A Guide to Making Sticky Rice

Doesn’t everyone love sticky rice? This short-grain rice variety is native to Southeast Asia and is known for its unique sticky texture. While it’s commonly used in Thai cuisine and dessert recipes, it can also be used in savory dishes and even as a breakfast food in some places.

Making restaurant-quality sticky rice at home may seem daunting, but with a little preparation and attention to detail, it’s definitely achievable. To start, you’ll need to soak the glutinous rice for at least three hours. Then, be sure to rinse it thoroughly to prevent a gummy consistency. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious, versatile sticky rice in no time.


To make the perfect sticky rice, there are a few key steps you need to follow. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Choose the Right Type of Rice: The type of rice you use matters when it comes to making sticky rice. Look for “glutinous rice” or “sweet rice” on the bag. This type of short-grain, opaque rice contains more amylopectin than amylose, which makes it sticky when cooked.
  2. Rinse the Dry Rice Under Running Water: Washing your rice before cooking it is a non-negotiable step in many Asian-style cuisines. It prevents unwanted gummy texture caused by excess starch. Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer under running water or dump it into a bowl, fill it with water, swish the rice around with your hand, and dump out the water. Repeat this process three to four times until the water runs mostly clear.
  3. Soak the Rice in Water: Let the rice soak, allowing it to slowly absorb water. Pour the washed rice into a large bowl and fill it with room temperature water so that the rice is completely submerged. Let it soak on the counter for at least three hours, but ideally overnight. This helps yield softer sticky rice. Right before it’s time to cook the rice, drain out the excess water. For extra soft sticky rice, pour some boiling water over the rice and let it sit for about 10 minutes before draining the water.
  4. Steam the Rice in a Basket Steamer: The traditional way to make sticky rice is to soak and steam it. You don’t need to boil sticky rice, so you don’t need a rice cooker. A simple bamboo steamer will do, though you can also use a stainless steel steamer rack. If your rice cooker has a “sweet rice” button, you can likely make sticky rice in it. However, it’s not a foolproof method. To steam sticky rice on the stovetop, line your steamer basket with a wet cheesecloth to prevent the rice from sticking to it. Dump the rice into the middle of the cheesecloth then fold over the edges so the rice is covered. Create a hole in the middle of the rice to prevent an undercooked center. Cover the steamer basket with the lid and fill a separate pot with water. Place the pot on the stovetop and bring the water to a boil. Place the steamer basket over the boiling water and let it steam for about 25 minutes. Once the rice is steaming, you don’t have to flip or stir it, which gives you time to prepare the rest of the meal.

By following these simple instructions, you can make perfect sticky rice every time. Remember, sticky rice is finger food, so once it’s cooled a bit, it should be soft yet sticky enough to eat with your hands.