Brown rice contains nutritious bran and germ. But…it’s trickier to cook than normal rice. If you want that superbly cooked healthy brown rice every time, automatic rice cookers are the answer. You’ll find these are popular as the best rice cookers for brown rice, but what about the inner cooking pots? Here I look at rice cookers with uncoated inner pots and the benefits of choosing these over the nonstick kind.
In a hurry?
If you don’t have much time to use the links below… Have a look at this one with a ceramic inner pot. Check it out at Amazon — See details.
So does any old rice cooker work with brown rice? Let’s start with that.
Do rice cookers work with brown rice? What about the pot type?
Well yes, all rice cookers will work in cooking brown rice regardless of the inner pot type, providing you use the right rice to water ratio for brown rice. Generally, the ratio is 3:2, meaning 1 ½ cups of water to 1 cup of rice when cooking brown rice. But, rice cooker units with ‘smarts’ work that out for you.
Without a smart rice cooker, the traditional method of pot on the stove top or even a simple rice cooker means you need to work out the right amount of water and time – all of which can vary the result of your cooked rice.
That’s what makes these ‘smart’ rice cookers so popular. But you may have noticed how so many of even the best brands have nonstick inner pots, which are a concern for some because the coating wears away, and then there are the health concerns associated with these – see my article Teflon vs ceramic for nonstick cookware.
What’s the best rice cooker for brown rice cooked to perfection?
Many consider that the best rice cooker for cooking brown rice to perfection every time is one that features an intelligent ‘brown rice’ function. I’d add to this, that the best would also have a quality inner pot so you’re not concerned with the state of the pot and how it affects the food. Read on…
What is the nonstick coating on the inner pots of rice cookers?
Perhaps there are exceptions, but in the main, Teflon or PTFE constitutes the nonstick coating of the metal inner pots of rice cookers.
The downsides of this are…
- The coating wears away with use and exposes the metal underneath. In most cases, this metal is aluminum, which will come in contact with the food being cooked and so raises potential health concerns (see my article on cookware material and what’s considered healthy or not).
- The wearing away of the nonstick surface just looks unappealing.
- Though overheating is unlikely with the proper use of a rice cooker, fumes released from overheated nonstick pans are known to irritate eyes, nose, and throat and cause respiratory distress in humans, and fatality in caged birds.3,4
So if you’re wanting the health benefits of cooking brown rice, it stands to reason you might want to consider the state of the cooking pots.
Cooking brown rice That’s Healthy
Brown rice is supposed to be healthier for you because of the nutrients (e.g. magnesium and selenium) and fiber, packed in the outer bran layer.1 (In this case, choosing an uncoated inner pan makes sense given the potential health concerns of nonstick coatings that contain PTFE.)
With brown rice that’s healthy, you may hear the terms GABA and germinated brown rice.
What is GABA? It’s an amino acid. Brown rice contains GABA, meaning gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is said to lower blood pressure and relieve stress among other benefits.1 The GABA function on a rice cooker usually involves soaking the brown rice in the rice cooker before the actual cooking process. The end result is a bowl of soft and fluffy brown rice with enhanced goodness and flavor. (It is said that it will change your family’s thoughts about eating brown rice.)
What is Germinated Brown Rice? This is a type of brown rice you can buy (also known as sprouted brown rice) that you germinate using a special process. The end result is rice with a softer texture and improved taste plus increased values of GABA.
How to cook Brown Rice
How to cook rice that’s brown? Use between 1¼ and 2 cups of water per 1 cup of brown rice. One cup of brown rice will take between 30 and 50 minutes to cook using traditional methods. Compare this to about 16 to 18 minutes for white rice.
It is because of the bran (remember it is the healthy part) that it needs more water than white rice for cooking. It is the bran layer that makes the cooking of brown rice so different from cooking white rice and why cooking brown rice to perfection can be tricky.
So, let’s face it, the traditional methods of boiling the brown rice in a pot on the stove don’t always produce the right outcome for the palate and you may need to convince the family into eating brown rice for its benefits rather than texture or taste.
