Cooking Brown Rice in Smart Rice Cookers

CRYSTAL H.  |   |   Updated
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Brown rice has nutritional benefits due to the bran and germ it contains. But it’s trickier to cook than white rice. An automatic rice cooker makes it easier to get superbly cooked brown rice every time for your family to enjoy, but it helps to know the tricks for the best results…

best brown rice cooker, cooking rice, best rice cooker
People choose rice cookers that cook brown rice to perfection because brown rice contains the bran, considered a healthy addition

Nutritionists agree that brown rice is healthier than white rice because it has a bran layer, packed with nutrients (e.g. magnesium and selenium) and fiber.1

I once avoided cooking brown rice. It would came out chewy more times than not. The problem was I wasn’t allowing enough time. I was used to cooking white rice, which I didn’t have to think about.

The water to rice ratio I had to think about, and that extra time…It was a tad too long for impatient me to wait.

Smart Rice cooker water to rice ratio

I’ve since realised there’s no need to think about it with modern rice cookers that have the ‘smarts’ to work it out for you. Joy oh joy.

That’s why ‘smart’ rice cookers like Tiger, Zojirushi and Cuckoo are so popular, I guess.

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. For the know-how of cooking brown rice on the stove or in the microwave, see my article on cooking brown rice in a pot or a dish.

So does any old rice cooker work with brown rice? Yes, but the ultimate for cooking brown rice is a rice cooker with an intelligent ‘brown rice’ function so there’s no working out to do.

cooking 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 simply add the rice and fill the pot with water to the level corresponding to the number of scoops of rice you added (using the scoop supplied).

The simple steps in cooking Brown Rice in a ‘Smart’ Rice Cooker

Here’s how the rice to water ratio for rice cooker works in easy steps to cooking brown rice in a ‘smart’ rice cooker.

Always make sure to rinse the rice first. Two good rinses with clean water helps remove unwanted starch and any contaminants picked up through packing and storing.

  1. Rinse the rice
    Two good rinses and then allow to drain.
rinsing rice before use
Do this rinsing with all rice types before cooking and allow the rice to drain
  1. Add the rice to the cooker
    Use the measuring scoop supplied, gather how-ever-many cups of rice and add these to the pot of the rice maker.
scoop of rice to be added
Use the scoop supplied to simply add the number of cups — it’s the same for white and brown rice

It’s important to stick with the scoop that comes with the unit. Otherwise you mess with the results.

Just be aware that scoops can vary between rice cookers, but most are 180mL. So they are smaller than the standard measuring cup.

For example, the rice scoop with the Zojirushi Micom rice cooker is 180 mL, which is about ¾ of a standard cup in the US and ⅔ that of a standard imperial cup — see my conversion chart for the different measuring units.

  1. Add the water
    Fill the pot with water to the level matching the number of scoops and the type of rice.
water inside rice cooker to level of markings for rice type and number of cups
Fill to the level marked for the rice type and number of cups you are cooking — this differs for white and brown
  1. Turn on the rice cooker
    Select the brown rice option, and away you go.

When finished, allow the rice to rest for 15 minutes. Fluff the rice, serve, and enjoy!

Different types of brown rice settings

Just like white rice, that are many types of brown, from short to medium to long grain forms. 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.

Different brown rice need slight variation in cooking methods. You’ll find smart rice cookers with GABA and sometimes germinated brown rice settings. The GABA is a common one. It’s good to know that you don’t have to look up how to cook this, as the rice cooker settings cover it for you.

The GABA method takes more time than cooking normal brown rice. In the Cuckoo CRP-P10009SB for example, brown rice takes 52–64 minutes while GABA takes 59–66 minutes (because of the soaking time).

How to cook one cup of brown rice in a rice cooker

Maybe you are like me and don’t want 12 cups of cooked rice or 6, some of the time.

Many computerized rice cookers are calibrated for cooking 2 cups of rice minimum. One option if you only want a small quantity is to cook the 2 cups and then store the extra in the refrigerator for later use, for example in a quick fried rice dish.

(Always make sure to store it correctly and use it within a day or two of cooking).

Otherwise, adjust for 1 cup by simply adding 2 cups of water to the 1 cup of rice and then activate the brown rice settings on the rice cooker.

Video showing how to cook medium grain brown rice in a Tiger rice cooker…

Bottom line on doing brown rice in smart cooker

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 hit and miss in that department. And, it can be hard to get your family into eating brown rice for its benefits because of it.

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. 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. So I’ve ventured to look at the benefit of cooking brown rice in a rice cooker.

It seems much simpler to cook brown rice in a rice cooker, a programmable one, once you are familiar with it for the right results for you.



  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Key Safety Questions About Teflon™ Nonstick Coatings. Accessed Sept 2019
  4. Epidemic of Polymer Fever Lewis CE, Kerby GR. An Epidemic of Polymer-Fume Fever. JAMA. 1965;191(5):375–378. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080050021005, Accessed 10 Oct 2022; and

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