Sticky Rice (Khao Niao / Khao Niew) is a staple of Isan (Northern & Northeastern Thai) & Lao cuisines. In Vietnam, it’s called Xôi or Cơm Nếp.
My Instant Pot Sticky Rice recipe is not only simple to follow but also ensures your rice remains perfectly textured, avoiding any mushiness or sogginess. Plus, it significantly reduces the cooking time compared to the traditional method.
🙋♀️ What is Sticky Rice?
Sticky rice (glutinous rice / sweet rice) is a type of rice popular in Southeast and East Asian cuisine. It becomes especially sticky when cooked. Despite its name, glutinous rice does not contain any gluten.
In Northeast Asian countries, it is often ground to make sticky rice flour and used in various sweet dishes, such as various kinds of Mochi (Japanese sticky rice cake) or Tangyuan (Chinese sticky rice ball dessert).
Sticky rice is a staple in Laos, known as “Khao Niew,” and Thailand, it is called “Khao Niao.” It is commonly served with various savory dishes as the main meal and is also used to make many sweet desserts.
In Vietnam, my home country, uncooked sticky rice is called “Gạo Nếp,” while cooked sticky rice is referred to as “Cơm Nếp” or “Xôi Nếp.” It is the second most popular type of rice in Vietnam after Jasmine rice, which is a staple in Vietnamese meals.
Vietnamese people enjoy sticky rice for breakfast, prepare it during big festivals like Tet holidays.
We use sticky rice to create various savory dishes like Bánh Chưng (Square Sticky Rice Cake), Bánh Giầy Giò (Steamed rice cakes with Vietnamese ham) and sweet desserts like Bánh Bao Chỉ (Lo Mai Chi in Cantonese, which is sweet sticky rice dumplings).
🍚 Types of sticky rice
Thai and Laotian people often use long-grain sticky rice for cooking. In Vietnam, we use both short-grain and long-grain sticky rice.
The most popular and special type of sticky rice in Vietnam is “Nếp Cái Hoa Vàng,” which is a type of short-grain sticky rice.
Note that sticky rice and sushi rice are not the same, even for short-grain sticky rice. Sushi rice appears glossy and is moderately sticky, but it is not as sticky as sticky rice.
🌟 Instant Pot Sticky Rice – Pros and Cons?
To be honest, the best method for achieving the highest quality cooked sticky rice is the traditional “soak and steam” technique. However, it does require you to be well-prepared in the cooking process.
I’ve tried using my Instant Pot to cook Vietnamese Savory Sticky Rice (Xôi Mặn) . It gave a pretty good result and saved me a significant amount of time.
Please note that I’ve only tried it with Vietnamese short-grain sticky rice. I plan to update this post after experimenting with Thai long-grain sticky rice.
Pros of the Instant Pot method.
- No need for advance preparation: You don’t have to soak the rice for hours before cooking.
- Short cooking time: I soak the sticky rice with hot water for about 20 minutes and then cook it with my Instant Pot for an additional 40 minutes. (the traditional method requires about 60-70 minutes to steam the rice, not including the time for soaking the rice.)
- Good results: The outcome is approximately 80-90% as good as the traditional method, especially when you’re cooking a small batch of sticky rice.
Cons of the Instant Pot method.
- Requires an Instant Pot, but my Instant Pot has become a lifesaver in the kitchen. I’ve even created a special page for my Instant Pot recipes.
- Can’t cook a large batch of rice. I’ve found that for my 6-quart (6-liter) Instant Pot, 1-1.5 cups (220-330g) of sticky rice yield the best results (enough for 2 people). When I cook more rice, like 2 cups (440g), the rice at the bottom of the steamer tends to be a bit mushy (though still acceptable).
To cook Khao Niao / Khao Niew (Thai / Lao Sticky Rice) , you only need sticky rice and water. It’s as straightforward as how Vietnamese cook Jasmine Rice, like my recipe for steamed jasmine rice in the microwave.
When Vietnamese people prepare sticky rice to enjoy with savory dishes, we often add fragrant fats like chicken fat, shallot oil, scallion oil, or coconut cream to enhance the flavor. However, I will keep it simple in this recipe.
📝 How to cook sticky rice (Khao Niao / Khao Niew / Xôi Nếp) with Instant Pot
- Thoroughly wash and rinse the sticky rice until the water runs clear.
- Then, soak the sticky rice in hot water for 20 minutes.
- Add 1.5 cups (375ml) of water to the Instant Pot. Place a steamer inside the pot, making sure the water doesn’t touch the rice.
- Drain the sticky rice and transfer it to the steamer. Use a chopstick or your finger to create some holes among the rice to ensure proper ventilation during steaming.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot. Cook the sticky rice the “Steam” mode with high pressure for 20 minutes, then allow it to naturally release for another 20 minutes.
- Use chopsticks or a rice paddle to gently fluff the cooked rice.
- Enjoy sticky rice with your favorite side dishes from Thai, Lao, or Vietnamese cuisine. Some recipes from my site pair exceptionally well with sticky rice:
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Instant Pot Sticky Rice (Khao Niao / Khao Niew / Xôi Nếp)
- 1 6-quart Instant Pot (6-liter)
- 1 cup sticky rice (220g)
- 1.5 cup water (375ml)
- Rinse the sticky rice until the water runs clear.
- Soak it in hot water for 20 minutes.
- Add 1.5 cups (375ml) of water to the Instant Pot, ensuring it doesn't touch the rice.
- Drain and transfer the rice to a steamer in your Instant Pot, creating ventilation holes with a chopstick or finger.
- Close the lid and use the "Steam" mode with high pressure for 20 minutes, followed by a 20-minute natural release.
- Gently fluff the cooked rice with chopsticks or a rice paddle.
- Enjoy sticky rice with your favorite rice side dishes.