If you like to cook and frequently make rice, you may have heard of a new rice cooker that uses induction heating technology. It sounds sophisticated and high-tech. It may even sound like something they’d use on the spaceship’s kitchen in Star Trek, but what exactly does it mean?
Induction rice cookers are rice cookers that use induction heating—non-contact heating that utilizes electromagnetic conduction—to cook rice. The rice cookers are usually double-layered, and the inner pot plays the role of conductor and allows whatever is in it to cook via induction heating.
In this article, I’ll go a little more in-depth into what induction heating rice cookers are. I’ll talk about how they work, the primary benefits to owning them, and address any disadvantages they may have. Let’s get right to it.
Induction Heating: A Brief History
The idea of induction heating first gained traction in 1933. That year at the World’s Fair, Frigidaire introduced the topic and theorized on how it would work. Over a decade later, they demonstrated a prototype for induction heating appliances. It would be 1970 before they made and marketed an actual device for commercial sales, but it didn’t go over well.
Over the following years, different companies experimented with induction heating and specific products and appliances. Then, in 2009, Panasonic created an entirely metal induction burner. Although it wasn’t as efficient as it could have been, companies jumped on board and once again began making more induction heating products.
The first induction heating rice cooker was actually made earlier in 1988 by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., and it was the foundation for all the induction heating rice cookers to come. Now, induction heating technology is better than ever, and it’s rapidly gaining in popularity.
But how exactly does it work?
What Is Induction Heating?
In the past, rice cookers (and other appliances) used thermal conductivity to cook food. Unfortunately, the heat was subpar compared to gas heat, and as a result, people didn’t like using electric rice cookers. That’s what spurred companies to try heating with eddy currents instead.
Induction heating relies on electromagnetic fields to generate currents inside a conductor. It works best with metals and isn’t optimal for any other material.
The electromagnetic field within the appliance allows it to generate heat inside itself instead of being heated by an external source, which happens with thermal conductivity. That means the metal heats much faster and gets much hotter, putting it on par with gas rice cookers.
How Does an Induction Heating Rice Cooker Work?
Induction heating rice cookers utilize the electromagnetic energy I just discussed to cook rice. Companies design the cookers to have internal pots made of high-conducting metals. These are usually black metal, cast iron, or iron. This inner pot is hooked up to the alternating current, which is moved around and generated in the “magnetic field,” so to speak.
This allows the entire inner pot to heat up and cook the rice. Most electric rice cookers only get hot on the bottom.
There may be some residual heat that travels up the sides, but with induction heating rice cookers, the entire pot is evenly heated because it’s generating its own heat from within the pot.
Not only does this mean the rice cooker gets hot faster and reaches temperatures equivalent to those of gas-powered rice cookers, but it also allows the rice to cook more evenly. Because the heat is the same everywhere in the pot, each grain of rice is subjected to the same temperature and cooks the same way.
What Are the Benefits of an Induction Heating Rice Cooker?
I’ve already mentioned three of the most significant benefits of induction heating rice cookers:
- The entire pot heats up evenly.
- The rice cooks evenly.
- Cooking temperatures are capable of reaching the high level of gas-powered rice cookers.
However, there are plenty of other benefits to using an induction heating rice cooker, as well. Let’s break each of those down now.
Won’t Burn Your Rice
This one goes hand-in-hand with the rice cooking evenly throughout the pot. The bottom of the pot doesn’t get any hotter than the sides or top. Plus, most of the inner containers have a non-stick coating. Together, those two things should eliminate the common problem of rice sticking to the bottom and burning.
The Heat Is Entirely Contained (+ Safety!)
Because the heat is generated within the electromagnetic field, all of it stays inside the pot. The outside of the rice cooker doesn’t get hot; the counter underneath doesn’t get hot, and it shouldn’t burn you when you touch it if the inner pot isn’t inside the machine.
Additionally, because the pot itself generates the heat, removing it from the cooker disconnects the circuit and instantly kills the power.
I’m not sure that the engineers designed it this way specifically as a safety feature, but it doubles as one nonetheless. If you turn on the cooker without the pot inside, nothing happens.
This video talks about induction heating stovetops. However, I wanted to share it because it gives you a little more detail about how induction heating works and shows you how safe they are:
Hopefully, it gave you a better understanding of induction heating.
They Cook Food Faster
Another thing the above video mentions is how much faster induction heating is than traditional electric appliances. The heat in your induction heating rice cooker will reach temperatures hot enough to boil water in about 90 seconds. That means your rice gets done much faster than it would in another type of rice cooker.
Precise Temperature Control
Sophisticated electronic systems control induction heating rice cookers and other appliances powered by induction heating. They give you complete control over your temperature settings, heating to precisely the temperature you set.
The electromagnetic vessel is extremely sensitive to changes in temperature and will constantly make minute adjustments to remain at the temperature setting you choose. It’s an advanced technology, and it works much better than stovetop cooking or gas-powered rice cookers.
Rice Looks and Tastes Better
Let me sum up a few key advantages I’ve already pointed out:
- You have precise control over the cooking temperature.
- The pot is evenly heated, allowing all the rice to cook evenly.
- The pot cooks food more thoroughly and more quickly.
