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Thai Coconut Sweet Sticky Rice Square photo

Sweet Coconut Sticky Rice

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!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Thai
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Freezer friendly No
Shelf life 3 Days
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 305kcal
Author Samira


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


  • 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


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.


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’.


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