Aroma Rice Cooker Review: The Best Value Model On The Market (2023)

In my wider tested review, the Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD Digital Cool-Touch Rice Grain Cooker And Food Steamer stood out as the best value rice cooker of the bunch. Ahead, learn more about this impressive rice cooker and why I loved it so much.

As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” But after testing seven different rice cookers over the course of 15 days, I found that the Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD Rice Cooker was one of the most affordable models on the market—but also produced seriously great rice.

Right out of the box, I wondered how well the Aroma rice cooker would perform against other models. The cooking pot felt a bit flimsy and not as solid as some of the other rice cooker pots I tried. But after steaming four batches of jasmine, basmati, brown and sushi rice in it, I saw that it not only stood up to other models, but surpassed them. It vastly outperformed the other budget-friendly models I tried. And while it did not quite capture the rice nirvana produced by the best overall rice cooker, the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 Micom Rice Cooker, it came admirably close—and at a fraction of the price.

The Aroma rice cooker does not have quite as many bells and whistles as more expensive models. But 2 weeks of testing proved to me that if you want an inexpensive rice cooker that delivers, the Aroma is the best choice. Ahead, find my full Aroma rice cooker review, with details on each of the features I found to be most exciting and impressive.

Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD Digital Cool-Touch Rice Grain Cooker And Food Steamer

Dimensions: 8.6 x 9.3 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 3.6 pounds | Capacity: 8 cups (cooked) | Accessories included: Steamer Basket, rice paddle, measuring cup | Retractable cord: No | Dishwasher-safe: Yes | Settings: White rice, brown rice, steam, flash rice, keep warm

Best for:

  • Anyone on a budget
  • First-time rice cooker users
  • You want a compact rice cooker for camping and road trips

Skip if

  • You prefer a rice cooker with more bells and whistles


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Aroma Rice Cooker Features

Surprisingly Great Rice From An Affordable Rice Cooker

The Aroma Housewares Company was founded in 1977 in Southern California and, over the decades, has become the leading rice cooker brand in America. So maybe I was foolish to doubt it. Still, I had trouble wrapping my head around the idea that a rice cooker that costs less than $40 could stand up to one that costs more than six times that much.

(Video) Best Aroma Rice Cookers Reviews 2022

Over the course of my 2-week testing process, I tried a few other budget-friendly rice cookers, including the Hamilton Beach Digital Programmable Rice Cooker and Steamer and the Dash Mini Rice Cooker. And while they each had their strengths, they were unable to produce consistently great rice across the four varieties that I tried—jasmine, basmati, brown and sushi. The Aroma, meanwhile, impressed me right out of the gate, steaming what I consider to be the most finicky of rice varieties (jasmine, due to its propensity for mushiness) into a pile of fluffy, distinct grains.

The Aroma also performed above my expectations with basmati rice, delivering fragrant, low-moisture grains. And both the brown and sushi rice varieties were remarkably tender and chewy—everything you hope a pot of rice will be. The Aroma rice cooker does not have as many settings as other models. The options include white rice, brown rice, steam and flash rice, which shaves off about 10 minutes from white rice cooking times—though with a noticeable dip in quality. Comparatively, the Zojirushi’s many setting buttons include white/sushi, quick, mixed, porridge, sweet, brown, cake and steam. But despite fewer settings, the Aroma is equipped to handle a relatively wide variety of grains. Just make sure to hold on to the instruction manual, which shares ideal water-to-grain ratios for quinoa, bulgur, couscous, oatmeal and other grains.

Early on in my testing process I wrote about the Aroma rice cooker, “Wow, surprisingly great!” After 15 days of making 28 pots of rice in seven different cookers, I still felt the same way.

Nonstick And Nontoxic

Most of the rice cookers I tested had nonstick cooking pots, which was so helpful when it came time to clean up. Tackling a pot covered in crusted rice starch or gummy, stuck-on grains does not rank very high on my list of favorite things to do. With the Aroma, I just gave it a quick rinse after dinner was over and let the dishwasher take care of the rest.

What sets Aroma’s cooking pot apart is that it is made with bonded granite, a nonstick material that is also toxin-free. As the parent of two young children, I tend to seek out products that are free from chemicals like lead, cadmium and PFOAs, which can be harmful to their growing bodies. (And let’s be honest, they can be harmful to adult bodies, too!) So I appreciated how the Aroma cooking pot managed to strike the elusive balance between nonstick and nontoxic. Anything that gives me peace of mind when I’m making dinner is a plus.

While the cooking pot was thankfully more durable than I’d originally thought, using nonmetal tools in the cooking pot will help extend its life. Aroma also sells replacement parts—cooking pot, removable inner lid, steam tray, condensation collector and lid gasket—that can be purchased individually, and the cooker itself has a 1-year limited warranty.

Great Rice At Home And On The Go

Over the course of the time I spent testing rice cookers, I got pretty attached to them—I now consider them to be the MVPs of my kitchen. I make rice so regularly these days that I would definitely consider toting a rice cooker along on my family’s next road trip. Perfect rice in an Airbnb kitchen? Yes, please. I could also imagine it bringing comfort to dinner in a cabin after a day of hiking.

