Laotian sticky rice recipe

Sticky rice is the staple food of any Laotian meal. It is called “khao niaow” and made from glutinous rice. It contains a higher sugar level than normal rice, which gives it its stickiness.

Glutinous rice in the market in Luang Prabang
Glutinous rice sold in the market in Luang Prabang

Despite the name (glutinous rice), Laotian sticky rice is gluten free and therefore great for people with celiac.

Sticky rice is steamed and traditionally served in small cute bamboo baskets in Laos called “lao aep khao”.

Seb modelling a freshly made bamboo basket of sticky rice in Vientiane
Seb modelling a freshly prepared Laotian sticky rice in Vientiane served in the bamboo baskets called, “lao aep khao'

Ingredients for Laotian sticky rice

  • 300g of sticky rice
  • water for cooking

How to make Laotian sticky rice

  1. Wash 300g of rice under running water until the water runs clear.
  2. Place the rice in a saucepan with just enough water to cover it and soak it over night for up to 10 hours. Packaged sticky rice only needs 2-3 hours.
  3. Drain the rice and rinse under cold running water 3 times.
  4. Place the rice in a steamer on medium heat for around 20 minutes before all the water evaporates and the rice is soft and sticky but not over cooked and mushy.
  5. Let it cool and serve at room temperature in a bamboo container.

This is a good accompaniment to a laap (minced meat salad) or to soak up a spicy jeow dipping sauce. Sticky rice also forms a base for a tasty coconut milk based desert.

Seb steaming the rice
Sebastien preparing the sticky rice. In Laos, the rice is traditionally steamed in a covered bamboo basked like this.


You can read more about our experiences discovering food in Laos and watch our Laos travel video.

About the author

Hi there! We are Stefan and Sebastien, Greek/French couple behind the travel blog Nomadic Boys. Since we met in 2009, we have been travelling all around the world together, visiting over 100 countries.

Our mission is to inspire you, the gay traveller, and show you that you can visit more places in the world than you thought possible, by providing a first-hand account of our travel adventures, to help you plan a fun and safe trip.

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