Fun, funky, and adorable rice cookers that don't cost more than $50

Updated Oct 12 2015
meggyfin
Takeru Mini Rice Cooker AND Lunch Box for $50. What!?
Takeru Mini Rice Cooker AND Lunch Box for $50. What!?
Okay, so we know Ariel loves her fancy-ass Rice Robot. But what about rice cookers for the rest of us? As one Offbeat Homie put it "rice cookers just cook rice — why do they cost so much?"

I don't have an answer for that, but what I do have is a roundup of rice cookers that cost less than $50.

Like any offbeat roundup post, I tried to find as many colorful and fun options as is possible to find in the appliance section. We've got rice cookers that look like robots, we've got round ones, square ones, even microwavable ones! Check 'em out and get rice cookin'…

Aroma 3-Cup (Uncooked) 6-Cup (Cooked) Rice Cooker and Food Steamer in red -- $16.99
Aroma 3-Cup (Uncooked) 6-Cup (Cooked) Rice Cooker and Food Steamer in red — $16.99
Am I alone in thinking the Black & Decker RC3303 3-Cup Rice Cooker looks like a little robot? -- $14.73
Am I alone in thinking the Black & Decker RC3303 3-Cup Rice Cooker looks like a little robot? — $14.73
I like square styling of the Cuisinart CRC-400 4-Cup Rice Cooker, on sale for $49.95
I like square styling of the Cuisinart CRC-400 4-Cup Rice Cooker, on sale for $49.95
From square to the adorable roundness of the Livart 1-cup Rice Cooker -- $29
From square to the adorable roundness of the Livart 1-cup Rice Cooker — $29
Helen Chen's Perfect Rice Cooker, Porcelain with Bamboo Handle -- $41.19
Helen Chen's Perfect Rice Cooker, Porcelain with Bamboo Handle — $41.19
The Vivarte Electric Rice Cooker (3 cups) is so cute, I want to adopt it -- $39
The Vivarte Electric Rice Cooker (3 cups) is so cute, I want to adopt it — $39
Aroma 4-Cup (Uncooked) 8-Cup (Cooked) Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer -- $29.92
Aroma 4-Cup (Uncooked) 8-Cup (Cooked) Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer — $29.92
Have you noticed that I include a Hello Kitty option in almost every appliance round-up I do? It's amazing, but a you can also get a Hello Kitty Rice Cooker for $45.
Have you noticed that I include a Hello Kitty option in almost every appliance round-up I do? It's amazing, but a you can also get a Hello Kitty Rice Cooker for $45.
How 'bout a rice cooker that's black like your heart? Oster 14-Cup Rice Cooker, Black -- $24.98
How 'bout a rice cooker that's black like your heart? Oster 14-Cup Rice Cooker, Black — $24.98
Here's the best budget option! The Sistema Microwave Rice Steamer -- $13.99
Here's the best budget option! The Sistema Microwave Rice Steamer — $13.99
I like this Tupperware Microwave Rice Maker in teal -- $34.99
I like this Tupperware Microwave Rice Maker in teal — $34.99

Do you have a recommendation for a great rice cooker under $50?

  1. Maybe this has been answered before, but I can't find it. Why do I want a rice cooker? I love them for their styling, but does it really do anything that my saucepan can't do?

    • I thought the same thing until my mom gave us her old rice cooker that she wasn't using anymore. Make PERFECT rice every time, no worries about boiling over onto the stove or under cooking. In our gluten intolerant home we make rice at least a couple of times a week, this thing is like gold!!

      • Agreed. I've never had bad rice in a rice cooker. I'm gluten sensitive, so I tend to make rice a lot over the week. It's really great for other grains like quinoa as well. =)

        My rice cooker is a powerhouse. My mom gave it to me when I first moved out, and three years later, it's still going strong.

        It's really awesome because you can set it, and forget it (for 20 minutes). No stirring and by the time the rest of the meal is done, the rice is done too.

    • I use mine whenever I make rice. I think it's fluffier when made in the rice cooker. The rice cooker is also nice because you set it and forget it- by the time you chop all your veggies for a stir fry and saute them, the rice is done. Also it doesn't take up any precious real estate on the stove top when you are cooking the rest of your meal.

      Comments in a previous post (don't remember which one) talked about lots of crazy things you can cook in it besides rice. I would also love to hear tips anyone has about ways to flavor the rice in the rice cooker as it is cooking!

    • Because they are magic!!!! Oh my gosh <3 I have had the Aroma and Black & Decker pictured – both worked great and I got them on Amazon Prime (so they came quickly!). You just press the button and whether you're making sticky rice or brown it comes out perfectly. Sometimes I make a rice/lentil mix and I always use it for my quinoa. Nothing burns or boils over – it's my must have appliance and something I'd never use a pot for again ::crazy passionate and unpaid rave:: 😉

      • You have needled my curiosity! How does the machine know the difference between the grains (i.e. brown, sushi, long-grain, quinoa, etc.)? I imagine (like on the stovetop) different grains need different times, yes? I've been reading through the links to the, admittedly cheaper, machines, but the descriptions don't say how to set it.

        • We have an Aroma, which I selected partly because it has a brown rice setting (just push a different button). However, it takes FOREVER!!

          It does something strange like warms the water up at a veeery slow rate, meaning it'll take over an hour to cook. I almost always use brown rice and just cook it on the white rice setting, which works like a charm (it has different water/rice ratios for brown and white, and I do follow that guide).

