Rice cookers are a great way to get the basic backbone of your meal cooked without fussing over a saucepan or worrying about overflowing water.
The most common choice for these set-and-forget appliances is a cooker with a capacity of 1.8 liters and above. This works well for larger families but how about if you’re a single student living in cramped accommodation? How about if you’re a newlywed couple or you’ve only got 2 or 3 family members?
Table of Contents
I. Our Top 5 Pick for: Small Rice Cookers
II. Which Small Rice Cooker is Best?
A rice cooker is a great appliance that lets you cook rice in the way you want it because it can deliver precise results each time provided you follow the cooking instructions.
With this said, you’ll be able to focus on and prepare other meals for your family. Plus, a rice cooker also allows you to save space because it doesn’t require a burner if you have a small hob or stovetop.
But which small rice cooker is best? Let’s check out some things to consider in the following.
What’s the cup capacity? What do you need? The cup capacity is the number of rice that you’d like to prepare.
Many of these appliances are measured based on uncooked cup size. The same goes for a small rice cooker that we’re featuring here.
For example, you can expect cooking up to 6 cups of cooked rice for 3 cups of uncooked rice in a 3-cup capacity rice cooker.
It is just ideal for a small family size with three or four people.
However, you don’t need to cook this amount all the time, but prepare the number of cup of rice you want. It is a good thing that the best rice cookers have lines or cups within it, allowing you to cook the number of cups of rice you need.
But then, you also have to take note of the cup capacity; at the very least, one cup is for long-grain rice. You might want to check great rice cookers that can help you cook a wide range of grains.
Additional functionality is also good. For example, great small rice cookers can also act as steamers and warmers. Nevertheless, you can l look into these things if you want your new appliance to have it. Weigh your options well based on your needs and preferences.
III. Why Should You Buy a Small Rice Cooker?
Before we get down to business with our small rice cooker reviews, we’ll give you a snapshot of some of the main reasons you should consider one of these scaled-down units.
- Ideal for Small Families: All of the small rice cookers today work well for singles or anyone with a smaller family and you’ll be able to start out with as little as ½ cup or ramp things up to 3 cups for added versatility
- Fit Well With Student Lifestyles: If you’re operating on a limited budget, you probably understand how cheap and filling rice is. You might also be living in a small room without much room for cooking equipment. A standalone rice cooker is a great investment for students, these small models in particular
- Budget-Friendly: While some small rice cookers are fairly pricey, the bulk we tested fall firmly in budget territory so you can get a real bargain without compromising quality
- Range of Designs: If you’re tired of soulless black and gray appliances in the kitchen, plenty of the small rice cookers we review come in bright and colorful designs to liven things up
- User-Friendly: While you get great functionality and flexibility, small rice cookers are remarkably easy to use, often involving little more than pushing a single button
- Rapid Cooking Time: If you get frustrated waiting for water to boil then laboring over the saucepan and stove, get the job done quicker with a small capacity rice cooker
- Rugged and Durable: Build quality varies from brand to brand and you generally get what you pay for but don’t confuse small rice cookers with lightweight and flimsy appliances. The best of the bunch should give you years of faithful service
- Small Footprint: As you’d expect from a small appliance, you won’t need much room on the kitchen counter to accommodate a compact rice cooker. If you live in a smaller apartment or already have a kitchen overcrowded with appliances, this is an excellent bonus
Now you can see some of the manifold advantages small capacity rice cookers can bring about, it’s time for the main event with our top 12 models from a range of manufacturers and in varying sizes so there’s something for all tastes and budgets.
- Top 5 Best Sushi Rice Cookers
- Top 10+ Best Japanese Rice Cookers
- Top 8 Best Rice Cookers for Brown Rice
- Top 7 Best Zojirushi Rice Cookers
IV. Top 12 Best Small Rice Cookers
1) Our #1 Pick:Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer (6-Cup cooked)
First up in our small rice cooker reviews is one of a handful of Zojirushi models we tested out over the past week.
Thanks to fuzzy logic technology, the rice cooker will make adjustments so that whatever type you’re cooking is optimized according to type and volume. You’ll also get a neat interface that’s easy to navigate and lets you choose from white or brown rice through sushi rice and steel cut oatmeal.