Most of the problem is that brown rice cooks differently to white rice. For one, it takes longer.
Why does brown rice take so long to cook? Brown rice has an outer bran layer and it is because of this that it takes longer to cook than your normal rice.
It also needs more water.
How much water do you need to cook brown? The amount of water needed to cook 1 cup of brown rice is typically 1½ cups, but depending on which instructions you follow and the batch of rice you have, this could be anywhere between 1¼ and 2 cups of water.
It is much simpler to cook brown rice in a rice cooker that can be programmed…
How to cook brown rice in rice cooker unit?
There is no need to work out the rice cooker water to rice ratio for a unit with smart settings. You just need to fill the pot with water to the level corresponding to the number of scoops of rice you are inserting using the scoop supplied.
The simple steps in cooking Brown Rice in a ‘Smart’ Rice Cooker
Time needed: 1 minute.
Here’s how the rice to water ratio for rice cooker works. Two easy steps to cooking brown rice in a ‘smart’ rice cooker:
- Scoop. Use the measuring scoop supplied, gather how-ever-many cups of rice and add these to the pot of the rice maker.
- Fill. Fill the pot with water to the level matching the number of scoops. Turn on the rice cooker, select the brown rice option, and away you go.
rice cookers with Teflon free pots – Brown rice cooker buying guide
Here, I look at models of rice makers offering automated rice cooking functions with settings for brown rice. The following is what to look for when looking to buy a rice cooker with brown rice cooking functions.
What to Look For
Which rice cooker is best? When choosing a rice cooker consider these five factors: quality of inner cooking pot, ease of cleaning, useful features, simplicity in use, and the price. The best rice cooker will suit your individual preferences.
This buying guide aims to help you make an informed choice.
Quality of the Inner Cooking Pot
You don’t want the inner pot of the rice cooker coating peeling nor scratched to expose the underlying metal container.
The inner pot material choices are stainless steel, aluminum, ceramic, or a nonstick PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) type surface.
Is a stainless steel rice cooker good? In terms of rice cooker Teflon vs stainless steel in contact with the food, some people may be concerned about PTFE.
I recommend you opt for a healthy choice of material, e.g. a solid ceramic pot or uncoated stainless steel.
Why? The inner cooking pot has direct contact with your food. Imagine if the material of the inner pot was potentially toxic. You’d want something healthy for your family, right? I’ve written a review of healthy cookware choices, where I outlined the concerns people might run into.
For example, there is the issue with traces of aluminum entering the food when being cooked.2 And, some people may wish to avoid an aluminum pot because of this reason.
Ease of Cleaning
The inner pot material also matters if you want a pot that’s easy to clean. 100% ceramic offers an easy clean surface; made easier if you soak the pot first.
Pots with nonstick surfaces also make cleanup easy. But be aware the nonstick surface can wear away and leave you with bare aluminum, which is not so easy to clean.
Examples of useful features that you might want are a ‘keep warm’ option or ability to schedule cooking times for meal planning.
Many multi-functional rice cookers also have a technological feature to improve the flavor and nutritional value of the rice.
Simplicity of Use
When using any technology, you want it to be straight forward and simple, right? Few of us feel we have time to be sifting through manuals to work out how to use a multitude of steps or options.
Think about what you want to use the rice cooker for. Do you really want certain functions? How complicated does the control panel seem?
Are the controls easy to read?
If it is too complicated you are least likely to get the most use out of it.
Price of the Unit
Another factor playing a key role in determining the best rice cooker for you, of course, is the price.
A multi-functional programmable unit may be a few more dollars than the ordinary plain rice cooker and range from under a hundred to a couple of hundred dollars. You will need to weigh up the benefits of spending a few extra dollars.
Brown rice makers with Telfon free pots
Looking for the best brown rice cookers? Here’s the deal …Look for an automated rice cooker with a quality inner cooking pot that’s uncoated. I explain why.
The following examines a selection of rice cookers with self-adjusting functions for cooking brown rice. I cover the inner bowl quality, useful features, ease of cleaning, and simplicity of use for the listed programmable rice cookers, as well as a snapshot of the pros and cons.
