How to Make Sticky Rice

No Rice Cooker Required

Sticky Rice

The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  • 01 of 07

    Know Your Rice

    bag of Thai sweet rice

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Sticky rice can be purchased at Asian food stores. Also known as glutinous rice or sweet rice, this type of grain sticks together when cooked. The Thai variety has a longer grain than Japanese or Chinese sweet rice.

    Although in Thailand sticky rice is steamed in long funnel-like baskets, our method, even if it's not strictly authentic, gives extremely delicious rice and is much easier to make. 

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  • 02 of 07

    Measure and Soak

    rice and water in a bowl

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Measure out 2 cups of sweet rice and place it in a pot. Add 3 1/2 cups water, stir and leave to soak for at least half an hour. An ideal soaking time ranges between 30 minutes and 6 hours. 

    By soaking the rice, you're softening the tough outer shell of the grain. Otherwise, you may end up with hard and semi-cooked rice.

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  • 03 of 07

    Stove or Steamer

    rice and water in a steamer

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    After the rice has soaked, add 3/4 teaspoons of salt and stir. You have two options for cooking:

    • On the stove: Place the pot on the stove and turn the heat on high. Once the water begins to bubble at a gentle boil, turn the heat down to medium-low so that it is just nicely simmering.
    • On the steamer: Drain the soaking water and transfer the rice to a banana leaf-lined colander or steamer. Cover and steam over high heat for 30 to 45 minutes, or until rice is translucent and soft.
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  • 04 of 07


    rice cooking in a rice cooker

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Once the rice is simmering, place the lid askew, allowing some of the steam to escape. Simmer for 10 minutes. 

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  • 05 of 07

    Check the Rice

    check the rice in the rice cooker

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    After 10 minutes have passed, use a fork to pull the rice aside. Look down into the gap you've made. If all the water has been absorbed, turn off the heat. If there is still water in the pot, allow the rice to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed by the rice.

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  • 06 of 07

    Steam-Cook Your Rice

    rice cooking in a rice cooker

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    When all the water is gone, turn off the heat, but leave the pot on the burner. Place lid on tight and allow rice to sit for 8 to 10 minutes, or until you're ready to eat. The heat in the pot will ​steam cook the rice, finishing it off to perfection. 

    The rice will stay warm in this way for up to 2 hours, convenient for when you're cooking other dishes and great if you're expecting dinner guests.

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  • 07 of 07


    Sticky Rice

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Sticky rice goes well with stir-fries as well as dishes that have a lot of sauce to them, such as curries, but it is also beautiful and nutritious by itself. 

    Remember that: 

    • Sticky rice becomes even stickier and slightly translucent when allowed to sit or when cooled and refrigerated.
    • Sticky rice is also used to make scrumptious Thai desserts, such as mango sticky rice.
    • Store sticky rice covered in the refrigerator, but be sure to eat it up within a day or two, as it will harden faster than regular rice.
    • You can also make sticky rice in a rice cooker.