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.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: February 19, 2021
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When it comes to cooking rice, nobody can match the way Asians do it. Rice is extremely popular on this continent, and they do their best to cook a perfect meal every time. How about finding the best Japanese rice cooker for multiple purposes and enjoying high-quality food made in these fantastic appliances?
We reviewed 15 rice cookers made in Japan and included six models here that we liked the most. Our team focused on crucial features, and we picked Zojirushi NS-ZCC18 as our favorite. This model offers a large 10-cup capacity and multiple programs that enable maximum versatility. You will also get a load of accessories, including measuring cups, rice scooper, and even a cookbook. We also gathered five other popular products to ensure that you can choose a cooker that best fits your needs.
We spent 61 hours analyzing various products and reading reliable sources on Japanese rice cookers. When picking a rice cooker, it is important to consider the major features of the appliance. That includes available programs and capacity, as well as dimensions of the product and the warranty that comes with it. We used that knowledge to write in-depth reviews that focus on the advantages and drawbacks of each device we listed. Make sure to check out our buying guide to learn more about the main features and how to choose the right appliance. Before you start reading the reviews, don’t forget to check out the comparison table for an overview of the top-rated rice cookers in the market!
Zojirushi NS-ZCC18 features “Neuro-Fuzzy” technology, which sets aside this rice cooker made in Japan from the competition. The device is equipped with a microcomputer. Its task is to adjust cooking time and temperature to ensure optimal results each time you cook the rice.
And the best part is that you can also cook the quinoa and other grains with this device. You will need to experiment with controls a bit. The control panel is on the front of the unit, but it is not the most intuitive out there. That means it will take a bit of time to master it, especially if you are a beginner.
Zojirushi NS-ZCC18 might be the best Japanese smart rice cooker out there. You can choose between two different models of this product – the compact-sized one that comes with a 5.5-cup capacity, and the standard 10-cup unit.
The cooker features a spherical inner cooking pan and side handles that always stay cool. Before you start the unit, you should measure the rice with the cup provided by the manufacturer. Zojirushi also includes a spatula and a holder as additional accessories.
With the colored LCD screen, you can make the desired settings. You can pick from cooking options like soft and hard white rice, rinse-free, porridge, and other settings. Thanks to the reheating and keep-warm cycles, you can ensure that the rice stays warm. Additionally, you can use the delay timer to ensure a hot bowl of rice waits whenever you want it.
What we liked:
Cooks various types of rice and other grains
Timer, keep-warm and reheat functions
Multiple accessories included
What could be better:
The control panel is not very intuitive, especially if you are a beginner
Panasonic SR-HZ106 is a premium rice cooker made in Japan. The appliance is a great choice if you are looking for fluffy-cooked rice. It utilizes an induction heater with five different heat sources that ensure optimal results.
The manufacturer used copper for the inner pan, and hard diamond coating improves heat circulation, which helps with heat distribution and guarantees optimal results every time. It might seem complicated, but that doesn’t affect the ease of use. The only thing to remember is that the cooker does its best to ensure consistent results whenever you use it.
The product comes with a stainless-steel inner pan and offers 1,200 Watts of power. This might be the candidate for the best ceramic rice cooker as the diamond ceramic coating ensures impressive durability. The inner lid is detachable at the press of a button, which simplifies cleaning.
SR-HZ106 offers a control panel and LCD at the top of the unit. The product comes with 13 pre-set programs that include various types of rice, as well as porridge, bread/cake, quinoa, and multi-grain. You can also choose slow and quick-cooking options, which makes this unit suitable when you are making soups, but also when you are in a rush. Additionally, the cooker can be used as a steamer.
When it comes to additional features, you can use the keep-warm function and two settings of the timer. The manufacturer includes a measuring cup, ladle, and a rice spoon with the product.
What we liked:
Excellent heat distribution and retention
Premium quality materials and components
Numerous programs and additional features available
Panasonic SR-CN108 is a Japanese pressure rice cooker designed by a reliable brand famous for making high-quality appliances. This product is no exception as the manufacturer tried to combine versatility and ease of use.
