Whether you call it the Elephant Rice Cooker or the Zojirushi rice cooker, this brand is very popular . . and rightfully so. We’ve taken an in-depth look at our top 4 Zojirushi rice cooker picks for 2017. Read the pros and cons to help you determine which model will best meet your needs.
Making rice at home can be a real pain. It ends up either a sticky mess or under-cooked, which can ruin your perfect meal. A rice cooker solves this problem and allows you to focus on getting the rest of the meal just right.
But how do you know which one to pick? Which brand can you really trust?
Zojirushi is one of the market leaders — and for good reason. They offer a range of quality solutions that should fit any budget or kitchen. Here is a handy chart for a quick comparison of the 4 categories of rice cookers manufactured by Zojirushi
|Model||NSRNC18FZ Automatic Electric Rice Cooker and Warmer||NS-ZCC18 Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker||NP-HCC18XH Induction Heating System Rice Cooker and Warmer||NP-NVC18 Induction Heating Pressure Cooker|
|capacity||choice of 1 or 1.8 liters||choose 1 or 1.8 liters||choice of 1 or 1.8 liters||choice of 5.5 or 10 cups|
|price range||$100 - 150||$150 - 200||$250 - 300||$350 - 400|
|category||conventional||micro computerized [Micom]||induction heating|
IH + MICOM
|pressure + IH+ Micom|
|features included||nonstick inner pan|
single switch control
keeps rice warm up to 10 or 12 hours
good choice if you just want to cook white rice
|neuro fuzzy logic technology for automatic adjustments|
multi menu selections
nonstick inner pan
|multi-menu cooking options|
generates even heating all around sides and bottom
LCD control panel
|uses pressure to cook rice faster
automatically adjusts conditions to produce perfect rice
multi-menu cooking functions for variety of types of rice/grains
Just to clear up any confusion: the Zojirushi Company began making rice cookers in 1970. The “Zo” part of the name means elephant in Japanese, so this cooker became known as the elephant rice cooker. I find that name easier to remember and to say, and it is more fun.
As Japanese, Thai, and Korean food become increasingly popular in the United States, it may be time for you to get yourself a rice cooker.
If, like me, you have tried to make rice on the stovetop, you know it can be a frustrating ordeal. Rice seems to take forever to cook, especially brown rice, and you have to stand over the stove and watch it the whole time to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Sure, Minute Rice exists but you’re not in college anymore, and you actually want flavor and texture out of your rice. Also, with the stovetop method I feel like I’m Goldilocks, and the rice turns out either too mushy or too tough, never just right.
Rice cookers are truly a blessing for lovers of asian cuisine. Even the most inexpensive rice cookers will make a batch of rice that is fluffier and more flavorful than what you could ever make on the stove. And probably the best part of all is that once you set the rice cooker up, you can leave it alone until it’s done cooking.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to rice cookers out there. But real rice aficionados will tell you that Zojirushi is one of the best brands. In this article we are going to take a look at Zojirushi rice cookers to determine which of their many models is right for you.
The Zojirushi company is almost 100 years old. It got its start by manufacturing vacuum bottles. Zojirushi literally means “elephant banner” in Japanese which explains their logo and why many people call their rice cookers “elephant rice cookers”
In 1970 the company produced its first rice warmer, and they have been producing rice warmers and cookers ever since. Having almost 50 years of rice cooker experience makes Zojirushi rice cookers some of the most advanced rice cookers on the market.
Zojirushi makes rice cookers that fit into 4 categories:
The conventional is the simplest and most inexpensive. The pressure + IH + micom represents the highest quality in the line-up.
The Conventional line of Zojirushi rice cookers have basic functionality and are inexpensive. This line of Elephant rice cooker is perfect for beginners or people who just want to make simple Japanese white rice. Making white rice is as simple as adding rice, water, and pushing a button.
