Kitchen Tips

3 Secrets To Perfectly Cooked Sticky Rice

Use this foolproof technique and this fragrant staple side dish will be perfect, every time.

sticky rice in a bowl on a blue background

Photo, iStock.

Cooking rice properly is an acquired skill. You may think you have it down, but perfectly cooked rice is something that requires technique — believe me, you’ll notice the difference.

I learned how to cook different types of rice from friends and cooking school. Even after all the trial and error, the only consistent thing about my results was a total lack of consistency. Short-grain rice in particular is more challenging to cook because it’s more glutinous than other varieties of rice (like long-grain and basmati) giving it a ‘sticky rice’ texture that’s perfect in Asian dishes such as Japanese sushi and Korean bibimbap. But cook it too long, and it gets mushy; not long enough, and it gets stuck in your teeth. As such, it requires some skill to get it just right.

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After attending a cooking class hosted by Chef Sang Kim (formerly of Wind Up Bird Café, and Yakatori Bar), I’ve made this rice four times and it has worked every time. Here are some of his pro tips. (Note: Chef Kim also recommends investing in a rice cooker, which is inexpensive and reliable.)

Sticky Rice Recipe


  • short grain rice
  • water


  • Measure the amount of short grain rice you would like to cook. Wash the rice 3 to 4 times. Cover the rice by 1 inch of water and let it soak for 10 minutes (precisely).
  • Drain and transfer the soaked rice to a pot with a good pinch of salt. Add enough water that when you place your hand flat on the surface of the rice, the water covers your fingers and stops at your knuckles. (If you are using a rice cooker, set the cooker and you’re done here. When it’s done, unplug the appliance and leave covered until you’re ready to use it.)
  • Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat. Fluff with a fork and let sit in the pot, covered, until ready to use.

Originally published April 2014. Updated March 2018.

Watch: How to make a kung pao chicken stir fry

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