Anyone have one and love it? Or do you need to suck it up and spend some cash?
Can I get a good rice cooker for under $60?
Today's WSJ has an article on rice cookers and they rec'd the Oster ($16) as the fastest, most economical model. Cons were that the outside gets hot and the rice tends to scorch on the outside if you leave it in. Pros are price and it cooks rice in 20 mins. I think they said they got it Walmart?
Just something to consider - most rice cookers have a pot made of aluminum or teflon. Both pose potential health risks. A rice cooker with a stainless steel pot may be worth the extra investment for you. If you decide that is the case, please be sure to buy a rice cooker with a stainless POT - many advertise themselves to be stainless steel but they are referring to the OUTSIDE of the pot, which doesn't matter if safety is your concern.
I like having a rice cooker but I don't consider it an essential. I don't have one right now, but it still is on my wish list rather than being something I would have no use for.
For ME, the draw of a rice cooker is to be able to set and forget. I cook brown rice and it takes 45 minutes. Usually the other part of a meal involving brown rice takes 15 minutes. So I will want to walk away for a while.
Even if I take the timer with me, I can easily forget to look at it and then it rings and I have to scramble down there to deal with the food. With a rice cooker, I just plop the rice and water in and just come back later when I'm ready.
Also, I'm sure this is not kosher, but I like to turn on the rice cooker before leaving for an errand or something. Because it automatically turns off (or rather, sets to "warm" as opposed to "cook") I can come back to already done rice with little fear. On DD's gynmastics nights, I frequently have to scramble for a quick meal when we return, but because rice meals have the vast majority of their time on rice cooking, but not so much on the other stuff, it's nice to put in the rice, take her to gynmastics, come back, have rice all ready and just chop up some veggies and sautee them quickly in curry. I can get that on the table in less time than pasta.
So, that's it for me. Stovetop rice is fine, but the set-and-forget convenience is really nice and means we have more rice because it's just easier when I don't have to keep an eye on it and because I feel ok about running out for a little while and leaving it be (would NEVER do this with stovetop rice).
I love my rice cooker more than any other kitchen gadget I own - and I have a cheapie one, probably the same one mentioned above (I'm sure that's the brand). So, while I don't have experience with anything fancier, mine makes me happy. We are a family of 6, and even though the rice cooker looks small, it makes plenty of brown rice *perfectly and effortlessly* for us several times a week.
What laohaire said, though, is the only concern I have. The inside is non-stick stuff, and so a more health-conscious person might invest in a safer rice cooker, which is obviously a lot more expensive than the one I use. I guess I just don't worry about it enough at this point to get a new one (plus when I researched, they were really hard to come by).
Yeah, I will say that the rice cooker I had I was perfectly, perfectly, perfectly happy with. It was your basic model from Walmart. I think I've heard of a few lemons out there but for the most part, a rice cooker is a rice cooker. It's just the cooking surface that worried me enough to chuck it out (plus I had scratched the heck out of it too, I got it when I was too dumb to realize I had to use only a wooden spoon with it - well, we live and learn).
Yep, I got a $20 one at costco and it works great (have considered getting one with a steel insert though, I don't buy any teflon type stuff and didn't even think about it wrt to the rice cooker until years later, duh!).
When I cooked rice on the stove I was always struggling with not enough/too much water, water boiling over, rice burned on the bottom....etc... I stick it in the rice cooker any time and it will be ready and warm whenever I need it and it always comes out perfect, plus I can still have rice or other stuff during the summer without heating the house up and I can cook up a larger volume and I can also still use my stove top for other things (with the six of us stove top surface becomes a major issue)... many times I'm using up all the burners and I just do not have room for one more pot.