What's The Difference: Japanese Rice Cooker Vs. Traditional Rice Cooker

You can cook more than rice in these useful rice cookers.

IMAGE Shutterstock

Rice is the most common food you'll find across Asia. Few meals are complete without it! 

So, if you're a die-hard kanin fan, one of the essential appliances you need to have in your kitchen is the rice cooker. If you're in the market for one, you have a few choices but there's no doubt that you'll choose one of these: the traditional rice cooker or the Japanese rice cooker

The rice cooker you most likely grew up with is the traditional kind but you may want to do more with your appliance. You can cook more than rice in a Japanese rice cooker but so can the traditional rice cooker. However, the Japanese rice cooker has more functions than the traditional rice cooker. How do you choose? 

Here's what you should know: 

The traditional rice cooker has a simple task that it does to perfection: cook steamed rice.
Photo by Shutterstock

1 The traditional rice cooker has one button. The Japanese rice cooker has many buttons.  

Simplicity is sometimes all we need when it comes to appliances and the traditional rice cooker excels in what it was meant to do. As long as you follow the appropriate ratio of water to uncooked rice, it will cook steamed rice perfectly every time. If that's all you need it to do, you don't need to look much further than this version.

Where the traditional rice cooker has a simple button, the Japanese rice cooker understands that you might want to do more than just cook steamed rice. While it also does the work of cooking steamed rice well, it can also do much more. 

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2 The Japanese rice cooker is steam pressurized. The traditional rice cooker has a light-fitting lid. 

The biggest difference between a traditional and a Japanese rice cooker is the design of the appliance. The traditional rice cooker is a simple bucket heater with a metal pot inside and a lid. The metal pot has calibrated lines on the inside for measuring the water and rice. A light-fitting lid usually with a small hole is used to cover the pot so that any excess steam can easily be released as the rice cooks. This usually comes with a steamer insert for steaming vegetables and even meat while the rice cooks, making it easy to cook a one-pot meal via steaming. 


The Japanese-style rice cooker meanwhile is the modern version of the traditional rice cooker. This is a pressurized pot where the lid is more tight-fitting than the traditional way of cooking. The trapped steam pressure forces the rice to become softer and since it's pressurized, you actually need to use less water since the water is not allowed to easily be released from the pot. This results in rice that is almost always more fluffy and soft than those that are cooked merely by steaming. This style of rice cooker too commonly has a steamer insert as well.  

This Japanese-style rice cooker is the modern version of the rice cooker.
Photo by Shutterstock

3 The Japanese rice cooker has a function to cook lugaw or champorado. The traditional rice cooker needs to be pressed again if necessary. 

Since the Japanese rice cooker has more buttons, it's easy to understand that it too can cook more than just rice. It usually has a timer so you can set how many minutes it should cook the rice. This is important since the kind of rice you are cooking may need more time than your usual white rice. This is a great function for those who cook brown, red, or even black rice. This is also useful for those who love lugaw and champorado since both dishes cook malagkit rice which definitely needs more time and more water than your usual pot of steamed rice. 

The traditional rice cooker however may not be as intuitive as the modern version but it can also function with more versatility than just cooking rice as well. However, what it lacks in buttons, it makes up for in effort. You'll just have to press the button again.  


Rice is really not the only thing that either appliance can cook! We have used and seen both kinds of rice cookers do more than cook rice! It's been proven to cook pasta, fish sinigang, Hainanese chicken rice meal, and yes, even a rich and moist chocolate cake and even a brownie cake!  

4 The Japanese rice cooker is more expensive than the traditional rice cooker.

The difference is more than just looks and function. The price point of both rice cookers is pretty vast. Since the Japanese rice cooker is newer and more functional, it's also more expensive despite the fact that both can cook rice well. If budget is a concern, this can be the deciding factor for you. 


Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

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