About nonstick inner pots
A lot of modern rice cookers have an inner pot that’s aluminum-based with a nonstick coating (PTFE) that comes in contact with the food.
- Nonstick surface will wear, exposing the aluminum of the inner pot. Aluminum being in contact with the food raises concerns for some people.
- Nonstick coatings have potential health concerns as mentioned early that worry some people.
- Nonstick coatings wear away with use and some people consider the pot then looks unsightly and feel the need to throw it away and get a replacement. This creates an ongoing expense. Also see my article: how simply can you throw away cookware?
Aroma rice cooker with ceramic inner pot, 6 cup (uncooked)
This Aroma ARC-6206C is a programmable rice cooker that makes from 2 cups to up to 12 cups of cooked rice, which is great if you plan on entertaining at some stage or have a large family setting on occasions. Like a lot of home appliances, it is made in China and has a 2 yr warranty.
Rice Cooker Brown Rice Function
It offers a separate brown rice function. Depending on the amount, this brown rice cooker will to take between 38 and 45 minutes, roughly.
Ceramic Inner Pot
The inner pot is made of ceramic and said to be lightweight.
This rice cooker comes with a steaming tray, a rice measuring cup, a soup ladle, as well as two rice paddles, one plastic and one bamboo.
- Offers a healthy option for the inner pot, being made of ceramic
- This multifunctional cooker has a keep warm setting
- Has convenient handle
- Some might find it hard to read the digital rice cooker screen
- For those who love sushi, there’s no separate sushi rice option in the menu settings
- The steaming tray is made of plastic, but it’s only an extra and not an essential item
It’s a pretty good price for what it offers. Look for savings at Amazon, where you can check out the latest price and the views of verified owners – See details.
Tianji electric rice cooker with ceramic inner pot, 6-cup(uncooked)
This rice cooker also has a ceramic inner pot. It is a small unit so will take up less space on the benchtop than others. This product is also made in China and has a 1 yr warranty.
It is perfect for small households and suits meals for 2 people. At 3 liter capacity, caters to up to 6-cups of uncooked rice, which equates to 12 cups of cooked rice.
Rice cooker brown rice function
This ‘smart’ rice cooker has a multi-grain rice setting as well as a function for claypot rice, soup, and porridge. It has no dedicated brown rice setting but you can select the porridge function for this to give you soft brown rice.
Ceramic inner pot
The inner pot is ceramic and has no coating, so it is high temperature resistant and durable.
You can delay cooking up to 24 hours with its preset timer. Comes with ladles and a measuring cup.
- Ceramic inner pot – no worry about metal scratches and toxic coating
- Compact size
- Multifunctional with a preset timer
- Has a reheat rice function
- Underside of lid appears to be aluminum, which may worry some people, but unlike the cooking pot itself, it probably won’t directly contact the rice.
It’s around the same, if not less, price range than the Aroma with ceramic pot – See latest details, available at Amazon.
Using rice cookers for one or two persons
Maybe you don’t want 12 cups of cooked rice or 6.
Computerized rice cookers are calibrated for cooking 2 cups of rice minimum, usually. You may need to adjust for 1 cup, but what you could do is cook the 2 cups and then store the extra in the refrigerator for later use, for example in a quick fried rice dish.
(Cooked rice can go off, so always make sure to store it correctly and use it within a day or two of cooking).
- Briguglio M, Dell’Osso B, Panzica G, et al. 2018. Dietary Neurotransmitters: A Narrative Review on Current Knowledge. Nutrients. 10(5):591. doi:10.3390/nu10050591
- Weidenhamer, JD, Fitzpatrick, MP, Biro, AM, et al. 2017. Metal exposures from aluminum cookware: An unrecognized public health risk in developing countries. Science of the Total Environment. 579, pp 805-813.
- Key Safety Questions About Teflon™ Nonstick Coatings. https://www.chemours.com/Teflon/en_US/products/safety/key_questions.html# Accessed Sept 2019
- Epidemic of Polymer Fever and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4544973/