The Hamilton Beach mini rice cooker and food steamer is turning heads for all the right reasons. It’s not like your traditional bulky rice cooker. But despite its smaller size it still offers the type of programmability that many consumers are looking for. If you’re guilty of overcooking or undercooking rice, then you’ll love how versatile and easy to use this model really is. This is a traditional style cooker that comes with very basic controls, but its simplicity also makes it much easier to use compared to models that are loaded with a variety of cooking programs and settings. It’s also reasonably priced, low maintenance, and very beginner-friendly.
Our Verdict: This is one of the most basic models Hamilton Beach makes, but it’s reasonably priced and features a compact design that won’t hog up your counter space. It comes with just a couple of basic features, which can be a drawback for some potential buyers, especially those who want a model that comes loaded with cooking programs and dedicated grain buttons, such as one for oatmeal and one for rice. The lack of features can result in undesired results if you don’t pay close attention to the cooking progress. However, if you’re simply looking for a model that can perfectly cook white rice and steam veggies, using a totally hands-off approach then this model is a great buy for the home cook on a tight budget.
Overview and Features
The best rice to eat should have a firm texture and shouldn’t clump together or contain unevenly cooked grains. This is the challenge most of us face when you attempt to cook rice on the stove, which is why rice cookers can be a total lifesaver. This particular model features an eight-cup cooking capacity and standard controls that allow you to cook your next batch of rice to perfection. The simple operation consists of plugging in the appliance, adding the correct amount of rice and water, and hitting the cook button. You won’t have to stick around the kitchen and babysit this model, instead, you’re free to run errands, get the laundry done, or focus on preparing other dishes while this cooker works its magic.
The sleek, compact model is perfect for people who are short on storage or counter space. This sleeker design allows you to keep the cooker on your counter at all times, without taking up too much room.
This is one of the most beginner-friendly models on the market. It doesn’t come equipped with an LCD screen or timer. This efficient model will automatically switch from cook to stay-warm once the cooking process has been completed. This type of simple operation is perfect for the first time rice cooker user or the new cook. This model consists of the base, a nonstick inner pot, and a large glass lid that’s removable for easier cleaning.
The included steaming basket will allow you to prepare freshly steamed veggies, so you can enjoy your favorite sides that are cooked to perfection. Steaming allows the veggies to retain all of their nutrients, unlike boiling which can leach the nutrients and leave you with veggies that taste overcooked and mushy. Steaming can also have your veggies cooked and ready to serve in a fraction of the time, compared to boiling.
Maintenance and Care
All of the included accessories such as the rice paddle and steam basket are dishwasher safe. The inner pot features a durable nonstick coating which will make it easier to clean. I recommend washing it by hand to avoid damaging the nonstick coating, however, the manufacturer does claim that the pot is dishwasher safe.
The nonstick coating on the surface of the pot makes it easier to serve a dish without the food sticking to the surface, even if you accidentally burn your rice.
This model can cook up to eight cups of rice or other types of grains, and has a minimum cooking capacity of two cups, which is perfect for smaller families. Since it doesn’t offer a higher than average cooking capacity, it’s not the best choice for larger families. However, it’s perfect for families who want to only prepare as much rice as can be eaten per meal.
The cooker features a stay-warm feature that will kick in automatically, once the rice is finished cooking. However, you can also manually press the stay-warm feature to keep your rice warm and ready to serve for a longer period of time. The stay warm feature will work for up to five hours and will not continue to cook the rice, it simply keeps it hot and ready to go.
This model only comes with a couple of basic controls: warm and cook. This type of limitation may be a drawback if you’re looking for a model that comes loaded with a variety of features and cooking programs. The fact that there are no dedicated buttons for specific rice or other grains may also be a drawback, especially if you love brown rice. Brown rice often takes much longer to cook since it has a bran layer, which is why many people commonly overcook or undercook it. Since this model only has the one dedicated cooking button, which is designed for white rice, you’ll need to keep a close eye on brown rice or other types of grains as they cook to ensure it cooks evenly.
If you want to learn how to make rice curry, one-pot meals, or different grain-based recipes, then you’ll find yourself relying on this model several times a week. Using this rice cooker is as simple as it gets, in fact, as far as mini models go, this is the best rice cooker for 2020. You’ll use the included measuring cup to measure out the appropriate serving size of rice and the water, add them to the inner pot, close the lid, hit the power button, and the cooker will handle the rest. This model is pretty basic in terms of features, however, it can still be used to cook other dishes aside from rice, such as a pot of beans, mac and cheese, and other types of grains including quinoa, oatmeal, and barley. You can also use the included steam basket to prepare veggies or steam other dishes such as poultry or fish. You can use the steam basket to steam food at the same time as you cook the rice, which is perfect if you often scramble to have dinner on the table before the family gets home.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Compact design
- Low price
- Eight-cup cooking capacity
- Steaming basket included
- Does not included dedicated grain buttons
- No cooking programs
- Can only prepare up to eight cups of rice per batch
Hamilton Beach Versus Joseph Joseph 45002 M-Cuisine Microwave Rice Cooker
While this model by Hamilton Beach is pretty simple to use, thanks to the basic design, the competing model by Joseph Joseph is even easier. The competing model is designed for microwave use, so it can cook rice in a fraction of the time, compared to a traditional rice cooker. It features a two-liter cooking pot, lid, and built-in carrying handles, and is dishwasher safe, so cleanup is a cinch. However, since this is a dedicated microwave model, it doesn’t come with any cooking programs, and you won’t be able to take advantage of a stay-warm feature like you will with the Hamilton Beach cooker. But if you’re on a tight budget and searching for a model that can make just enough rice per meal, the Joseph Joseph model is a steal for the price and designed with the busy family in mind.
Conclusion and Rating
The Hamilton Beach mini rice cooker and food steamer is very basic in design. It doesn’t give you any cooking options aside from the single cooking button, however, it does automatically switch from cooking mode to stay warm mode once the cooking process is complete. It also comes with a steaming basket, so you can steam fish, poultry, or veggies while the rice cooks. It’s budget and beginner-friendly and features a very basic design that makes it easy for cooks of all skill levels to use. It has a max cooking capacity of eight cups, with a minimum cooking capacity of two cups, so it’s also perfect for smaller families. If you’re looking for a tech-heavy model that comes loaded with a variety of cooking programs, this model isn’t it, but if you’re looking for a beginner-friendly basic model that allows you to get stuff done around the home while your rice is cooked to perfection, then this cooker is a great option. I gave it a rating of four and a half out of five stars.