sticky rice

Make your best ever sticky rice, with the help of a rice cooker.

Sous Chef Founder Nicola writes about how best to use a rice cooker. And Cantonese food writer Cherry Tang gives top tips, sharing her expert knowledge on sticky rice. And why a rice cooker is the perfect tool to cook it.

Browse southeast Asian recipes, or learn everything you need to know about rice cookers here. 


What is sticky rice?

Cherry gives us the lowdown on what is sticky rice:

Sticky rice is also known as glutinous rice. Similar to normal white rice, there are different shapes of glutinous rice grain - long, short, round and thin. If you put the normal white rice vs glutinous (sticky) white rice side by side, you can see the glutinous rice appears to be more starchy or less transparent.

It can be served as a dessert: in Thailand it's probably most famous as ‘Mango sticky rice’.

Sticky rice also comes in different colours: white, brown to purple (black). Once cooked, sticky rice is obviously sticky, but also a little chewy. 

How to serve sticky rice?

Cherry Tang explains how to serve sticky rice...

Sticky rice is not only served as a side. It can be served as a dessert: in Thailand it's probably most famous as ‘Mango sticky rice’.

One of my signature dishes when I cook for family and friends is steamed crab and glutinous rice with fried garlic and spring onions. 

In China, plenty of savoury dishes are made from sticky rice.

The most famous Cantonese dish is ‘生炒糯米飯 Stir fried glutinous rice’, usually served at the end of a banquet or sold at street food stalls. There is also ‘粽子 Glutinous rice dumplings’ to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival early summer. 

When I just cook for myself, I usually use the rice cooker as it is quick and easy.

One of my signature dishes when I cook for family and friends is steamed crab and glutinous rice with fried garlic and spring onions. The juice released from the fresh shellfish is absorbed by the rice during the steaming process, which makes the rice extra flavoursome.

When I just cook for myself, I usually use the rice cooker as it is quick and easy.

Plain sticky rice is best to go with a dish with plenty of sauce. Use your hand to pick up the rice and mop the plate clean!"

Prepare the sticky rice ingredients

For easy sticky white rice, you only need three things. Here's your list:

Measuring and soaking the rice

Let's get the measurements right and then wash and soak our sticky white rice.

Measurements for perfect sticky rice

The measurements are so easy with a rice cooker! Most rice cookers come with a measuring cup, and also lines on the inside of the rice cooker to show you how much water to use.

Measure the rice in first. Then fill the water to the correct line. If you're not sure those measurements are suitable for glutinous rice, then follow the ratios below. 

How much water to use?

For every cup of white rice, you'll need around 1.5 to 2 cups of water. Keep it simple and stick to these proportions. 

If you find the rice is too dry or two wet, just adjust the ratio next time. The age of the rice can impact how dry it is, and how much water. So it can vary even from bag to bag!

Rinse and soak the rice

Cherry says "Soak the rice in the morning or - at the latest - first thing when you start preparing the meal. You wouldn't want brittle uncooked sticky rice."

We definitely recommend a longer soak! 

To prepare the rice:

  • Rinse the rice well before soaking. 
  • Measure out your rice and water, and then leave to soak in the rice cooker. 
  • Ideally soak glutinous or sticky for hours before cooking - ideally in the morning for that evening, or even overnight. 

Using your rice cooker

Here's how to add ingredients in the rice cooker:

  1. Pop in the measured white rice straight into the rice cooker pot. No need for precision – just get it in there.
  2. Pour in the measured water. Match the proportions you've just mastered – 1.5 to 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.
  3. No need to stress over stirring. A gentle swirl with a spoon will do. Just make sure the rice is evenly distributed in the water.

That's it. Embrace the simplicity, and let the rice cooker work its magic.

Cooking sticky rice perfectly

Usually, there are two buttons for a regular rice cooker: cook and warm. The cooking time may vary depending on the amount of rice and the rice cooker itself.

Cherry warns that for modern rice cookers that come with different themed programs, avoid using the ‘quick mode’ as they are only good for plain white rice.

Cherry warns that for modern rice cookers that come with different themed programs, avoid using the ‘quick mode’ as they are only good for plain white rice.

  1. When the rice is well soaked, and you're an hour or two away from dinner... plug the rice cooker in, and hit the cook button. 
  2. Then you can walk away and prepare the rest of your meal or relax! 

You don't need to check, stir, or worry. It's that simple.

Resting the rice

When the rice is cooked, your rice cooker will change to "Warm" mode. Some sing a song, others beep, and some just change the colour of the light!

'Warm' or 'hold' mode keeps the rice at a safe holding temperature... but also importantly gives the rice chance to steam and the grains to separate. This helps it firm up and perfect that sticky texture.

Leave rice on 'warm' for 10 to 30 minutes before eating to give you the best cooked rice. 

Serving the cooked sticky rice

After cooking, you can try these steps to maintain the moisture and stickiness of your white rice:

  • For the best texture, eat the moment the rice is served. It's at its prime right after removing from the rice cooker.
  • If you are not serving the rice right away, keep them in the rice cooker. Don’t open the lid until serving.

Cherry warns "Cooked plain sticky rice dries out quickly, if you are serving the rice in a big bowl for sharing, cover the bowl with a wet muslin cloth to prevent drying out."

Pair the cooked sticky rice with southeast Asian recipes like this stir-fried morning glory recipe or this Cambodian beef lok lak recipe.

If you're keen to learn more about rice cookers, read our ultimate guide to rice cookers - Everything you need to know about rice cookers - and browse our rice cooker selection here.

 

Top 5 products to help you make sticky rice


Cuckoo 3 Person Orange Electric Rice Cooker, 540ml

This Cuckoo rice cooker makes ample rice for three people. The Korean Cuckoo rice cooker brand is hugely popular across the world. It is loved for its reliable results - the three dimensional heat source cooks rice consistently and evenly. plus it will keep your rice warm for 12 hours - without changing the texture.


Cuckoo 6 Person Pink Electric Rice Cooker, 1 Litre

As one customer says: "Perfect, I loved it, very easy and convenient to use." The six person rice cooker from Korean brand Cuckoo is extremely simple to use. And despite holding a large quantity of rice (one litre capacity) it will keep your sticky rice warm for 12 hours.


Bamboo Rice Paddle, 20cm

With seven 5-star reviews from happy customers, this classic bamboo rice paddle is a great way to cut, scoop and serve your perfectly cooked sticky rice.



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