple, affordable and efficient enough to make it a no-hassle device in the kitchen.