Sticky rice is a staple in many Asian dishes, both savory and sweet. But for a beginner, making sticky rice may seem a little intimidating. So today, I’ll show you my simple method for how to prepare perfect and easy sticky rice two ways – in the steamer and in the rice cooker.
The Best Sticky Rice
Sticky rice, when done well, can be so satisfying and delicious! You can use it to make a variety of Asian dishes, ranging from savory to sweet, such as Vietnamese savory sticky rice (Xôi Mặn) and sweet Thai mango sticky rice.
For the best glutinous rice, you’ll want to use a steamer because it results in perfectly fluffy and sticky glutinous rice that’s restaurant quality. But I also know that not everyone has a steamer at home, so I’ve also included an easy rice cooker version of the recipe. While it’s not quite perfect, it’s also incredibly delicious and a great jumping-off point for other sticky rice dishes.
How to Make Sticky Rice in the Steamer
The first step to making perfect sticky rice is to soak it overnight or for 24 hours. This will yield pillowy sticky rice that is soft all throughout instead of a little hard in the center (which is really not pleasant).
Soak 2 cups of glutinous rice in a large bowl with enough water to cover the rice plus 3 inches more. The rice will absorb a lot of the water as it soaks.
Once the rice is ready, drain the water. Line your steamer basket with parchment paper liner or cheesecloth and arrange the rice inside in an even layer.
If you’re using an electric food steamer, pour your water into the reservoir, cover, and set it to cook for 30-45 minutes.
If you’re using a bamboo steamer, place it in a wok and add water until about ¼ inch of the steamer is submerged. Cover the bamboo steamer and let the water boil, adding a little more whenever needed (when the water evaporates). Do this for 30-45 minutes.
How to Make Sticky Rice in the Rice Cooker
To make your glutinous rice in the rice cooker, you have to wash the rice and drain the rice very thoroughly. If you don’t do that, the result is going to be a mushy mess. Add 1 cup of glutenous rice with 2/3 cup of water. Use either the “sweet” or “brown” rice cooker setting to cook your sticky rice.
Turn on the rice cooker and let it cook the rice automatically. Once the rice cooker shuts off, let the rice sit for a few minutes, then fluff it up with your rice paddle before serving.
Depending on your rice cooker, the amount of water you need to use may vary, so feel free to experiment until you get it just the way you want!
What Rice is Used for Sticky Rice?
When it comes to making sticky rice, you’ll want to use the classic Thai sticky rice. You can find it in Asian groceries, usually under the name “sweet rice” or “glutinous rice”.
Although you can make regular rice stickier by rinsing it less, adding more water, and choosing short grain varieties, this won’t achieve the same effect as actual glutinous rice.
While regular rice contains both components of starch (amylopectin and amylose), glutinous rice only has amylopectin. Amylopectin is the molecule in starch that makes it sticky and gelatinous, which is why glutinous rice will still feel different from regular starchy rice.
Easy Sticky Rice Recipe (Glutinous Rice) | Steamer and Rice Cooker Methods
- 2 Cups Glutinous Rice
- Soak the rice in a large bowl with enough water to cover the rice plus 3 inches extra. Let it soak overnight or for 24 hours.
- Drain the water.
- (Steamer Method) Arrange the rice evenly in a lined steamer. Cover and steam for 30-45 minutes.
- (Rice Cooker Method) Do NOT soak the rice. Wash and drain very thoroughly. Pour 1 cup rice into the rice cooker with approximately 2/3 cups of water.* Cover and let it cook automatically until the rice cooker turns off. For best result, use the “sweet” or “brown rice” rice cooker function. If your rice cooker doesn’t have these options, your sticky rice may not come out great but give it a try.
- Fluff the rice if needed and serve or use in a recipe.