(Pocket-lint) - Having one of the best rice cookers at your disposal allows you to easily add the fluffy side to your main - all without having to go through the rigamarole of watching over the pan.
While a dedicated electric rice cooker won't necessarily cook your rice any quicker than the hob, it does take the manual labour out of the process.
There's no burning or boiling over, you don't have to test the rice every time to check it's cooked and you can set the mode to match the style of rice you're using. However, the price and quality of rice cookers can naturally vary, and there are enough options out there to swamp a standard paddy field.
That's why we've compiled this list of the top options you can pick up, helping you cut through the dross and achieve the perfect bowl of rice every time.
Best rice cookers available to buy today
Aroma Housewares Rice Cooker (ARC-150SB)
Most of the rice cookers on this list will stick purely to, well, cooking your rice, but this Aroma Housewares gives you all that fun and even throws in some slow cooking powers.
It has a mammoth 20-cup capacity, allowing you to cook anywhere upwards of four cups, with the overall dimensions coming in at 11.1 X 11.2 X 10.8-inches.
On the front of the appliance, there are cooking pre-sets for white rice, brown rice, 'flash rice' (which cooks your batch more speedily), as well as the option to use the delay timer, steam or keep your cook warm.
Russell Hobbs 19750 Rice Cooker and Steamer
Russell Hobbs' has a kitchen appliance for everything, and that includes the humble rice cooker.
There aren't many bells and whistles to the 19750, but it does check the affordability box and offers a large capacity bowl of 1.8L.
There's also an additional tray for if you want to steam fish or vegetables during the cook, with the stainless steel shell and glass lid matching the rest of the company's kitchen wares.
Unfortunately, there are no options to mix up cooking styles, but it covers the basics excellently.
Dash Mini Rice Cooker (DRCM200BK)
Dash's mini option is a great consideration for those who don't have many mouths to feed - or those with minimal storage and worktop space.
You're able to cook and steam your rice using the controls on the front, with a steaming basket also allowing you to cook vegetables and fish alongside.
As we say, this is on the smaller side, though, and you're only able to cook up between two and eight cups of rice or whole grains at a time.
Reishunger Rice Cooker
Reishunger's option is slightly more expensive than others - especially when you factor in the 1.2L capacity - but it offers a neat design and very simple functionality.
When your cook is complete, it'll automatically shift to the 'warm mode', allowing you to keep the rice fresh for up to eight hours. You also don't need to worry about the rice burning, thanks to the ceramic-coated pot.6
The steaming cup also means you can throw in your veggies during the cook, too, and cleanup is very straightforward.
Hamilton Beach Digital Programmable Rice Cooker (37518)
Hamilton Beach is renowned for its kitchen appliances, and the company's rice cooker is another great addition to its lineup.
It's all relatively straightforward stuff, and similar to the other options on this list, but it's a very affordable way of receiving between two to eight cups of cooked rice.
It's not just rice, either, with whole grains, hot cereal and vegetables (using the steaming cup) all able to dive into the pot, too. Simply let the cooker know using the front panel which you're cooking and you're away.
VonShef Rice Cooker
Another great solution for those who don't need a bulky cooker interfering with the rest of their kitchen appliances, this miniature VonShef has just a 300ml capacity.
If you're pretty sure you're only ever going to need 1-2 portions of rice, and you have it fairly consistently, this is an attractive and subtle way to automate the process.
It's just as simple to use as it looks, as well, with an on/off button and a 'keep warm' function the only controls on the front of the device.
Listen, we understand that this self-described 'stainless brown' Zojirushi pick isn't the most attractive thing to place next to your fancy coffee machine or Smeg toaster.
For those who don't mind retro stylings in their rice cookers, though, it's a good pick.
It doesn't have the biggest capacity - sitting at around 5.5 cups - but it's more than enough for most small families, and the 10 x 14 x 8.5-inch design means that - although an eyesore - it doesn't actually take up much room on the worktop or in the cupboard.
It's also very functional, with different modes for white rice, brown rice, mixed, porridge, steaming and quick cooking.
Quest 35550 Rice Cooker
If you're in the market for a large rice cooker for a budget-friendly price, look no further than Quest's offering.
The 1.8L capacity means you're able to use it for just a couple of portions all the way up to a group of 6-8 people, with the removable non-stick bowl also helping you transfer it easily to the table and wash quickly.
You don't have to just use it for rice, either, with the device also able to act as a slow cooker. There are no specific modes to select, which is a bit of a drawback for those who want lots of control, but you do at least get the option to keep your cook warm.
Instant Rice Cooker
Instant Pot has quite a reputation when it comes to multifunctional cookers, and its rice-leaning appliance matches up to its high standards.
There are four smart programs to pick between - for white rice, brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal - with the capacity able to reach eight cups. Alongside, you can also steam fish and vegetables using the included tray.
Using the control panel, you can even delay your cook with the built-in timer or use the 'keep warm' function to help your cook maintain its freshness.
Yum Asia Panda Mini Rice Cooker
Yum Asia's rice cooker may look like your standard rice cooker, but it's by far the smartest option on this list - and that's reflected in both the performance and price.
Unlike other options, it uses fuzzy logic to ensure you have the perfect cook every time. Essentially, this means that a built-in chip will analyze the cook through seven different stages and make adjustments to the time and temperature automatically.
It doesn't solely focus on rice, either, with steaming, slow cooking, cake baking and porridge cooks also at your disposal.
Just be aware that it doesn't have the biggest capacity, though - 3.5 cups/800ml is roughly enough for three portions.