Rice is consumed by people all over the world and is a staple ingredient on almost any restaurant menu.

Undoubtedly, Asian restaurants are renowned for serving rice with every meal, and even sushi restaurants are known to use rice cookers to make perfectly cooked glutenous sushi rice. However, the versatility of rice has earned this grain notoriety in the dishes of nearly every country in the world.

Commercial rice cookers take out the guesswork with cooking perfect rice every time. They are almost automatic by design, so you can get onto higher-level tasks that require your full attention and leave your rice to cook unaided. It is still essential to get the right commercial rice cooker for your situation, though, as the last thing you want to be giving your guests is burnt or undercooked rice to represent your cooking.

Benefits of Commercial Rice Cookers

Commercial rice cookers are an excellent appliance for restaurants, churches, and catering companies. Large families will also enjoy the benefits of a commercial rice cooker.

Quantities – Commercial rice cookers are designed to cook large amounts of rice, and since you can measure your ingredients precisely, you can easily portion and cost your recipes.

Ease of use – Commercial rice cookers are perhaps the most straightforward appliance available and work almost wholly unattended. After carefully measuring your rice, water, and any flavorings, you can simply push a button and wait for it automatically switches to warming mode when done.

Saving time – Commercial rice cookers allow you to basically set-it-and-forget-it so that you can then get onto more important tasks. When you are cooking for many people at once, saving time anywhere possible is essential to getting everyone done.

Predictability – One of the main benefits of a commercial rice cooker is that it will predictably cook perfect rice every single time. As long as the ingredients are measured accurately, your final product should always be reliable and consistent, which is essential when cooking commercially.

Portability – Commercial rice cookers are meant to cook a lot of rice at one time, but they are still surprisingly compact. You can quickly move them from one kitchen location to another or take them on-site to a catered function or party.

Versatility – Commercial rice cookers can cook more than just plain rice. They are also excellent for cooking quinoa or seasoned rice dishes like Spanish Rice or Jeera Rice. Oatmeal is another dish that works well in a commercial rice cooker and will allow you to use your machine for the breakfast rush.

Detailed Reviews of the Best Commercial Rice Cookers

Best All-Rounder

Zojirushi NYC-36 Commercial Rice Cooker and Warmer

Zojirushi is a long trusted Japanese rice cooker brand

Zojirushi has done it again. This is a trusted, Japanese name brand that is synonymous with quality rice cookers both in its native country and around the world. The Zojirushi NYC-36 Commercial Rice Cooker and Warmer can make up to 40 cooked cups of rice at a time. However, likely the best attribute to this model and other Zoijirushi products is that the warming function does indeed keep your rice warm throughout the day without scorching it like many other brands seem to do.

The Zojirushi NYC-36 Commercial Rice Cooker and Warmer is straightforward to use, and the Keep Warm mode means that you should never overcook your rice. This rice cooker breaks apart with a detachable inner lid for efficient cooking and sanitization. When you spend this much on a product, you expect it to last, and some restaurants have had durability issues when used consistently throughout the day.

Pros Cons
20-cup cooked capacityExpensive
A reputable name brand for rice cookersHas been known to break with consistent use
The lid is detachable
Durable construction

Our Verdict

Zojirushi is a brand that we have grown to trust over the decades, and their products and warranty hold up to the rigors of commercial use. The 20-cup capacity is not a lot for many restaurants but may suffice if rice was not a staple component of your menu or you ran multiple machines. If you maintain the Zojirushi NYC-36 Commercial Rice Cooker and Warmer, then it will prove itself to you time and again with perfectly cooked rice.

Best Value

Aroma Housewares Commercial Rice Cooker (ARC-1033E)

Available in both a 24-cup and 30-cup (uncooked rice) size

The award for best value commercial rice cooker. Yet it’s not just about the price. This rice cooker really does work amazingly well and, if used correctly, you shouldn’t have any burnt or unusable rice, which adds to the value factor.

rice cooker, rice paddle and measuring cups

Includes rice paddle and measuring cups

This is an incredibly basic rice cooker, but don’t be fooled by the simplicity of it. At the end of the day, you want perfectly cooked rice each and every time, and the Aroma Housewares Commercial Rice Cooker (ARC-1033E) does just that. It is best used for making a minimum of 30-cups of cooked rice at a time but has a 60-cup capacity. The box that it comes in is also very sturdy, so catering companies or those only needing to cook large quantities of rice every so often can use it for easy storage.

Pros Cons
60-cup cooked rice capacityCan dent during shipping
Excellent valueRice at the bottom tends to brown on warm mode
Very straightforward to use
Easy to clean

Our Verdict

The Aroma Housewares Commercial Rice Cooker (ARC-1033E) is affordable, relatively durable, and gets the job done of cooking rice for large crowds of hungry people.

