Are you one of the many people asking what makes Zojirushi rice cookers so popular? In this article we’ll provide more information about the brand and which type of Zojirushi rice cooker is best for your needs. In Japan, Zojirushi continues to rank as the rice cooker of choice in 2024 as can be seen on Japanese top comparison site Kakaku.com, and globally the brand remains synonymous with high quality products.
Upgrading to a Zojirushi rice cooker is a rite of passage both in Japan and across the world, as a Suihanki, or rice cooker, is an inseparable part of any kitchen where you plan to cook rice regularly. Whether this is the first time to learn about Zojirushi, or are looking for reassurance just before you buy, read on to find the perfect Zojirushi rice cooker for you.
Disclosure: We only recommend products and services we would use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own. When you make a purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you.
Why buy a Zojirushi rice cooker?
For more than fifty years, Zojirushi has been perfecting the electrical rice cooker, and in 1974 they released their innovative model that could both electrically steam rice and keep it at serving temperature. This was just the beginning – they have since consistently developed their products to bring out each individual grain’s full flavor potential, while saving both time and energy. Zojirushi rice cookers are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also incorporate modern technologies like fuzzy logic and induction heating into the design. These types of features along with their reliability have made their products stand out from others in the market.
What are the different types of rice cookers?
There are four main types of electric rice cookers. They have different methods of heating, come with different features and functionalities, and have a digital interface once you are past the basic level. It’s no secret that the price range between different types of rice cookers can be significant. To help explain why, we’ll take a closer look at each one.
Standard Rice Cooker
Simple yet effective, the standard rice cooker is an electric appliance with two main components. It includes a bowl and an electrically-powered heating element to cook rice.
Micom Rice Cooker
One of earliest electric rice cookers is a Micom, or Microcomputer Rice Cooker. This device features a heat source positioned at its base and includes an embedded microcomputer that automatically controls the heat of the rice cooker.
IH Rice Cooker
This rice cooker uses induction heating and electromagnetic power to produce heat evenly across the whole pot. With IH, the interior pan is the heating source which results in each grain of rice being uniformly heated.
Pressure IH Rice Cooker
As you may guess, with this rice cooker you have the application of pressure together with induction heating during the cooking process. Some newer models include AI technology to refine and improve the cooking process.
How to choose the right Zojirushi for you
This is going to depend on a couple of factors which you’ll already know or need to consider:
A) Rice Cooker Capacity
First, how many cups of rice will you regularly need to cook? If you’re cooking for yourself and one other person, then a rice cooker that holds 3 cups uncooked should be fine. However if you’re cooking for a family you’ll need a rice cooker that can hold at least 5.5 cups. For a large family, it is worth considering a rice cooker with capacity of 10 cups.
For some readers, this will be more important than others. Something to bear in mind is how often are you really going to be using this rice cooker, and what type of rice cooker are you upgrading from? If you are currently cooking rice in a pan, and are only cooking rice once a week or less, a standard Zojirushi rice cooker could be completely adequate. However if you are cooking rice at least once or twice a week and want to upgrade from your old rice cooker which is hard to clean and makes mediocre rice, you should invest in at least a Micom Rice Cooker.
Meanwhile, if you are not restricted by budget, and you care about quality, then an IH rice cooker which really brings out the umami of each rice grain would be your best option. Remember that you do need to watch out for voltage when buying a rice cooker. In the UK, make sure to get a rice cooker with 220V, otherwise you will need a transformer and an adaptor.
C) What do you want to use your Rice Cooker for?
If you just want to cook rice, then a standard rice cooker may be the right move. However, when considering additional features like keeping your rice warm for a longer duration, or capabilities such as steaming food, making porridge, or even cakes, it may be wise to step up to the Micom level and above.
Where to buy Zojirushi?
There are several online stores where you can buy Zojirushi outside of Japan. It will depend where you based in the world, however two global sites are Amazon and Discovery Japan. Here are the pros and cons of each site.
Amazon is perhaps the best known and it’s likely you already have an Amazon Prime account so you know shipping is free and in general you can make returns without paying for shipping. Other points to know are that stock in the UK can get low and some US models require a transformer. With Discovery Japan you’ll find lower prices however you’ll need to consider customs tax (approximately 20% of the rice cooker cost) and pay for shipping.
