As questions go, this one is pretty tricky to answer. But you can steam it down (pun intended) to the simple question: How many times a week are you cooking rice or plan to cook rice?
If you are cooking the rice at least three times a week, I would say that they are worth it, as it saves you time and delivers the perfect fluffy rice to your table every time.
But if you are interested in a bit deeper analysis of why they are worth it, let’s follow me on a little journey through the ins and outs of the rice cookers business.
Are rice cookers worth the money?
When most of us cook, we tend to think about money. How much will a portion cost, can I skip some expensive ingredients or how may I save some time or expenses on prep.
Similar to the article about the worth of the deep fryers I would like to make a similar breakdown of the costs of running the rice cooker.
In my life, I have done a fair share of cooking everything that I have laid my eyes on or wanted to try and enjoy. Not only that, but I also try to share my thoughts and experiences with food and tech. That’s what is this whole website about, after all.
If you are interested in rice cookers, in general, I have a whole section dedicated to them here.
Also, I would like to let you know that for my calculations and arguments of worth, I am borrowing one of the rice cookers from my article about these with timers. Specifically, I am talking about the Zojirushi.
So that is it for the background. Let’s dive back to the calculation.
To get the costs of one serving of rice, we will count on the price of electricity per hour, the price of one cup of rice, which is about the size of a serving, and the cost of water.
For the rice, I have picked some that I do usually use, that being the Nishiki rice, which goes for 65.21 dollars at the time of writing this. I know it seems like a lot, but bear in mind that the pack is quite massive. So it will last for some time. On top of that, you are getting as best Japanese experience as you can from your rice.
The package is in size of 240 oz, which would provide you with 30 cups of rice. So the price of one cup of rice would be almost 2.17 dollars.
As you might have a party or want to save some time on prep and plan to freeze the rice for future use, let’s say that we are cooking to the full potential of the rice cooker, which is 10 cups at once. So for 10 cups, the price goes to 21.7 dollars.
In terms of electricity, we already know that the current average price of the one-kilowatt hour is 19.31 cents. I am rounding it to 19 cents, so it is easier to think about it.
I am not including the price per kWh of my rice cooker, as it is a 680W one, which would not give us even a full kWh, so I am going to count it as a full kilowatt-hour.
In combination with the rice, the batch of 10 cups of raw rice will yield you 20 cups of cooked rice, as it basically doubles in size. This messes a bit with our math, but even though the price adds up to 21.89 dollars since the additional cups don’t cost extra. But we get the yield that halves the cost (we inputted the 10 cups and got 20 cups) to 10.94 dollars. In terms of electricity, you are still paying for one kilowatt-hour.
And now the water. Sure, you could use a bottled one, and in some cases, it might be better or preferred, but in this example, I hope you have access to clean tap water.
Now the price will get a bit trickier, as the price for 1000 gallons of tap water in the US is currently around 2 dollars. As we are using the 20 cups since the water to rice ratio is 2:1, it would cost us about 0.25 cents, so one-quarter of 1 cent. This addition to the cost is negligible as I have no idea how to pay it.
So, in the end, you have one cup of cooked rice for about 1.09 dollars, which is not bad at all. Of course, I am using different rice than you are, so there is still room for more savings.
All these numbers might be confusing, so let’s put them on a nice table.
|Rice (Nishiki) 240 oz||65.21 dollars|
|1 kWh (kilowatt hour)||19.31 cents (rounded to 19 cents)|
|10 cups of raw rice (limit of rice cooker)||21.89 dollars|
|20 cups of cooked rice (it doubles in size by cooking)||10.94 dollars|
|1 cup of cooked rice||1.09 dollars|
So with the costs breakdown, let’s talk about other reasons to consider when buying yourself a rice cooker.
Usefulness aka the Real Worth
As mentioned before, one of the most critical questions is how many times a week are you cooking rice. If it is at least three times, I would strongly recommend you to get one. The comfort of having a tech that solves the need for light and fluffy rice, while at the same time allowing you to have your hands free for prep of other things is almost priceless.
My wife still prefers cooking the rice the old way, you know, in the pot. Still, it limits her potential significantly, as she has to watch for boilover and mix the rice so it won’t burn, etc.
Now there is a lot of choices out there for rice cookers, and I do admit that mine is a bit more expensive than most people would consider. But my mom always says, you are not rich enough to buy cheap things.
And she is correct.
While it is more expensive, it saves me a lot of time, delivers substantially, and opens up a wide variety of recipes to cook.
Before, I had to measure, watch over, and play with heat to cook rice the way I want it to be. You would be surprised how much time you spent cooking types like brown rice, jasmine rice, black rice, basmati rice, wild rice, and so on to perfection.
The amount of tries and failures it takes to master it is massive.
On top of that, if you have kids, you might want to spend more time with them, than in the kitchen.
Yes, you will learn a ton while doing it, but trust me, looking back at it and knowing what I have been missing, I would buy myself a rice cooker in a heartbeat.
And with all this I do hope I have been able to answer the question:
Are rice cookers worth it?
In my mind, they are because the ability and possibility to have perfectly cooked rice anytime I want is priceless.
Until next time I wish you happy and more comfortable cooking.