It isn’t the most robust machine on the market, but the price reflects this. If you need to cook up large volumes of rice occasionally rather than multiple times daily, then this machine provides excellent value.

Best Overall

Hamilton Beach Proctor Silex Commercial 37560R Rice Cooker/Warmer

Simple, one button design

If you are looking for a durable, affordable commercial rice cooker with a large capacity, then the Hamilton Beach Proctor Silex Commercial 37560R Rice Cooker/Warmer is ideal.

It can make up to 60 cups of cooked rice, oatmeal, grits, etc., in record time. This machine is incredibly straightforward to use and will automatically switch to warming mode when the rice has completed cooking.

The inner pot is non stick and easy to clean. It has visible markings to ensure consistently cooked rice every time. The hinged lid is perfect when counter space is at a premium, and since it also includes a heating element, you can be assured of more consistently cooked rice from top to bottom.

open rice cooker

The hinged lid includes a warming element for consistent quality

Pros Cons
60-cup cooked rice capacityRice can scorch when left on warming mode
Incredibly simple to operate
Easy to clean moisture cup
The insulated walls retain heat well
Heated lid for more even cooking

Our Verdict

The Hamilton Beach Proctor Silex Commercial 37560R Rice Cooker/Warmer has a massive 60-cup capacity, which is ideal for catering events and the like.

As it is best to use your rice cooker at capacity as much as possible, we would only recommend purchasing this appliance if you tend to dish out a whole lot of rice at any given time. For those that do tend to cook rice for the five thousand, you will be hard-pressed to find a better product than this.

Best Design

Panasonic SR-42HZP Commercial Rice Cooker

handles stay cool on the machine and lid

The Panasonic SR-42HZP Commercial Rice Cooker is a robust machine that has the capacity to make 46 cups of cooked rice at a go. It is effortless to use, with only one button to start. The straightforward design also means that this commercial rice cooker is easy to clean, with very few parts, and is NSF qualified, which is essential for restaurants and catering businesses.

However, the Panasonic SR-42HZP Commercial Rice Cooker lets itself down by not having a keep-warm function. Granted, not everyone uses the keep warm function on their rice cooker, and many rice cookers scorch rice when left to warm continuously. However, it is still expected to have this feature. The Panasonic SR-42HZP Commercial Rice Cooker even advertises that it has a 4-hour keep-warm feature, but it seems that isn’t the case when you get the product at your door. The inner rice pot does not have a non-stick coating but is still straightforward to clean. Moreover, not everyone likes using non-stick products.

Pros Cons
46-cup cooked rice capacityThe inner pot is not non-stick
Reputable name brand It does not have a keep-warm function
NSF qualified

Our Verdict

The Panasonic SR-42HZP Commercial Rice Cooker is simple to use, easy to clean, and makes up to 46 cups of perfectly cooked rice at a time. However, it seems that the product does not have a keep-warm function as advertised, so if this is a deal-breaker for you, keep it in mind. If you don’t care about keeping your rice warm, and truth be told, most keep-warm functions don’t work very well anyway, then this rice cooker works brilliantly at cooking rice.

Best Propane Powered

Rinnai Rice Cooker 55 Cups NSF Commercial GAS RER55ASL

Works with propane gas

When catering for large crowds, you often find that electrical plugs are at a premium or entirely non-existent. Gas appliances are ideal for these situations, and a rice cooker is no different. The Rinnai Rice Cooker 55 Cups NSF Commercial GAS RER55ASL can make up to a monstrous 110 cups of cooked rice in about half an hour, so feeding the five thousand could indeed be possible.

You need not worry about safety with the Rinnai Rice Cooker. It has a safety mechanism if the flame is blown out and is certified by both NSF and CSA. It has an automatic simmer function, stay-cool handles, and a two-stage auto burner.

Pros Cons
110-cup cooked rice capacityYou need to purchase a propane adapter separately
Works with propane gasIt cannot be swapped between electric or propane power
CSF and CSA certified
The lid stays cool throughout cooking

Our Verdict

The Rinnai Rice Cooker 55 Cups NSF Commercial GAS RER55ASL is ideal for catering festivals, weddings, and other large, outdoor events where access to electricity is challenging. Unlike most commercial rice cookers, Rinnai advertises the uncooked capacity, so in actuality, this machine makes a whopping 110 cups of rice in one go. If you are feeding a crowd, then we can’t think of a better appliance to help get the job done.

Commercial Rice Cookers: A Quick Buyer’s Guide

It can be tempting to consider the price of any product before considering the other attributes. However, when it comes to commercial kitchen appliances, there is a reason that they are so much dearer than the household equivalent. You need the product to last and withstand consistent use because profits are quickly lost if the quality of a meal or delivery speed is jeopardized in a restaurant.

Before you decide which commercial rice cooker is best for you, look at the below factors and consider which is integral to your situation.

