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Sage by Heston Blumenthal Risotto Plus: Our favourite budget rice cooker

Alan Lu
23 Aug 2016
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
90
inc VAT

Not the most refined rice cooker by any stretch, but the Risotto Plus is far more versatile than its name suggests

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It might seem strange to review the Risotto Plus as a general purpose rice cooker, but this appliance actually started out life under the name of ‘the Multi Cooker’. In addition to its risotto and rice modes, it also has settings for slow cooking, sautéing and steaming.

Design and features

Despite its multiple cooking modes, the Risotto Plus is pleasingly minimalist in appearance with an attractive metal build. There’s no need to worry about indecipherable icons on the controls though - the light-up buttons are clearly labelled.

READ NEXT: Expert Reviews' guide to the best rice cookers to buy

Better still, a steam basket is included so you can steam vegetables while your rice is cooking. The basket even has a handle for easy extraction from the hot rice bowl – a small but important design element missing from the steam baskets included with many other rice cookers.

Cooking performance

Long grain rice was cooked quickly in 13 mins 24 seconds. The results were generally good – moist and fluffy with mostly well-separated grains. A few patches were still clumped together and had a firm bite, but a bigger problem was that rice at the bottom of the bowl was overcooked leading to some crustiness in places. It wasn’t as crusty and hard to the same extent as the Tefal MultiCook Advanced 45-in-1 RK812142, but we never like to see wasted food.

It was a similar story with the short grain rice. It was cooked quickly in 15 minutes and while there was plenty of edible rice, the standard of moistness, softness and fluffiness wasn’t as good as the standards achieved by Zojirushi’s rice cookers. A bigger problem was that the uneven quality of the cooking led to some noticeably soggy patches, while others were overcooked and crusty. In other words, more food wastage.

We achieved better results using the risotto mode to cook our white short grain rice. The cooking time was almost exactly the same, but the results were far less soggy, yet still reasonably sticky and fluffy with no sodden or crusty patches. The grains were a little springy compared to the perfectly soft results achieved by more expensive rice cookers in this test, but it was perfectly enjoyable and still a significant improvement over using the standard rice mode to cook short grain rice.

Although the Risotto Plus does have a Keep Warm mode, it wasn’t up to much. It switched off automatically overnight, but not soon enough to prevent rice from becoming inedibly hard and crusty, as well as cold, when we came back to it the following morning.

This rice cooker is easy to clean, at least when cooking long grain rice – a bit of mess around the inside of the rice bowl and on the upper surface of the lid around the steam exhaust hole was easily cleaned up. It made a much more substantial mess when cooking short grain rice, in both the rice and risotto modes, spewing droplets of excess water around our counter top and creating a thin filmy residue over the top of the lid. This is highly unimpressive.

Verdict

The Sage Risotto Plus isn’t up to the standards set by the company’s other Heston-branded kitchen appliances – such as its bizarrely-named, yet superlative combi microwave The Quick Touch Crisp. Several flaws holding it back from receiving top marks, not least its short grain rice cooking abilities, but that doesn’t mean you should rule it out completely. It’s vastly cheaper than many rival rice cookers, and good enough at cooking long grain rice that it’s still well worth considering.