If you’ve ever shopped for a rice cooker, you've probably noticed that many are lined with the non-stick coating polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or as you may know it — Teflon. But studies from the CDC have shown that high temperatures can transform PTFE into toxic Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which can be harmful if ingested. So, if you’re looking for a rice cooker, but want to avoid Teflon, you’ve come to the right place. The best non-Teflon rice cookers perform as well as their non-stick counterparts, without the potential health risks.
Some of the most common Teflon alternatives include clay, ceramic, and stainless steel. Each offers different benefits, whether it’s the semi-porous quality of clay (which is thought to enhance the flavor and texture of foods), or the easy dishwasher clean-up that stainless steel affords.
Keep in mind as you shop: Rice cookers can be as simple as a one-button pot with a lid, or as versatile as multi-cookers with programs to cook different varieties of rice, stews, and porridges. Some models even include racks that can steam foods over cooking rice for complete meal-making.
Whichever of the best non-Teflon rice cookers you choose, rest assured you'll get the performance you expect with the peace of mind that you're using a safe cooking surface.
1. The Best Non-Teflon Rice Cooker: Aroma Housewares Ceramic Rice Cooker/Multi-Cooker
This programmable model from Aroma has a natural ceramic liner that serves as a good alternative to non-stick Teflon, as food releases easily from its surface. With enough capacity to make up to 12 cups of cooked rice, the Aroma is great for anyone who wants to bulk-cook rice or grains for meal prep, or has to feed a crowd. Since the Aroma also functions as a multi-cooker, you can choose between 12 different functions including rice, porridge, slow cook, and steam. The included steaming tray lets you prepare vegetables or meats while rice and grains cook, so you can conserve energy while making complete meals.
What fans say: "The ceramic pot inside the rice cooker is just awesome - a level of nonstick I've never seen before. The cooker itself is great - I've never realized how much better rice can taste using a decent cooker like this compared to a $20 Walmart special. I definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a good rice cooker but doesn't want to drop 2-400 on a more expensive import."
2. The Best Clay Cooker: High-Fired VitaClay 2-in-1 Rice N Slow Cooker
This rice cooker from VitaClay has an insert made from semi-porous Zisha clay, which the company claims yields superior flavor and moisture-retention when cooking foods. Though its programming is a bit limited compared to the Aroma, the VitaClay offers settings for two kinds of rice, as well as soups, stews, and porridge. It also has a 12-hour timer, giving you a range of different cooking options. An included clay lid creates a double-lid design that allows for more pressure during cooking to maximize steaming, yielding tender foods when slow-cooking. The insert should be hand-washed after use, but is durable enough to last for years with proper care.
What fans say: "I bought this slow cooker three years ago. I don’t trust most slow cookers because of their non-stick inner pot even if they are stainless steel on the outside. There are some on the market which have a stainless steel pot, however I thought that the flavor benefits of the porous even heating surface of the clay would be worth trying. So, three years later we are using the pot almost every day! I like to make very creamy porridge in the mornings. Either I put all the ingredients in the night before and set the automatic delay timer on, or I do it in the mornings and don’t have to worry about watching the pot or turning the heat off when it’s done."
3. The Best Value: Aroma Simply Stainless Rice Cooker
If you’re not looking for any bells and whistles from your rice cooker, this 6-cup option from Aroma is a great choice. It comes with a dishwasher-safe stainless steel pot, but is still affordably-priced under $38. The one-button on/off operation, as well as a "keep warm" setting, take the guesswork out of making perfect rice of any variety, as well as stews, chilis, soups, an any other recipe you’d normally make in a stovetop stockpot. If you want to make more than 6 cups of rice, you can choose the 14-cup model, which offers the same functionality in a more generous capacity.
What fans say: "We were getting disappointed and concerned with the teflon coated rice cookers we've gone through, so we looked for one with a stainless steel pot. We've had this new one a couple months now and used it many times. It works well and we're very pleased with it. We were particularly surprised with how fast it cooks the rice. It seems much faster than our previous rice cookers. We also love the simple design and the ability to just pull the pot out put it in the refrigerator for storing leftovers."
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Center For Disease Control (2019), National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, https://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport