Brown rice, with its intact brown layer and germ, takes a little more finesse and time to cook correctly than white rice. The best rice cooker for brown rice heats evenly and conveniently, with a preset program specifically for brown rice, making for effortless, set-it-and-forget-it preparation.
While most rice cookers heat from the bottom of the inner pot, top-of-the-line rice cookers use induction heating for better heat distribution and more evenly cooked rice; this is especially nice to have when cooking brown rice and other whole grains. Anyone who loves brown rice should look for a model with a convenient brown rice button for easy cooking of this weekly staple. And a detachable inner pot is ideal for convenient cleaning of your rice cooker. Some are even dishwasher safe to save you time.
Rice cookers are typically labeled by their capacity in terms of cups of uncooked rice. A 5-cup or 7-cup rice cooker makes about 10 or 14 cups of cooked rice (essentially doubling in size). As a general rule, expect about a cup of cooked rice for every person at your table, more or less, depending on their appetites.
With all this in mind, below are the best rice cookers for brown rice. Each one is highly rated on Amazon - including one rice cooker with over 18,000 reviews. Plus, I've also included a colander designed specifically for rinsing grains, a crucial step to well-cooked brown rice.
1. The Overall Best: An Ultra-Precise Japanese Rice Cooker
The best rice cooker for brown rice is a high-end, highly rated pick with over 1,000 reviews on Amazon. What sets this Japanese rice cooker apart from others is its attention to detail and an induction heating system, so it's more precise for cooking a wider variety of grains. This rice cooker holds up to 5.5 cups, yielding about 10 cups of cooked rice, and has preset programs for brown rice, GABA brown rice, germinated brown rice, white rice (in both harder and softer settings), jasmine white rice, sweet rice, quick-cooking, mixed rice, sushi rice, and porridge.
The stainless steel inner pot is detachable but does require washing by hand. The LCD control panel on this cooker is highly visible and features a clock and timer. Keep in mind this rice cooker turns out exceptional rice, but it does take its time, especially for brown rice; just plan ahead and take advantage of the extended keep-warm function. Reviewers commented they also love using this rice cooker for other grains, like grits or steel cut oats.
(If all this sounds appealing but you're not ready to invest in this model, Zojirushi also has a similar but more budget-friendly Japanese rice cooker for under $200.)
A helpful review: “This is the best rice cooker I've ever had. I've had a regular rice cooker and a pressure cooker. I thought my pressure cooker was good but then I tasted the brown rice out of this thing and it blew me away. The rice cooked in this tastes so much better and seems to keep in the fridge better.”
2. The Runner Up
This rice cooker for brown rice has a pot with five layers and uses induction heating, all of which make for more evenly cooked rice. It has a convenient brown rice button, as well as preset programs for white rice, steaming, quick-cooking, porridge, oatmeal, soup, stew, and slow cooking. This rice cooker also features a convenient sauté-then-simmer function for one-pot meals.
The nonstick coated aluminum inner pot holds up to 6 cups of uncooked rice (i.e. 12 cups cooked) and is removable and dishwasher-safe. Plus, this rice cooker comes in a pretty champagne color or black.
A helpful review: “So I have had many rice cookers over the years and this on by far is the best! I love that it has a quick cook button for rice when I forget to start the rice at a decent time for dinner. Also that I can cook more than just rice in this cooker. The other night I left my rice in the pot with the warmer on for 2 hours and it wasn't burned on the bottom. With my other cookers I had to turn it off once it was done cooking because it would burn the rice if left on warm. I HIGHLY recommend this for anyone that cooks rice a lot or is just looking to invest in a multicooker. It's amazing!"
3. A Cheaper Rice Cooker For Larger Portions
If an under-$50 option that can cook more rice at once sounds more like your speed, try this cheap rice cooker with over 18,000 reviews. This pick holds up to 4 cups of uncooked rice, yielding up to 8 cups of cooked rice and has a convenient brown rice button, plus other presets, like steam (to use with the provided steam tray) and delay timer.
Instead of using induction heat, which is considered more effective, this rice cooker uses a bottom-only heating element but for the super-affordable price point, it's still a quality unit. Plus, its removable nonstick aluminum pot is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
A helpful review: “This is a great rice cooker, especially for the money. I use this 3-5 times a week, mostly cooking brown rice. The brown rice setting works very nicely and as long as I don't add too much water the consistency is neither 'mushy' nor 'dry'. [...] Two cups of dry brown rice yields two days of carbs. It keeps just fine in the cooker itself. This is a huge time saver. The size is perfect. [...] The interior construction is sturdy, the hinges are stable.”
Nice To Have: A Strainer For Rinsing Rice
The OXO grains colander is an excellent tool for rinsing rice, which is a key step for well-cooked brown rice. This colander strains more slowly to wash away impurities from grains like rice or barley; the water pools so it's easier to see when the water is running clear, indicating clean grains. Unlike other strainers or colanders, this one has smaller, square-shaped holes that are useful for rinsing even tiny grains, like quinoa, without pieces getting stuck or falling through.
The bowl holds 2.5 quarts, and it features a pour spout and non-slip handles. With a high rating and over 1,200 reviews, shoppers commented that this makes preparing grains "so much easier."
A helpful review: “I'd been using a regular small mesh colander for washing quinoa and brown rice and that usually meant many grains into the sink or stuck in the holes. This is perfect. No waste. The drain holes are small enough to hold some water while under the tap for a good thorough wash. Excellent design.”