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 go. Here I cover the ins and outs of ‘smart’ rice cookers, and review popular models in this range.
In a hurry?
If you don’t have much time to use the links below… My pick is the one with a solid ceramic inner pot. Check it out at Amazon — See details.
- About Cooking Brown Rice
- Rice Cooker Buying Guide – What To Look For
- Best Rice Cooker Reviews: Brown Rice Makers
- Other Things To Know About Rice Cookers
- Reference Material
The Best Rice Cooker For Brown Rice
What’s the best rice cooker for brown rice? The best rice cooker for brown rice cooked to perfection every time is one that features an intelligent ‘brown rice’ function and a solid inner pot.
These ‘smart’ appliances take away the hit and miss of cooking brown rice you’ll enjoy.
Without a fuzzy logic rice cooker, the traditional method of pot on the stove top means you need to work out the right amount of water and required time – all of which can vary the result of your cooked rice.
Comparison Chart Of Popular Rice Cookers
3 brown rice settings
Keep warm setting
Brown rice setting
2 brown rice settings
Brown rice setting
Brown rice setting
About Cooking Brown Rice
Brown rice is supposed to be healthier for you because of the nutrition and fiber packed in the outer bran layer. 1
It is this layer that makes the cooking of brown rice different to cooking white rice.
But, let’s face it, cooking brown rice to perfection can be tricky. The traditional methods of boiling the brown rice in a pot on the stove don’t always produce the perfect outcome. And you so want to convince the family on the benefits of eating brown rice.
Cooking Time For Brown Rice
Most of the dilemma comes from the fact that it takes longer to cook brown rice than it does white rice.
One cup of brown rice will take between 30 and 50 minutes to cook with traditional methods. Compare this to about 16 to 18 minutes for white rice.
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 is because of this bran (remember it is the healthy part) that it also needs more water than white rice for cooking.
Amount of Water For Brown Rice
Depending on which instructions you follow and the batch of rice you have, the amount of water needed to cook 1 cup of brown rice is between 1¼ and 2 cups.
It is much simpler to cook brown rice in a rice cooker that can be programmed…
Cooking Brown Rice in A Rice Cooker
How to cook brown rice in a rice cooker unit that has a ‘smart’ function? No need to work out the rice cooker water to rice ratio for a unit with smart settings. You just fill to the level matching the number of scoops.
How to Cook 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 fuzzy logic rice cooker:
Use the measuring scoop supplied, gather how-ever-many cups of rice and add these to the pot of the rice maker.
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 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 involve your individual preferences.
This buying guide aims to help you make an informed choice.
Quality of the Inner Cooking Pot
The inner pot material choices are stainless steel, aluminum, ceramic, or a nonstick PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) type surface.
I recommend you opt for a healthy choice of material, e.g. a solid ceramic pot.
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 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.
Best Rice Cooker Reviews: Brown Rice Makers
Looking for the best brown rice cookers? Here’s the deal …Look for an automated rice cooker with a smart ‘brown rice’ function.
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 of each.
Zojirushi NP-HCC10XH Induction Heating System Rice Cooker
This rice cooker makes up to 5.5 cups of cooked rice.
Brown Rice Settings
This rice cooker has 3 settings for brown rice: ‘brown rice’, ‘GABA brown rice’, and a setting to process ‘germinated brown rice’ (you use the Softer menu in the process).
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 involves soaking the brown rice in rice cooker before cooking the rice. This Gaba brown rice takes 190 minutes to cook.
The end result is 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 softer texture and improved taste plus increased values of GABA.
Nonstick Inner Pot
This induction system rice cooker has a two layer inner pot, aluminum inner and a nonstick coating (PTFE) outer.
It uses induction heating.
It has two settings for delay cooking and has a keep warm setting that it switches to automatically when the cooking process has ended.
- The induction heating provides even heat distribution
- Can set cooker in the morning and return at night to cooked rice
- Includes Sushi setting
- Bit expensive if you only want a simple brown rice cooker
- Nonstick surface may wear exposing the aluminum inner pot
- Make sure to read the instructions carefully, if you are unfamiliar with induction cooking
It’s up there. Check out the price at Amazon — See details
The Aroma Rice Cooker ARC-6206C
This Aroma programmable rice cooker makes 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.