I wanted to restate those benefits because all three are directly related to this one: Your rice looks and tastes better when cooked in an induction heating rice cooker! There’s just no way around it. When things cook evenly and quickly and you can control every aspect of the cooking, things turn out better.
If you want fluffy, perfectly cooked rice every time, induction heating is what you need.
They’re Easy To Clean
Because induction rice cookers have an inner pot, they’re easy to clean. All you have to do is remove the pot and wash it over the sink. Of course, you’ll also want to wipe down the unit, but that isn’t hard to do either.
This video shows you precisely how to clean your rice cooker:
As you can see, clean-up is a breeze. Just be sure not to submerge the inner pot or do anything that could damage the non-stick coating.
They Don’t Waste Energy
Although induction heating rice cookers consume about the same amount, or even a tiny bit more, of energy as other electric rice cookers when in use, they don’t waste energy. As I’ve already mentioned, the moment you remove the inner pot from the unit, the whole thing powers itself off. With other electric rice cookers, you have to physically turn them off to get them to stop cooking.
Not only is this a fire hazard if you often forget things, but it also wastes a lot of energy. That doesn’t happen with these rice cookers.
Thanks to the precisely controlled temperatures, you also won’t use more energy than you need while cooking the rice. Both of these things help cut down on wasted energy.
No Need To Pre-Boil Rice
With some electric rice cookers, you need to boil your rice beforehand to cook it correctly and quickly. When you use induction heating rice cookers, you can put the rice in straight from the package. The water will boil in less than two minutes, and your rice will cook thoroughly and fully in very little time.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
There aren’t many disadvantages to using an induction heating rice cooker instead of a gas-powered or another electric one when it comes to the actual cooking. They’re safer, cook more evenly, and get just as hot just as quickly. However, there are a few non-cooking-related downsides. They include the following:
Because the technology is so advanced and the rice cookers are still relatively new and exciting, they’re expensive. They cost quite a bit more than other types of electric rice cookers.
However, for many people, their advantages are worth the high price tag. Furthermore, as long as you take care of them, they should last for a long time.
Many of them even come with extended warranties and protection plans that can help ensure you’ll have a long-lasting cooker once you buy it.
They’re Often Larger Than Other Rice Cookers
Induction heating rice cookers are larger than most other electric rice cookers. As a result, they take up a lot more room on the countertop, and they’re heavier and less easy to transport. Part of this is due to their double-layer construction. Part of it is the advanced, intricate heating system. Whatever the reason, the fact is that they’re large and somewhat cumbersome to move.
Top 3 Best Induction Heating Rice Cookers
Since we’re talking about rice cookers, I decided to provide you with a list of my top three favorite options. I’ve broken them down into the following three categories:
- The best overall
- The best for people on a budget
- The one with the most bells and whistles
Let’s take a look at each one.
Best Overall: Zojirushi NP-HCC18XH Rice Cooker and Warmer
I had to go with the Zojirushi NP-HCC18XH as the best induction heating rice cooker because it just has so many great features for such a reasonable price.
As with most induction heating cookers, you can precisely control the temperature setting, but there’s also a delay timer that’ll allow you to start cooking your rice anytime you like—even on your way home from work!
It has specific options for cooking different types of rice and features heaters in the bottom, sides, and lid of the interior pot for superior, all-around heating.
The outside is clear-coated stainless steel, which makes it exceedingly easy to clean, and there’s an easy-to-read LCD control panel that’s pretty much dummy-proof.
Finally, it comes with a few extra accessories, which I appreciate. In addition to the rice cooker, you’ll also get:
- The detachable and washable stainless steel lid
- A measuring cup
- A non-stick rice spatula
- A spatula holder
That’s a lot of great stuff for a relatively reasonable price.
Budget-Friendly Option: JOYDEEM AIRC-4001 Rice Cooker and Warmer
The Joydeem rice cooker is an excellent option for those of us on tight budgets. It has a 24-hour preset option and ten pre-programmed cooking options, as well as a full touchscreen control panel and a built-in water storage tank.
It comes with the central unit and the inner pot with a detachable lid. It also has a steamer, a rice spoon, and a soup ladle. It takes a little longer to cook in this rice cooker, but it has three-zone heating, so everything cooks evenly. It also comes with a one-year warranty, which is always nice.
The One With All the Extra Features: Cuckoo Electric Induction Heating Rice Pressure Cooker
The Cuckoo 10-cup rice cooker isn’t cheap, but it has everything you could possibly want out of a rice cooker and then some! It has everything the two rice cookers above have.
Additionally, it also has the following features:
- Stainless steel ventilation pipe system to cut down on smells
- Double layer gaskets
- LED screen with touch menu
- Voice navigation in English, Korean, and Chinese
- 16 smart menu options
- Non-stick coating
- One-year warranty
- And more!
This is the Rolls Royce of rice cookers. If you have the extra cash to spend and you enjoy making rice and soups, you’ll love this rice cooker.
Induction heating is the newest, safest, and most innovative technology for the kitchen. It’s an effective way to cook that rivals gas-powered cooking for high heat capabilities and speed of cooking and is as safe and convenient as electric cooking.
Some models of induction heating rice cookers are pretty expensive, but you can usually find a few great ones to fit almost any budget. So if you like to have the most up-to-date tech in your kitchen, you need one of these rice cookers.