Rice cooker

A rice cooker or rice steamer is an automated kitchen appliance designed to boil or steam rice. It consists of a heat source, a cooking bowl, and a thermostat. The thermostat measures the temperature of the cooking bowl and controls the heat. Complex, high-tech rice cookers may have more sensors and other components, and may be multipurpose.

Electric induction rice cooker with scoop
Traditional rice cooker commonly used in the Netherlands by residents of the former Dutch East Indies (now: Indonesia) in the 1950s. Showcase on display at the Eurasian festival Tong Tong Fair 2012.


The term rice cooker formerly applied to non-automated dedicated rice-cooking utensils, which have an ancient history (a ceramic rice steamer dated to 1250 BC is on display in the British Museum). It now applies mostly to automated cookers. Electric rice cookers were developed in Japan, where they are known as suihanki (炊飯器, literally, "boil-rice-device").

Principle of operation

Basic principle of electric rice cooker operation

A basic rice cooker has a main body (pot), an inner cooking container which holds the rice, an electric heating element, and a thermostat.

The bowl is filled with rice and water and heated at full power; the water reaches and stays at boiling point (100 °C, 212 °F).[1] When the water has all been absorbed, the temperature can rise above boiling point, which trips the thermostat. Some cookers switch to low-power "warming" mode, keeping the rice at a safe temperature of approximately 65 °C (150 °F); simpler models switch off; the rice has entered the resting phase.

More advanced cookers may use fuzzy logic for more detailed temperature control, induction rather than resistive heating, a steaming tray for other foods, and even the ability to rinse the rice.[1]

Inexpensive electric rice cooker containing cooked rice

Rice types and rice cookers

Brown rice generally needs longer cooking times than white rice, unless it is broken, or flourblasted (which perforates the bran).[2]

Many models feature an ability to cook sticky rice or porridge as an added value. Most can be used as steamers. Some can be used as slow cookers. Some other models can bake bread or in some cases have an added function to maintain temperatures suitable for fermentation of bread dough or yogurt. Multi-purpose devices with rice cooking capability are not necessarily called "rice cookers", but typically "multi-cookers".[3]

A rice cooker, or slow cooker, can be used in conjunction with a temperature probe and an external thermostat to cook food at a stable low temperature ("sous-vide").[4]


A typical commercial gas cooker. To use it, the left lever is depressed to ignite the pilot burner for stand-by and keep-warm purposes. To start cooking, the right lever is pushed to operate the main burner, which is ignited by the pilot burner. Like its electric counterpart, the cook lever releases automatically once the rice is fully cooked.

Automatic electric rice cookers were first released in 1955 by the Japanese company Toshiba.[5] In December 1956, the Toshiba Corporation placed the first commercially successful automated electric rice cookers on the market.[6] Since then, millions have been sold worldwide. The rice cookers available today are not much different from the original models.

The first practical electric rice cooker was invented by Yoshitada Minami.[7][8]

Electric rice cooker made by Philips in an Indian appliance showroom

See also

  • Rice polisher
  • Slow cooker
  • Remoska, small portable oven
  • Vacuum flask
  • Hot water dispenser
  • List of cooking appliances
  • List of Japanese cooking utensils


  1. "Rice Cooker Basics". How Stuff Works. 4 April 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  2. ars.usda.gov Agriculture Research, May 2002
  3. Kate Hilpern (21 September 2018). "9 best multi-cookers". The Independent. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  4. Gabrielle Taylor (5 September 2013). "How to Cook Food Perfectly at Home with a Super Cheap DIY Sous Vide Machine". Food Hacks. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  5. "IH Jar Rice Cooker: The Special Duty-Free Website Toshiba Living Doors". www.toshiba-lifestyle.co.jp. Retrieved 2021-03-11.
  6. "Toshiba Firsts Of Their Kind". Toshiba Corp. Museum. Archived from the original on 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
  7. Ewbank, Anne (2020-07-31). "The Battle to Invent the Automatic Rice Cooker". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  8. "Japan's First Automatic Electric Rice Cooker". Toshiba Science Museum.

Further reading

  • Nakano, Yoshiko (2009), Where There Are Asians, There Are Rice Cookers: How 'National' Went Global via Hong Kong, Hong Kong University Press, ISBN 978-988-8028-08-5
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.