boiled rice image by Pontus Edenberg from

Making perfect rice in a regular pot can be a huge challenge. Everything depends on the ratio of rice to water, the high temperature to start, and the low-enough simmer. Automatic rice cookers make it easier, but they can be expensive and take up a lot of counter space. Fortunately, there’s a third alternative. Rice ball cookers remove that need for perfect proportions. Often made of perforated stainless steel, or even mesh, rice ball infusers work the same way as tea infusers—they keep the rice inside while the water rushes around and through it.

Open your rice ball cooker and make sure it is thoroughly clean, inside and out.

Pour 1 to 3 tablespoons or so of oil on a paper towel and wipe it all around the inside of the rice ball cooker. This helps keep the rice from sticking to a perforated steel rice ball cooker but is not really necessary for a mesh one.

Fill the rice cooker half way with uncooked rice. The measurements don’t have to be exact, but most rice ball cookers hold about 2 cups. Don’t fill it more than half-way or the rice will not have enough room to expand.

Fill a large pot with water, and bring it to a boil.

Place the rice ball cooker into the boiling water, making sure that the chain stays draped outside of the pot so that you don't have to fish around in the boiling water to find it. Let the rice cook according to whatever kind of rice you are using. This will usually be between 14 and 20 minutes, but brown rice can take longer.

Use a potholder to remove the rice ball by its chain. Dangle it above the pot until all of the water drains out.

Open the rice ball cooker, using potholders, and empty the rice out into a large bowl.


Add spices to your uncooked rice and boil it in broth instead of water for a more deeply infused flavor.


Never handle a hot rice cooker with your bare hands. Even the mesh ones will retain enough heat to burn you.

About the Author

Brynne Chandler

Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.