It seems that they did a good job. The menu offers 16 cooking programs and additional features like keep-warm mode and a programmable timer. These additional options can be set to stay active for up to 12 hours.
As for the default programs, you can cook white, brown, and jasmine rice, as well as quinoa, multi-grains, and soups. You can also use the cooker to prepare porridge, bread, and cake, and slow-cooked meals. Despite the wide range of functions, it is easy to use the product as the LED display and status lights inform you of currently active functions.
The company used metals and coatings that do an excellent job of transmitting and retaining heat. The inner pan features aluminum coating, and the steam vent and inner lid are removable for easy cleaning.
You can pick between 5-cup and 10-cup sizes to fit your preference. The product comes with a measuring cup, cereal and rice scoops, and a steaming basket. The only available color is white, but since it is a classic color combination, it should fit any décor well. It is a shame that the cord is non-retractable as that makes storing the appliance a bit inconvenient.
What we liked:
The menu offers a wide range of available programs
The unit is reliable and delivers consistent cooking results
It comes with additional features like programmable timer and keep-warm mode
What could be better:
The cord is not retractable, which might make storing the unit inconvenient
Here is another appliance designed by Zojirushi. NS-TSC10 comes in two different sizes, which means you can also go for a 10-cup model. However, we are focusing on the small Japanese rice cooker with a 5.5-cup capacity.
The manufacturer equipped the unit with the smart microcomputer that has the task of cooking all types of rice perfectly. It does that job great, and it comes with multiple programs, including white, brown, sweet, porridge, mixed, etc.
A minor downside is that it might take about an hour to cook rice, which is a bit longer than expected. However, good rice is worth the wait. You can also use the “Quick Cooking” mode to save time, but the results might not be that great.
It is interesting to note that the unit also doubles as a steamer, which increases its versatility. The product manual comes in five different languages so that you can learn how the device works quickly.
Zojirushi NS-TSC10 comes with a programmable timer, as well as additional functions like reheating and keep-warm modes. You can even change the beep signal and melody to suit your preference.
When it comes to construction quality, the manufacturer used high-quality materials. The exterior of this Japanese stainless steel rice cooker is durable and easy to clean. The cooking pan is thick, and you can remove the inner lid to clean it effortlessly. The accessories include a measuring cup, steaming basket, and a spatula.
What we liked:
Plenty of functions and adjustments available
The product also works as a steamer
What could be better:
It might take a bit longer than expected to finish the cooking process
Tiger designed this traditional Japanese rice cooker with user convenience as the primary concern. The manufacturer simplified the process as much as possible. It offers two functions – for cooking white rice and keeping it warm.
The appliance is reliable when it comes to cooking the rice. As for the keep-warm mode, it might be useful as it can remain active for 12 hours. The problem is that this mode might damage the bottom and burn the rice if you keep it on for too long.
Tiger-JNP-S10U-HU is available in four different sizes. Apart from the default 5.5-cup unit, you can also find three, eight, and ten-cup models. The manufacturer will also include a measuring cup.
The construction seems long-lasting and durable since the company used high-quality components. Stainless steel for the exterior and non-stick interior coating are two essential parts that ensure optimal performance.
The dew collector and steam vent cap are removable, which should simplify the cleaning process. The lid handle remains cool to ensure you don’t burn your hands. The product also comes with a retractable power cord. That provides easy storage when the unit is not in use.
The electrical rating of this rice cooker is 305W, and the unit is compact-sized. The default color is urban satin, but you can also pick a different color combination.
The first thing you notice about Tiger JBX-B 10U is the control panel. Unlike some other models, the buttons and the LCD display are at the top. Some users find it a convenient position since you don’t have to bend to set the desired functions.
And you can choose between eight pre-set programs. Apart from plain, mixed, and brown rice, you can also make porridge and short-grain, or use the slow-cooking option for soups.
Quick-cooking can save you time, and there is a synchro-cooking that is particularly useful. Thanks to that function, you can cook two meals simultaneously without them affecting each other’s flavor. The keep-warm function is also available at the click of a button, and you can also take advantage of the integrated timer.
