How to Make Sticky Rice Recipe

Start to Finish: 1 hour and 30 minutes (up to 4 hours and 30 minutes)
Servings: 4-6
Difficulty: Beginner

Technically known as glutinous rice, sticky rice is a particular type of rice that becomes very sticky once its cooked. This makes it a versatile option for side and main dishes as well as a number of dessert recipes. Sticky rice forms the basis of a dough for dishes such as dim sum and mochi, and it was even used as mortar in parts of the Great Wall of China. Sticky rice is traditionally made in a steamer basket, but a rice cooker is a quick and easy alternative.


  • Sticky rice

Prep and Soak

Prepare the Rice

Place 2 cups of sticky rice in a pot or your rice cooker.

Add 3 cups of water.

Soak the Rice

Soak the rice for at least 1 hour but up to, and preferably, 4 hours.


Steaming sticky rice is the traditional method and requires water at a rolling boil and a tight-fitting lid to get the most and hottest steam possible.

Bring Water to a Rolling Boil

Drain the soaked rice and put it into the steamer basket.

Boil about 2 inches of water in the pot the rice soaked in earlier. The water should not touch the steamer basket, so decrease the amount of water as necessary.

Steam the Rice

Place the steamer in the pot, set the lid on top, and cook for 15 minutes. Cooks at higher altitudes may need to steam the rice for 20 minutes.

Let the Rice Stand

Let the rice sit in the pot, off the heat, for 5 minutes to finish cooking. Then remove from the pot and enjoy as you like.

Rice Cooker

Rice cookers condense the process.

Prep the Rice Cooker

Add 1 tablespoon of butter, if desired, to the soaking rice -- do not drain the water.

Set your rice cooker to a 15-minute timer if it does not have a single on/off setting.

Cook the Rice

Turn the rice cooker on and let the rice cook. Once the timer goes off, allow the rice to stand for about 5 minutes. This allows the rice to continue expanding and develop a nice sticky consistency.


Whether you use milled (white) or unmilled (red or purple) sticky rice, you can store the cooked product in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can also freeze batches of cooked sticky rice. Wrap the rice securely in freezer paper, then wrap it again in foil or place it in a freezer safe bag or container. The rice keeps for four to six months in the freezer, though the sooner you use it, the higher quality the taste.