Thai Coconut Sweet Sticky Rice

5 from 11 votes
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How to make sticky rice at home with and without a steaming basket. This Thai sweet sticky rice recipe is perfect for serving alongside mango and other fresh fruits for a healthy, hearty dessert. Plus, this is a low-sugar version, for an even healthier, refreshing, gluten-free, vegan dessert!

Thai Coconut Sweet Sticky Rice with slices of ripe mango

If you love coconut, love rice, and love something a little bit sweet, then Thai style sweet sticky rice is the perfect dish for you! The coconut and sugar/ sweetener create an amazingly creamy and delicious sauce that completely transforms the rice into a dessert that is out of this world. When served alongside some fresh mango/ fruits and an optional fruit drizzle, this is arguably going to rock your world!

I still remember the first time I tried mango sticky rice – at a restaurant here in London (unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to visit Thailand). I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I ordered it as a bit of a skeptic…. But then when I took my first spoonful. The way the sweet coconut sauce soaks into the warm, glutinous rice is pure magic- creating a gooey mixture that is heaven.

Thai Coconut Sweet Sticky Rice With coconut sauce

When combining the sweet, richness of the rice with the freshness of mango. I could have eaten two portions right then and there (and that was after a three-course meal!)

This post will take you through how to make sticky rice at home using the traditional steaming method. However, don’t fear if you don’t have a steaming basket like I do, as I’ve included a few different options using household items too! Because no-one should have to miss out on this mango sticky rice dish.

Oh, and because I wanted to add even more authenticity and Thai-inspired flavor to the dish, I also steamed the rice with pandan leaves. This helps to add that little extra flavor to the rice but isn’t 100% necessary if you’re unable to find this ingredient.

What Rice To Use

Glutinous Thai rice sticky Rice

When it comes to Thai sticky rice, the name refers to the variety of rice used, rather than just the method of preparing it. For those looking to buy it, look out for bags of fairly opaque rice usually called ‘Thai sweet rice’ or ‘Glutinous rice.’ Using the correct rice is the key to the best texture for this dish.

Note: There is a white and black sticky rice that both work well for this method of preparing.

The Method

What’s Needed

Ingredients for Thai coconut sticky rice
  • Glutinous Thai rice
  • Coconut milk, cane sugar, salt
  • Pandan leaf
  • Tapioca starch or cornstarch (corn flour)
  • You will also need a banana leaf (or a cheesecloth) over a sieve to steam the rice
Banana Leaf and a basket

The Steps

First, Soak the rice: Don’t skip this step! Soaking the rice will allow the grain to swell slightly and is key to creating authentic sticky rice.

To do this, simply add your rice to a large bowl and submerge with water for 4-5 hours, or overnight. In a pinch, you could try to soak for two hours – but I definitely wouldn’t go below that.

Once soaked, drain and rinse thoroughly. The soaking water can be used to water plants.

Second, prepare the steamer. Depending on the size of your cooking pot, you need to add enough rice to come to around 2 inches below where the bamboo steamer basket is. I used three cups of water.

Then line the steamer basket with either a cheesecloth or banana leaf and place the rice on top of it.

preparing rice steps for thai sticky rice

Third, cook the rice. Place a lid over the pot and steam for around 20 minutes, until soft but with a slight ‘bite.’ See the video and photos for more guidance.

Cooking steps for cooking sticky rice

Once ready, remove from the steamer and set aside in a bowl.

Cooked Thai Sticky Rice

Fourth, prepare the sweet coconut sauce. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, cane sugar, salt, and pandan leaves (or lime leaves) and heat on low for a few minutes. Then pour half of the liquid in with the rice and mix well.

Place the sauce back over the heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the starch and water and mix well, making sure it’s lump-free.

Add the starch mixture to the remaining milk and continue heating on low until the sauce thickens. Then you’re ready to serve.

preparing the coconut sauce for the sticky coconut rice

How To Serve

The traditional way to serve mango sticky rice is to serve a domed mound of rice alongside slices of fresh mango.

Ripe mango and coconut sauce and black nigella seeds on a wooden board

You can use a measuring cup to measure out equal portions of the rice and plate up, drizzling with more of the coconut sauce. Serve alongside slices of mango (about ½ mango per portion) and even possibly some berries. Optionally, sprinkle with black sesame seeds. You could also serve it as Sweet Sushi with Fruit, or use the rice for sweet Rice Paper Rolls or Fresh Summer Rolls.

Aim to serve it within 10-15 minutes of it being made, so that it is still warm, for best results.

Thai Coconut Sweet Sticky Rice with slices of ripe mango

Steaming Without A Basket

There are a couple of options that you have if you don’t have a bamboo steamer or steamer pot.

Use A Splatter Guard

This method has it’s pros and cons. A splatter guard is a fine mesh, with a lot of surface space, to cook the rice quickly and evenly. However, due to it sitting on top of the pan, you need a domed lid or bowl to place over the pot to contain the steam.

Use A Sieve

Probably the easiest method, as most people have a sieve in their kitchen. All you need to do is choose a pot deep enough (a dutch oven will work too) for the sieve to sit inside and have water 1-2” below, not touching. You can also invert the sieve mesh slightly for it to sit on top rather than inside the pan (but then you need a domed lid again.)

