Thai Mango Sticky Rice Dessert (Khao Niaow Ma Muang)

Bowls of Thai mango sticky rice with fresh sliced mango
The Spruce
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Soaking: 20 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yields: 3 cups

The classic Thai dessert known as khao niaow ma muang (mango sticky rice) is heavenly and scrumptious. Famously served as street food in Thailand and at Thai restaurants throughout the world, the taste of this tropical rice pudding is irresistible—and it's easy to make at home.

This mango sticky rice recipe requires just a few ingredients. Use the ripest mangoes you can find, good-quality coconut milk (avoid "lite" options), and Thai sweet rice. Also called glutinous rice or sticky rice, it can be found at Asian food stores and well-stocked supermarkets.

The sticky rice is made in a pot on your stove, so you don't need a rice cooker. Coconut milk and brown sugar add delicious flavor to both the rice and the sauce. When everything's ready, you'll scoop rice into a bowl, add some fresh mango slices, and smother it with the sweet coconut sauce to create a Thai dessert that will transport you to Southeast Asia.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Thai sweet rice (aka sticky rice)
  • 1 1/2 cups water (divided)
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk (divided)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons brown sugar (to taste; divided)
  • 1 to 2 ripe mangoes

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Thai mango sticky rice dessert ingredients
    The Spruce 
  2. Soak rice in 1 cup water for 20 to 30 minutes. Do not drain the rice.

    Soaking Thai sweet rice in a saucepan with a cup of water
    The Spruce
  3. Add 1/2 cup more water, plus 1/2 can of the coconut milk, the salt, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Stir well.

    Coconut milk, salt, and some of the brown sugar are added to the saucepan
    The Spruce
  4. Bring to a gentle boil, then partially cover with a lid (leaving some room for steam to escape). Reduce heat to medium-low, or just until you get a gentle simmer.

  5. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coconut water has been absorbed by the rice. Turn off the heat but leave the pot on the burner with the lid on tight. Allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

    Simmered sticky rice in the saucepan
    The Spruce
  6. To make the sauce, warm (do not boil) the remaining coconut milk over medium-low heat (about 5 minutes). Add 3 tablespoons brown sugar, stirring to dissolve. Taste-test sauce for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired. (Note that it will not taste as sweet once added to the rice.)

  7. Prepare the mangoes by cutting them open and slicing each into bite-sized pieces.

    Mangoes scored with a sharp knife
    The Spruce
  8. Scoop some warm rice into each serving bowl, then drizzle lots of the sweet coconut sauce over the top. It should look like an English pudding with custard sauce, with the rice swimming in sauce. Arrange mango slices on the rice and finish with a drizzle of more sauce.

    Sweet coconut sauce is drizzled over the sticky rice in a bowl with fresh mango chunks
    The Spruce
  9. Serve and enjoy.

Can Mango Sticky Rice Be Made With Other Types of Rice?

The gluey texture of sweet rice is unique. Unlike other types of rice that become fluffy, this variety has a specific combination of starches that makes it sticky when cooked. Also labeled glutinous rice, mochi rice, pearl rice, or waxy rice, there's no perfect substitute for sweet rice. The next best bets are sushi rice and jasmine rice, followed by basmati. With any of these, the cooking time may need to be adjusted—monitor the rice for absorption—and the mango sticky rice will not have the authentic texture and taste.

How Is Mango Sticky Rice Eaten?

Mango sticky rice is served warm or chilled, and it is usually eaten with a fork or spoon. It is sometimes eaten with the hands.

How to Store and Reheat

If you have leftovers, it's best to store the sticky rice and sauce separately. They'll keep for up to three days in the refrigerator. Mango sticky rice is delicious either hot or cold. To reheat it, gently warm the rice in the microwave, just until it reaches room temperature. Do the same with the sauce or keep it cold. If the sauce thickens too much, stir in a splash of coconut milk.

Recipe Variation

  • For even saucier rice, add scoops of rice (portion out 1 scoop per person) directly to the pot with the sauce. Stir over low heat, gently breaking apart large lumps but leaving smaller chunks. Add the mango pieces and gently stir until everything is warmed through. Portion out into serving bowls, making sure everyone has equal amounts of rice, mango, and plenty of sauce. Top with any additional mango and sauce.
  • To dress up the dessert bowl, sprinkle sesame seeds or coconut flakes on top.
  • Replace the brown sugar with palm sugar or granulated sugar.