Best Rice for Sticky Rice: Sweet Rice Paradice

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Mango sticky rice with ripe mango on the side with a text "best rice for sticky rice"

Here’s a short quiz:

What’s a dessert you can make that, if you choose the wrong rice, your creation might go straight to the bin?

Well, the title spoiled the answer. 

But yup – I’m talking about sticky rice. And all kinds of them, including the classic mango sticky rice and even those with red beans!

Want to recreate that sticky rice perfection you last tasted in an Asian restaurant?

Then, you better take note of the rice I’ll mention in this post!

Not All Sticky Rice Is the Same 

Mango sticky rice in a white plate covered with banana leaf.

Before we jump straight to the rice list below… 

Remember that there is a wide variety of sticky rice desserts out there. 

One of the most famous ones is mango sticky rice– the Thai dessert which almost everyone loves. 

But there are also sticky rice desserts from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other countries. 

Having said that…

Please note that the rice varieties below are not the best for every sticky rice dessert. 

However, I can assure you that they are the best for the most common sticky rice desserts, such as sticky mango rice and other Thai sticky rice. 

Plus, they’ll still work incredibly well for not-so-popular sticky rice dishes as well! The Philippine’s biko is just one of them.

Top Rice Variety for Sticky Rice: Sticky Rice

Sticky rice in wooden steamer in dark background.

I can hear those inner thoughts shouting, “Huh? What kind of rice is sticky rice?” 

But, before you get too confused… 

Sticky rice is just the common name for glutinous rice.

Sometimes, it’s also referred to as sweet rice (since it has a slightly sweet taste).

So, when grocery shopping, you’ll find either of these names pointing to the same thing:

  • Sticky Rice
  • Glutinous Rice
  • Sweet Rice

Sticky rice is likely the most common label for glutinous rice. 

However, for simplicity’s sake, let’s refer to this rice variety as glutinous rice from here on forward.

Reasons to Use Glutinous Rice for Sticky Rice

Glutinous rice in a bamboo basket.

Extremely Sticky: The #1 reason why glutinous rice is the undeniable crowned rice for sticky rice is that it’s extremely sticky when cooked. This gives the dessert its signature stickiness that very few other rice varieties can mimic. 

Authenticity: When I cook traditional dishes, I love to stick with the OG ingredients used by cultures that invented that specific dish. For sticky rice, that ingredient is glutinous rice (though there may be variations between glutinous rice varieties between countries).

Ideal Chewy Texture: High-quality sticky rice is always soft yet chewy. The best and easiest way to achieve this ideal texture is to use glutinous rice. 

Substitutions for Sticky Rice: Should You? 

I’m a firm believer that knowing rice substitutions is key in the kitchen.

After all, supermarkets won’t always have a specific rice variety in stock, and you might be too far from Asian grocery stores.

Moreover, ordering rice online can also be unreasonably expensive in many parts of the world.

However, as surprising as this may sound… 

I don’t have a recommended substitution for sticky rice. 

Nope, it’s not a matter of I may not just have been experimental enough. 

I’ve tried making sticky rice with Sushi rice and Arborio rice (both sticky varieties). 

But sad to say, they both yielded very unsatisfying sticky rice desserts.

Stick to Sticky Rice for Sticky Rice 

Whether you want to prepare sticky rice for yourself, your friends, or your family.. 

I highly recommend going out of your way to search for glutinous rice. 

After all, sticky rice is one of those dishes that demands a very specific type of rice.

Can’t find sticky rice in your nearby supermarkets?

Hit the rice aisle of Asian grocery stores, or just order online instead!

The satisfying texture of delicious, sweet, and chewy sticky rice will make all the effort you make hunting this type of rice worth it.

Yield: 4

Easy Yet Delicious Mango Sticky Rice

Mango sticky rice in a white plate covered with banana leaf.

The first variation of sticky rice I had ever tasted. Heavenly, creamy, and delightfully sweet – a treat that’s always welcome for dessert!

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 1 cup of sticky rice
  • 1 1/2 cups of water (lukewarm and divided)
  • 1 can of coconut milk (divided)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of brown sugar (divided)
  • 2 ripe mangoes


  1. Prepare the ingredients. 
  2. In a medium saucepan, soak the cup of sticky rice in a cup of lukewarm water for 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Without draining the water from the soaked rice, add the remaining half a cup of lukewarm water to the saucepan. Then, add half the can of coconut milk, a tablespoon of sugar, and all the salt prepared. Stir the mixture well.
  4. Turn ON the heat and bring the rice to a gentle boil. 
  5. Once it boils, partially cover the saucepan with the lid (to let the steam escape).
  6. Reduce the heat so you get a very gentle simmer (that’s medium-low for my stove).
  7. Let the pan continue simmering until the rice absorbs all the liquid. This typically takes 20 to 30 minutes. 
  8. Completely cover the pan and turn off the stove. Let the sticky rice sit inside the pan for 5 to 10 minutes more. 
  9. Create the sauce. In a saucepan over low or medium heat, warm the remaining coconut milk (half a can) for about 5 minutes (don’t let it boil). Mix in the 3 tablespoons of brown sugar left (feel free to add more).
  10. Cut the mangoes into bite-sized slices (your preferred cuts).
  11. Plate the sticky rice. On each bowl, place one cup of sticky rice a generous serving of mango, and drizzle the coconut sauce on top.

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