Learn how to make sticky rice in a bamboo steamer, rice cooker, or in an Instant Pot with this easy tutorial. We have all the steps you need to make yummy sticky rice from the comfort of your own kitchen!

How to make sticky rice

What is Sticky Rice?

Sticky rice, also called glutinous rice or sweet rice, is a type of long grain or short grain rice that is grown in Southeast and East Asia. It’s used in Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Burmese, Bangladeshi, Filipino, and Indian cuisines.

The reason why the rice grains take on a sticky texture once they are cooked is because they contain very little amylose, which is a type of starch. Rice grains containing high levels of amylose will be fully separated once they are cooked, instead of being sticky.

Japonica Rice

Certain types of Japonica rice are also called sticky rice, or Japanese sticky rice. Japonica rice grains are shorter and fatter than the Southeast Asian types and are mainly cultivated in Korea, China, and Japan.

While glutinous rice contains low levels of amylose resulting in a sticky texture, Japonica contains high levels of amylopectin, which is another type of starch that makes rice sticky.

The type of Japonica rice used in dishes such as sekihan (red rice), and mochi (rice cakes) is called mochigome (もち米).

steps to making sticky rice

Sticky Rice Uses

Sticky rice is a popular ingredient that’s used across Asia for different purposes.

In fact, the list of dishes containing sticky rice is so lengthy that only a sticky rice expert would be able to name them all, so I won’t attempt to do it here! Instead, I’m sharing with you the most popular and various ways that this grain is being used for. Feel free to add more to this list by leaving me a comment at the end of this post!

  • In China, it’s used in dim sums, puddings, and porridges. In the form of sweet rice flour, it’s used in baked goods, cakes, and cookies.
  • In Japan, it’s served as sekihan, a traditional celebratory dish made of sticky rice and beans, and in desserts like mochi, daifuku, arare, and sembei. Sweet rice flour is used for dango, cakes, and other baked goods.
  • In Korea, it’s used in dishes like tteokbokki (spicy Korean rice cakes), samgyetang (ginseng soup), and porridges. The glutinous rice flour is used for chapssal donuts with red bean filling.
  • In the Philippines, sticky rice is soaked in water or coconut milk and ground into a dough called galapóng, which is used in many Filipino rice cake recipes. It’s also used in porridges and rice puddings.
  • In Indonesia, sticky rice is used in sweet and savory snacks that often contain a mixture of coconut milk and salt. It’s also used to produce alcohol known as tuak and brem bali.
  • In Bangladesh, sticky rice is enjoyed as part of a breakfast called Bini Bhat that comes with meat, fish curry, and shredded coconut. It’s also used to make pitas that are thin like crepes and topped with sweet ingredients such as banana, shredded coconut, and sugar.
  • In Laos, sticky rice is the main staple of their diet. Laotians eat more sticky rice than any other people on the planet, and often refer to themselves as “descendants of sticky rice”. The rice is soaked and steamed in a bamboo basket called houat, and kneaded into rice balls that are sticky but dry. They also like to toast the rice grains and use them to add a nutty flavor to dishes.
  • In Thailand, sticky rice is used in the fermentation process of making sai krok isan sausages, in brewing sato, also known as Thai rice wine, as the base of many dishes wrapped in banana leaf, and in several sweets and desserts.
  • In Vietnam, sticky rice is more often served as a side dish, such as soups, porridges, deep fried glutinous rice patties, or dumplings, or as a dessert, such as rice cakes with various sweet fillings, rice balls covered with sesame seeds, or sticky rice pudding.
Dragonfly Sweet Glutinous Rice

Popular Sticky Rice Brands

To make dishes like mango sticky rice, champorado (Filipino chocolate rice porridge), kue lupis (Indonesian sweet sticky rice dumplings), arroz caldo (Filipino chicken rice porridge), khao tom mat (Thai sticky rice with banana filling), zongzi (Cantonese rice dumpling with various fillings), or lo mai gai (Chinese sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf), use Southeast or East Asian glutinous rice. Some of the more famous brands are:

To make dishes like sekihan (Japanese red bean rice), mochi (Japanese rice cakes), and samgyetang (Korean ginseng soup), use Japonica glutinous rice. Some of the more popular brands are:

bamboo steamer on the stove

Ingredients Needed to Make Sticky Rice

There are only two ingredients needed to make sticky rice:

  • Sticky rice, glutinous rice, or sweet rice (they are all the same)
  • Water

Tools Needed to Make Sticky Rice

  • Large bowl
  • Strainer
  • Bamboo steamer + parchment paper + deep skillet with a lid, or pot with a lid

Or, use one of the two devices below instead of a bamboo steamer:

cooked sticky rice

How to Make Sticky Rice with a Bamboo Steamer

The first thing to do is to soak the rice before we can cook with it. Don’t skip this step as it makes the rice so much more fragrant and gives it a softer, chewier texture.

