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Sticky Rice Steamer and Pot – Everything You Need to Know

If you are thinking about getting a sticky rice steamer, I’m sharing with you some of the things you should look for along with brands that I recommend!

If you love making authentic sticky rice, you’re going to need to get a sticky rice steamer and pot set along with a sticky rice basket for serving. If this is all new to you, I’m going to explain what each of these kitchen apparatuses do. A sticky rice steamer and basket is the heart of any Thai or Lao kitchen.

Choosing a sticky rice steamer & basket-1

What You Need to Make Sticky Rice

Below is a picture of everything you’ll need (aside from the glutinous rice) to make sticky rice. I’m going to explain what each of these kitchen gadgets do and what you need to look out for in detail below.

You add water in the aluminum pot, add the rice into the bamboo steamer basket. When the water is heated over a burner, it produced hot steam that rises and passes through the basket, allowing the heat and steam to cook the presoaked rice.

sticky rice steamer pot and basket

Bamboo Rice Steamer Basket (with lid)

The bamboo steamer basket along with the lid is a hand-woven bamboo basket that allows the sticky rice to sit inside of the basket while steaming. The steamer sits right above the water in the aluminum pot so that the water never actually touches the rice, it’s all steam.

They somewhat look like a straw hat.  

Aluminum Pot

The aluminum pot has a mouth that allows the conical shape of the bamboo steamer basket to sit inside. The aluminum pot allows the water to boil without allowing the water to actually touch the rice. 

Bamboo Sticky Rice Basket

The bamboo serving basket is generally made with handwoven bamboo. This serving basket is where the rice sits during serving (rather than on a plate). In Thai and Lao culture, sticky rice is generally shared as a communal plate where diners grab a handful of rice during meal time to place on their plates. The bamboo serving basket is generally at the heart of the table.

Teflon (or plastic from rice bag)

After the rice is removed from the bamboo steamer basket, the rice needs to be kneaded in order to allow the moisture to evenly flow across all of the rice (not just the parts that touched the basket). This is done by using plastic or teflon that doesn’t allow the rice to stick to what is being used to knead the rice.

Now, I’m going to share with you things you need to considering when purchasing each of these.

Considerations When Choosing Sticky Rice Steamers, Pots, Baskets, and Kneading Material

sticky rice basket and server considerations when buying

What to Look for When Choosing a Sticky Rice Bamboo Steamer Basket (with Lid)

When choosing a bamboo steamer basket, you’ll want to make sure that you know what aluminum pot goes along with it. Often times, the steamer basket and the aluminum pot will be sold as a pair.

You’ll also want to make sure that the reeds of the steamer are made with natural fibers, as this will allow the rice to not cling to the basket.

In addition, if you plan on making thai black rice, my recommendation is to buy TWO separate bamboo steamer baskets. Often, the black rice will stain the sides of the bamboo steamer basket, which will then stain regular white sticky rice.

With sticky rice, you’ll want to soak the rice for at minimum four hours (overnight recommended). When you are ready to transfer it into the bamboo steamer basket, make sure that you soak the bottom portion of the steamer basket with water to wet the bamboo reeds before pouring in the rice to steam. This will allow the rice to not sticky as much to the reeds.

You’ll find some that have the conical look and those that look more narrow. I love the conical ones because they allow the rice to spread further, but closer to the steam.

Here is the shape you should be looking for when choosing a sticky rice steamer:

sticky rice basket steamer

Here is the shape I wouldn’t recommend. Notice how the heck of the basket is more narrow:

sticky rice steamer basket narrow

As far as the lid, often the sets may not come with a lid. You can purchase these separately or just use any pot lid that fits right over the rice (I’ve done this for many years).

What to Look for When Choosing a Sticky Rice Aluminum Pot

The aluminum pot that you purchase often is sold as a pair along with the sticky rice bamboo steamer basket. The aluminum pot needs to have an opening that will allow the steamer basket to be held so that it does not touch the water.

If you go to any family that has an aluminum pot for cooking rice, you’ll notice that the aluminum pots often have burn marks on the bottom (like the image that I have above). This is just a sign of character and that you’ve been using the pot regularly.

Make sure that you dry out the bottom of the pot after using it (not just dumping the water). This will allow the aluminum pot not to corrode at the bottom of the pot. Do not just let it sit and “dry” on it’s own.

