Little bowl of rice, spoon, fork on a plate

It is no secret that rice is probably the most renowned food in the world, which is why people have mastered so many different ways for cooking their beloved rice pot.

Most cultures these days use advanced rice cookers for cooking their rice, while there are others that use the old-fashioned way of using black kettles for cooking.

People have used different apparatuses and techniques for cooking rice throughout the course of history.  Let us take a close look at its history so that we can truly appreciate how rice-cooking apparatus has evolved in this age.

Humble Beginnings in Japan

Japan was the first country where a prototype of the first rice cooker was introduced in 1945. This rice cooker was made out of wood. The ends of this rectangular wooden rice cooker had a few electrodes attached to them.

Cooking rice in these cookers was not that hard. All you had to do was pour a couple of glasses of clean water and a couple of cups of fresh rice.

The main pot had heat inside it, which boiled the water inside it, essentially cooking the rice.

The rice absorbs water during the cooking process, making sure that it is in a warm and fresh state. You had to make sure that the quality of water was great for cooking a delicious rice pot.

One of the biggest problems rice cookers had in the early days was that they were not entirely safe.

Chefs were always at risk of being electrocuted by the rice cooker. This is why they were not as popular as they started to get in the future.

Sony's first rice cooker

courtesy of

Mitsubishi revolutionized rice cookers by producing commercial rice cookers. These rice cookers were made out of pots of aluminum.

The main pot inside these rice cookers had heating coils. There was no button for turning on or switching off the rice cooker in the first version. This meant that someone had to always be around the rice cooker to make sure that they did not overcook.

The initial versions of the rice cookers simply heated the rice to a certain level where rice is usually well prepared. These cookers shut down automatically as soon as they got to a certain temperature.

There were numerous disadvantages attached to this old method. Not everyone had enough time to look after the rice while all the time it was cooking.

Waiting by rice cooker

courtesy of QKED Food

Secondly, weather played a huge role in influencing the temperature of the rice cooker. The company acknowledged all of these problems and tried to come up with a revised and infinitely better version of rice cookers.

This version had significant improvements and people started favoring rice cookers more and more.

Toshiba and the Early Evolution

Later on, Toshiba came up with their version of the rice cooker. This was their first rice cooker and was an immediate hit among the customers. The method for cooking rice was slightly different in this rice cooker.

You first had to place rice inside the rice pot and add sufficient water into it. As the water boiled, the heat present in the pot rose. The heat cooked the rice, after which the cooker shut down automatically.

These rice cookers were so famous among customers that their demand increased significantly, which is why Toshiba produced almost 200,000 rice cookers every month.

first Toshiba rice cooker ad

courtesy of Saori Kajiwara

Once rice cookers started getting popular, other corporations also started to try their hand at creating them. China took a bold initiative in coming up with its rice cookers.

They made their rice cookers economical and functional, which is why other countries started importing thousands of these cookers later on. The features in these Chinese rice cookers were unlike any other rice cooker anyone had ever seen before.

The heating system was significantly better. Thermal infrared radiation was used to heat up the rice, and cooking time was extremely quick when compared to other versions of rice cookers.

Introduction of New Features

As time went by, rice cookers started to evolve and get better with each passing year. Timers and LCD screens are among the few features that newer versions of rice cookers had.


These additional features were enough to garner worldwide attention for rice cookers, and it took no time for people to replace their older versions of cookers with newer ones.

One of the key reasons why rice cookers have tremendously evolved is the fact that there have always been numerous corporations competing against each other to come up with new and improved rice cookers all the time.

The customers have been the greatest beneficiaries of this competition as not only do they get better products, but they also get significantly cheap rates.

Rice cookers in store

courtesy of Todd Lappin

A few restaurants still use charcoals for cooking rice. Traditionally cooked rice usually produces better taste even though the cooking process is extremely long and tiresome. However, modern rice cookers have changed the game completely.

They are safe, easy to use, economical, and have numerous features that make rice cooking significantly easier. Some modern versions are even able to heat up bread and vegetables, besides the ‘standard’ rice pot.

One of the best things about modern rice cookers is that they do not consume too much electricity, making sure that your monthly bills are kept to a bare minimum.

Over time, companies that manufacture rice cookers continue to add new features that enhance the usability and performance of these devices. In our next blog, we will look at some key features that you should definitely keep in mind when selecting a rice cooker.