Volume – Rice cookers work best when cooking to maximum capacity. While you don’t need to cook enough rice for an entire dinner rush in one go, you also don’t want to catch yourself short. Logistically, it might be better to alternate between two smaller rice cookers than one large one.

Cleaning – Hygiene and cleanliness are essential in any kitchen, but they are crucial in the restaurant industry. Commercial rice cookers hold up to the strict standards of health inspections if kept adequately cleaned and maintained. Look out for an appliance that is straightforward to clean and has dishwasher-friendly components. The consistent heat and steam of a rice cooker can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold if not kept in check.

Brand – Quality, price, and brand name often go hand in hand. When it comes to commercial rice cookers, you want to ensure that you get a durable brand and a warranty.

Settings – Some commercial rice cookers come with specific settings for various types of rice. However, we have found that this isn’t as instrumental in a restaurant setting when you are likely to use your rice cooker for the same ingredient day after day.

Features – Delay timers, quick-cook modes, clocks, and audible alarms are sometimes available on commercial rice cookers. While there are ways around using these functions, there is no doubt that they can be helpful in a busy kitchen environment.

How it works – The cheap household rice cookers are incredibly simplistic, hence the low price tag. Rice cookers with only one heating component at the bottom are easy to use and cheap to buy but are not as fool-proof as the induction models that offer more consistent heating and warming throughout the pot.

Price – Obviously, price is an important attribute, but don’t let it be the sole determining factor. Instead, look at the volume, brand, settings, features, and how it works and then use price to distinguish between the last competitors. You can dent your reputation and your income in a commercial kitchen if your appliances suddenly stop working.

FAQS

What rice is best for a rice cooker?

It is possible to cook all types of rice in a rice cooker as long as the water to rice ratios are adjusted accordingly. Believe it or not, there are over 40,000 different rice varieties cultivated in the world. So, if someone tells you that they don’t like rice, this seems a pretty blanketed statement, especially when you include the various ways of preparing all of these types of rice.

Most rice cookers are ideal for making long-grain rice like basmati or jasmine. The short, glutenous rice used for sushi is better cooked with the more expensive and specialized Japanese rice cooker that steams the rice rather than boiling it. However, even the cheaper rice cookers can manage, but you need to be more diligent to ensure the bottom doesn’t scorch.

How much water do I need to put in the rice cooker?

The general rule when making white rice is to have equal parts of rice and water. As such, if you put two cups of rice in your rice cooker, then you’ll need two cups of water. However, each rice cooker works slightly differently, and most come with their own measuring cups to maintain accuracy. Brown rice generally has a ratio of approximately two cups of water to every cup of rice and will take about double the length of time to cook.

Washing your rice before preparing it in a rice cooker will ensure that your rice comes out fluffy and separated. Depending on the type of rice that you use, you may need to swish around your rice in water and drain it three or four (or more!) times before cooking. There will be residual water left on your rice, so consider this when you add the remaining water. Soaking your rice can also lessen the amount of water needed for cooking.

How can a rice cooker tell when the rice is cooked?

There are some basic physics principles behind how a rice cooker knows when your rice is cooked. To start with, your rice cooker doesn’t know when the rice is actually cooked, but what it does know is when all of the water has evaporated. Assuming you got your proportions of water to rice measured correctly, then when the water is evaporated should be the same time that your rice is cooked.

You are probably now saying, ‘so then how does the rice cooker know when the water is evaporated?’ This is a good question and can be due to one of two surprisingly simplistic concepts. When the rice cooker’s internal temperature rises to above 100 degrees Celsius, then this means that the water has evaporated, and thus the rice cooker should stop cooking. With liquid remaining in the rice cooker, it won’t go above 100 degrees.

The second way of knowing when the water is evaporated is down to magnetism. A magnet will stop being magnetic at high heat. The contact magnet in the rice cooker switch will lose its magnetism above 100 degrees Celsius and let go of the heating switch, thus converting the rice cooker to the warming mode. This is an incredibly simple yet ingenious feat of electrical engineering.

Is a rice cooker just for cooking rice?

While perfectly cooked rice is the main reason most people purchase a rice cooker, it is not the only task that this kitchen appliance can master. Many different types of grains prepare well in a rice cooker, including oatmeal and quinoa. Since most rice cookers involve a ‘set it and forget it’ way of food preparation, it leaves you free to do other things.

It is easy to jazz up your rice by substituting stock for water or by tossing with fresh herbs once cooked. Rice cookers can also be used for making flavored rice dishes like Spanish Rice or Jeera Rice, and you can experiment with layering your proteins and vegetables for all-in-one cooking. Some rice cookers come with a steaming tray which makes this task more straightforward.

Conclusion

Commercial rice cookers would be considered essential for any large family, catering company, or restaurant. Churches and other groups that cook for the masses will also find commercial rice cookers an indispensable appliance to have on hand to ensure perfectly executed rice every single time.