How Do I Choose the Best Rice Steamer?

Kristeen Moore

A rice steamer is a device that utilizes water to cook the grains in a matter of minutes. These kinds of home rice cookers are generally available in electrical varieties, but some people prefer the convenience of a microwave version instead. Steamers that work with gas, as opposed to electricity, might be the most appropriate version if you own a restaurant because they cook the rice quicker. The best rice steamer that you choose also depends on the kinds of grains with which you cook, as certain versions are more appropriate than others. Rice cookers come in a variety of sizes and with special features, so you should consider your intended purpose for the product before purchasing.

Nigiri sushi assortment made with steamed rice.
Nigiri sushi assortment made with steamed rice.

Rice cookers most commonly come in the form of electrical appliances that take up little space in your kitchen. In fact, the rice steamer is also a preferred method of cooking the grains over traditional boiling methods because it takes less work. A quicker and even more convenient method is a microwavable rice steamer, which utilizes a plastic bowl, vents, and attachments. Keep in mind that rice cooked in a microwave container usually does not have the same texture as a regular steamer, and it might be difficult to control the stickiness.

Rice plants.
Rice plants.

Professional rice steamers used in restaurants generally come in the form of gas-heated devices. These cookers are much larger than home versions, and they also contain units that pressure-cook the grains. Some home chefs prefer this kind of steamer because they believe that pressure cooking the rice makes the food taste better overall. It is important to know that if your home is not powered by gas, then this might not be an appropriate appliance for you to use.

A bowl of rice made in a rice steamer.
A bowl of rice made in a rice steamer.

Most varieties of steamers are appropriate for common grains, such as enriched white and brown versions, but you might need to look for a different maker if you cook specialty rice. If you are cooking Japanese cuisine, then the best rice steamer is generally one that is designed for Asian meals. Such steamers tend to utilize the water differently than traditional appliances, which makes the rice stickier for stir-fry and sushi.

Uncooked rice.
Uncooked rice.

The amount of rice that you need to cook at one time is also a major factor in determining the best steamer. A rice cooker can make as little as 3 cups (570 grams) of rice, to as much as 30 cups (5.7 kg). Keep in mind that microwave versions usually make the least amount at one time. Your choice ultimately depends on how much rice you plan to make on a regular basis. If you want to utilize your rice steamer for other purposes, you can choose a product that contains accessories to cook other foods, such as vegetables and beans.

A rice steamer.
A rice steamer.
A rice steamer specifically made for Asian meals might be best when making sushi.
A rice steamer specifically made for Asian meals might be best when making sushi.

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