Are you looking for the safest non-toxic rice cookers for cooking rice? Mamavation reviewed the materials of the most popular rice cookers looking for the safest food contact surfaces with the least likelihood of disrupting hormones. We’ve put together a guide for you to follow when you are making these purchases. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like safest cookware, safest air fryers, & safest baking sheets, now join us for an investigation on the rice cookers with the safest food contact surfaces.
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. This post also contains affiliate links. Make sure to do your own research before you make purchases as product materials can change without notice, especially now that states are mandating chemical disclosures for small kitchen appliances. These new laws have resulted in inconsistent disclosures whereas some brands are not compliant yet. This may result in Mamavation having to change this investigation very soon after it’s published.
Table of Contents
The Best Rice Cookers Have The Safest Food Contact Surfaces
Mamavation will argue that the best rice cookers are the ones that have the safest food contact materials so that the least amount of contaminants possible become part of your meal. When Mamavation evaluated the materials of just under 40 rice cooker crock pots, we noticed some similarities in food contact surfaces in products. There were five types of food contact surfaces that were the most popular and they vary in safety.
- PFAS “forever chemicals”: Most brands of rice cookers have some type of PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), even if they claim to be “PFOA-free.” When you hear “non-stick” it’s typically referring to food contact surfaces that have been coated with perfluorinated chemicals. These synthetic chemicals appear to give products an edge with the promise of easy cleanup, stain and grease resistance, and a no-mess, no-fuss type of surface tray. However, PFAS chemicals are linked to all sorts of health problems such as a reduction in immunity, issues with reproduction, increased allergies and asthma in young children, metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes, disruption in thyroid function, and cancers, among other issues. Most of the time rice cooker companies are using a type of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is also known as “Teflon.” This type of polymer originated by using the surfactant perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, aka “C8”). Just like with many other legacy chemicals, regrettable substitutions afloat. In terms of PFAS, long-chain PFOA and PFOS were phased out under pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency. Companies went scrambling for alternatives and found other chemicals within the same PFAS chemical category that were slightly different. However, studies are finding these new short-chain fluorotelomers could actually be MORE problematic long term.
- Ceramic non-stick coatings made from nanoparticles: Ceramic non-stick coatings are typically made of nanoparticles, which are common but not well studied. However, some titanium dioxide nanoparticles have been linked to precancerous gut lesions as well as immune disruption. This type of ceramic coating is very common in cookware.
- Ceramic non-stick cotings made primarily from silicone: Silicone-based coatings on cookware are the latest non-stick invention, but our advisors are not calling this technology inert. Why? Scientists at the Food Packaging Forum have told us the chemical composition of silicone is similar to other plasticizers that leach, so they are concerned that may be happening. It’s just that not enough attention has been directed at silicone to study it while so many other contaminants are the focus. Sometimes we stick these types of coatings into the “best” category if there are no other options, but rice cookers have other options, so this would be placed in a “better” category instead. It’s not as bad as PFAS, but there is still some mystery about what those additives are.
- Uncoated unglazed ceramic: This is a better option, provided it’s accompanied by heavy metal migration testing. Does all ceramic contain lead? Yes, but it varies based on the tools that are used to manufacture the ceramic. Older equipment is more likely to create high leaded products. Newer equipment is the opposite. Does it leach? Over time, yes. Is this a big problem? It could be, but not if the migration of that lead happens at levels that are not conerning to the State of California, which is the strictest standard in the Country. However, for some people who are chemically sensitive, it doesn’t matter and they would need to avoid ceramic all together. Safety for uncoated ceramic (for most people) can be determined though acid based testing where the lab fills the product with acid, the acid sucks the heavy metals out of the ceramic, and then the acid is tested for heavy metals. This is the equivalent of about two years of heavy use and can only be done in a lab setting. In addition, we are only concerned with food contact surfaces and not inner components of the machine. Heavy metals inside the machine are the equivalent of BPA in the chord…note worthy, but not really relevant as an exposure route. The exposure route is all about the food contact surface. We only included one brand of rice cooker that is made from unglazed uncoated ceramic. It has been independently tested to conain low levels of lead, however, their migration studies are non-detect.
- Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is the safest food contact surface for rice cookers. Stainless steel is a type of iron-based alloy containing a minimum of 11% chromium. This exact minimum of chromium is important because that’s the level by which iron has sturdiness & is prevented from rusting. This level also provides heat-resistant properties, which are needed for cooking in high heat and high temperatures or medium heat. We did not find a rice cooker that can accommodate people with sensitivities to nickel.
Nutritional Benefits of Rice
Rice has been used for thousands of years in Asian & Middle Eastern cooking. Today, it’s a staple food for two-thirds of the world’s population globally. It’s also become more popular as modern diets, especially in America, have included rice as an alternative to other types of grains. In fact, with the rise of gluten-free diets, rice is a very common alternative to wheat and is used to create bread, crackers, and many other alternatives.
