Why Does Rice Cooked in a Donabe Taste Better? Unveiling the Secrets Behind the Deliciousness



Have you ever struggled with choosing between a donabe (earthenware pot) and a rice cooker when it comes to cooking delicious rice? The two differ in their heating methods and heat transfer, which influence the texture and flavor of the cooked rice. In this article, we will compare the characteristics of donabe and rice cookers and provide a scientific explanation for why donabe-cooked rice is often preferred.

Characteristics of Donabe

Donabe is a traditional Japanese cooking vessel made by firing heat-resistant clay at high temperatures. Its characteristics are as follows:

1. Material and Structure

The surface of a donabe is coated with glaze, preventing water penetration while allowing steam to escape through the tiny pores in the interior. This property helps to evenly heat the rice and maintain the proper humidity.

2. Uniform Heating

Donabe slowly and evenly distributes heat. The heat from the source spreads throughout the entire pot, reaching the core of the rice grains, resulting in a fluffy texture.

3. Steam Pressure Regulation

The lid of a donabe is not completely sealed, allowing steam to escape during cooking. This maintains a constant steam pressure inside the pot, resulting in less sticky and fluffier rice.

4. Far-Infrared Effect

Donabe emits far-infrared rays, heating the rice evenly from the inside. This brings out the natural sweetness of the rice and enhances its inherent flavor. It also creates a slightly crispy surface while keeping the inside soft and chewy.

Characteristics of Rice Cookers

Rice cookers heat the inner pot with electricity and control the temperature using sensors. They can quickly reach and maintain a constant temperature, allowing for faster cooking. Rice cookers automatically adjust the temperature, eliminating the need for the user to control the heat.

Comparing Donabe and Rice Cookers

The following table compares the characteristics of donabe and rice cookers:

CharacteristicDonabeRice Cooker
Heating MethodUniform and slow heating by direct flameRapid and constant temperature control by electricity
Heat TransferEven heating from the inside by far-infrared raysQuick cooking by direct heating from the bottom
TextureFluffy with good grain separationConsistent texture due to uniform heating under constant conditions
FlavorEmphasis on the natural flavor of the riceRelatively uniform and consistent taste
Steam ReleaseSteam naturally escapes through the gap in the lidEquipped with a steam release function, but mostly sealed
Heat RetentionHeat lasts longer but easily escapes to the outsideEquipped with high heat retention functionality
Cooking FreedomRequires heat control and techniqueEasy operation with the push of a button, multiple cooking modes available
Scope of ApplicationCan be used for various dishes beyond rice cookingPrimarily specialized for cooking rice


The reasons why donabe-cooked rice is preferred lie in its unique texture, flavor, and the naturalness of the cooking process. The even heating from the inside by far-infrared rays and the proper regulation of steam pressure produce fluffy and delicious rice. On the other hand, rice cookers offer convenience and consistent results but may not deliver the same level of flavor and texture as donabe.

It is recommended to use donabe for special occasions or heartfelt meals and rice cookers for everyday meals. By understanding the characteristics of both and using them according to your needs, you can enrich your dining experience and cook rice that suits your taste.