    • im with you! haha, they dont have rice cookers in professional kitchens… (unless its an asian pro kitchen, they make rice by the boatload and dont use stovetops anyway!)

    • It depends partially on your cooking-style. I tend to be using several frypans on the stove, and having my (thrift-store) rice cooker on the counter frees up a burner, which I appreciate. Also, I suck at cooking rice in a pot — it always seems to boil over and/or stick on, while my rice cooker cooks my rice without me having to fuss with it — I can just start my rice and go about making the rest of dinner. Plus, it keeps my rice warm until we're ready to eat!

  2. I can also vouch for the Aroma – you can get them at Target and mine lasted for 2+ years of constant use.

    Flavoring rice while you cook it – just add the seasonings along with the rice and water, and stir! You can also add things like frozen peas or cheese and it just cooks right along with the rice. Fantastic and SO EASY.

  3. I love my rice cooker. It's a Cuckoo, and it's korean. It cost 100$, but it can be programmed, which I love.
    It also holds the rice warm for me. I love my little Cuckoo.

  4. I'm a huge fan of Oster's food steamers. They come with a little basket so you can make rice, but they can also steam pretty much anything you can fit in them. I usually just do rice and veggies (broccoli, asparagus, carrots, pumkin to puree for pie, etc.), but there are directions included for things like fish, chicken, sausages, and even hardboiled eggs. The doubledecker adds a lot of space for cooking extra food or for fixing things that take different amounts of time to cook.

    However I don't recommend the digital ones. They electronics can go bad and the whole thing stops working. With the mechanical ones, the worst thing I've had happen was the numbers on the timer dial rubbing off (on my mom's old one she gave me). Pretty easy to get a marker or paint pen and fix that one.

    Here's my current one: http://www.amazon.com/Oster-5711-Mechanical-Steamer-White/dp/B00073HLMU/ref=sr_1_3?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1382738363&sr=1-3

  5. The only time I have ever burned rice was in a microwave rice cooker in college. We have one of those monster robot expensive as crap rice cookers that my husband got from his mom (she had 3). He insisted that only a rice cooker made in Korea or Japan would make rice right and that we had to have one. I personally don't notice a difference between when he makes it in the rice cooker and when I make it in a pot except that there is a GIANT appliance on our tiny counter tops. That said- I think the rice cooker & lunch box in one is an awesome idea!

  6. I have the Cuisinart one and I love it!!! Also, since it's not programmable, I just use one of those cheapo timers like you might use for your lights – one for the slow cooker, one for the rice cooker.

  7. As a professional chef, I can share with you the secret of how we do it in restaurant kitchens. Mix your rice and water together in a cake pan. Pick a pan that will allow the rice and water mix to be about 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. If you want anything mixed into the rice, like herbs or seasonings, stir those in as well. Stirring in a handful of frozen peas and carrots adds color, flavor and nutrition.

    Cover the pan tightly with foil and put it in a 350 oven. As for how long, that will depend on the quantity and type rice and on your oven. For white rice, I'd check it after about a half hour, give it a stir and see if it's done. If not, close it back up and give it a few more minutes. Once you figure out the timing for your oven, you can have perfect rice every time. And, yes, it does work with all types of rice, as well as those grains you cook like rice. I think you'll agree, a cake pan covered with a piece of foil wrap is a lot cheaper than any rice cooker out there. Of course, you won't have a fancy gadget sitting on your counter to impress your friends.

  8. That rice cooker and lunch box combo is AMAZING! I need this in my life. As for the debate, I definitely think a lot of people would benefit from having a rice cooker. And in our Asian household, the rice cooker is a mandatory appliance. I use the rice cooker 10x as much as I use the oven.

    I know someone that makes seasoned rice in the oven. I'm not much of a fan because the texture was a bit off. And having the oven on warms up the house a lot more than using a rice cooker. I'm pretty sure the additional electricity used to cool the house (because of the oven) would cost me much more than a fairly basic 1 button rice cooker.

  9. I received a rice cooker for Christmas and it is one of my favorite appliances now. It made rice convenience food for me. I love me some sushi rice and cucumbers.

  10. I can vouch for the little Black & Decker one. We love it and make rice constantly. Although it did get too close to the edge of our hot oven and part of the grey plastic piece (where the switch is) started to melt off and you can see some of its innards. So now we just tell people it didn't listen to Indy and looked directly into the Ark of the Covenant when the Nazi's opened it up…despite this, it still cooks rice just fine.

  11. Easy – use multicookers and u don't do any mistakes! For example, how I use my Redmond 250 – I put there all need ingredients, go for a work and when I'm at home – there is warm dinner for me. Like a bonus there is very good cook book! 🙂

  12. I have the cussinart one. Got free with credit card points. Check those too and cash them in. Also how I got my first set of pots and pans. The cussinart has Been used to steam fish shrimp and chicken. Bagged frozen veggies Make oatmeal rice and cuscous, you can even do soba noodles in it. (CONS) it's actually very versatile

  13. We had the Aroma one until we got a ballin' electric pressure cooker. The set it and forget it features of the rice cooker are the most appealing part, and any rice cooker can double as a slow cooker and can certainly cook things other than rice. Plus, then we don't have to worry about another thing on our already crowded range.

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