How to Make Sticky Rice

Three Methods:Glutinous RiceNon-Glutinous RiceServing Sticky Rice

Sticky rice is that delightful concoction that can be found accompanying many Asian dishes, most often seen in Thai or Indonesian main courses. It's also known as sweet or glutinous rice. This specific kind of rice acquires a gluey texture after being cooked. It's the rice of the common people, and is usually eaten with bare hands. This article explains how to perfect it.

  • Prep time: 4 hours
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 4 hours, 30 minutes


  • 1 cup Thai sweet rice (or glutinous rice); note that 1 cup of raw rice is considered enough to provide 2 servings
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups water
  • A rice steamer

Method 1
Glutinous Rice

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    Prepare the rice. Measure out the uncooked rice in a pot or steamer. If making more rice, be sure to leave room for an additional 1/2 to 1 cup of water per cup of rice.
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    Rinse the rice if needed. Rinsing or washing rice takes out nutrients as well as some of the starch components of the grains. However, it is optional for the taste. To wash, add water to the rice, rub the rice in your hands, drain the milky water, add new water, and repeat the process until the water is clear.
    • Whether or not rice requires washing will depend on where you live and where you have sourced the rice from. In most developed countries, rice does not require washing for the purposes of cleaning it.
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    Soak the rice. Add the water to the rice grains and leave it on the side to soak between 4 hours and overnight. The longer the rice is soaked, the more the texture will be.
  4. 4
    Steam the rice. Drain the rice grains through a colander to get all of the water out. Use a Thai bamboo rice basket or a wire mesh rack over a steamer to cook the rice.
    • Wrap the rice in muslin, and steam on one side for 15 minutes. Turn the rice over, and cook for another 15 minutes. Do not overcook the rice or it will become mushy. It should be sticky, but not watery, and hold together well.
      Image titled Sticky Rice 1981

Method 2
Non-Glutinous Rice

Out of glutinous rice? Try this instead:

  1. 1
    Prepare and rinse the rice as described above. You may want to leave room for an additional 1/2 cup of water per cup of rice, for example 2 cups of rice and 2 1/2 cups of water
    • Alternately, pour light lemon squash over the rice instead of water as the sugar content of the squash combines with the starch content of the rice and gives an extra sticky finish.
  2. 2
    Soak the rice with the measured water for 30 minutes.
  3. 3
    Cook the rice. There are two methods in making this type of rice: using a pot, and using rice cooker.
    • Rice cooker: Leave the water used to soak the rice in the cooker for about 15 to 30 minutes. Add a pinch of salt in the cooker and stir gently. Put the cooker on.
    • Pot: Add the rice and about 1 to 1 1/2 cups more water than rice. Leave it to soak for 20 minutes to 4 hours.
    • Add about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of salt in the pot.
    • Bring it to a boil and immediately lower the heat once it reaches to that point.
    • Simmer the rice for about 10 minutes.
    • Leave a cover lid on at an angle so some of the steam can escape (if there's no vent).
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    Check back on the rice—–if there is water left, simmer it for an additional 5 to 7 minutes more. If there's no water, the rice is ready.

Method 3
Serving Sticky Rice

  1. Image titled Sticky rice for breakfast this morning Laos memories
    Choose a serving method that best complements the food you're serving. Some ideas include:
    • Place a serving size into an equivalent sized serving bowl.
    • Wrap in a banana leaf for an authentic serving approach.
    • Mold the sticky rice in a bowl or other shape, then upend it on the serving plate.
    • Place in one large serving platter and have guests serve themselves with clean fingers (provide water bowls on the table to clean fingers after, as they'll be sticky too).


  • To create the best results of sticky rice, Thai sweet rice is recommended. Jasmine rice is one of the worst brands to use because the grains don't hold together as well as sticky rice, in addition to the taste difference. Non-glutinous rice brands will present a mushier and wetter feel than the chewy texture of Thai rice.
  • Turn plain sticky rice into candied sticky rice. During cooling, add 1/3 cup honey or molasses or agave nectar per 2 cups of sticky rice. Cover for first 5 minutes. Then uncover for last 5 minutes - and enjoy your candied sticky rice!
  • Be sure to flip the rice by lifting the basket, 10 minutes per side is good and total cooking time of 20-25 minutes. The longer it's steamed the more sticky (less finger friendly). Test a small amount––does it roll and stick together? If so, it's done. If not, continue to steam a few more minutes then test again. Be very careful, rice is hot! While sticky rice is best freshly made, do let it cool a few minutes in a bamboo serving basket for the best texture.
  • A bamboo steamer and basket can be useful to use. These are available at most Asian food stores and online.
  • Sticky rice is enjoyed many ways the simplest is to roll the cooked rice into rolls and dip into a sauce, such as soy sauce or chili sauce. If you like sticky rice this way, you may also like sushi rolls.


  • Do not add salt; this will prevent the grains from sticking together.
  • Caution: Steam is hot!

Sources and Citations

  • Taste of the Orient, p. 206, ISBN 1-86256-035-8 – research source

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