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3 Perfect Steamed Rice Cooking Methods – Pan, Steamer & Rice Cooker

Perfect steamed rice cooking can seem to be illusive and frustrating but really it’s easy. Whether you have a saucepan, deep frying pan, steamer or dedicated rice cooker, just follow along the recipe for your equipment and you’ll have perfect results!

Video Showing You the Three Foolproof Perfect Steamed Rice Cooking Methods

3 Perfect Steamed Rice Cooking Methods - Pan, Steamer or Rice Cooker

Link to the steamed rice cooking methods video in case it fails to load for you.

If you’ve ever dumped a cup or two of rice in a saucepan, added water and turned on the heat to let it cook, then you’ve probably looked in dismay at the burnt rice left in the bottom of the saucepan.

Or maybe taken the rice out early and found hard because it’s uncooked, or added too much water and ended up with wet rice or overcooked it and found it mushy. All things to put you off. No more!

Here are three easy steamed rice cooking methods for perfect rice every time whatever the cooking equipment you have at home. And when you’ve cooked it head over to our Thai Chicken Fried Rice Recipe for a super meal in 15 minutes!

And if you cook up too much rice and have some left over then check out our Egg Fried Rice or Thai Mackerel Salad recipe posts for your answers.

Links disclosure: Some links on this page go to affiliate partners where, without cost to you, we may receive a commission if you make a purchase.

Ingredients & Equipment You’ll Need

  • Deep frying Pan or Wide Saucepan OR
  • Steaming Pan or Electric Steamer OR
  • Rice Cooker
  • Heatproof Bowl
  • White Long Grain rice – Jasmine Rice is best
  • Drinking Water

photo of three different types of cooking equipment needed for perfect steamed rice cooking
The three methods will use just one of the above – Steaming Pan (top left) or Dedicated Steamer (Bottom right), Rice Cooker (top right) or Deep Saucepan or Frying Pan with a Lid with a stand or DIY Stand (bottom left)

Secrets to Cooking Steamed Rice

Rice is predominantly starch and any successful method for cooking white rice involves thorough washing first. This is not the case with risotto rice by the way!

Washing the rice gets rid of any dust and dirt as well as washing off the excess starch that is left on the milled grains. If you do not wash this starch off then the rice becomes stuck together and sticky but not in a sticky rice kind of way.

If you want sticky rice then you will need a different type of rice and to follow one of a few different methods using a bamboo steamer, microwave, traditional steaming pan or appliance or rice cooker using our adapted method for perfect sticky rice.

If you buy pre-treated rice that is washed with extra vitamins a la Uncle ben’s or similar then the starch has already been removed to spray the chemicals to provide the vitamin additives to market to you.

Get your protein from meat, fruit and veg folks, not from sprayed chemicals added for marketing purposes to deceive you.

photo showing cloudy water at start of washing rice and clearer water at teh end of washing it
Wash the rice to remove excess starch and the water looks much clearer

Apart from getting rid of the excess starch, dust, and dirt by washing, you also need to ensure the rice has enough water to absorb and to be cooked through.

Steaming the rice is a great cooking method because the steam cooks more gently than boiling in water which tends to clump the rice together into a sticky mess not to mention burning it becasue of the very hot pan bottom.

You also need to ensure the rice is not overcooked. Rice is pretty tolerant of cooking time so 25-30 minutes is the norm unless you are cooking parboiled (partially pre-cooked) rice out of a packet – again not our preference at all!

How Much Water Do You Need to Cook Steamed Rice?

You will have heard of the ‘ancient chinese’ secret method of adding enough water so that the water surface above the top of the rice comes up to your first finger joint.

All very good except humans have many different length fingers and use various shapes of pot that screw up the method. In any case, the method is only really any good if you are cooking only two or three cups of rice at a time. Admitedly that might be the usual amount you cook!

In fact, the answer to the question is a little difficult because it depends on how much water is left after you’ve washed and drained the rice, the type of rice being cooked and how old it is.

The real answer is that you start from a standard amount of 1 cup of water for each cup of rice you are cooking. Assuming you always buy the same rice variety and stick with a brand you like then you can easily adjust the amount, reducing it by a few tablespoons if it seems too wet, or increasing it by a few tablespoons if it is too dry.

Even so, rice is pretty forgiving so even if the water amount is not quite perfect your rice should still be perfectly edible.

If you are using a rice cooker then you will be using the marked scale on the inside of the rice cooker pot anyway to measure your water and again will soon learn whether to be on the line, just beneath it or just over it for perfect rice. Again the amount is not really critical.

photo of a rice cooker with several options
Using a Rice Cooker is great and keeps rice warm after the cooking program has finished. A good purchase if you cook ricee frequently.

