Rice Cookers Guide

A reliable rice cooker is an essential cooking appliance in any size restaurant with rice on its menu. A rice cooker, sometimes called a slow cooker, can give your staff more time for other tasks and ensure that your rice is cooked to perfection every time. Simply add water, rice, turn the machine on, and walk away.

There are a number of features and specifications to consider when investing in a new rice cooker. Selecting the wrong machine can be both costly and headache inducing. Researching which machine you need before you buy can make purchasing a new rice cooker as easy as, well, making rice in a rice cooker.

What Size of Rice Cooker Do I Need?

The sizing of rice cookers is measured by the maximum cups produced per cycle. Pick a rice cooker size that will give you the most cups you will ever need from one batch. Imagine how much rice you need every 30-45 minutes during your biggest rush and get that size. You can always cook smaller batches during the lulls.

1-10 Cup Rice Cooker

Home use- this size is very small and will often not be used in a commercial setting. If you cook rice often at home and want to invest in a good cooker, then 1-10 cups is likely your size.

21-30 Cup Rice Cooker

Light Commercial Use- for restaurants that serve rice with only a few dishes and are not extremely busy, a 21-30 cup rice cooker should fit your needs.

31-40 Cup Rice Cooker

Medium Commercial Use- for a medium sized restaurant with a handful of dishes that include rice, a 31-40 cup rice cooker should be the right fit.

51-60 Cup Rice Cooker

Heavy Commercial Use- often, 51-60 cup rice cookers are reserved for restaurants that include rice in almost every dish. Asian and Mexican restaurants almost always opt for the heaviest use cookers.

The Inner Pot


  • Aluminum- inner pots are most often made of aluminum as it is durable, light, and dent resistant. It cannot however be washed in a commercial dishwasher as the chemicals will erode the aluminum.
  • Stainless Steel- these can be harder to find but can be washed in the dishwasher (given the inner pot is removable).
  • Ceramic- usually only small, residential use rice cookers will come with a ceramic inner pot. They don’t often last long in a commercial setting where equipment is constantly being moved around and often dropped.

Removable Pot
To be able to clean your rice cooker with ease, a removable inner pot is recommended. You can remove the inner pot from of the cooker itself and carry it over to the sink with ease. This way, you don’t have to lug a heavy cooker around or worry about getting the cord wet during cleaning.
If you plan to put the inner pot in the dishwasher, make sure it is both removable and made from a dishwasher safe material (not aluminum).

Heating Vs. Holding

Rice cookers with a hold feature are great when you have a large capacity cooker that you would like to hold your rice warm for the next few hours. Most slow rice cookers with a hold feature will keep your rice warm for 2-5 hours depending on the model.

Rice cookers without a hold feature are created purely to cook the rice and nothing more, they shut off after the cycle is completed. If you are using large amounts of rice quickly then a hold feature may not be necessary.

Cooking Timer

The way that rice cookers work is by an internal timer. You simply fill it with the recommended amount of rice and water, flip the “on” switch, and the cooker will do the rest. After it has reached its cycle time the cooker will either shut off completely or switch to “hold” mode (depending on your model’s capabilities).

Most cookers will come with a manual that has recommended rice and water proportions for different batch sizes. Rice cookers that can do different batch sizes still run on the same internal timer.

Special Features

Multi-Use Rice Cookers

  • Some rice cookers double as pressure cookers which can be very useful in kitchens with limited space. What sets these cookers apart is that they have a lid designed to fit very tightly and create pressure inside of the chamber. The rice usually cooks faster in these models, and you get the added benefit of using it as a pressure cooker when needed.
  • There are also rice cookers that have been specifically designed to cook all of the various types of rice, including jasmine, wild, or brown in additional to your typical white rice.

Gas Vs. Electric Rice Cookers

  • Most slow rice cookers are electric and come with a cord and plug. These are the most common simply because most modern kitchens place their rice cookers on a counter and want to use an electrical outlet.
  • There are still a number of gas rice cookers out there for those with gas lines rather than outlets in the kitchen. Most use a Piezo Ignition system which does not require an outside power source. If you have a gas rice cooker though, most local codes require it be under a hood. Refer to your local authority before purchasing a gas rice cooker to make sure you are meeting all safety requirements.

Rice Cooker Reviews

Our current favorite is the Town Food 37 Cup Rice Cooker/ Steamer. The size is great for most restaurants and it can cook a lot of different kinds of rice (jasmine, brown, wild) perfectly. It’s incredibly durable and has a 2 year warranty to boot.
Some additional features:

  • Electric
  • Has a hold feature
  • Removable pot for easy cleaning
  • Metal, dent resistant aluminum pot
  • Includes a rice cup and paddle

What features are important to you? Do you have a rice cooker you love? Let us know in the comments!
**Update: There are a lot of really neat things you can make in your cooker besides just rice. For a few ideas check out this article.


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