A small capacity rice cooker, you’ll be able to cook just ½ cup if you want a quick snack without standing on ceremony and you can whip up as much as 3 cups if needs must.
You’ll get a decent batch of accessories thrown in and the design is ideal to ensure even heating throughout. There’s a neat steam vent cap so you won’t end up with rice and water all over the countertop and there’s even a carry handle and retractable cord showing magnificent attention to detail.
- Versatile: Broad spread of settings so you can optimize cooking for the whole spectrum of rice varieties
- Consistency: The triple heater makes sure your rice is evenly cooked throughout
- Compact: Cook as little as ½ cup of rice making this ideal for singles or small families since you can ramp thing up to 3 cups at the upper end
- Takes too long to cook brown rice although the end result is undeniably impressive
2) Runner-Up:Zojirushi 3-Cup Rice Cooker (6-Cup cooked)
Whether you live alone, have a smaller family or you just have limited kitchen real estate and too many appliances already, roll with the 3-cup Zojirushi and you’ll see that good things can come in small packages.
This is a user-friendly model where you literally just hit a switch and you’re good to go. It’s perfect for anyone not too comfortable with tech.
If you often need to move your rice cooker around, the stay-cool handles let you do so safely and easily.
The transparent lid allows you to keep an eye on proceedings without removing it and the cooking time is brisk so you’ll be chowing down in no time.
For a price-driven model that doesn’t stint in terms of overall quality, this 3-cup small capacity rice cooker was a no-brainer pick for our best budget model.
- Outstanding Value: The leading advantage of this model is its remarkably keen price without stiffing you on the performance front
- Small Capacity: You can choose from 3 sizes with the 3-cup model perfect for single people and smaller families or anyone living in an apartment with limited counter space
- Non-Stick Interior: If you hate the idea of sticky rice caked all over the inside of cheap rice cookers, you’ll get a non-stick coating on this small capacity model despite the cut-throat price tag
- A few questions raised about lifespan but you need to be realistic about your expectations at the budget end of the market
3) Panasonic SR-G06FG (6-Cup cooked)
If you’re looking for a convenient to use rice cooker, you might want to take a look at the Panasonic SR-G06FG model. It is a 3.3-cup capacity rice cooker that you can depend on for your everyday rice cooking needs.
This model can help you cook the perfect rice with just a push of a button for automatic cooking and shutting off. Just press the button and forget it!
It is also with a glass lid that lets you see what’s cooking inside without removing it, retaining moisture for faster cooking. This rice cooker is also with a nonstick-coated aluminum pan, adding to its ease of use. The nonstick coating also allows you to make healthier meals for your loved ones.
All the accessories you need are also with this item, including a rice scoop and measuring cup. It also includes a multilingual manual for your reference.
Overall, the automatic rice cooker is one of the best choices around for these features. It might also be what you’re looking for if you want restaurant-quality rice all the time.
- One-touch operation for convenience
- Multilingual manual
- Easy viewing clear glass lid to retain moisture
- Nonstick aluminum pan
- Accessories included
- Not for brown rice
4) Tiger Rice Cooker and Warmer (6-Cup cooked)
Next up we’ve got a mid-range model from Tiger which functions as a cooker and warmer combined. You can choose from 5 different sizings to suit but the smaller 3-cup unit is inkeeping with our focus today on small capacity rice cookers.
If the sleek black and chrome finish is not to your taste, you’ve got a couple of florally embellished white designs to liven up the kitchen instead. This is a nice touch since rice cookers generally look pretty unappealing.
The only real downside is that this is a relatively bulky unit even though it’s only a 3-cup cooker. If you’ve got the space to accommodate it, though, it’s obviously a non-issue.
The steam vent slips off for easy cleaning and the cord retracts neatly to streamline storage. If you’re looking for a top-notch small capacity rice cooker that’s super-simple to use, we can’t recommend the Tiger strongly enough.
- Aesthetics: Choose from 3 striking designs to make a real statement in the kitchen
- Precision Measuring: Use the vessel provided to get exactly the amount of rice you need and eliminate waste completely
- Price/Performance Ratio: This model hits the sweetspot perfectly delivering style along with results at a keen price point
- A reasonably bulky rice cooker even though it’s got a smaller capacity
5) Cuckoo Electric Heating Rice Cooker (6-Cup cooked)
Another pocket-friendly small capacity rice cooker is up next, this time from Cuckoo.