When rice is served, sometimes it’s a side dish, while other times it’s more of a main event. Rice can also be used in a stew, soup, or porridge. Regardless of how it’s used in a meal, rice is nutritious as long as it’s paired with other types of foods like meats and vegetables. One cup of rice has the following nutritional contents according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA):
- Calories: 242
- Fat: 0.4g
- Sodium: 0mg
- Carbohydrates: 53.4g
- Calcium: 1.86 mg
- Fiber: 0.6g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 4.4g
- Magnesium: 16.4 mg
- Iron: 2.7mg
- Thiamin: 0.3mg
- Potassium: 53.3 mg
Health Warnings About Rice
Rice also has a darker side with some very real health problems associated with contaminants that may be found in rice. In order to keep your family safe when eating rice, you’ll need to know about these main two issues.
- Many types of rice are high in arsenic. Regular exposure to small amounts of arsenic can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and bladder, lung, and skin cancer. Recent studies also suggest that arsenic exposure in utero may have effects on the baby’s immune system, which is very problematic for the overall health of a child. Consumer Reports had rice products analyzed at a lab in 2012 & 2013 and found many detections in rice products, especially products marketed to children. Many brands who produce food products say that arsenic is completely natural, but lots of times they omit the fact that arsenic is also in the soil because of heavy pesticide additives (such as glyphosate) and fertilizer use. Some chicken feed is also high in arsenic, so there are many ways the soil can be impacted by legacy farming practices such as this.
- Leftover rice food poisoning. Leftover rice commonly has spores of bacillus cereus, which is a bacterium that can cause food poisoning. When rice is not properly stored, these bacteria can increase very quickly, especially when left out at room temperature. This produces a toxin that can make you very sick. It’s suggested that your rice should be chilled and covered properly in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking.
Types of Rice Via Arsenic Exposure
Not all rice is created equal. Not only do they taste very different, but some types of rice are more problematic than others in terms of arsenic exposure per batch. Consumer Reports spent many years testing different types of rice and rice products to be able to educate the American public on which rice varieties are the safest. For instance, they found that rice from California, India, & Pakistan are safer selections with the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic. Rice from Texas, Arkansas, or Louisiana had some of the highest levels of inorganic arsenic. Here are the differences based on the type of rice you are consuming:
- White Rice: White rice from California has 38% less inorganic arsenic than white rice from other parts of the country. Make sure to parboil your white rice.
- Sushi Rice: Sushi rice from the United States has half the arsenic of other types of rice. This is another safer selection.
- Brown Rice: Nutritionists will swear by brown rice, but it’s a poor selection if you want to avoid arsenic. Brown rice has 80% more inorganic arsenic on average than white rice of the same type. This is because the arsenic accumulates in the outer layers of the rice. This rice also needs to be parboiled.
- Basmati Rice: Basmati rice from California, India, & Pakistan will have the lowest levels of arsenic.
- Jasmine rice: This rice is high-fiber and whole-grain rice. These rices have a lower level of arsenic.
- Wild rice: These rice varieties are based on the seed of a reed-like aquatic plant. It is typically used as a side dish and has more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than white rice varieties. We are unsure about the level of arsenic of this type of rice.
- Arborio rice: This is a short-grain white rice that is used in Italian dishes, such as risotto. We are unsure what the arsenic levels are like in this rice.
How to Cook Rice To Lower Arsenic Levels
There is a special way you can cook rice where it lowers the amount of arsenic your family is exposed to. This method can remove up to 50% of arsenic in brown rice, and 74% in white rice and yet does not remove any of the nutrients in the rice itself. This new method is referred to as the “parboiling with absorption method” or PBA for short.
The PBA method involves parboiling the rice in pre-boiled water for five minutes before draining (and removing the arsenic with the boiled water) and then refreshing the pot with new water. At that point, rice is then cooked at a lower heat to absorb all the water. Check out the chart above from the University of Sheffield to explain.
Other Mamavation Small Kitchen Appliances & Cookware Investigations
Before we get to the best rice cookers, I wanted to show you all the other investigations we have done on small kitchen appliances and other such cookware.
- Ceramic Cookware
- Stainless Steel Cookware
- Dishes & Dishware
- Air Fryers & Air Fryer Ovens
- Waffle Makers
- Cupcake & Muffin Pans
- Baking Sheets, Cookie Sheets, and Sheet Pans
- Indoor Kitchen Grills & Paninis
- Food Processors
- Toasters & Toaster Ovens
- Water Filters
- Disposable plates & Foodware
- Cupcake Liners tested for indications of PFAS
- Plastic Free Disposable Straws tested for indications of PFAS
Mamavation’s Investigation of Rice Cookers
Mamavation evaluated about 40 rice cookers for the safest food contact materials. We did this by paying attention to what materials they were using on their website and other descriptions online. When we were confused about what they were communicating, we sent them emails to confirm information with our audience. We did not hear back from all the brands that were contacted. Here is our category breakdown for this investigation.
- Not Our Favorite Rice Cookers: This category had either PFAS coatings, including PTFE, ceramic nanoparticle coatings, or mystery coatings.
- Better Rice Cookers: These products were better, but not quite perfect. We put products made from silicone-type coatings that were non-nano and non-PFAS. We also put here other products that had odd material descriptions that we couldn’t get enough details on. We think they may be fine, but not sure. And finally, we put here any brand that was stainless steel but had a prop. 65 warnings for lead. If a brand has a prop. 65 notice for BPA in the chord, we ignored that because we don’t believe it’s a problem.