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 lightweight and made of ceramic. It is easy to clean.
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
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.
NS-YAC18 Zojirushi Rice Cooker Review
The NS-YAC18 Zojirushi rice cooker can make up to 20 cups of cooked rice. So, it is great buy if you have extended family gatherings or entertain, e.g., during the festive season or family celebrations.
It uses about half the power (610 watts vs 1,230 watts) of the NP-HTC10 model, an induction heating system rice cooker.
The following video provides a snapshot on using the features of this 20 cup fuzzy logic rice cooker…
Brown Rice Settings
This Japanese rice cooker uses Micom fuzzy logic technology to cook brown rice with little effort. Settings include brown rice and GABA brown rice cooking.
The inner pot is metal with a nonstick surface, so make sure to use non-metal utensils and keep things like sharp knives and abrasive cleaners away to avoid scratching the surface.
Though not clearly stated for this item, the nonstick coating appears to be PTFE and this fits with Zojirushi’s statement that their “nonstick coating is made using PTFE” regarding its other products.
This unit has a ‘Umami’ setting to soak and steam rice longer to enhance the flavor of the rice.
What is Umami?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Umami means savoriness in Japanese. It refers to the “fifth basic taste – alongside sweet, sour, salty, and bitter”.
For brown rice, rather than choosing Umami, choose the ‘GABA Brown‘, which is a specific setting to enhance the flavor and nutrition of brown rice.
- Being nonstick, the inner pot should be easy to clean, at least as long as the nonstick surface is retained
- The biggest thing — This Japanese rice cooker features a ‘Brown’ as well as a ‘GABA Brown’ setting for cooking brown rice
- If you are a fan of the Zojirushi brand, this model offers savings on electricity
- Be aware of the issues of wearing of the nonstick coating over time – see my article about caring for PTFE (or Teflon)
Check out the latest price and reviews of real owners at Amazon — See details.
NS-ZCC10 Zojirushi Rice Cooker Review
Another Made-in-Japan Zojirushi Micom rice cooker. This mini rice cooker unit is smaller than the one mentioned above and naturally a better price.
It makes up to 11 cups of cooked rice. It’s does not have the extra functions of a multifunctional cooker. Features include a retractable power cord.
Brown Rice Function
Among the menu settings, this unit has a brown rice function. It uses an advanced Neuro Fuzzy logic technology to automatically cook delicious brown rice. With this menu setting there is an extended preheating time to help with the absorption of water.
The cooking temperature is lowered with a longer cooking time so that both the hard outer bran and the inner part of the rice grains are cooked perfectly, without a soggy, gummy, mushy, or sticky result.
The inner pot in this Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker is made of aluminum with a nonstick surface that appears to be PTFE. Once again, avoid using metal utensils, vinegar (as it can also damage the coating), and abrasive cleaners.
This product also has a delay timer with two settings that can help with meal planning.
- It includes an automatic keep warm along with an extended keep warm and reheating cycle
- This is another one that should be easy to clean as long as you care for the nonstick surface and it remains intact
- Be aware of the issues in nonstick coating wearing over time and about the concerns with PTFE (or Teflon)
Check out the latest price and views of real owners at Amazon — See details.
Midea Rice Cooker
This is a 5L or 10 cup smart rice cooker.
Brown Rice Cooking
It has a separate brown rice setting.
The nonstick inner pot, the manufacturer claims, comprises five different materials to aid performance. Basically, it is metal with a nonstick coating.
It comes with a set of tools that include a cup, two spoons ,and a food steamer. This steamer basket is BPA free.
- It has a brown rice cooker function
- Has a 24-hr time delay for other functions, which helps with planning meals. See manual for details (link in Information Sources)
- The nonstick surface of the inner pot needs care to avoid scratching and wear with use
This is an economical buy. Check out the latest price and views of real owners at Amazon — See details.
Other Things to Know About Rice Cookers
Some computerized rice cookers are calibrated for cooking 2 cups of rice. You may need to adjust for 1 cup, but what I would 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 correctly and use within a day or two of cooking — here’s a helpful article on cooking and storing rice).
- 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.
Information Sources And Further Reading
- Livescience.com on the health benefits of brown rice
- Cooking Rice With Midea MB-FS5017 Product Manual
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