Thai Sticky Rice

  • Serves

    Makes about 6 1/2 cups

  • Cook

    5 hours 10 minutes

By SAVEUR Editors

Published on May 21, 2019

It's worth investing in a traditional steamer pot to make this staple of northern Thai cuisine.

Sticky rice is essential to the cuisine of northern Thailand, where it’s common practice to grab little clumps from a heap of chewy glutinous grains to use as a sort of edible eating implement. Unlike most rice, which is referred to as steamed even though it’s actually boiled, sticky rice is in fact set over bubbling water and cooked with the hot steam.

This recipe is adapted from Pok Pok: The Drinking Food of Thailand by Andy Ricker and JJ Goode.



  • 4 cups (795 g) uncooked Thai sticky rice (also called glutinous rice or sweet rice)


Step 1

In a large bowl, add the rice and enough cold water to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Let soak for at least 4 hours or up to 10 hours. Alternatively, you can soak the rice in hot water for 2 hours.

Step 2

In a fine-mesh strainer set over the sink, drain the rice, then place the strainer with the rice in a large bowl. Add enough cold water to cover the rice by 2 inches, then use your hand to stir gently. Lift the strainer, discard the cloudy water, and repeat this process until the water is no longer cloudy, about 3 times.

Step 3

In the sticky rice steamer pot, add enough water to reach 2 inches up the sides. Place the steamer basket in the pot. Line the basket with a double layer of damp cheesecloth, and add the rice to the lined basket. Tuck the cheesecloth over the rice, patting the bundle to flatten the top, then cover the rice with a lid or a clean, damp kitchen towel, tucking it around the bundle.

Step 4

Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then regulate the heat to maintain a steady but not furious boil. Cook, carefully flipping the bundle after 15 minutes, until the grains in the center are fully tender but still chewy (almost springy) and not mushy, 30–35 minutes.

Step 5

Transfer the rice to an insulated container, such as a cooler, or to a large covered bowl and set aside to rest for about 15 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth and serve immediately. The rice will stay warm for about 30 minutes.

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