- Best Rice Cookers: These rice cooker crock pots are either made from stainless steel, cladding materials, or uncoated ceramic and can make the perfect rice. The stainless steel inner rice bowl should be safe for the dishwasher, but not the entire machine. Not all accessories are approved if plastic, such as a plastic steamer basket or plastic rice paddle. Most of these machines have a tempered glass lid and a safe heating element, but can also be placed on warm mode to keep warm.
Not Our Favorite Rice Cookers
These rice cooker crock pot products had either PFAS chemical coatings, including PTFE coating, mystery coatings, or coatings made from nanoparticles.
- Aroma Professional Commercial Rice & Grain Cooker ARC-1130S
- Aroma 6 Cup Rice Cooker
- Bear Rice Cooker
- Cosori Rice Cooker Maker CRC-R501-KUS
- Cuckoo 6-Cup Basic Rice Cooker CR-0671V
- Cuisinart CRC-400P1 4-Cup Rice cooker
- Dash Mini Rice Cooker
- Elite Gourmet ERC-006 Electric Rice Cooker
- Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker 37518
- Instant 20-Cup Multi-Grain Cooker (Carb Reducing)
- NutriBullet Every Grain Cooker
- Panasonic Induction Heat Rice Cooker SR-HZ106
- Proctor Silex Rice Cooker 37534NR
- Tiger Induction Heating Rice Cooker JKT-D
- Tiger Electric Rice Cooker JNP-S55U
- Toshiba Rice Cooker
- Zojirushi Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-RPC10/18
- Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer
- Zojirushi Pressure Induction Heating Rice Cooker & Warmer NW-JEC10/18
Better Rice Cookers
These products were better, but not quite perfect. We put products made from silicone type coatings that were non-nano and non-PFAS. We also put here other products that had odd materials descriptions that we couldn’t get enough details on. We think they may be fine, but not sure. And finally, we put here any brand that was stainless steel but had a prop. 65 warning for lead.
- Elite Gourmet Electric Automatic 10 cup Rice Cooker (stainless steel, however, has prop. 65 warning for lead which is most likely the inner components, but we are unsure so we stuck it here.)
- GreenLife Ceramic Nonstick 4-Cup Rice Cooker (silicone type coating)(Use discount code “MAMAVATION” for 30% off products)
- GreenPan Elite 8-Cup Induction Rice Cooker (silicone type coating)(Use discount code “MAMAVATION” for 30% off products)
- Oyama 7 Cup Rice Cooker CFS-F12B (has some silicone exposure and it’s not clear where)
- Tatung Aluminum Rice Cooker TAC-10G-SF (mostly stainless steel, however, unsure where aluminum is located)
Best Rice Cookers
These rice cooker crock pots are either made from stainless steel, cladding materials, or uncoated ceramic and can make the perfect rice. The stainless steel inner rice bowl should be safe for the dishwasher, but not the entire machine. Not all accessories are approved if plastic such as a plastic steamer basket or plastic rice paddle. Most of these machines have a tempered glass lid and a safe heating element, but can also be placed on warm mode to keep warm.
- Aroma Housewares Select Stainless Rice Cooker & Warmer
- Aroma Housewares Black Select 6 Cup Stainless Rice Cooker & Warmer
- Aroma Housewares Red Select 6 cup Stainless Rice Cooker & Warmer
- Aroma Rice Cooker Cookware Select 1.4 Qt. ARC 753S
- Buffalo Classic Rice Cooker (with Clad Stainless Steel Inner Pot) – 5 Cups
- Buffalo White IH Smart Cooker, Rice Cooker & Warmer
- Elite Gourmet 6 Cup Rice Cooker
- Instant Pot Pro 10-in-1
- NutriWare Stainless Steel Rice Cooker
- Tatung Stainless Steel Rice Cooker
- Vita Clay 2-n-1 Chef Rice Cooker (Use discount code “MAMAVATION” for $30 off products)(This brand has low levels of lead inside ceramic. All public migration labs commissioned by brand have been non-detect. However, the amounts of lead found by independent bloggers are below 90 ppm on food contact surfaces, which are considered very low for ceramic. Because the State of California bases exposure of lead on migration testing for small kitchen appliances, this brand does not require a Prop. 65 warning because it doesn’t leach lead over the amounts that are concerning. So can you find lead in there? Yes. Is it leaching in a concerning way? The State of CA would say no.)
- Vita Clay Smart Organic Rice Cooker (Use discount code “MAMAVATION” for $30 off products)(This brand has low levels of lead inside ceramic. All public migration labs commissioned by brand have been non-detect. However, the amounts of lead found by independent bloggers are below 90 ppm on food contact surfaces, which are considered very low for ceramic. Because the State of California bases exposure of lead on migration testing for small kitchen appliances, this brand does not require a Prop. 65 warning because it doesn’t leach lead over the amounts that are concerning. So can you find lead in there? Yes. Is it leaching in a concerning way? The State of CA would say no.)