A guide to rice cooker functions

Not just simple basic on/off rice cooker functions

Sakura display

People often struggle to match the type of rice they are cooking with the correct rice cooking setting – after all, white rice can be long, short or even medium grain, brown rice, black rice and red rice similarly throw up conundrums for people using their rice cookers.

We are often asked by customers for advice on what rice cooking functions to use for different types of rice and it gave us inspiration for this post.

The rice cookers for sale on Yum Asia are micom fuzzy logic rice cookers which means that the micro-chip inside the rice cooker makes tiny calculations and adjustments to the cooking time to make sure the rice is cooked perfectly every time. Yum Asia’s Bamboo rice cooker also utilises Induction Heating (IH) and has an advanced UMAI fuzzy logic processor.

White Rice

White rice can be short or long grain, fluffy and separate or sticky so you can eat it with chopsticks and depending on what type of white rice you are cooking would depend on what setting you would use on a rice cooker.

Long Grain White Rice

Long grain rice is roughly four times as long as it is wide and includes varieties such as white basmati and jasmine rice.

Some rice cookers like Sakura, Bamboo and the NL-BGQ05 have a long grain rice setting. The long grain setting is perfect for cooking these types of rice. If your rice cooker doesn’t have a long grain setting, then the ‘white’ setting should be used along with the water levels for ‘white’ on the inner bowl.

When cooking long grain rice, if you prefer that the rice is less sticky and has more distinct grains of rice, add a little less (like 3-4mm less) water before the cooking starts. When the rice cooker switches to keep warm, open the lid to let the steam escape and fluff the rice with the provided spatula. Then leave on keep warm for at least 30 minutes.

Short Grain White Rice

Short grain rice is short and plump and can include sushi rice, pearl rice, Thai sticky/glutinous rice.

In rice cookers without a short grain setting, it should be cooked on the ‘white’ setting, however, some rice cookers like SakuraBamboo and the NS-YSQ10/18 have a dedicated short grain setting and the NL-BGQ05 cooks short grain rice as it’s default white rice setting (hence the inclusion of the long grain setting).

What surprises a lot of people is that Zojirushi rice cookers don’t actually have a dedicated sushi setting – this is combined with the normal ‘white’ rice setting and water levels are just adjusted to achieve the ‘stickier’ sushi finish. Short grain rice does need slightly different cooking cycles and water levels, so having a dedicated feature for short grain is very useful.

In Sakura and Bamboo, you can use the short grain setting to cook short grain rice for eating in Japanese dishes such as Japanese curry and tonkatsu as well as using it for sushi and sticky/glutinous rice and simply adjust the water amounts in Sakura (Bamboo has special marks on the inner bowl for short grain rice). The results are outstanding! Confusingly for people using Zojirushi rice cookers, the ‘sweet’ setting is actually used for sticky/glutinous rice and not a dessert style dish like rice pudding!

‘Yumami’ (extra tasty) and ‘Premium Taste’ Setting

Bamboo has a setting called ‘Yumami’ for any type of white rice. It brings out the ‘umami’ taste, the rice is cooked in a different way (using a specially designed soaking and steaming cooking cycle) which makes the rice taste sweeter and moreish – it really does make a difference to the taste. We have further information on this setting on our Yum Factor page. The NS-YSQ10/18 also has a similar setting for white rice – ‘premium taste’ setting. 

Brown Rice

Now moving on to brown rice – this can also be short or long grain but the overriding factor is, that it’s brown rice, so it needs more cooking no matter the length of the grain so you should always use the ‘brown’ setting on a rice cooker.

The cooking cycles for brown rice do take longer – this is because of two factors, first there is more bran on the outside of the rice grain, so it takes longer to cook and second because there is more water involved during the cooking cycle and it takes longer to evaporate.

If the longer cooking time of brown rice is a concern for you, then all the rice cookers Yum Asia sells have a timer function, so you can set the time you want the rice to be ready and then just forget about it!

‘GABA’ Brown Setting

Bamboo has an additional setting for brown rice – ‘GABA brown’ setting. This pre-soaks the rice at a specific temperature to sprout or ‘activate’ the rice. It’s said to release GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). We have further information about GABA brown rice and it’s benefits on our Yum Factor page. The YSQ10/18 also has this feature but the cooking time in Bamboo is shorted due to the Umai Induction Heating method of cooking the rice.

Black and red rice should also be cooked on the ‘brown’ setting as, like brown rice, there is more bran on the grain and so they need additional cooking time which the brown rice setting allows.

Rice cookers can be used for so much more than just rice!

Other grains

Other grains such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, cous cous and many more can be cooked in a rice cooker. We can offer further advice on this, it’s a case of experimenting with water levels and settings to get the results you like.

Steam Setting

Some rice cookers like BambooSakura, the NS-TSQ10/18, the NL-AAQ10/18 have steaming setting and baskets included. This is very useful for creating full meals in the one appliance, you can steam veg, meat, fish, dumplings while you are cooking rice. You can even use the steam setting as a stand-alone steamer.

Cake Baking

There are then some very unexpected settings on rice cookers – like cake baking (BambooSakura, the NS-TSQ10/18) which produces fantastic cakes – cheesecake, banana cake, brownies, spiced apple cake – all are amazing and very moist because the cakes are steamed rather than baked. For some delicious recipes, see our dessert section!


All Yum Asia rice cookers can cook porridge – oatmeal or traditional rice porridge (known as congee). There’s nothing better than setting the rice cooker to have your porridge ready for breakfast on a cold winter’s day – here is our recipe for oat porridge.

Slow Cook, Soup, Yoghurt

Bamboo and Sakura are unique in the rice cookers we sell in that they also has other useful features like a fully programmable slow cook setting (the NS-YSQ10/18 does have a slow cook, but it is very limited – you cannot set the time of the cooking cycle or use keep warm) and crust (or Persian Tahdig) setting. Sakura also has a soup setting for brilliant soups and yoghurt setting for making your own yoghurt from scratch.

Are you surprised by the number of things that can be cooked in a rice cooker? What are you waiting for – browse our recipes and if you have any ideas for cooking unique things in a rice cooker, let us know!