Although we wouldn’t call it a mini Japanese rice cooker, Tiger JBX-B 10U is compact-sized to fit anywhere. It also comes with a detachable cord to make storing easier. The appliance comes with a 5.5-cup capacity, but there are no other sizes available. You can also only purchase it in white color.
The inner pot is spherical and features a coating that prevents the materials from sticking to the surface. You will also receive a cooking plate for synchro-cooking, measuring cup, spatula and recipe book. However, the last one includes many meals with rare ingredients that many owners struggled to find. Still, the cleaning process is relatively simple, thanks to the removable components.
What we liked:
The controls are conveniently positioned at the top
Multiple programs make this unit more than a simple rice cooker
It allows you to cook two dishes at the same time without mixing flavors
What could be better:
It is only available in a single color and cup capacity
The recipe book includes ingredients that are hard to find
Things to Сonsider
If you don’t have previous experience with rice cookers, it might be difficult to know which features you need. These devices can be both simplistic and versatile, but functions you get will depend on the unit. That is why you need to find an appliance that meets your expectations. In this buying guide, we are focusing on everything you should consider when choosing a rice cooker made in Japan. We will also answer the most common questions users have about this product so that you can upgrade your knowledge before the purchase.
How to pick the best Japanese rice cooker
Many factors can influence your decision when it comes to choosing a rice cooker. If you want to pick an appliance that perfectly meets your expectations, check out the factors to consider below. We will discuss size and weight, versatility, capacity, and other features that are important. After learning more about these appliances, it will be easy to pick a suitable model. If you are ready, let our quest for the best Japanese rice cooker begin!
The first thing you want to consider is the brand. Here, we singled out three companies that stand out as industry leaders:
Zojirushi – the company was founded in 1918, and rice cookers are among their flagship products, as well as electric kettles and water boilers. Zojirushi’s main office is in Osaka, and they employ more than 1,000 people. Their logo includes an elephant because the name of the company means “elephant mark.”
Panasonic – out of all three manufacturers, Panasonic is most famous worldwide. The company started by producing lightbulb sockets in 1918. Today, they are one of the biggest producers of electronics in Japan.
Tiger – the youngest company on our list, even though it was established in 1923. Tiger sells its products worldwide, and its portfolio also includes hot water dispensers, electric kettles, and water boilers.
When it comes to features of your rice cooker, start by checking out the device’s capacity. The manufacturer will describe it in cups. The capacity might vary from three to ten cups, and the bigger the capacity, the more rice it can cook. Many models, such as the Zojirushi NS-ZCC18, come with a few available options.
Pay attention to the manufacturer’s capacity description as it might relate to cooked and uncooked rice. It is important to note that rice almost doubles in size when cooking. If the manufacturer specifies that the capacity is 5.5-cup of uncooked rice, it means that you will get approximately 11 cups of the cooked product.
Additionally, most companies include measuring cups and insist on using them when measuring the quantity of the products you want to cook with the appliance.
The number of pre-set programs is directly related to the versatility of your rice cooker. Some rice cookers, such as the Tiger JNP-S10U-HU, rely on simplicity and have only one button.
Other units, however, feature multiple programs that frequently go beyond cooking rice. The most versatile appliances out there have separate settings for mixed, brown, and other types of rice, and you can also use them for slow meals like soups.
The Panasonic SR-CN108 has the biggest number of programs that go beyond cooking rice. Those include preparing quinoa, multi-grain, porridge, etc.
Apart from cooking settings, you can also expect additional features from your rice cooker. The majority of units come with a keep-warm mode that ensures your rice stays warm for hours. In some cases, you might also encounter a timer that can delay the cooking for up to 12 or 24 hours.
As with any device, you need to consider the dimensions of your rice cooker. You might have found the cheapest unit, but it won’t do you much good if it can’t fit in your kitchen. The good news is that these appliances are usually compact-sized. That means they can fit almost anywhere.
If you plan to use the rice cooker only occasionally, you might consider storing it away after every use. In that case, your device should also be as light as possible. Additionally, look for units with retractable or detachable cords as they enable simple storage.
The first thing to ensure is that your rice cooker made in Japan comes with a warranty. That is a confirmation that the manufacturer trusts the product they designed. After that, you can take a look at the warranty duration.
