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Thai Sticky Rice Recipe & Steamer Tips


Thai Mango Sticky Rice Recipe | ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง

When you want Thai food every day like Thai sticky rice, but don’t live in Thailand, and can’t afford to go to a Thai restaurant every day, and don’t have room for all the gadgets Thai street vendors have, you make do.

If you saw one of my Thai sticky rice cooking methods, you’d think, “What is this girl doing with all these pans stacked up and a splatter guard in the middle and steam coming out of it?”

Making amazing sticky rice that’s what! Even without the cool bamboo steamer pot!!

Making Thai sticky rice takes a few extra steps than regular rice, but it’s not as hard as it might seem. Here are my tips and tricks for how to make heart-warming Thai sticky rice with a traditional bamboo steamer pot for sticky rice or through other Thai sticky rice steaming methods:

Use Sweet Rice or Glutinous Rice for Making Sticky Rice

During my Thai cooking classes, I like to tell my students that Thai sticky rice is high maintenance.

You can only use a certain kind of rice to make it, not jasmine rice, not basmati rice, not white long grain rice, not brown rice, only sweet rice, aka glutinous rice, that you can find on Amazon or in a massive bag in the rice section at your Asian supermarket.

Thai Sticky Rice Recipe | Thai-foodie.com

Soak Your Sticky Rice At Least 4 Hours!

And you really do have to soak it.

One time I tried cooking Thai sticky rice without soaking the sweet rice because I forgot to soak it earlier in the day, and dinner was in an hour, and I really wanted Thai sticky rice to go with our Larb. I thought, “Hmm…maybe I’ll cook the sticky rice without soaking it because maybe soaking sticky rice isn’t that big a deal??”

I gave it a shot without soaking the sweet rice beforehand, but I discovered soaking Thai sticky rice is a big deal because my rice didn’t stick together, stayed hard and had to be thrown away. Sad day!

Soak it at least 4 hours, but even overnight works. Just don’t put a tight lid on it when you are soaking it overnight because I did that once and in the morning it smelled fermented!

Aren’t you glad I made all these mistakes, so you didn’t have to?

Cook Thai Sticky Rice Through a Steaming Method

Plus, you can’t just throw your sweet rice in the rice cooker, like I said, high maintenance, it turns its nose up at being in boiling water, so instead you have to steam it.

You can use a sticky rice steamer you can find on Amazon or at your Asian market. But if your stove doesn’t work with the traditional sticky rice steamer’s aluminum pot (hello induction stove tops!), or you don’t have time to buy a bamboo steamer, or room to store one, have no fear, you can still make delicious Thai sticky rice.

I’ve got a few methods to hack the sticky rice system, that are listed in my sticky rice recipe below. One is I grab my large saute pan, put a splatter guard on top, put the rice in a thin layer on it and another pan on top of that, so the rice has room to steam. Make sure it covers all the rice, but doesn’t touch it.

Or you can get a large steamer like this one, which is similar to one I got from my Asian market, and put cheesecloth or a splatter guard mesh in it, so the rice doesn’t fall through the big holes, and steam it that way. I used this method most of the time before I had room for a traditional sticky rice steamer.

Thai Mango Sticky Rice Recipe | ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง

What do you eat with sticky rice?

When most Americans think of sticky rice, they think of the amazing Mango Sticky Rice. And why wouldn’t you? Sooo good that I’ve had multiple students say after my Thai cooking class that they dream about it later!

But in Thailand, sticky rice is also used for eating with savory dishes like Larb. In the northeastern Issan area of Thailand, instead of Jasmine rice, most Thais eat sticky rice with almost every meal. Every night they put rice to soak, so it will be ready for steaming for breakfast right when they wake up.

Favorite Thai Dishes Served With Sticky Rice

In Thailand, Thai sticky rice isn’t served with any and every Thai dish, but mainly just ones that come from the Issan northeastern area. Of course, you do you, but here are some of my favorite Thai dishes to serve Thai sticky rice with

Mango Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice


Top 6 Thai Dishes You Should Order | thai-foodie.com

Homemade Thai Sun-dried Beef Jerky

Thai Sticky Rice Recipe | thai-foodie.com

Som Tum

Top 6 Thai Dishes You Should Order | thai-foodie.com

How to Store Sticky Rice

It’s important to keep your sticky rice covered at all times (unless it’s time to eat it! yay!) or it will dry out and get hard. That’s why at your favorite Thai place they put sticky rice in adorable little covered baskets.

