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Laotian sticky rice recipe

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.

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Sebastien is the co-founder, editor and author of He is a tech geek, a total travel nerd and a food enthusiast. He spends the majority of his time planning Nomadic Boys' travels meticulously right down to the minute details. Sebastien has travelled to over 80 countries with his partner in crime and the love of his life, Stefan. He regularly shares his expertise of what it’s like travelling as a gay couple both on Nomadic Boys and on prominent publications ranging from Pink News, Matador, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and many more. Originally from France, Sebastien moved to London in the early 2000s where he pursued a career as a computer programmer for Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg. He subsequently left it all to explore his passion for travelling around the world with Stefan to hand, and thus Nomadic Boys was born.

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