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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Multi-Use Rice Cookers
Gas Vs. Electric Rice Cookers
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:
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.