Aroma 8-Cup Rice Cooker – Full Review
Tired of relying on fast foods and ready to eat more healthfully? The Aroma 8-Cup Cooked Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer offers flexibility, plus it’s sized so you can feed a small family or make enough food to feed one or two people for a few meals. With convenient menu settings including an automatic keep-warm cycle and a 15-hour delay timer, it makes all kinds of rice, plus it steams vegetables and meats during the rice-cooking cycle. This unit is also capable of cooking soups, stews, chili, jambalaya, and other delicious one-pot meals.
Easier to clean than some other old-style rice cookers, the Aroma features a removable inner cooking chamber that can be submerged for washing. If you’ve ever struggled to clean a rice cooker that couldn’t be placed in water, then you know just how handy this particular feature is. I have noticed, as have other reviewers, that the rice cooker has a tendency to release starchy liquid from the upper vent when cooking large amounts of rice without the vegetable steaming basket in place. This is easy to wipe up, however it’s not as simple to clean as a removable top would be.
The upper steaming basket is also washable, and it keeps foods from mixing together so each diner gets exactly what he or she wants to eat.
If you make rice frequently and prefer to keep your rice cooker on the countertop, you’ll probably appreciate the Aroma Digital Rice Cooker’s sleek, modern profile. The cooker comes in stainless steel or white finish, so you can match it to your kitchen’s décor and leave it out on the countertop for convenience.
While this Aroma model lacks some of the special bells and whistles that costlier rice cookers offer, it comes at an affordable price.
These are just a few highlights. Read on for more details about the pros and cons that come with owning and operating the Aroma 8-Cup Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer.
Many rice cookers are so large that they take up more countertop and / or cabinet space than is practical. The Aroma 8-cup digital rice cooker isn’t the smallest model on the market, however it takes up less space than the average slow cooker. If you are hoping to feed a large family, you will need a larger rice cooker. If you want to make just the right amount of rice or a small meal for yourself or a family of three or four members, you will probably like the size. Several reviewers have pointed out that the “8-cup” designation refers to 8 6-ounce serving sized cups, not eight 8-ounce cups, and after measuring, I agree.
Aroma did a nice job designing the 8-cup digital rice cooker and food steamer. I got the stainless steel silver model, which has black trim, however there is also a white model that would work well in a kitchen with white appliances rather than stainless steel ones. The LCD control panel wraps around the front of the unit, ensuring that it has a smooth profile and is easy to wipe clean. The numbers on the control panel are easy to see. I do have one gripe about the design – the cord isn’t retractable. You have to tuck it under the rice cooker or sort of wind it up and hide it behind the cooker when it isn’t in use. This isn’t a big deal, particularly since this is an inexpensive appliance.
Dual Cooking Chamber for Versatility and Easy Cleanup
This Aroma rice cooker has a dual cooking chamber, so you can steam fish, meat, vegetables, etc. in the upper compartment while the rice is cooking underneath. If you’re not steaming anything extra, you can leave the upper steamer compartment out of the cooker so there’s one less thing to wash. Speaking of cleanup, If you’ve ever used an old-style rice cooker without a removable cooking chamber, you know just how difficult cleaning can be. You’re not supposed to submerge the cord, yet you need to soak sticky rice particles away from the interior! You won’t have that problem with this rice cooker. Its inner chamber, comes right out so you can wash it easily. I’ve found that it’s easiest to give the rice cooking chamber a soak in hot, soapy water before washing it. Let the water penetrate the starch and you will not have to spend much time scrubbing.
This is a good place to add that this rice cooker is not like the expensive Japanese / Chinese types used in restaurants, that will keep rice perfect for hours on end. It does have a keep warm function, but unless you keep adding water, the rice on the bottom of the cooker will turn a bit crunchy after a while. I’ve seen some other reviews complaining about this, but as someone who has tried several different rice cooker models I’m here to tell you that this is pretty much a fact of life with these inexpensive types. They cost less, but there’s a tradeoff. The rice is good and the process is convenient, but connoisseurs are better off investing in a fancier model.
Two Menu Settings
Different types of rice require different cooking processes to come out with the right texture and flavor. Because white rice has no outer bran layer, it takes less time to cook. Brown rice takes longer. You can choose between brown or white rice settings on this rice cooker so that your rice turns out the way you want it to. I’ve noted some reviewers saying brown rice comes out watery when cooked on the white rice setting, and others saying brown rice takes too long with the brown rice setting. This isn’t a problem with the machine – it’s reviewers who aren’t quite aware of the need to cook brown rice slowly to prevent the grains from becoming mushy. Both menu settings are foolproof. I’ve had nice results with both brown and white rice, and have found that the Aroma rice cooker does what the manufacturers say it will do.