Packing fuzzy logic, this simply means the rice cooker will fine-tune cooking so whatever type of rice you cook will be evenly finished. The only qualification we’d make here is that brown rice is something of a disappointment despite the marketing literature to the contrary. If this forms a staple part of your diet, we’d suggest you check out one of the other rice cookers we review instead.
The inner pot is Teflon-coated and will help ensure you don’t end up with grains stuck all over the inside when you’re done cooking.
For a colorful and no-nonsense rice cooker majestic in its simplicity, road test the Cuckoo and, as long as you favor white rice, you’re in safe hands.
- Neat Design: Finished with a brilliant flash of red, Cuckoo proves that rice cookers don’t need to be bland and boring
- Fuzzy Logic: Benefit from the intelligent algorithm that ensures all type of rice are cooked optimally with no user input required
- Smaller Capacity: Yielding 3 cups of rice, this slots in neatly to any kitchen and is a winner for students living alone or small families
- Brown rice doesn’t cook quite so well so think about your intended usage
6) Instant Pot 6-in-1 Rice Cooker (12-Cup cooked)
As the name makes abundantly clear, you’ll get far more than just a rice cooker here with the Instant Pot. Along with a pressure cooker and slow cooker, you can steam and sauté your food as well as warming it through.
With the slow cooking side of things, you can program in a delay of up to 24 hours so you can stave off cooking then come home to a delicious meal leaving you to do nothing except whip up some rice in this superb small capacity cooker.
Heating is consistent and even and you’ll get a real fluffiness to the rice that puts many more expensive models to shame.
If you’re working to a limited budget but you’re not prepared to compromise quality, this is a first class rice cooker at a third class price so check out the Instant Pot at your earliest convenience.
- Value For Money: Robust functionality at a very keen price-point
- Heat Distribution: Designed to cook rice through evenly while also retaining heat perfectly
- Multipurpose Cooker: Get 6 cooking methods in a single appliance saving you space and money
- A few complaints about longevity
7) Panasonic Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker (10-Cup cooked)
To round out our small capacity rice cooker reviews, we’ve got a superb fuzzy logic Panasonic currently available at a steep discount so act quickly for a real steal and read on to see what this dinky unit does best…
To kick off with a negative, a few disgruntled users have moaned about rice that’s soggy in places and burned in others. This appears to happen when cooking a very small amount of rice so if you tend to cook just ½ cup on a regular basis, you might be better advised considering one of the other models we looked at.
The Ai underpinning this rice cooker gives you a very user-friendly experience and you’ll need to put in little effort to get well-cooked rice in fairly short order.
You’ll be able to deal with both white and brown rice but functionality is relatively limited. If you’re on the trail of a simple but effective small capacity rice cooker from a brand you can trust, the Panasonic is a smart choice.
- Brand Heritage: You’ll get the build quality and performance you’d expect from Panasonic without needing to dig too deep
- Intelligent Cooking: Rice cooker will adjust itself automatically according to the type and amount of rice ensuring a perfect plate every single time
- Space-Saver: Small in terms of both capacity and footprint, this makes perfect sense in a crowded kitchen where space is at a premium
- Some gripes about uneven cooking although we must say we didn’t experience this during our testing
8) Panasonic SR-3NAL (3-Cup cooked)
The SR-3NAL is another item not to miss if you’re looking for an innovative and small rice cooker. It can cook up to three cups of cooked rice. It can be ideal for dormitories and people living alone.
It is an automatic rice cooker that does not require supervision. You might want to consider it if you want convenience and you’re busy to attend to things.
It also has a nonstick coating for perfectly cooked rice and no burn cooking. This aluminum pan is also one of the most durable so you can look forward to long-term use.
This rice cooker also has glass lid that allows for quick viewing. With it, you can ensure that moisture will not escape. In the process, you can cook faster. You can cut the time cooking not just rice but also one-pot dishes.
In addition, this item comes with a measuring cup so that you can easily make that perfect rice. This material of the Panasonic 1.5 Cup Rice Cooker allows for even heat distribution for fully cooked rice. It also promotes easier cleaning up.
