Automatic rice cookers are popular. Here I look at how to cook brown rice in a rice cooker to get superbly cooked healthy results every time. Plus, some healthy options in rice cookers.
Why is this important? Brown rice has nutritional benefits due to the bran and germ it contains. But it’s trickier to cook than normal rice. An automatic rice cooker makes it easier to get superbly cooked brown rice every time that your family will enjoy. And, we want it to be healthy, without any concerns of toxins leaching from the cookware.
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.
rice cookers with Teflon free pots
|Tianji Rice Cooker
||Best for space
||Best for entertaining
||Best for easy clean up
||Best for …
||Best for …
What is the nonstick coating on the inner pots of rice cookers?
In the main, the nonstick coating of the metal inner pots of rice cookers is made of Teflon, but there are exceptions. Some have ceramic nonstick inner pans, like the GreenLife rice cooker available at Amazon.
You may have noticed how many of even the best brands have nonstick Teflon inner pots. Some people have concerns around the PTFE coatings in cookware, which I cover in my article Teflon vs ceramic nonstick.
Rice cooker water to rice ratio
Modern rice cookers with ‘smarts’ work out the water to rice ratio for brown rice for you.
That’s why ‘smart’ rice cookers are so popular. There’s no need to think about it.
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 cooking time – all of which can vary the result of your cooked rice.
If you’re wanting the manual know-how, see my article on how to cook brown rice in a pot or a dish.
What’s the best rice cooker for brown rice?
The best rice cooker for cooking brown rice is one that has an intelligent ‘brown rice’ function as well as a quality inner pot so you’re not concerned about the inner pan tainting your grains. Read on…
Cooking brown rice that’s healthy
Nutritionists consider brown rice as a healthier option to white rice because it has a bran layer, packed with nutrients (e.g. magnesium and selenium) and fiber.1
(In this case, choosing a quality inner pan that’s not going to expose you to harmful substances makes sense — you’re wanting healthy options.)
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. It can be hard to get your family into eating brown rice for its benefits for this reason.
Because of the bran (remember it is the healthy part), brown rice needs more water than white rice for cooking and it takes longer to cook.
The bran layer makes the cooking of brown rice so different from cooking white rice and is why cooking brown rice to perfection can be tricky.
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.
See also, my article that covers how rice cookers work.
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.
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.
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.
Non Teflon Rice cooker reviews
Here, I look at models of rice makers offering automated rice cooking functions with settings for brown rice. There are rice cookers that have non Teflon inner pots.
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.
Being pure ceramic, it is a healthy choice. Since. the inner pot contains no heavy metal or other contaminants to worry about being transferred from your cooking pot to your food.
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
It’s around the same, if not less, price range than the Aroma with ceramic pot – See latest details, available at Amazon.
GreenLife rice cooker with ceramic nonstick inner pan
GreenLife Ceramic Nonstick Go Grains Cooker available at Amazon
Nonstick inner pot has ceramic coating like that used on cookware sets. This ceramic is derived from silica, which is what’s mostly found in sand.
There is a pre-set for brown rice as well as for white rice, quinoa, and steel cut oats.
It has a timer including a delay setting so you can customize when it starts. It reeks of simplicity with an easy to use control panel.
Just the right size for a couple or small family, making 4 cups of cooked rice. Brown rice takes about 45 minutes in this unit.
Water fill markings
There are markings on the inside of the inner pan for the water level. For brown rice, you fill it with water to the level marked for brown rice corresponding to the number of cups of rice you’ve added. (You may need to introduce some light to see this markings).
Comes with spatula and measuring cup.
- Healthy option in nonstick pan
- Compact size
- Grains include brown rice and quinoa and steel cut oats
- Timer with delay
- Fresh color
- 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
- Nonstick coating may wear away over time – avoid harsh scourers and metal utensils to get the longest life
Quite affordable — See latest details at Amazon.
Brown rice cooker buying guide
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? The best rice cooker for you will suit your individual preference in these:
- Inner cooking pot
This buying guide aims to help you make an informed choice.
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. **A new design is a ceramic nonstick inner pan.
I recommend you opt for a healthy choice of material, e.g. a solid ceramic pot or uncoated stainless steel…or if you prefer a nonstick pan, then consider the ceramic nonstick by GreenLife.
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.
The downsides to nonstick inner pans include…
- 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.
- The wearing away of the nonstick surface looks unappealing.
- Where it’s PTFE, overheating (unlikely with proper use) can release fumes that can not just irritate your eyes, nose, and throat but cause respiratory distress in humans and fatalities in caged birds.3,4
100% ceramic offers an easy clean surface; made easier if you soak the pot first.
Pots with nonstick surfaces 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.
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).
Bottom line on how to cook brown rice that’s healthier
One main problem with Teflon inner pans is that they get scratched, the coating comes off and the underlying metal is exposed.
So I’ve ventured to look at rice cookers with ceramic inner pots as well as stainless steel inner pans and consider the benefits these may have over the traditional nonstick coated inner pan. There’s also the ceramic nonstick option by GreenLife.
The Aroma brand is my favorite of these – scroll back to the table to take a quick look at all the reviewed items and see how it compares.
- 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/