Mochiko vs Glutinous Rice Flour: The Difference

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Rice flour in a bowl.

Let’s just call this whole thing off right now! 

It’s the great Mochiko vs glutinous rice flour debate for today’s article. 

For those who aren’t troubled by this problem, lucky you. From your unbothered perspective, they might as well be identical. 

But for us, the unlucky ones, who are in the know, they’re like two peas in a pod. 

Too alike, so telling them apart turns a supposedly quick grocery run into a half day event. 

Heck, Google it right now and you’ll find articles upon articles using “glutinous rice flour” and “Mochiko flour” interchangeably.

It’s enough to make you want to throw your hands up and exclaim “Tomato, tomahto!”

Let’s end this article here and go on our merry way. 

If only we could do that. 

At first glance, it’s really easy to mistake them as you would with twins. But take a closer look and the distinctions are glaring.

A Sibling Rivalry?

Mochiko vs glutinous rice flour. They are more than just pantry ingredients at this point. 

They’re the heart and soul of many beloved dishes across Asia. 

Funnily enough, though, they’re the bane of my existence. 

I’ve lost count of the times I stood in the baking aisle, frustrated and wondering, which among these flours I should use.

Two flours, both alike in dignity, in fair kitchens where we lay our scene…

Mochiko Flour 

Mochiko flour in a bowl with rolling pin on the side.

Yes, as in mochi. The term “Mochiko” literally translates to mochi flour. 

Also known as Gyuhi-ko and Daifuku-ko, mochiko is made from short-grain Japanese rice. 

It’s the main ingredient in making those incredible Japanese rice cakes infused with fillings of goodness.  

This flour’s high starch content also makes it easy to mold these delicate pastries. 

Back in the day, geishas even used mochiko for their traditional make up.

Talk about versatility.

Also, riddle me this.

If you have 5 pieces of mochi, and you ate them all, what do you have left?

5 pieces of mochi.

Happiness! You have happiness. 

Glutinous Rice Flour 

Spilled bag of glutinous rice flour.

Don’t be fooled by this rice flour. It’s a misnomer! 

Despite its name, glutinous rice flour is actually gluten-free. 

So why call it as such?

It’s mostly because of its sticky texture when cooked. 

The glue-like consistency is useful in creating a variety of consistencies in Asian dishes. 

There’s this glutinous rice flour-based dish in China called Nian Gao

Several pieces of Nian Gao.

It’s eaten during the Lunar New Year for good luck and prosperity. 

I guess the texture makes luck and success stick to the person consuming it, huh?

A Flour Face-Off?

No, we’re still not turning this into a battlefield. 

(It just so happens that the subheadings are in theme with the main title. This article’s nothing if not consistent 😉)

It’s more like putting mochiko and glutinous rice flour beside each other instead of against.

This way, we can better differentiate them (and not spend hours in the baking aisle). 


Mochiko and glutinous rice flour both have a unique sticky, chewy quality, making them ideal for several Asian sweets. 

They are both devoid of gluten and can even be swapped in some recipes. Read that again.

They have an unmatched ability to hold ingredients together and create distinct textures.

If you haven’t noticed, sticky rice is deeply embedded in Asian history. So much so that it goes back more than 2,000 years. 

It has long been a basic food item and carries much cultural significance across diverse regions.

But Not Quite

So what makes them different?

Starting with the source, mochiko is made from mochigome rice, specifically.

Glutinous rice flour, on the other hand, is from either long or short-grain glutinous rice.

When it comes to texture, mochiko is smoother and more elastic than glutinous rice flour. 

As for application and usage, mochiko is more along the lines of Japanese desserts. 

But glutinous rice flour is more common among Asian cuisines: Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, and Vietnamese. 

Mochiko flour being pounded during a Mochitsuki ceremony.

A ceremony in Japan called Mochitsuki is like a rice flour version of Crossfit.

The event involves families pounding mochigome rice with a mallet to make mochi.

Choose Your Fighter

Now that the whole “which is which” discussion is over, it’s time for the most awaited part. 

Here are some of the dishes you can make for each flour that are sure to delight:

Mochiko with Love

  • Mochi
Several pieces of mochi.

Plain or brimming with fillings? Whichever you prefer, mochiko is sure to make that mochi to die for. 

Mochi ice cream needs no introduction, too. It’s a combination of cold creamy ice cream and the chewy texture of mochi.

  • Butter Mochi
Several pieces of butter mochi.

Nothing screams tropical more than a couple of coconuts. 

Add butter, milk and sugar to that, and you’ll have a Hawaiian favorite, butter mochi. 

  • Chi Chi Dango
Several pieces of Chi Chi Dango.

Soft, sweet, and pastel-colored. 

You can find these bite-sized treats whenever there’s a Japanese festival happening.

Excuse the Glutinous Behavior

  • Tangyuan
Tangyuan in a bowl.

These Chinese glutinous rice balls, often packed with black sesame or peanut paste, are an essential Lantern Festival delicacy. 

The round shape represents unity, thereby, making it a staple family gathering recipe.

  • Bibingka
Bibingka in a plate.

This is a Filipino festive time rice dessert usually eaten during Christmas season.

Bibingka is made from glutinous rice flour and coconut milk, garnished with salted eggs and cheese.

  • Klepon
Several pieces of Klepon.

This Indonesian rice sweet is packed with palm sugar coated over with grated coconut.

Each mouthful of Klepon offers a lovely mix of sweet and salty along with an enjoyable chewy feel.

  • Bánh Ít Trần 
Several pieces of Bánh Ít Trần.

Think of rice dumplings, but they’re sticky, Vietnamese, and filled with mung bean paste or pork and shrimp.

Bánh Ít Trần is normally steamed for special occasions and ancestral worship.

Lost in Translation?

Alright, hear me out. 

Before you scream bloody murder at me, let’s just consider what I’m about to say first. 

Pretty please, with mochi on top?

What if, just what if…

Mochiko is basically just glutinous rice flour. As in they’re one and the same. 

I mean, mochiko was introduced to the Western world by Japanese immigrants, right? 

That’s how they brought a piece of their culinary heritage to new shores. Something that can remind them of home. 

So what if, along the way, the proper translation got lost in the midst of other culinary ingredients. 

Thus, the fruition of glutinous rice flour?

What if this was the most apt description at the time for this new Japanese wonder that landed on foreign soil? 

Just a thought. 

Stickiness that Connects: The Common Denominator

Bowl of flour, bag of rice grains, and a scoop of grains.

Beside the similarities mentioned before, I believe that one common denominator overshadows it all. 

The power to unite people. 

Be it family events or other festive occasions, both these flours occupy a critical place amidst numerous favorite customs. 

Their sticky nature resonates well with unity. 

They’re more than just mere ingredients now. They’re a cultural staple. 

And so, it’s our responsibility to cook with creativity as much as tradition. 

Amazing how these flours can bridge the past and the present, wouldn’t you agree? 

It’s also a privilege to be able to explore new culinary horizons, all the while, honoring cultural heritage. 

What are we waiting for, then? Let’s get sticky!

Patricia Barre Avatar


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