Programmable, With a 15-Hour Delay Timer
My favorite thing about this rice cooker is the generous 15-hour delay timer. If you’re a very busy person who has only a little time to spend in the kitchen, you can set the delay timer for up to 15 hours from the time you’re adding ingredients and your rice will be steaming hot when you are ready to eat it. Major points for convenience here, particularly if you add vegetables to the upper basket so they’ll be ready too. I would not recommend putting meat or fish in for the delay process as there’s just too much risk of bacterial contamination. Maybe broil or grill your entrée separately on days when you need to use the timer.
Automatic Keep Warm Function
In the event you’re not quite ready when your rice is, you’ll appreciate the automatic keep warm feature. It keeps the rice warm until you are ready to sit down and eat. If you wait too long, you may find a thin layer of crispy rice on the bottom of the cooker. I found I could avoid this by doing a little simple math, figuring out when we’d be ready to eat and then timing the cooker so it wouldn’t have to keep rice warm for more than about 30 minutes.
Cooks Soups and Other One-Pot Meals
Not in the mood for rice? You can still use your rice cooker. Simply add all the ingredients and turn it on. You’ll can make delicious soup and stew, jambalaya, chili, and other simple one-pot meals with ease, and thanks to the removable inner cooking chamber, cleanup is not at all difficult.
If you’re a fan of oatmeal, you can enjoy hot oatmeal in the morning by adding ingredients at night, and then timing the rice cooker to begin the cooking process so that your oatmeal is ready to eat at breakfast time. This is a great way to make the most of your rice cooker and to ensure you start your day off with a healthy, delicious meal that takes almost no effort to make.
“Can you use the Aroma to cook rice with broth?”
Yes, you can use any kind of liquid to cook your rice, i.e. vegetable broth, coconut water, chicken stock, etc. You can also add any seasonings, spices, etc. to the mix to make your rice a little more exciting.
“How big is the upper vegetable tray? Will it fit a nice amount of vegetables?”
The upper cooking tray is 6 ½ inches across and 1 ¾” deep. You can fit quite a few vegetables in there, i.e. a small bag of frozen stir fry veggies, a pack of sliced mushrooms or maybe a small bag of baby carrots.
“Do you have to cook rice while steaming vegetables or can you just add water and steam vegetables?”
You can steam vegetables alone if you like. You can also cook fruits and / or vegetables in the lower compartment with a little liquid. Poached apples, poached pears with wine, and steamed artichokes are some of the things I’ve enjoyed.
“Does this rice steamer have a slow cooking setting?”
No slow cooker setting is listed, however if you choose the brown rice setting, you can use the rice cooker like a slow cooker. Do experiment. There are quite a few innovative ways to put this (or any!) rice cooker to work.
“How long does this take to make rice?”
It takes about 20 minutes to make two cups of rice and about 35 to 45 minutes to make brown rice. The keep warm cycle will run for up to 10 hours.
“Does the rice cooker sing a song when it’s finished?”
No, it beeps loudly. I have no problem hearing it from upstairs.
“Is the cooking pan dishwasher safe for the top rack?”
The cooking pan should be hand-washed. Because it’s nonstick, it only takes a short time to rinse, wipe clean, and dry. If rice sticks, just let it soak for a few minutes so you don’t have to scrub.
“Will this rice cooker work with other grains, i.e. quinoa, bulgur, etc?”
Yes, it will cook all sorts of grains, as well as legumes. You will need to experiment to determine how to get the best results when cooking something other than white or brown rice.
“Is the plastic steaming basket BPA free?”
According to the manufacturer, the plastic steamer basket is BPA-free.
The Aroma 8-Cup Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer is a nice entry level appliance that does the functions the manufacturer says it will do, and then some. If you are willing to experiment a bit, you’ll find all sorts of innovative uses for this handy rice cooker! It isn’t as nice as some of the more expensive models I’ve reviewed, but as I like to say, you get what you pay for. In this case, it’s a pretty good bargain. Despite a couple of minor issues, i.e. rice sticking to the bottom of the pot occasionally, a little bit of a mess if you make a big batch of food, and the non-retractable cord, I have no complaints. The appliance is user-friendly, and it makes adding healthy whole grains to your diet super easy. The 15-hour timer and the 10-hour keep warm feature are big bonuses, and the size is ideal for a small family or couple.
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