The most expensive rice cooker may not be the best one for you. Your choice should be based on your needs and budget. The brand, country of origin, price, size, materials, and heating system are all factors to consider. However, you at least have the assurance that every rice cooker sold in Australia must be SAA-approved.
1. Zojirushi vs Tiger Vs Cuckoo
There are many rice cooker brands, and it can be confusing for customers to choose one. Zojirushi, Tiger, and Cuckoo are three major brands made in Japan and Korea.
Tiger is one of my favourite brands, and it has been in the market for over fifty years. Their rice cookers are renowned for their durability. One consistent feature of Tiger is their insistence on products being made in Japan. Tiger also prioritises keeping its production close to its Research and Development (R&D) departments in Japan. This proximity greatly enhances quality control. While this ensures quality, a downside is that supply can sometimes be hindered because production capacity in Japan is not limitless.
Zojirushi has always ranked high in the international market, but, unfortunately, it was absent in Australia for half a century. Only recently has Zojirushi recognised the rising demand for their products in Australia.
Although it is a Japanese brand, not all Zojirushi products are made there; in fact, many of their products are made in Thailand and China. We can confirm that the current model available in Australia is made in Japan. Zojirushi technology is its attention to detail, ensuring that each type of rice is cooked perfectly. They achieve this without utilising pressure and induction technology, which I will explain later in this article.
It is evident that the Japanese approach places quality over quantity. When it comes to rice cookers made in Japan, both Zojirushi and Tiger stand out for their excellence.
The first Zojirushi rice cookers in Australia
The first Zojirushi rice cookers in Australia, available in both 5-cup and 10-cup models, are expected to arrive by mid to the end of this year.
Stock is limited. Pre-order now.
Zojirushi Micom Multifunctional Rice Cookers
Cuckoo is a popular choice according to customer feedback. Its key advantage is the flexibility it offers, allowing users to customise various settings. On the flip side, its interface can be complex to navigate, particularly for those accustomed to the interface of standard rice cookers available in the market.
2. What factors should you consider?
When choosing a rice cooker for yourself, the first thing you need to consider is the price range. There are people who just want a top model for around $1000. That product will undoubtedly be the best. However, a rice cooker that costs about $400 can be just as effective as the more expensive models.
Size is the next factor to consider. There are 3-cup, 5-cup, 6-cup and 10-cup options (see footnote regarding capacity) available. A cup refers to 150ml to 180ml of uncooked rice, which is equivalent to two small bowls of rice that you normally see in Japanese and Korean restaurants. You can then choose the material of the inner pot.
Today, non-stick inner pots are very durable and made with safe materials. Zojirushi uses a non-stick inner pot, and feedback has been very positive in their American market. As for the competitors, Cuckoo offers the reputable XWall series, and Tiger has ceramic coatings with up to 8 layers. While, ceramic nonstick layers are more common in cookware, they are still rare in inner pots for rice cookers.
For customers who do not want non-stick surfaces, the Buffalo stainless steel rice cooker is an alternative. Buffalo rice cookers are made in China. However, stainless steel rice cookers have a few limitations you should be aware of.
Capacity of Japanese and Korean rice cookers
It is important to understand rice cooker capacity.
- The capacity of Korean and Japanese rice cookers is measured very simply. Tiger, Cuckoo and Zojirushi rice cookers use 180ml as 1 measuring cup. 10 cups is 1.8 litres.
- 1 cup is equivalent to 2 small bowls of rice that we usually see in restaurants.
- The liters in the Japanese and Korean rice cooker industry do not refer to the exact volume of the inner pot. The number refers to the amount of rice that the given rice cooker is capable of cooking.
3. What types should you consider?
We can help you navigate the different types of rice cookers so that you can find the one you need more easily.
We have a filter on the left side of our website. Under heating system, there are three major options: base heat, pressure cooking, and IH induction. Currently, Zojirushi only has base-heated rice cookers in Australia. In contrast, Tiger and Cuckoo offers base heat, IH induction, and pressure rice cookers. Usually, if you choose an induction rice cooker, it comes with a pressure function.
- Base heat: This is the traditional type of heating from the base.
- Pressure cooking: This uses a high temperature and cooks rice more efficiently, especially brown rice.
- IH Induction: This allows rice to be heated from all sides (360 degrees). Heat will not be concentrated at the bottom.
All rice cookers fall into the these categories:
It is important that you carefully follow the instructions for a pressure rice cooker. During the cooking process, pressure will be released from the top. It is also necessary to change the gasket periodically. Pressure rice cookers cannot be opened while cooking.
Do you truly need an IH plus pressure rice cooker? It depends. I will delve deeper into this in the next section. Although pressure cookers have their advantages, maintaining them is not as straightforward as base-heated ones. From my perspective, a base-heated multi-function rice cooker can satisfy most needs.
You may be curious to know my personal preference. Induction rice cookers without pressure are my favourite; however, induction-only rice cookers from brands like Zojirushi, Tiger, or Cuckoo are not available at the moment in Australia.
If you would like to know more about induction rice cookers or cooking time, I have additional articles that may interest you:
4. What about buying internationally?
Fans who seek high-end rice cookers often look at the international market. In the past, many people bought from overseas when Zojirushi rice cookers were still not available in Australia, but warranties are not always included in such purchases. Reviews occasionally mention damage to Zojirushi rice cookers upon delivery, and this kind of damage is not covered by warranty.
As all rice cookers in Australia must be approved by SAA safety certificates, we cannot recommend any overseas model because we cannot guarantee its safety. Check with the retailer to see if the model is suitable for Australia. You assume all risks when you use a rice cooker without SAA approval.
Our recommendation is to buy locally in Australia.
5. The most important factor: your needs
Some customers have a highly developed taste for rice and can detect subtle differences, so pressure plus IH would be a good option for them. Others are not bothered by variations in taste and just want a durable product, so they can get by with a conventional rice cooker or a multifunctional rice cooker that uses base heat.
It is also important to understand the cooking time. Modern and multifunction rice cookers, especially induction and pressure cookers, usually take longer to cook rice. The average cooking time is 30 to 60 minutes. Although there is usually a "quick cook" setting on multifunction rice cookers, cooking time can be reduced only slightly. Note that GABA rice may require a cooking time as long as 200 minutes.
If you prefer a short cooking time, say around 15 minutes, you should use a conventional rice cooker.
Next to consider is the interface. While Japan has long been known for producing reliable rice cookers, Koreans introduced a completely new system. If you are already familiar with using a Japanese rice cooker, Zojirushi and Tiger rice cookers will be easy to use because their interface is simple and user-friendly. However, if you are open to using newer technologies and are comfortable with a more complex interface, you will find that Cuckoo rice cookers have a lot to offer. They even have a rice cooker that speaks!
6. We have a helpful team at My Cookware Australia®
If you would like to discuss what kind of rice cooker you need, feel free to contact us at any time. We will provide you with individualised advice based on your needs.
Remember that the most expensive option is not always the best option for you. You should get what you want based on your budget and your specific needs.
About the Author
Authored by our specialist, Kai, this article serves as one of the finest guides available online, offering an in-depth understanding of Japanese and Korean rice cookers. We maintain its relevance with monthly updates reflecting the dynamic rice cooker industry.
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