  1. Measure two cups of glutinous rice and place it in a medium to large size bowl. Add enough water to cover the rice by several inches.
  2. Soak overnight, or for at least 5 hours.
  3. Drain the rice but there’s no need to rinse it or shake it to remove excess water.
  4. Grab your bamboo steaming basket and line it with parchment paper. Add the sticky rice and put the lid on.
  5. Pour about an inch of water into a deep skillet or pot and place the bamboo steamer in the center. Close with a lid and turn the heat to medium high.
  6. When the water is boiling, turn down the heat to a bubbling simmer and steam for 20 minutes.
  7. The rice is ready when it’s chewy. If it’s still a little crunchy, steam for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight storage container to prevent the rice from drying.
How to make sticky rice

Using a Rice Cooker

  1. Measure two cups of glutinous rice and place it in a medium to large size bowl. Add enough water to cover the rice by several inches.
  2. Soak overnight, or for at least 5 hours.
  3. Drain the rice and place it in the rice cooker inner pot. Add 2 1/4 cup water and stir.
  4. Press the start button.
  5. When the cooking is finished, let the rice sit for 5 minutes before opening the lid.
  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight storage container to prevent the rice from drying.
How to make sticky rice

Using an Instant Pot

  1. Measure two cups of glutinous rice and place it in a medium to large size bowl. Add enough water to cover the rice by several inches.
  2. Soak overnight, or for at least 5 hours.
  3. Pour 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot bowl.
  4. Drain the rice and transfer it to a steamer basket or insert.
  5. Place the steamer basket or insert with the rice in the Instant Pot bowl. Make sure there is space between the water and the basket as you don’t want the rice to directly touch the water.
  6. Close and lock the lid. Choose the Pressure Cook setting and manually set the timer to 12 minutes (on natural release).
  7. Quickly release any steam that might be left.
  8. Unlock the lid and slightly open it. Leave for 5 minutes and serve.
How to make sticky rice

How to Store Sticky Rice

Let the rice cool down to room temperature before storing it. Make sure it’s always covered with a lid or kitchen towel to prevent it from drying. Once it’s reached room temperature, transfer the sticky rice in an airtight storage container or airtight ziplock bag, and put it in the fridge.

Can I freeze it?

Yes you can freeze cooked glutinous rice. Place it in an airtight ziplock bag and press the bag to let as much air out as you can. Seal it and freeze it.

How long is it good for?

  • Refrigerated in an airtight storage container: 4-6 days
  • Frozen: 1 month

Other rice tutorials you might be interested to look at:

how to make sticky rice

Did you like this How to Make Sticky Rice guide? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!

Print

How to Make Sticky Rice

Learn how to make sticky in a bamboo steamer, rice cooker, or in an Instant Pot with this easy tutorial. We have all the steps you need to make yummy sticky rice from the comfort of your own kitchen!

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes (+ soaking time)
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Category: Rice
  • Method: Steaming
  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Diet: Gluten Free
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sweet glutinous rice (sticky rice)
  • Water

TOOLS NEEDED:

  • Bamboo steamer
  • Parchment paper
  • Pot with lid or deep skillet with lid

OR

  • Rice cooker or Instant Pot

Instructions

BAMBOO STEAMER

  1. Place the rice in a medium or large size bowl and fill with water until it’s several inches above the rice.
  2. Soak overnight or for at least 5 hours.
  3. Drain the rice but do not shake off the excess water.
  4. Line a bamboo steamer with parchment paper and cut off the pieces that are too long. Alternatively, you can use the liner the bamboo steamer came with but I find that the clean up is easier with parchment paper.
  5. Add about an inch of water to a pot or deep skillet (deep enough to be able to put a lid on top of the bamboo steamer), and place the steamer in the center of it.
  6. Turn the heat to medium high and when the water bubbles, lower the heat to medium low (bubbling simmer) and close with a lid. Cook for 20 minutes.
  7. Taste the rice – if it’s chewy, it’s ready. If it’s still chalky and crunchy, steam for an additional 5-10 minutes. You might need to add more water to the pot at this point. Keep tasting your rice and adding more time if it needs it.
  8. Transfer the rice to a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Sticky rice dries very fast so it’s very important to keep it covered at all times.

RICE COOKER

  1. Place the rice in a medium or large size bowl and fill with water until it’s several inches above the rice.
  2. Soak overnight or for at least 5 hours.
  3. Drain the rice but do not shake off excess water.
  4. Place the rice in the rice cooker’s inner pot and add 2 1/4 cups water. Stir.
  5. Close the lid and press start.
  6. Once the cooking process is finished, leave the rice for 5 minutes before opening the lid.

INSTANT POT

  1. Place the rice in a medium or large size bowl and fill with water until it’s several inches above the rice.
  2. Soak overnight or for at least 5 hours.
  3. Drain the rice but do not shake off the excess water.
  4. Pour 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot bowl.
  5. Drain the rice and transfer it to a steamer basket or insert.
  6. Place the steamer basket or insert with the rice, in the Instant Pot bowl. Make sure there is space between the water and the basket as you don’t want the rice to directly touch the water.
  7. Close, lock the lid and choose the Pressure Cook setting. Manually set the timer to 12 minutes (on natural release).
  8. Quickly release any steam that might be left.
  9. Unlock the lid and slightly open it. Leave for 5 minutes and serve.

 

Notes

Store sticky rice in an airtight storage container or airtight ziplock bag in the fridge. It will last for 4-6 days.

Freezing sticky rice

Place the rice in an airtight ziplock bag and press the bag to let as much air out as you can. Freeze for up to 1 month.

Keywords: sweet rice, side

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