Method 1 – Perfect Steamed Rice with a Rice Cooker

If you have a rice cooker then you’ll find it the easiest route to perfect steamed rice cooking once you have done it a couple of times. If you haven’t got one then scroll down to one of the other methods.

The first benefit of a dedicated rice cooker is that you can stick the raw rice in the bowl, give it a good wash and drain it in that bowl and top up the water to the measure scale inside the pot.

No guessing how much you should allow for the water that isn’t quite drained out or wondering if your finger joint is at the same level as the rest of the world’s. Pointless worry anyway as it will make barely any difference!

The second and more important benefit is that you can cook the rice in advance and your rice cooker will keep it happily warmed and perfect until you come to use it.

This advantage is significant because otherwise you have to try to time your rice to finish cooking at the same time as the rest of the cooking you are doing or you have to go to the trouble of reheating it. It’s just easier – trust me!

Anyway, just decide how many cups to cook – 1 cup of raw rice will give 2 medium sized servings of cooked rice – measure out the quantity you want and put the raw rice in the rice cooker bowl.

Having got your raw rice in the pot, wash it several times under running water and drain as you go until the water coming out is pretty clear. It will not get perfectly clear but clear enough to easily see through is good enough.

With your washed rice in the pot, added water to the right level using the correct guage (with the pot resting on a level surface!) and stuck the pot in the cooker, shut the lid.

Select the correct program as your machine will likely have several ones for different types of rice and other things to cook, then press the On button.

Your cooker will take between 20 and 40 minutes to cook the rice depending on the model, thickness of pot, steam vents, and power levels etc. Check the instructions for your model.

Wait for the timer to sound or the light to change color and you can serve up any amount of time thereafter.


photo of large saucepan with steaming tray perfect for steaming rice
A steaming saucean with perforated suspended steaming tray is perfect for steaming many things including rice.

Methods 2 & 3 – Using An Electric Steamer and Using a Deep Saucepan or Frying Pan (with Cover)

There is no difference in the basic methods involved with any of the above cookware.

You will need to ensure you have a heatproof bowl of some description, a supply of water to produce steam, a means to suspend the bowl above the water surface and a cover to trap the steam.

You also need to check that the pot will fit in your pan, steamer, etc., with enough space for the cover to fit.

Measure out the quantity of dry raw rice you want to cook carefully and as with the rice cooker method, wash your rice thoroughly until the water runs clear and then drain it thoroughly. See the image in Method 1 above.

With your washed and drained rice in the heatproof bowl add one cup of water for each cup of dry rice you measured before washing.

In your pan, steamer, whatever, add enough water to boil for half an hour without boiling away. The water needs to sit about an inch or more below the bottom of your bowl. If your pan is a bit shallow you may need to top up part-way through the process which is perfectly fine – just check as you are steaming from time to time.

photo of an electric steamer
Electric Steamers are Inexpensive and Great for Steaming All Sorts of Food

With an Electric Type Steamer

Boil the water and then reduce the heat to a nice simmer. If using an electric steamer this takes just a couple of minutes so you can put the bowl of rice in and cover and set your timer for 33 minutes to cook. (30 minutes cook time and 3 minutes time to get to temperature)

With a Pan or Pot

If you do not have a saucepan or pot specifically made for steaming, grab a length of tin foil and roll it up into something resembling a long wrinkled sausage. Shape it to form a ring that will let your rice bowl nicely settle in without protruding underneath. Drop this ring of foil into your deep saucepan or frying pan.

With your dedicated steaming pot or DIY version, add water and bring to a boil. Then turn off the heat, wait for a minute for the bubbling water to subside and then carefully set your bowl on the foil ring using cloths or tongs so you don’t scald yourself. If using the dedicated steamer pan you seat the perforated steaming tray instead with the bowl sitting in the tray.

photo of steaming bowl seat made of foil
If you do not have a suitable stand then you can make up a simple stand with tin foil

Turn the heat back on until the water is simmering and put the cover on. If your cover has ventilated holes or slots in it you are good to go. If not simply adjust the lid to be a little askew to allow a release to the pressure of steam.

Set a timer for 30 minutes. Check your water is still simmering and the level is enough to not boil dry.

Whether using an electric steamer or pan, once the time is up, remove your pot of cooked rice and transfer immediately into a second bowl, fluffing it up as you do so to release any trapped steam.

If you leave the cooked rice in the bowl you steamed it in, then the trapped steam in the rice will condense back into the bowl and make the rice at the bottom wet.

