This Brand Makes the Most Popular Rice Cookers in the World—Here's Why We Love it

How many other rice cookers have inspired this level of devotion?

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Zojirushi rice maker
Photo by Jessica Pettway / Food and Prop Styling by Miako Katoh

The ranks of cult classic kitchenware are tight, filled with the likes of the Le Creuset Dutch oven, KitchenAid stand mixer, and John Boos butcher block. But when it comes to Zojirushi, there's no one clear iconic product; rice cookers, insulated tumblers, and water boilers all inspire equally ardent followings. The launch of the brand's first automatic breadmaker in 1988 helped get its name out to the broader American market—before then, Tatsu Yamasaki, president and CEO of Zojirushi America, says that the Zojirushi was mostly found only in Asian groceries and gift shops across the country. Since then, the brand has developed staggering street cred and even released special-edition versions of its tumblers with popular brands like Sanrio's Hello Kitty and urban fashion label Supreme.

As a city-dweller, kitchen counter space is a precious commodity, and the decision to place an appliance permanently outside of a cabinet says a lot about your expectations for it. When my partner first invested in one of the brand's coveted 3-cup stainless steel rice cookers, I didn't quite know that we'd come to lean on it for every meal of the day, especially with the onset of the pandemic. But in a world where a lot of things are fairly complicated––even a two-step marinade has, well, steps–– there's something alluring about the quiet sense of accomplishment around putting a pot of rice to bubble away and stay warm in the background of my day.

Alyssa Mikiko DiPasquale, a Japanese-American sake expert and the founder of virtual sake bar pop-up The Koji Club, is especially loyal to the Zojirushi rice cooker, which effectively demarcates different stages in her life. "In college, I owned a 3-cup, but growing up, we owned a 10-cup 'Zoj' and kept it on almost always. I now own a 5.5-cup Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer." There's great comfort, she says, in the unique jingle that sounds whenever rice is ready to eat. "In college, I hid the cooker in my closet because I heard some girls in my hallway making fun of it," she says. "But I cannot imagine a kitchen without one."

Zojirushi 5.5-Cup (Uncooked) Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer

zojirushi rice cooker

Zojirushi's insulated tumblers are a mainstay on Reddit's Buy It For Life forum, where users wax poetic about their sturdiest purchases. One user returning from a trip to China reflects, "Mine survived a fall of about 400 to 500 meters." Meanwhile, on the Cooking subreddit, hundreds of users chime in to compare different models of the brand's rice cooker. And on YouTube, home cooks regularly upload videos (some with nearly 400,000 views) showing off the device's features.

The so-called "fuzzy logic" allows the rice cooker to essentially think for itself and man micro-adjustments to the cooking settings to get perfect rice every time. The settings include white/mixed rice, sushi, porridge, sweet, brown, rinse-free, and quick cooking. For rice and every dish you can think of that involves rice, the Zojirushi tools are an essential upgrade.

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