- Automatic convenient operation
- Nonstick coating
- Durable aluminum material
- Easy viewing glass lid
- Comes with accessories
- Too small for some people
9) BLACK+DECKER RC503 Uncooked Rice Cooker (6-Cup cooked)
Are you looking for a small rice cooker that suits your family of four? You might want to check out this BLACK+DECKER RC503. It is a 3-cup rice cooker capacity that has the features that you might be looking for in this appliance.
For one, it has just the right capacity for a small family. It is also energy saving, allowing you to enjoy perfectly cooked rice without spending much on electricity.
The BLACK+DECKER rice cooker has an automatic keep warm function, letting you know rice is ready for serving. Once cooking is done, the rice can keep warm until you’re ready to eat. This product also offers nonstick rice pot for convenience, promoting ease of cleaning and dishwasher safety.
In addition, this rice cooker includes a spoon and a measuring cup, letting you cook the perfect rice amount. Its serving spoon also prevents scratches on the nonstick bowl.
This model also features indicator lights that show when the rice cooker is cooking or keeping the rice warm. It also has compact dimensions of 8.0 x 8.0 x 6.5 inches, saving space in your countertop.
- Can yield up to three cups
- Innovative nonstick function
- Includes spoon and cup
- Automatic keep warm
- Offers an automatic keep warm function
- Confusing cooking directions
10) Aroma Simply Stainless Rice Cooker (6-Cup cooked)
Aroma Housewares is a reputable brand for small rice cookers known for their efficiency and precision. The cooker with 6-cup cooked rice capacity is loaded with the features and functions you’d love your new appliance to have.
One of the unique features of the Aroma Simply Stainless Rice Cooker is its user-friendly programming. You just set, and then forget it! Now, you don’t need to wait for rice to cook, but go on with your life and prepare other meals.
This product is made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel material, which is sturdy to last a long time. In addition, it comes with BPA-free spatula and measuring cup, too. The food grade 304-stainless steel material also ensures that it’s healthy and safe. It also comes with an easy to understand user manual for any troubleshooting steps you need.
Overall, the Aroma Simply Stainless Rice Cooker is one of the best choices around for its compact design and outstanding features. It is also easy and convenient to use and consumes low energy. You might want to check it out yourself for quality and durable small rice cooker.
- User-friendly programming
- Nonstick coating
- BPA-free spatula and measuring cup
- Surgical-grade 304 stainless steel material
- Reports of rice being stuck to the bottom
11) Aroma Housewares Mi 3-Cup Cooked (3-Cup cooked)
The Mini Digital Rice Cooker by Aroma Housewares lets you make a meal for yourself or with a partner. If you have an invited friend and want the perfect cooked rice, you can check out the Aroma rice cooker that makes you rice with just one touch.
It is also versatile that it can be used for preparing soups, cakes, omelets and pastas. Definitely, there are so many dishes that you can make with the innovative mini rice cooker. You can create as many recipes or experiment with your very own recipes using this compact and mini rice cooker.
The portable rice cooker is lightweight that you can take it anywhere – for picnics or at parties. You can make soups or a desert when you want to without any hassles.
This item is also with a nonstick cooking pot and is top rack dishwasher safe
The rice cooker with a digital control panel is also easy to use in cooking between two and three cups of cooked rice without a sweat. This model also has a sleek handle design, allowing you to lift it up or snap it down with ease.
- Digital Control Panel
- Sleek handle design
- Automatic Keep-Warm
- Removable nonstick pot
- Top rack dishwasher safe
- Not for those looking for a larger capacity
12) Aroma Housewares Pot Style Rice Cooker and Food Steamer (6-Cup cooked)
Aroma Housewares is a reputable manufacturer of rice cookers on the market. You might want to check out this item from this brand if you want a quality rice cooker that can cook up to six cups of rice for your family.
The Aroma 6-Cup capacity rice cooker is also a food steamer, adding to its functionality. You might want to take a look at this product if you want healthy meals, too. It can help you make one-pot dishes
Now, you can make simple and delicious one-pot recipes at home, allowing you to explore and use your imagination in creating different dishes for your family.
The rice cooker steamer also lets you steam meat while rice is cooking below, saving you some effort, time and energy. It also offers a one-touch operation along with an automatic keep warm function.
