Thai glutinous rice, also called sticky rice, is fragrant, chewy and fluffy. But actually it is not as sticky as the name suggests.

I explain how to steam Thai sticky rice the easy way. As long as you soak it long enough, it can’t fail!

Thai glutinous rice is fragrant, chewy and fluffy. Not as sticky as the name suggests. Here you find how to steam with just a metal sieve and a large pan.

What do you need to steam Thai sticky rice?

In Thailand the fragrant glutinous rice with Thai curries and salads is steamed in a special basket. The deep basket (which transfers aroma to the rice) fits precisely in the accompanying high steam pan.

Thai sticky rice steamer basket with dedicated aluminum pan

Thai steamer basket with pan

If  you don’t have such a handy Thai steamer basket, steaming is easiest with a metal strainer in a pan. Cover with a lid and you can steam. Only drawback: you miss that delicious aroma out of the basket in the rice

What I sometimes do: a crushed lemongrass stalk and lime leaf steamed together with the rice. Gives an extra flavour and also the kitchen smells delicious!

Steam sticky rice very easily in a metal sieve or strainer if you don't have a bamboo basket.

Steam the stciky rice with lemongrass and lime leaf for an extra fragrant end result.

Also possible: in a Chinese bamboo steamer basket (preferably with a lid). Because of the large openings in the bottom, the basket is covered with a thin cheesecloth or the like. The scent of the basket is transferred into the rice and also the cloth prevents sticking.

Place a Chinese bamboo steamer basket on a pan for steaming sticky rice.

The big advantage of steaming is that it cannot go wrong. The texture of the steamed rice does not depend on the ratio of rice to cooking water. As long as the rice is soaked 6 hours in advance (preferably longer), you get perfectly cooked sticky rice every time: chewy, soft and fluffy!

When people know Thai glutinous rice for the sweetened and creamy sticky rice with mango. In this sweet dish, the warm sticky rice is mixed with sweetened coconut milk. Delicious! I will keep this recipe for another time.

Which glutinous rice to buy

The rice itself is even more important than the cooking method. If you want to serve sticky rice with Thai dishes, you really have to buy the fragrant sticky rice from Thailand. Japanese glutinous rice (mochi rice) is not suitable. It smells different and is more sticky.

By the way, the package says “glutinous rice” but doesn’t contain wheat gluten. People with a gluten intolerance can eat this rice.

Serve the fragrant glutinous or sticky rice with a Thai spicy pomelo salad.

Roll balls of the rice, garnish with toasted coconut grater and serve in a beautiful bamboo basket (or use a dish with a lid).

For the photo I made a spicy Thai pomelo salad. But this chewy glutinous rice is delicious in itself with the salty and sweet coconut grater, so you can eat it as a snack. Addictively tasty!


How To Steam Thai Sticky Rice For Curries And Salads

Serveer de geurige kleefrijst bij een Thaise pittige pomelo salade.

Thai glutinous rice or also sticky rice, is fragrant, chewy and fluffy. Perfect base for all kinds of delicious dishes

  • Author: Kamwoj
  • Prep Time: 6 hrs (soaking)
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 6.5 - 24 hrs
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: side dish, vegan
  • Method: Steaming
  • Cuisine: Thai


For 2 people sticky rice:

  • 130150 g of white Thai glutinous rice
  • 1 stem crushed lemongrass, optional
  • 1 or 2 small leaves of lime leaf with stalks removed, optional

Toasted coconut grater, optional garnish:

  • 3 tbsp coconut grater
  • 1/4 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp white or light brown sugar, to taste

Other requirements:

  • Fine-meshed metal strainer
  • Pan in which the strainer can hang and high enough so that 3 to 4 cm of (boiling) water does not touch the strainer


  • Chinese bamboo steam basket with matching bamboo lid, large enough for the amount of rice
  • Thin cheesecloth to cover the steam basket bottom and side

Pan on which the bamboo basket can rest


  1. Rinse the rice a few times with water. Continue to do this until the rinse water is clear.
  2. Put the rice in the pan with plenty of fresh water. Let the rice soak for at least 6 hours. Preferably overnight
  3. Drain the rice with the strainer. Bring water in the pan to the boil.
  4. Steaming with a sieve: hang the sieve with the rice, lemongrass and lime leaf (in case you use it) in the pan. Place the lid of the pan on the strainer. Make sure the water does not touch the rice when it starts to bubble. Steam for 30 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked. Regularly check whether there is enough water in the pan.
  5. Steam with a Chinese steam basket: spread the drained rice (with or without lemongrass and lime leaf) evenly over the cheesecloth. Put the bamboo lid on the basket. Place the basket on a pan. Steam for 30 minutes or until the rice no longer has a raw core. Regularly check whether there is enough water in the pan.
  6. The garnish: roast the coconut juice in a pan (without oil) over medium heat until the coconut is golden brown. Keep stirring while roasting to prevent burning. Add salt and sugar to taste.
  7. Cover the rice with a damp tea towel or household foil to keep the rice soft. Just before serving, you can steam the rice again briefly to heat up. Scoop up in a nice dish and garnish with coconut grater.
  8. Or, with wet hands, roll balls of slightly cooled rice and place in a Chinese steamer basket with a perforated liner (or cut plain baking paper) and lid. The steamer liner ensures the rice not to stick to the bottom. The cheese cloth is also an option but that looks a bit messy on your dining table. Just before serving, steam the balls in the bamboo basket to warm is all up. Garnish with coconut grater and serve your perfect sticky rice.

Keywords: Thai, glutinous, rice, lemongrass, steam, bamboo, basket, sticky, fragrant, chewy, fluffy, coconut grater, sieve, strainer

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