This method allows you to use any lid or even some tin foil, to help contain the steam.

How To Store

Keep any leftover coconut sticky rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, you can re-steam or microwave, until warmed.

Recipe Notes

  • Feel free to adjust the sweetness of this sweet sticky rice, to your preferred level. I don’t like mine very sweet at all – though many recipes will use 1/4 cup – ½ cup sugar per cup rice.
  • Use half white and half black sticky rice to turn the white rice a lovely shade of purple (while soaking). The rice will take 10-15 minutes longer to cook, though.
  • For green pandan coconut sticky rice,
  • Steaming the rice in a cheesecloth parcel will allow you to use any steaming method that you can pull together at home.
  • You can make a quick, fruity ‘drizzle’ for the dish too by combining some mango, lime juice, and liquid sweetener in a blender.
  • Make sure to use perfectly ripe mangos for the absolute best version of this sweet sticky rice dish!
  • You can use coconut cream instead of coconut milk, too. The cornstarch won’t be necessary then, and the dish is thicker and slightly ‘heavier’.

Other Desserts You May Like:

For more tropical flavors, and coconut loving desserts you may like …

If you give this recipe a go, then let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, feel free to tag me in your recreations @AlphaFoodie.

Sweet Coconut Sticky Rice

5 from 11 votes
By: Samira
How to make sticky rice at home with and without a steaming basket. This Thai sweet sticky rice recipe is perfect for serving alongside mango and other fresh fruits for a healthy, hearty dessert. Plus, this is a low-sugar version, for an even healthier, refreshing, gluten-free, vegan dessert!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • Bamboo steamer basket ( alternatively, use a steaming pan, splatter gurd, or colander method mentioned above in post)

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 cups glutinous Thai rice
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar feel free to increase, if preferred.
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 pandan leaves or lime leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp tapioca starch or cornstarch/corn flour

Instructions 

First, Soak the rice

  • Don’t skip this step! Soaking the rice will allow the grain to swell slightly and is key to creating authentic sticky rice.
  • To do this, simply add your rice to a large bowl and submerge with water for 4-5 hours, or overnight. In a pinch, you could try to soak for two hours – but I definitely wouldn’t go below that.
  • Once soaked, drain and rinse thoroughly. The soaking water can be used to water plants.

Second, prepare the steamer

  • Depending on the size of your cooking pot, you need to add enough rice to come to around 2 inches below where the bamboo steamer basket is. I used three cups of water.
  • Then line the steamer basket with either a cheesecloth or banana leaf and place the rice on top of it.

Third, cook the rice

  • Place a lid over the pot and steam for around 20 minutes, until soft but with a slight ‘bite.’ See the video and photo’s for more guidance. Once ready, remove from the steamer and set aside in a bowl.

Fourth, prepare the sweet coconut sauce

  • In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, cane sugar, salt, and pandan leaves (or lime leaves) and heat on low for a few minutes. Then pour half of the liquid in with the rice and mix well.
  • Place the sauce back over the heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the starch and water and mix well, making sure it’s lump-free.
  • Add the starch mixture to the remaining milk and continue heating on low until the sauce thickens. Then you’re ready to serve (read the post for serving options).

How To Store

  • Keep any leftover coconut sticky rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, you can re-steam or microwave, until warmed.

Video

Notes

Read the blog posts for options on how to serve this coconut sticky rice. 
  • Feel free to adjust the sweetness of this sweet sticky rice, to your preferred level. I don’t like mine very sweet at all – though many recipes will use 1/4 cup – ½ cup sugar per cup rice.
  • Use half white and half black sticky rice to turn the white rice a lovely shade of purple ( while soaking). The rice will take 10-15 minutes longer to cook, though.
  • For green pandan coconut sticky rice,
  • Steaming the rice in a cheesecloth parcel will allow you to use any steaming method that you can pull together at home.
  • You can make a quick, fruity ‘drizzle’ for the dish too by combining some mango, lime juice, and liquid sweetener in a blender.
  • Make sure to use perfectly ripe mangos for the absolute best version of this sweet sticky rice dish!
  • You can use coconut cream instead of coconut milk, too. The cornstarch won’t be necessary then, and the dish is thicker and slightly ‘heavier’.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Thai
Freezer friendly: No
Shelf life: 3 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving, Calories: 305kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Sodium: 155mg, Potassium: 177mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




8 Comments

    1. Hi Danielle,
      Yes, you can use parchment paper. It’s best to first cut it so it fits your steamer perfectly.

  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious, I used organic coconut milk and did not need to thicken very much. I tried this in a Thai restaurant and their sticky rice was brown. Do you know how they achieved this. Your recipe is much tastier.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Mary!
      Maybe they used brown sticky rice or colored it with some spice or dark brown or coconut sugar?

  2. Hi Samira! Love the recipe, but do you mind if I ask what purpose the cornstarch has in the recipe? Please forgive my novice level question…..

    1. Hi Ryandee,
      You use the starch together with part of the milk to make a thicker sauce. Then you pour this mixture over the rice. I hope this helps. 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is AMAZING. Its so light and delicious, it didn’t take me long to put it together and all my guests were very impressed. Another clever recipe. I will be trying many more.