You can also use it for making chili, soups and jambalayas, to name some. This model comes with accessories like measuring cup, steam tray and spatula.
Overall, it is a decent choice for those who want to get more out of their rice cooker. Take a second look at it if you want to reap these rewards.
- Added food steaming function
- Includes all accessories
- One-touch operation
- Tempered glass lid
- Also good for one-pot dishes
- Not the most durable around
1) What are the advantages of induction heating technology?
The manufacturers should make it abundantly clear if the rice cooker makes use of induction heating technology and you can always look out for the IH Logo that will adorn models using this form of cooking. IH is a non-contact method of cooking with pulses of radio electricity sent through a conductive material. With rice cookers, you get that conductive zone built into the inner pot so it acts as an efficient heat conductor. This form of cooking allows for rapid changes to temperature and since the whole pot becomes a heating element, you’ll get the rice cooked more rapidly. Cooking is also more even with the end results tending to be fluffier and more appetizing so keep an eye out for that IH logo!
2) What is a fuzzy logic rice cooker?
Fuzzy logic is a type of AI. Rather than direct and precise logic, this sphere relates to approximation which is what makes it so useful with rice cookers. Depending on the type of rice you use and the amount you’re cooking along with how full the vessel is, rice cookers with fuzzy logic will make small adjustments on your behalf so everything is optimized. In essence, rice cookers with fuzzy logic are able to “think” to some extent and they can calculate temperature and cooking time based on the factors we outlined above. You’ll get even heat distribution and a great finish to your rice. Opinion is polarized as to whether this is the best method of cooking rice but what you should be interested in is this: Is it the best method for you? If you want an intelligent rice cooker that does all the hard work for you, the answer will be a resounding “Yes!”
3) What is inverter technology in a rice cooker?
With inverter technology, the cooking temperature is precisely adjusted according to the stage. While soaking, it’s kept at the right temperature to maximize absorption. The net result is an extremely efficient and accurate way of getting your rice perfect and fluffy every time with very little effort on your part.
4) How much water should you use with your rice cooker?
This varies according to the type of rice. With soft rice, go for 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice. Use a ratio of 1-½ cups to 1 cup with firmer or Basmati rice. Ramp this up to just over 2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice when you’re opting for brown rice.
5) How long does it take to cook rice in a rice cooker?
This will also vary according to brand and model. Allow anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes depending on what rice cooker you have. Each model will clearly state cooking times so you know exactly where you stand.
6) When should you stir the rice?
The best time for stirring is directly before you plate it up.
7) How long should you soak your rice for before cooking?
As a rough guideline, soaking rice for 30 minutes gives best results so try to plan ahead so you don’t skip this stage.
8) Why do you even need to soak rice in the first place?
Not only will you shorten the cooking time, you’ll also end up with more flavorful rice if you take the time to soak it in advance. Beyond this, washing rice removes that thin layer of starch which tends to make the rice stick and clump together. For reasons of speed, taste and quality, soaking is a step you shouldn’t overlook.
9) Aren’t rice cookers an absolute nuisance to clean?
In a word, no. You’ll be able to remove the pan so you can rinse and soak them easily without needing to contort your hands inside. Compared to using a saucepan that tends to get covered with sticky grains of rice almost welded on, rice cookers are very low maintenance indeed. Also, all the best small capacity rice cookers come with non-stick coatings so you’ll get far less mess in the first place.
10) Is it essential to spend a lot to get a great rice cooker?
Absolutely not! We’ve included small rice cookers across all price-points and it’s perfectly possible to get a real bargain without being stiffed in terms of performance or build quality. If you think carefully about your intended usage, it’s possible to get a rice cooker that will give you years of faithful service without needing to spend a fortune.
We very much hope this study of small capacity rice cookers has clearly laid out why they work so well. We also hope you’ve seen the advantages of each type of cooker and you can also see that multipurpose models are readily available.
Whether you’re single or you have a small family, whether you’re a student or live in a small apartment, you don’t need to go all or nothing with a rice cooker and the market is stuffed with great compact models. Roll with any on our shortlist and you’re highly unlikely to be disappointed.
After all that cooking, you might need to stand up to aid digestion rather than sitting down on the couch. Luckily, we’re nearly done testing a staggering array of standing desks so you can do just that. Come back next week to see the results!