They keep the rice warm and cozy, so it doesn’t dry out. We wrap a serving of sticky rice in plastic wrap, put it in the basket, and even will bring it on picnics (like this car picnic we had while it was raining, and we were eating dinner and watching my son play soccer from the car, lol) so each person has their rice serving ready to go.

Thai Sticky Rice Recipe | Thai-foodie.com

Sticky rice isn’t that great the next day because it usually gets a weird, hard texture the next day, so it’s best day of. I recommend making the amount of Thai sticky rice you want, and devouring that. If you do want to save some for the next day, I recommend wrapping it up tight in plastic wrap before putting it in the fridge, taking it out of the plastic wrap, putting it on a plate, and warming it up in the microwave or re-steaming it for a few in your sticky rice steaming contraption.

Let me know if you have any how to make sticky rice questions by leaving a comment here, contacting me, or DM me on Instagram @thaifoodie. Can’t wait to hear from you and see your sticky rice creations!

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Thai Mango Sticky Rice Recipe | ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง

Thai Sticky Rice Recipe & Steamer Tips

  • Author: Sherri Pengjad
  • Total Time: 4 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Longing to make the Thai mango sticky rice you love at home, but don’t know how to make Thai sticky rice? Here are the answers to all your sticky rice questions my friend!



1 cup sweet rice (aka glutinous rice)

Water for soaking the rice and steaming the rice

Traditional Bamboo Steamer Pot or other steaming method of choice


Soaking the Thai Sticky Rice

Rinse the rice a few times by running water over it, swishing it around, and draining out the water as much as you can, and repeating it, until the water looks more clear.

Soak the sweet rice in water with a few inches above it (make sure you have room above it cuz the rice will expand as it soaks) for at least 4 hours to overnight. 

Sticky Rice Pan and Splatter Guard Method

Fill a saute pan, or pot with a few inches of water. Bring it to a boil.

Place the splatter guard on top of the pot, and spread out the rice in a thin layer.

Place another pot or bowl on top of the splatter guard, so it covers the rice, but doesn’t touch it (see in pic above).

Let the rice cook for about 12-18 minutes or so, depending on your stove top, until it’s sticking together and cooked through.

Using a spatula, flip the rice over in sections, so the other side of the rice cooks for about 3 minutes or so. I like to taste it to see if it’s reached the sticky, chewy texture.

Sticky Rice with a Steamer Pot

If you have a steamer pot, you can follow the same steps as above, but make sure you put a cheesecloth, or something in the steaming area, so your rice doesn’t fall through the large steamer holes.

Traditional Thai Sticky Rice Bamboo Pot Steamer

Fill the aluminum pot with a few inches of water, and bring it to a boil. 

Wet the bamboo part of the steamer until it is damp to the touch. 

Add the sticky rice to the basket, and press it down. 

Find a lid that covers the sticky rice, but doesn’t touch it. It doesn’t have to fit perfectly. As long as the rice is covered and the lid isn’t touching the rice.

Let the rice cook for about 18-20 minutes, depending on your stove top. Then gently flip the rice over by taking off the basket and gently jiggling the basket until the rice shifts, and it flips over, so the other side of the rice can cook.

Cook the rice for another 5 minutes or so, until all the rice is sticky, and cooked through.

  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Category: Thai
  • Method: Steaming
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: Thai sticky rice, how to make thai sticky rice, mango sticky rice, bamboo steamer for thai sticky rice, how to make sticky rice without a bamboo steamer


  • Rachel Ward

    Yum! adding mango sticky rice to my list of dishes to make for the kids this summer.

  • Martin

    Love sticky rice. My top 3 sticky rice pairings are laab, moo ping, and gai yang. Also I like the grilled sticky rice on a stick! I forget the name of it in Thai 🙂 Nice explanation article. I think a lot of people don’t know how to cook it or what it goes with so nice to have this explainer.

    • Sherri Pengjad

      So glad the article was helpful! I love all of those sticky rice pairings too! You reminded me that need to get my gai yang recipe up next!