Product Comparison: Electric Rice Cookers

Rice cookers have been in existence for many hundreds of years. The British Museum has a ceramic rice steamer dated from 1250 BC on display, but electric versions have been around since 1945, the first commercial model being produced by Mitsubishi. It had to be constantly monitored and did not have an automatic switch off facility, but of course, things have come a long way since then and modern rice cookers include many functions that attempt to make rice cooking as easy and quick as possible.

In this article we will take a quick look at three rice cookers that can be found on Amazon.co.uk. We shall study the rice cooker reviews and let you know which of these rice cookers we prefer. They all cost between £19 and £60 (at the time of writing) and all have their fair share of user reviews on Amazon.

We shall begin by looking at the Russell Hobbs 19750 Rice Cooker and Steamer. This rice cooker / rice steamer is the cheapest of the three reviewed here (often selling for £19.99), and was the number 1 best seller in rice cookers on the UK Amazon website for quite some time. This surprises me somewhat as it does have quite a few bad reviews which I feel would put buyers off from purchasing this rice cooker. Okay, first things first, what are the specifications on the Russell Hobbs Rice Cooker.

Russell Hobbs 19750 Rice Cooker and Steamer, 1.8 L - SilverThis rice cooker has a 1.8 litre capacity which equates to cooking ten cups of rice. It also has a ‘keep warm’ function which is perfect for those times when family members are unable to eat together at the same time. The Russell Hobbs Rice Cooker and Steamer has a glass lid so you can see how the food is cooking and it also claims to be a versatile kitchen appliance as it also functions as a steamer for vegetables and fish when using the supplied tray. Included is a spatula and measuring cup.

As I mentioned earlier, I was surprised to see this as a best selling rice cooker on Amazon.co.uk because it has received quite a few poor reviews. The majority of bad reviews are due to the rice cooker failing to work in a short space of time. Even those that had received a replacement item complained of further breakdowns with the replacement rice cooker. Another common complaint is that rice often burns on the bottom, both whilst cooking and when in ‘keep warm’ mode. Other reviewers mention that water oozes out and it’s messy to clean up.

It’s not all bad though. Many people that have purchased this rice cooker said that it makes good rice although I must say that the words ‘great’ or ‘excellent’ are rarely mentioned – just ‘good’! A few people note that it is not as big as Russell Hobbs claim and they struggle to get 10 cups of rice in the machine.

Okay, let us move on to the much more expensive Crock-Pot 1.8L Digital Rice Cooker in Gun-Metal Grey. At approximately £60 (but sometimes dropping to £40), this is a great looking rice cooker from the well-known American manufacturer. Its styling sets it apart from many other rice cookers and I personally think that it would look great in any kitchen. As with the Russell Hobbs rice cooker above, the Crock-Pot Rice Cooker has a 1.8 litre capacity and can make cooked rice for up to 10 people, however it is also digital, hence the higher price tag.

Crock-Pot Digital Rice CookerWhat sets this rice cooker apart from many others is that the Crock-Pot Digital Rice Cooker has a trick up its sleeve – it also has a saute function. Turn on the saute plate, add a little oil and throw in your meat or vegetables for browning. This clever additional function means that you can easily cook dishes such as paella and risotto, as well as pasta dishes. You can also cook rice and oat-based desserts in here as well! It too is supplied with a glass lid, rice paddle and measuring cup. This rice cooker also has a steamer function too.

The Crock-Pot Digital Rice Cooker fairs better than the Russell Hobbs rice cooker when it comes to reviews on Amazon.co.uk. There are one poor user review about this rice cooker where the reviewer complains about rice sticking to the bottom and another gives a 3-star review moaning that they don’t like the look of the item – did they not look at the photo before they bought it, one wonders!. Often reviewers talk highly of the steamer and saute function and the stylish look of this rice cooker. A few reviewers say that they have never cooked rice so well before!

Finally I would like to look at the Tefal Rk1568uk Cooltouch Rice Cooker which usually sells at around £25.00. Tefal is a very well know brand and my expectations are high. Let us see how it fairs shall we?

Tefal Cooltouch Rice Cooker RK1568UKThe capacity of this rice cooker is 1.8 litres too and the manufacturer says that it makes up to 20 portions of rice. As with the other rice cookers shown in this review article, it is supplied with a glass lid, measuring cup and spoon. You will also receive an instruction booklet and a steamer tray so that you can steam vegetables or fish in this rice cooker too. This rice cooker is part of the Tefal Cooltouch range so I would expect it to be safe to touch when in operation.

To my surprise, the reviews on this Tefal Cooltouch Rice Cooker are very comparable to the Russell Hobbs rice cooker reviewed in this article. There are many negative reviews as well as positive reviews. One purchaser claimed that this item is ‘dangerous’ (not a word I want to read when buying an electrical item) and others complain of burnt out switches, blown fuses and faulty machines. Replacement units also suffer from the same problems so I can only assume that there is a quality control issue somewhere.

Average reviews speak of burnt rice and that this rice cooker tends to make a mess when cooking. Positive reviewers are happy to recommend this rice cooker. Users speak of it making perfect rice and it being a capable steamer too. Some say that is a little large on the kitchen worktop, but not overly so.

Rice Cooker reviews over… which is the winner?

So, what do we think at Kitchen and Cookshop? Which rice cooker reviewed here would we buy if it were our money? Well, I have to be perfectly honest and say that I would not buy any of them! I don’t mean to be harsh but I have the Kitchen Craft Microwave Rice Cooker and I believe that is the best piece of kit in my kitchen. I don’t need or want an electric rice cooker, but for the purposes of this article I will choose one of the reviewed rice cookers.

For me, the winner is quite clearly the Crock-Pot Digital Rice Cooker. I very much like the look of it, and it appears to be the only rice cooker chosen for this product comparison review that won’t break within 6 weeks or burn rice! After studying the reviews of the Russell Hobbs 19750 Rice Cooker and Steamer and the Tefal Rk1568uk Cooltouch Rice Cooker I’m surprised at what I read. I thought that these two manufacturers were producers of high quality kitchen equipment but I am starting to think otherwise. Have production values lessened over the years? Are tighter margins to blame for an increase in faulty goods being sold? I don’t really know, but I am less inclined to purchase kitchen goods from established brands without reading the reviews left by users and purchasers.

I guess that is what Kitchen and Cookshop is all about really. We look at the plethora of product reviews so you don’t have to! Why not bookmark our home page and check back often to read our latest articles.

Essential Reading:

If you are reading this rice cookers product comparison article, we think that you might also enjoy these recipe books on Amazon. They are available on Kindle devices and in traditional print. Enjoy your rice cooker recipes!