Thai Food

Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Sticky Rice Steamer

If you’re considering a rice steamer, I’ll share a few things to consider, as well as the brands I recommend!

If you want to make real sticky rice, you’ll need a rice steamer and a bunch of pans, as well as a basket of sticky rice to serve. If this is all new to you, I’ll explain what each of these kitchen appliances does. The basket of sticky rice and the steamer are the showpiece of any Thai or Lao kitchen.


What you need to make sticky rice

Below is a picture of everything you need (except the glutinous rice) to make glutinous rice. Below we explain what each kitchen gadget does and what to look out for.

You put water in an aluminum pan and the rice in a bamboo steamer basket. When the water is heated on the burner, it creates hot steam that rises and passes through the basket, so the heat and steam cook the dried rice.


Bamboo rice steamer (with lid)

The bamboo steamer basket with lid is a handy bamboo basket in which sticky rice can rest during steaming. The steamer is placed directly over the water in an aluminum pan, so the water never touches the rice, only the steam.

They look a bit like a straw hat.

Aluminium pot

The aluminum pan has an opening that fits a tapered bamboo steamer basket. The aluminium pan ensures that the water boils without touching the rice.

Bamboo basket for sticky rice

The bamboo service basket is usually handmade. This serving basket holds the rice while serving (not on the tray). In Thai and Lao culture, sticky rice is a common dish where diners take a handful of rice during the meal and place it on their plates. The bamboo service basket is usually placed in the middle of the table.

Teflon (or rice bag plastic)

Once the rice is removed from the bamboo steamer basket, it should be kneaded so that the moisture flows evenly throughout the rice (not just the parts that have touched the basket). This is done with plastic or Teflon, which prevents the rice from sticking to whatever is used for kneading.

I will now share with you what you should consider when purchasing each of them.

Considerations in selecting steamers, pots, baskets and kneading systems for sticky rice


What to look for when choosing a bamboo steamer with glutinous rice (with lid)

If you decide to use a steamer basket made of bamboo, be careful with the aluminum pan that comes with it. Often a mussel basket and an aluminum pot are sold in pairs.

Also, make sure the steam tubes are made of natural fibers so the rice doesn’t stick to the basket.

And if you want to make Thai black rice, I recommend you buy TWO separate bamboo steamer baskets. Black rice often stains the sides of a bamboo steamer basket, which then stains the plain white glutinous rice.

For sticky rice, soak the rice for at least four hours (overnight is best). When you are ready to put the rice in the bamboo steamer basket, you will need to soak the bottom of the basket with water to moisten the bamboo sticks before steaming the rice. This prevents the rice from sticking to the cane.

There are those that are tapered and there are those that are narrower in appearance. I like the tapered ones better because it allows the rice to spread out and still steam better.

This is the form you should look for when choosing a glutinous rice steamer:


This is a form I would not recommend. Notice that the basket is much narrower:


As for the lid, the decorations often have none. You can buy them separately or use a slow-cooker lid that fits the rice perfectly (I’ve been doing it this way for years).

What to look for when choosing an aluminium pan for glutinous rice

The aluminum pot you buy is often sold in pairs with a sticky bamboo steamer basket. The aluminum bowl should have a hole in it where the steam basket fits, so it doesn’t come into contact with the water.

If you go to a family that has an aluminum travel pot, you will find that aluminum pots often have burn marks on the bottom (like the picture I have above). It’s just a sign of character and the fact that you use the jar regularly.

Make sure the bottom of the pan is dry (and not just leaking) after use. This prevents the aluminum pot from corroding to the bottom of the pot. Don’t just let it sit and dry.

If you’re looking for an aluminum pot, just make sure you’re looking for a basket that fits in your mouth.


What to look for when choosing a basket for sticky rice


Service containers are available in various sizes, designs and colours. You can get a large basket, a medium basket, or even an individual service basket. They are also available in a wide range of designs.

As I mentioned earlier, serving sticky rice means having a common basket to share the rice in. If that’s a bit much for you, you can also use individual serving baskets.

If you’re looking for a serving basket, make sure the reeds are natural. Also, it is very convenient to have a handle for glue rice baskets if you can find some with plastic handles.

