When you’re a mom of tiny tots and time is of the essence like never before, your favorite kitchen gadgets are ones that make preparing food quick and easy — without having to sacrifice flavor or nutrition. Luckily there are countless ways to cut corners in the kitchen, from electric mixers and crock pots to instant pots and fancy blenders. Still, out of all the multi-functional devices to choose from, one such cookware device is often overlooked and we think it’s high time the rice cooker received the recognition it’s due.
Rice cookers are typically considered one of those “extra” items people add to their wedding registry if they have the room to spare in their cabinets next to panini presses and gravy boats. However, rice cookers don’t just cook rice — they can cook pretty much anything you need heated, steamed, simmered and/or sautéed. Some rice cookers are advanced enough to make entire meals at once, while others can even be used for baking (fluffy cheesecake, anyone?). The culinary possibilities are limitless and all it takes is one of these best-selling rice cookers from Amazon, plus a bit of creativity on your end. The best part? You cook, you eat, you have minimal clean up afterwards. If it sounds like a smart investment, that’s because it is.
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1. Aroma Housewares Digital Rice Cooker
This rice cooker from Aroma Housewares is a mom’s dream kitchen helper. The digital device is multi-use and multi-functional, meaning it cooks more at once so your job is less hands-on. It features a built-in steamer function so you can steam meat, fish and veggies at the same time rice, couscous or soup cooks below.
There’s also a saute-then-simmer option and the ability to program the device to slow cook your meals while you tend to your child, spruce up the house or enjoy some downtime. Your one-time purchase also includes a non-stick inner pot that can hold up to 20 cups of cooked grains, a rice measuring cup and a serving spatula.
2. Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer
Not only can this rice cooker hold up to 20 cooked cups of grains — think white rice, brown rice, sushi rice and porridge — but it also features a separate setting dedicated to baking entire cakes (and if you aren’t exactly Better Crocker, the instruction manual includes sponge and cheesecake recipes to help you along).
Impressive baking capabilities aside, this rice cooker also comes with a steaming basket so you’re able to cook multiple food items at once. Its LCD control panel makes programming simple, with keep warm, extended keep warm and reheating cycles that ensure your food stays hot until you’re ready to eat. Its clock and timer is also worth highlighting, as it features interchangeable melody and beep signals that sound as soon as your food is ready for serving.
3. Oster Rice Cooker
If your counter and/or cabinet space is limited, opt for the Oster Rice Cooker. The device is significantly more compact than others on the market, but it still yields up to six cups of cooked rice at a time. It’s also a great option for anyone who prefers manual over digital programming. The device also features an automatic light fixture that turns on when the device is plugged in so you know when it’s in use.
You never have to worry about overcooking your food, either: The Oster Rice Cooker has an automatic keep warm function that extends heat time but paired with an automatic shut-off feature, your food — from noodles and rice to soups and fondue — won’t burn or crisp.