(Video) Best Aroma Rice Cookers 2023

The Aroma rice cooker is not technically small. It accommodates up to 4 cups of uncooked rice grains (yielding 8 cups of cooked rice), as compared to a truly petite cooker like the Dash Mini Rice Cooker, which maxes out at 1 cup of dried rice grains (2 cups cooked). And yet, it was definitely one of the more svelte and compact rice cookers I tested. Two of the other winners of my tested best list—the Zojirushi and the Instant Pot Duo Plus—each had large countertop footprints and weighed in at 9 pounds and 12.35 pounds, respectively. The Aroma, meanwhile, weighs only 3.6 pounds. So while I wouldn’t go as far as packing it in my suitcase for a flight, I would definitely tuck it in the trunk of my family’s car.

How Does The Aroma Rice Cooker Compare To Other Rice Cookers?

I tested seven different rice cookers in search of the very best and, in test after test, the Aroma held its own as a winner. While not as fancy or souped up as the more expensive Zojirushi rice cooker I tested, the jasmine, basmati, brown and sushi rice that came out of the pot was consistently delicious. While it did not have as many settings on the display, which meant I had to consult the manual to find cooking times and water-to-grain ratios, it is versatile enough to steam a variety of grains other than rice. And thanks to an included steamer basket, it can steam fish, meat and vegetables as well.

The Aroma rice cooker steamed white rice varieties in 40 minutes and brown in just over an hour. Compared to the Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, which also made the cut as one of the best cookers I tried, it is a bit of a wait. (The super fast Instant Pot cooked white and brown rice in 20 and 30 minutes, respectively.) But 40 minutes for white rice was on par with most of the rest of the rice cookers I tried, and it still fits into my family’s weeknight dinner routine.

The Aroma also has a delay setting that lets you prep rice (or oatmeal or other grains) up to 15 hours in advance and start the cooking process at your desired time. And just like the Zojirushi rice cooker, the Aroma’s keep warm function lets you hold cooked rice at a steady temperature for up to 12 hours after steaming, which adds to its versatility.

My Expertise

As someone who has been writing about food for a decade and a half in publications like the New York Times, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine and Food52, I have learned that great rice can truly make (or break) a meal. Several of my seven cookbooks—including Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen, The Jewish Cookbook and Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchenfeature recipes for rice dishes that utilize a variety of rice types cooked in diverse ways. Meanwhile, I have gained experience reviewing home appliances like toaster ovens, cold press juicers and microwaves for Forbes Vetted.

On a personal level, I am the person responsible for getting dinner on the table for my family (including two young children) most nights of the week. Rice dishes from pilafs and fried rice to plain, steamed jasmine rice feature heavily in my family’s meal plan. Up until I started researching rice cookers for this tested best story, I relied on my stovetop and a sturdy-bottomed pot to make rice. But after the testing process, I can’t imagine my life without a rice cooker.

How I Tested Rice Cookers

I tested 28 batches of rice (focusing on jasmine, basmati, brown and sushi rice varieties) in seven rice cookers over the span of 15 days. For the sake of consistency, I used the same brand of rice across all the cookers and made sure to soak and swish each batch of dried rice grains to remove the excess starch. Along the way, I learned that the “1 cup” measuring cups that contemporary rice cookers typically come with actually measure approximately ¾ cup by Western standards—so it is important to stick with the provided measuring cups.

As someone who doesn’t have a lot of patience for learning how to use new gadgets, I also evaluated how straightforward each rice cooker was to use. The ones that had easy-to-understand displays and instructions, well-marked buttons and instruction manuals that included water-to-grain ratios got the highest marks. I immediately liked how straightforward the Aroma’s display panel was, but I was a bit concerned about the overall quality of the comparatively thin-feeling cooking pot. Fortunately, those concerns did not hold after I started testing it.

(Video) Aroma Rice Cooker Review + How to Use

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Rice Cooker?

When cooking rice on a stovetop, it is all too easy to get the water-to-rice ratio wrong, or to let the steaming process go on for too long and end up with mushy rice or a scorched bottom of the pot. That is why many home cooks have a tendency to babysit their rice while it cooks, keeping a close eye on the pot and subsequently taking their attention away from other cooking tasks. Good-quality rice cookers take the guesswork out of making great rice. They come equipped with calibrated fill lines and nonstick cooking pots. And they automatically switch to the keep warm setting when the rice is done. After filling the pot with rice and water and switching it on, the cook is free to attend to other recipes without the worry of ruining their rice.

How Long Does A Rice Cooker Take To Cook Rice?

There is a wide range of timing when it comes to making rice in a rice cooker. The quickest rice cookers steam white rice in around 20 minutes and brown rice in 30 to 40 minutes. Some rice cookers take significantly longer—as much as an hour for white rice and nearly 2 hours for brown rice. The majority fall somewhere in the middle, clocking in around 40 minutes for white rice and 1 hour for brown. When buying a rice cooker, consider your timing needs when making dinner, and whether or not the cooker has a delay setting that lets you prep the rice and water in advance and begin cooking at a later time.

What Happens If You Add Too Much Water To A Rice Cooker?

Just like when making rice on the stovetop, it is important to get the water-to-rice ratio correct in a rice cooker. If you add too much water, you will likely find cooked rice that is gummy, mushy or waterlogged when you open the top of your rice cooker. Most cooking pots that come with a rice cooker are marked with helpful water lines that correspond with the amount of dried rice you are cooking. If you are starting with 2 cups of grains, for example, you would fill the water to the 2 line marked in the pot. But since every rice cooker is a little bit different, you may find that you have better luck filling the cooking pot just below or just above the designated line.


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