The Zojirushi rice cooker we bought (review below) is unfortunately no longer available on Amazon UK, however if you are in the US, you can still currently purchase the NS-TSC10 which has the same functionality. For UK readers, the closest Zojirushi rice cooker model that comes with a UK plug and voltage is the 10 cup Zojirushi NS-YMH10 Multifunction Rice Cooker. A smaller but more affordable model is the 3 cup NS-LHC05 Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer which still provides a wide range of cooking functions, and if you’re searching for an IH Zojirushi model a good option is the 5 cup NP-HCC10XH IH Rice Cooker. These last two rice cookers are US models so remember you’ll need to get a transformer and UK plug.
Meanwhile, Discovery Japan has significantly cheaper prices since you are buying from Japan. For example, the 10 cup NS-ZLH18-WZ costs £230 which includes FedEx international priority shipping and then you need to add customs tax on top. Other Micom models like the 10 cup NS-YMH18 Micom with shipping comes to £250. So if you are looking to save some money this is a good option and these models all come with UK voltage (220 – 240V). On the other hand if you are thinking of upgrading or starting out with an IH Zojirushi rice cooker, you may want to consider the 10 cup NP-HJH-18 IH rice cooker.
How to prepare Japanese rice before cooking
- First add a small amount of water, with the aim of quickly rinsing the rice to remove any tiny particles, before discarding this water straightaway.
- Then add 5-10 times the amount of water as rice and swirl 10 times, before draining off the water. Repeat 3 times and remember to gently stir the rice. If possible use soft water.
- Soak in water for 30 minutes using the same amount of water as the rice.
How to use a Zojirushi rice cooker?
It’s really straightforward to use the Zojirushi rice cooker series for cooking white rice. All you have to do is add the rice into the inner pan, pour the desired amount of water. Zojirushi makes it easy by providing a line that indicates where you should fill up to depending on the number of cups you are using. Then you press the start button and wait for your rice to cook. Of course you can change the menu button if you wish to use another function such as the steam function. And if you are cooking brown rice you can select the “brown” function.
Once your rice is ready, you’ll hear a jingle from the rice cooker (you can choose different options or mute this).
What Zojirushi did we buy?
We bought our new Zojirushi at the end of May as a birthday present to ourselves. After searching online to see what the best option was for us, we decided on the Zojirushi NS-TSQ10 rice cooker. This has a 1.0 liter capacity which means it can hold 5.5 cups of uncooked white rice or up to 4 cups of uncooked brown rice.
The NS-TSQ10 is one of the Micom direct heating rice cookers that Zojirushi assembles in China and then ships overseas. While some may consider this to go against their “Made in Japan” product policy, in reality, the parts are Japanese and the quality assurance checks are of the same standard as those in Japan.
In terms of quality, we are extremely impressed with the NS-TSQ10. The rice cooker is lighter than expected at 3.6 kilograms, and very easy to clearn. The inner lid can be detached and easily washed, while the thick inner cooking pan is so quicky to clean with just a few swipes of a sponge.
We’ve not gone through all the functions yet even after a few months, however we have cooked white rice several times a week, and found the rice tastes so much better compared to our previous standard rice cooker. It’s not just that the rice is fluffy, but the texture is different too as you can enjoy each pillowy grain. One thing to note is that cooking rice will take between 40 to 60 minutes depending on how much rice you add.
On the flipside, we found the NS-TSQ10 to be excellent in keeping rice warm. It’s in pretty much the same state the next morning, and we tested how it was the following day in the evening, and it’s still more than passable although you can tell the difference by this point.
What accessories are included with a Zojirushi rice cooker?
When you unpack the rice cooker from its box, you’ll find two accessories along with the rice cooker. The first is a measuring cup. This allows you to measure cups of rice and also cups of water when filling up your rice cooker. And the second is a Shamoji rice paddle. If you don’t already have one, you’ll find this makes your life a lot easier when scooping out rice or fluffing it up before serving.
What can you cook with a Zojirushi Micom rice cooker?
First, here are the different functions for most Zojirushi Micom rice cookers:
- White, sushi, porridge, sweet and brown rice settings
- Cake baking function
- Steaming function
Soon, we will be adding difference recipes for food that you can make with rice cookers such as Takikomi Gohan. In the meantime, please feel free to review the recipes on the Zojirushi website.
We hope that this article was helpful to provide a better understanding of why Zojirushi rice cookers are so highly rated and which Zojirushi rice cooker might be best suited for your kitchen right now. If you are looking for more information about how to check for the quality of Japanese Rice, please check our article on why Japanese rice is so good.
Disclaimer: All information is correct at the time of publishing and we will review regularly to ensure it stays updated. However we would recommend checking each manufacturer’s website for the latest product information.