The Conventional Zojirushi rice cookers will also act as rice warmers. They can even be used to steam vegetables. You can cook brown rice in the Conventional models but the flavor and texture won’t be as good as on the higher end models. The main functionality of the conventional models is to cook white rice.
This Zojirushi NSRNC18FZ Automatic Electric Rice Cooker and Warmer 10-Cup is a great example of a simple, conventional rice cooker. With its single switch control, you just put in the water and the rice and turn it on. Buy it here at Amazon.
Micom stands for micro computerized, which essentially means that these rice cookers have more buttons and an lcd screen. Along with more buttons, though, comes more functionality. The Micom Elephant rice cookers will automatically soak the rice before cooking and automatically steam the rice afterward. This really creates perfectly cooked rice that the stove top method can’t compete with. The Micom models are also capable of cooking brown rice and sweet rice to perfection.
The NS-ZCC18 10-cup Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker available at Amazon is a great example of the Micom rice cooker.
Another great feature of the Micom models is the digitized warming feature. After cooking the rice the Micom can keep the rice warm up to twelve hours, all automatically. This is great for throwing rice and water into the rice cooker before you leave for work in the morning and then having perfectly warm, cooked rice waiting for you for dinner.
The Micom line and above gives you a special “menu” button where you can fine tune the settings for white, umami, mixed, sushi, porridge, sweet, brown, GABA brown, rinse-free, quick cooking and slow cook.
The IH in this line of rice cookers stands for “induction heating“. Induction heating is a popular and advanced method of cooking rice that is different from the way standard cookers create heat. A standard rice cooker will have an electric heating element (like the burner on an electric stove) which heats the bottom of the cooker. This causes the rice at the bottom and the rice at the top to cook at different temperatures. This can result in inconsistency in the texture.
Induction heating uses electromagnetism to heat the whole batch evenly. It also means that temperatures can be fine tuned by the microcomputer in the rice cooker to the perfect level.
Just like in the Micom line, the IH Zojirushi rice cookers have the convenient menu button with some added options. The induction heating system is so fine tuned that you can actually set these models to cook softer or harder white rice as well as jasmine white rice.
Zojirushi NP-HCC18XH Induction Heating System Rice Cooker and Warmer, 1.8 L, Stainless Dark Gray
This model is a real gem! It is rare that I find a product that is almost unanimously given a 5-star rating by its users. And this amazing appliance does so much more than cook rice. You can find it here on Amazon.
The high pressure models of the Zojirushi rice cookers are their highest quality and have the most features. We’re all familiar with pressure cookers. Well, adding pressure cooker technology to a rice cooker has a number of advantages.
Cooking rice under pressure actually raises the temperature of the cooking process without burning the rice. This means that the pressure line of Elephant rice cookers actually cooks rice faster than a traditional rice cooker would. The pressure system also has the added benefit of making the rice softer and remain softer, longer.
The pressure line of Zojirushi rice cookers uses what the company calls “fuzzy logic” technology to help better cook your rice. Zojirushi says that this “fuzzy logic” technology is like artificial intelligence, which is of course an exaggeration. The Zojirushi uses this technology to sense the conditions inside the rice cooker while the rice is cooking in order to adjust its settings for a perfectly tuned batch of rice.
Zojirushi NP-NVC18 Induction Heating Pressure Cooker is described as “the most intelligent rice cooker ever made”. Click here to buy it on Amazon.
It comes in a 5.5 or 10 cup capacity.
Zojirushi has a well deserved reputation in the rice cooking industry and it’s not hard to see why. With almost 50 years of rice cooking experience, Zojirushi has some of the most advanced rice cookers on the market. That technology and experience can come at a hefty price tag though and unless you are regularly making exotic rices, the top Zojirushi rice cookers may not be for you.
Luckily Zojirushi has a full line of rice cookers where even the casual rice chef can find practical options. Even their basic rice cookers are priced higher than many of their competitors and you may find it more reasonable to go with a different brand if all you want is an on/off switch.
Overall, you won’t need to worry about quality with a Zojirushi rice cooker.