Here are a few picked out that you might like:

What to look for when choosing a Teflon kneading mat

The simplest explanation: This mat is used to gently knead the rice after it is removed from the basket of the proofer. I know it sounds crazy to knead rice, because it looks like kneading rice. Glutinous rice, on the other hand, is sticky and the grains bounce back after steaming. Once the rice is heated in the steamer, transfer it to the mat, spread the rice out and gently knead with the mat or spoon onto the mat to distribute the moisture evenly.

The photo above is of my own plastic mat that contained my 25-pound bag of rice (yes, that’s a lot of rice we buy), but if you buy smaller bags of rice, they are often in regular plastic bags and not woven plastic. Teflon is the best (and most durable) kneading mat for sticky rice that I recommend.

This is the Teflon my daughter used at home.

Where to buy

My favorite places to supplement my glutinous rice kitchen kit are first Amazon and then eBay. Check out my Southeast Asian cooking tools for my recommended picks for the glutinous rice steamer set and basket!

How to make glutinous rice with a steamer

Below is a recipe card from another article I wrote about making glutinous rice. For detailed instructions on how to make real sticky rice with a bamboo steamer basket, click here. This is my FAVORITE way to make sticky rice!


  • 3 cups glutinous rice
  • Water


  1. Put the rice in a bowl. Rinse until clean.
  2. Add cold water until the water covers the rice.
  3. Soak for at least four hours. It can also be soaked overnight.
  4. After soaking, drain and rinse the rice.
  5. Place the rice in the bamboo steamer basket.
  6. Fill the metal-bottomed bamboo steamer pan halfway with water and bring to a boil.
  7. After cooking, place a steamer basket and cover until the rice is covered.
  8. Steam for 30 minutes.
  9. Check the rice by pressing on it so that it is firm.
  10. Take the rice out and place it on a nylon towel to knead while still warm (you will need to move it quickly because of the heat).
  11. Serve in a bamboo basket!


When the rice is cooked, it usually doubles in volume and size. The supplies for making glutinous rice are pretty unique, so I’ve listed them below!

Recommended products

As an Amazon employee and member of other affiliate programs, I make money on eligible purchases.

Performance information:

Give it up: 5

Power: 4

The amount for the deposit :

Calories : 142Total fat: 1gSaturated fat: 0gOverfat: 0gSaturated fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 176mgCarbons: 30gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g

Other frequently asked questions about steamers and bonded brake kits

What else can the steam basket and pan be used for?

You can use them to make stuffed sandwiches, steam vegetables instead of boiling them, and reheat dim sum.

What kind of rice should I use to make sticky rice in a bamboo steamer?

You have to use Thai sticky rice. My favorite brand is this one.

What are other ways of preparing sticky rice?

I 100% recommend making sticky rice with a bamboo steamer, but there are other ways to make sticky rice that are close in taste, aroma and texture to making it in a steamer basket.

Below are links to the procedures I recommend:

Summary of program selection for cooking glutinous rice

Often sticky rice and pan sets do not come with many instructions, nor are there clear instructions online on how to use them. I hope this article will help you understand how to choose a rice cooker so you can easily make it authentic at home!

I’ve been trying to write a definitive guide to choosing cookware for sticky rice, so if you have any questions, I’ll be sure to add them to the article!

More sticky Thai recipes you’ll love.

If you like this guide to Thai sticky rice as much as our family does, you’ll find a few more recipes below. Thanks for writing a five star review and helping share on Facebook and Pinterest!


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frequently asked questions

Can sticky rice be steamed?

1 cup sticky rice Bring a large pan of water to a boil and place a steamer with a lid on top. Steam the rice for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on how soft you want it, and let it rest, covered, for five minutes. Enjoy the heat! If you don’t have a steamer, you can also use a colander and a pan with a lid.

How to use the glutinous rice steamer

How long do you steam the glutinous rice?

Place the rice over a pan of rapidly boiling water (the water should not touch the sieve) and steam the rice for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and flip the rice. Let steam covered for another 10 minutes, until the rice is translucent and shiny. Make sure the rice is fully cooked; this may take up to 10 minutes.

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