Reputable brands are ready to offer a guarantee that their devices will work flawlessly for a long time. When it comes to rice cookers, most warranties cover any issues within 12 months from buying the device. The longevity of your appliance will depend on how frequently you use it, and how well you maintain it.
What else should I look at?
Apart from the features we mentioned above, these are some other factors worth considering when choosing a rice cooker:
Materials – you want to check the materials used to create your rice cooker. Stainless steel, ceramic, and copper are among the desirable and durable materials.
Non-stick coating – the inner pan should feature a coating that prevents the rice and other ingredients from sticking to the surface.
Cleaning – the cleaning process should be relatively simple. The detachable lid and other components might help to clean the device effortlessly. It is vital to maintain the appliance regularly to optimize its performance and longevity.
Accessories – most manufacturers will include measuring cups, as well as scoops and spatulas to use while cooking rice.
Cookbooks – some appliances come with cookbooks that contain recipes on how to prepare delicious rice and other meals.
How much should a rice cooker made in Japan cost? When it comes to prices, we can split these devices into two categories.
The first one contains premium cookers, such as the Panasonic SR-HZ106. The appliance offers an induction heating for quick and even cooking, and durable components that last for a long time. The cost of this product can go over $350.
On the other hand, you can also choose an average rice cooker that still offers multiple functions and meets all your cooking needs. These items are capable of delivering consistent results and offering additional features like adjustable timer and keep-warm. The Zojirushi NS-ZCC18 fits into this category, and units like that one cost between $150 and $200.
If you aim to keep the price budget-friendly, how about trying the Tiger JBX-B10U? This appliance offers plenty of bang for the buck. You can acquire that or similar devices for between $100 and $130.
Did you know that rice is a favorite food of many people in Japan? That is why you will frequently find rice cookers in their households. Japanese companies do their best to offer the most reliable products to their consumers. Reputable brands like Panasonic and Zojirushi maintain strict quality control to ensure the impressive durability and performance of their devices. That is why they use high-quality materials and components, such as stainless steel and ceramics. Japanese cookers are worth it because they perform better and ensure that you can cook various rice types effortlessly. Depending on the unit, you might also be able to prepare other food types and take advantage of additional functions.
The process of cleaning a rice cooker is fairly simple, but it might be a bit time-consuming. Fortunately, the manufacturers can save you some time by offering detachable components. Before you start cleaning the appliance, make sure it is turned off from the power socket. All components should be cool, too, give them at least 30 minutes after you finish cooking to cool down.
First, remove all the detachable components and wash them. Use a sponge with warm soapy water for that and rinse them. If you need to clean other parts too, use a clean wet cloth with a bit of soap if needed. Although you can use cleaning solutions, avoid abrasive sponges and other harsh items because you don’t want to damage the appliance. Do not forget to wipe everything dry.
The time required to prepare rice with your cooker varies on the device. However, these products shouldn’t take more than an hour to deliver perfect rice. The good news is that you don’t have to be nearby during the cooking process as these devices maintain the ideal temperature themselves. Some units allow you to speed up the process by using the Quick Cooking mode. That way, you can save up to 30 minutes of the cooking time. Additionally, some cookers come with a programmable timer. That way, you can ensure that a hot plate of rice is waiting right at the time when you return from work.
You are now familiar with all the details related to rice cookers made in Japan. As you can see, you can’t go wrong with the Zojirushi NS-ZCC18. The product can cook rice and other grains, and it comes with multiple programs and additional functions to suit various needs. The large capacity will ensure that there is enough rice for all members of your household.
If you are looking for a premium appliance, make sure to check out the Panasonic SR-HZ106. The device comes with an induction heater with impressive heat distribution and retention. It also offers multiple programs, as well as impressive durability.
The Panasonic SR-CN108 is your choice if you are looking for the ultimate versatility. It has 16 programs available, and you can cook rice, quinoa, multi-grains, as well as soups and other slow-cook meals.
We hope that our guide helped you to find the best Japanese rice cooker that meets your expectations and that you will enjoy using for a long time!