Cooking rice – cooktop vs rice cooker, which is better?
What’s the best way to cook rice? Many would say a rice cooker, but do you really need another appliance to cook rice, or will your cooktop suffice? And which is the cheaper appliance to run?
Our test lab recently ran some rice cooking tests using ceramic cooktops, recording their cooking times and energy consumption. We have the same data for rice cookers. So how do the two compare?
- Rice cookers in our test took from 18 to 57 minutes to cook 2 cups of rice.
- Most took over 30 minutes.
- Ceramic cooktops in our latest test took between 20 and 25 minutes to cook the same amount of rice.
Costs are based on cooking rice three times a week for a year.
- Rice cookers cost between $3 and $11 for the year (only one model was $3, the rest were $5 and above).
- The average cost was $7.35.
- Ceramic cooktops cost between $4.22 and $6.02 for the year.
- The average cost was $5.11.
Which is best?
Ceramic cooktops win on numbers alone – they are quicker, and on average over $2 a year cheaper to run than rice cookers.
Ceramic cooktops are higher powered – hence being quicker to cook with – but as you can see from the results, higher power doesn’t always mean higher costs.
How we test
We cooked 2 cups of jasmine white rice using the absorption method. The time and energy required would be similar for larger quantities.
Are rice cookers easier to use though?
A good rice cooker can mean consistently good results, especially if you struggle with cooking rice using other methods. They are also a set-and-forget appliance, so good for busy households or those of us with short attention spans.
But with a bit of practice, a decent pan and a good cooktop, you should be able to cook rice consistently well on your cooktop. Many newer electric cooktops also have a ‘keep warm’ function to keep your rice warm just like you can in a rice cooker. Or you can just set the dial to the lowest temperature.
A sustainable option
Having an extra appliance for a simple cooking task is not a particularly sustainable option. Your built-in appliances can be more energy efficient and quicker, and a cooktop is likely to last longer than a benchtop appliance too.
We recommend learning to use your current appliances to their full before considering another product that might just end up in the landfill.