Whichever method you used you should now have perfeclty steamed Jasmine Rice – how yummy. We hope you enjoyed the delicious aroma of the Jasmine rice as it cooked and that it enhanced your appetite!!

photo of perfect cooked steamed rice for each method the same
The results from all three cooking methods are very similar and taste perfect.

Cooking Steamed Rice with a Rice Cooker, Steamer or Pan Recipe

Perfect Steamed Rice Every Time Recipe

Phasinee Doddeo

The Video showing this recipe being cooked is near the top of the page – A convenient Jump Link to the video is below the description under here.

This recipe is super simple with just a few essential tips to give you perfect steamed rice every time.
Please use good quality jasmine Rice because it tastes and smells infinitely better than the cheap white rice or processed rice you buy that is marketed as vitamin enhanced. Get your vitamins from meat, fruit, vegetables and dairy – not from chemcials sprayed on treated rice!
5 from 1 vote

NOTE: Any In-recipe images can be toggled on and off with the camera icons next to the Instructions header.

Prep Time 1 min
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 31 mins
Course Rice Dishes
Cuisine Thai
Servings 2 people
Calories 338 kcal


  • Bowl
  • Rice Cooker or Steamer or Deep Pan with cover.


  • 1 cup Raw Jasmine Rice
  • 1 cup Water


  • Measure out the raw rice and add it to the cooking bowl from your rice cooker or a heatproof bowl for the other methods.
  • Wash the rice under running water, draining off the cloudy water as you go until the water draining off is quite clear. Agitate the rice by wiggling your fingers around as you wash it.

Instructions for Using a Rice Cooker

  • Place cooker bowl with your washed and drained rice on a flat and level surface. Locate the scale inside the cooker pot that is marked for Jasmine rice or the type of rice you are using if it is not Jasmine Rice.
  • Having located the correct scale, and with the pot flat and level, add in clean drinking water to match the number of cups of dry rice you are cooking. Note that some larger rice cookers have a minimum of two cups of dry rice!
  • With reference to your particular rice cooker model instructions, select the cook program for Jasmine Rice / Plain Rice and switch on.
  • Allow the cooker to finish the cooking program when you will hear an audible sound or see a visible indication. Most rice cookers will continue to keep the rice heated properly without drying out for several hours after the rice is cooked giving you a lot of versatility on timing to serve.
  • Fluff up with a fork when you take the rice out into your serving bowl or individaual plates.

Instructions for Pan or Steamer

  • If your pan does not come with a suspended tray then you can make up a makeshift support using rolled and scrunched up tin foil made into a support ring. Ensure the bowl you will use to cook will sit nicely in the ring without the bottom of the bowl sitting below the bottom of your foil ring when it is seated. Adjust the size of the ring across to suit.
    Drop the foil ring into your pan ready to recieve your cooking bowl which should be heatproof. The bottom of the cooking bowl must not touch the bottom of the pan and preferably should be above the top of the water.
  • Your rice should already be washed and drained as per the instructions at the beginnning of the recipe. Add one cup of drinking water per cup of dry rice you measured out to cook.
  • If using a steamer simply assemble the steamer, add water to the reservoir and turn the steamer on with the rice and water in the bowl sitting on the steaming shelf and put on the cover. Set the timer for 33 minutes.
  • If using a pan then add water and bring to the boil then remove from the heat to add the bowl with rice and water. Taking care not scald yourself using cloths or tongs, place the bowl on the steaming tray or sit it in your foil ring. Cover, setting the lid askew if it is the type of lid without ventilation holes. If your lid has vents just put it in place.
  • Turn the heat on to get the water simmering again and simmer for 30 minutes which will produce steam to heat and cook your rice. Check the water every now and again to make sure it does not boil dry.

End of Cooking and Serving

  • If you are using a rice cooker then your rice is good to sit in the cooker after the program has finished – it should be kept warm for several hours and still be ready for serving.
  • If using a pan or steamer then you should remove the bowl as soon as the cooking time is up. Transfer teh cooked rice into a second bowl, fluffing the cooked rice with a fork as you transfer in order to release trapped steam and separate the rice grains. If you skip this step the trapped steam will condense back into the bowl and make the rice at the bottom wet and not so nice.


Serving: 1cup cookedCalories: 338kcalCarbohydrates: 74gProtein: 7gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 11mgPotassium: 106mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gCalcium: 26mgIron: 1mg
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I really hope you enjoy this dish and if you cook it I would love to hear your comments below so please come back and let me know how it turned out for you.

photo of three perfect methods to cook steamed rice