When you are looking for an aluminum pot, you just need to make sure you look for a companion basket that will sit inside the mouth.

aluminum pot for sticky rice

What to Look for When Choosing a Sticky Rice Serving Basket

sticky rice basket and server considerations when buying

Serving baskets come in various sizes, patterns, and colors. You can have a large basket, medium basket, and even individual serving baskets. In addition, they come in a beautiful array of patterns. 

Like I mentioned, serving sticky rice authentically means having a community basket to share the rice in. If that is a little much for you, you can always use individual serving baskets.

When looking for a serving basket, make sure that the reeds are natural. In addition, having a handle for sticky rice serving baskets is also a great convenience if you are able to find some with plastic handles.

Here are some handpicked ones that you might like:

What to Look for When Choosing a Teflon Kneading Mat

The easiest way I can explain this: this mat is used for softly kneading the rice after it comes out of the steaming basket. I know it sounds crazy to knead the rice because it sounds like you are mushing the rice together. However, sticky rice is sticky and the grains are “bouncy” after steaming. When the rice is piping hot from the steamer, you’ll want to move it on to the mat, spread the rice out and carefully knead with the mat or with a spoon with the rice on the mat so that the moisture is evenly distributed.

While the photo above is of my own mat that is using the plastic that was holding my 25 pound bag of rice (yes, it’s a lot of rice we buy), if you purchase smaller bags of rice, they often come in regular plastic bags instead of woven plastic. Teflon is the best (and most durable) kneading mat for sticky rice I would recommend.

Here’s the teflon that I had my daughter use at home.

Where to Buy

My favorite places to replenish my sticky rice kitchen equipment is first Amazon and then eBay. Check out my southeast Asian cooking tools for my recommended picks for a sticky rice steamer set as well as basket!

How to Cook Sticky Rice with Steamer Basket

Below is a recipe card from another post I did all about cooking the sticky rice. For detailed directions, here’s how to make authentic sticky rice with a bamboo steamer basket. This is my FAVORITE way to make sticky rice!

Lao Sticky Rice (Khao Neow)

Lao Sticky Rice (Khao Neow)

Yield: 4
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Prep Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

This is a Lao delicious, traditional rice dish made from glutinous rice with a beautiful transparent grain.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of sticky rice (glutinous rice)
  • water

Instructions

  1. Put the rice in a deep bowl. Rinse until clear.
  2. Add cold water until water is covering the rice.
  3. Let it soak for at least four hours. It can also be soaked overnight.
  4. After soaking, drain the rice and rinse.
  5. Place the rice in a bamboo steamer basket.
  6. Add water halfway up a metal base pot for a bamboo steamer and allow it to boil.
  7. Once boiled, add the steamer basket on top and cover it with any cooking lid until the rice is covered.
  8. Steam for 30 minutes.
  9. Check the rice by pressing on it to ensure that it is firm.
  10. Remove the rice, and place on a nylon sheet to knead it while it is still hot (you'll need to move it quickly due to the heat).
  11. Place in bamboo basket to serve!

Notes

The rice will typically double in volume and size when cooked. The supplies for making sticky rice is pretty unique, so I've listed them below!

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 142Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 176mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Sticky Rice Steamers and Baskets

What else can the steamer basket and pot set be used for?

These can be used to make stuffed buns, steam vegetables instead of boiling, and warming up Dim Sum.

What type of rice should I get to make sticky rice in a bamboo steamer?

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

What are other methods of making sticky rice?

While I 100% recommend making sticky rice using a bamboo steamer, there are other methods of making sticky rice that gets the taste, flavor, and texture close to making it in a steamer basket.

Below are links to the ways I would recommend making them:

Summary for Choosing Sticky Rice Cookware

Often, sticky rice steamer and pot sets don’t come with a lot of instruction nor is there a lot of clear directions on the internet on using them. I hope this post allows you to understand how to choose sticky rice cookware so you can make it authentically at home with ease! 

I’ve been trying to make the ultimate guide on choosing sticky rice cookware, so as you guys ask questions, I’ll be sure to add them to the post!

More Sticky Thai Recipes That You’ll Love

If you love this guide to Thai sticky rice cookware as much as our family does, see below for some other recipes. Please write a five star review and help me share on Facebook and Pinterest!

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Choosing a sticky rice steamer & basket-1

how to make sticky rice recipe

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