Using a rice cooker is an efficient, simple way to prepare rice for stir-fry, soup or a simple side-dish. There is variety of rice cooker sizes on the market. Someone who needs to feed a large family would be best served by a large model, but some people don't need so much rice for one meal and would be better off choosing a 1-cup rice cooker. The best 1-cup rice cooker has a one-piece design, a short cooking time and a built-in thermostat, and it will come with a serving paddle. When considering rice measurements, 1 cup is equivalent to about 200 grams.
The best 1-cup rice cooker will have a one-piece design that features a lid that is attached to the pot via a hinge and that, when closed, locks into place. This type of cooker is superior to its two-piece counterpart — which resembles a small slow cookers with a lid that simply sits on the pot — because a locking lid produces a tight seal between the lid and the cooking vessel. A tight seal keeps steam from escaping and prevents the rice from drying out.
Another important feature in a 1-cup rice cooker is a short cooking time. Ideally, a small rice cooker should prepare a cup of rice in about 30 minutes, which gives the cook just enough time to put together a quick stir-fry dish or start the cooker after getting a roast into the oven. Any 1-cup rice cooker that takes more than 45 minutes isn't practical for making a quick side dish.
A quality 1-cup rice cooker also should have a built-in thermostat. As rice absorbs water, the temperature in the cooking vessel starts to rise. If the temperature goes too high, the rice will burn or stick to the pot. Built-in thermostats stop the cooking process at the proper temperature and prevent the rice from burning.
The last thing you should look for in a 1-cup rice cooker is a serving paddle. Usually made of heat-resistant plastic or hard silicone, rice serving paddles make it easy to get even sticky sushi rice out of the cooker without scratching the sides. The paddles have a relatively flat shape, so they also are easier to clean than most serving spoons. The best paddles have small raised bumps that break the surface tension and allow the rice to slide off easily.