Why Is My Rice Sticky?

If you have ever thought to yourself “why is my rice sticky?” then you are not alone.  In this article, we are going to look at the common causes.

Life is all about trial and error, this also applies to cooking rice.  The more you cook rice the better you will get at it.

Before we look at the possible reasons why your rice might be turning out to be sticky, keep in mind there are a few types of rice that are meant to be sticky, some of these rice include:

  • Glutinous rice –  Otherwise known as sticky rice.  This is the type of rice used throughout Asia. 
  • Jasmine rice – This type of rice is known for its beautiful flowery aroma.  Jasmine rice is sticky but not as sticky as Glutinous rice.
Bowl of rice served with mix vegetables.

Why Is My Rice Sticky? – Common Causes

Not Rinsing Your Rice -Too Much Starch

Not rinsing your rice before cooking them can cause them to become sticky because of the starch.

So, what is starch? In simple terms, starch is a type of carbohydrate that can be found in many types of food including rice, and we all know too many carbs is not good if you want to watch your figure.

So, what can we do to reduce starch…..RINSE!!!

Rinsing your rice before cooking, it will remove any of the extra starch clinging to it.  When the rice looks dusty that is the excess starch that is on the rice.  Rinsing your rice will prevent it from becoming sticky.

By rinsing off all of the extra starch not only will it prevent the rice from becoming sticky, but it will also help your rice to taste even better.

Rinse your rice until the water runs clear, use a fine sieve if needed.  But don’t worry if you can’t get clear water.  Just rinse them until the water is clear or nearly clear. 

Wash your rice gently.  Otherwise, the rice grains will break up and release even more starch when cooking.

Over Cooked Rice

Overcooking the rice will cause them to become sticky.  Always read the cooking instructions for the rice.  Each type of rice has its own way of cooking. 

One great tip I’ve learned over the years is to have a see-through lid when cooking rice.  That way you can check on your rice without taking off the lid and losing all the steam that has been built up.

One way to tell if the rice is cooked is simply by tasting a single grain of rice from the top without stirring the pot.  If the rice on top is cooked then the rice on the bottom will definitely be cooked.   

If at this stage the rice is still not cooked you can add some more water, but make sure you add boiling water and not cold water.

Stirring The Rice Too Much

If you stir your rice too much, this can cause them to become sticky.  The less you stir your rice the better.  I try and only stir them once or twice.  Avoid over stirring or the remaining starch will be released causing the rice to become sticky.

This is one of the biggest mistakes that I made in the beginning.  I frequently stirred the rice to check the water level, not realizing that I was causing the rice to become stickier each time that I lifted the lid and stirred.

Using The Wrong Type Of Rice

Make sure that the type of rice you are using is correct for the dish you are making.  This is one of the things a lot of people overlook.  You can’t use the same type of rice for all dishes, for example, you wouldn’t use the same type of rice for rice pudding and sweet Indian rice.

Also, avoid using cheap rice as they are known to break-up during cooking/rinsing increasing the chance of your cooked rice becoming sticky.

Using good quality rice such as Basmati rice will not only improve the flavor but also give you soft fluffy rice.

There are so many different types of rice and using the right one can save you the time having to recook your rice.

Our favorite type of rice to use is Basmati rice, they can be used in many dishes and they taste amazing.  They can be found in most supermarkets. 

Using The Wrong Cooking Pot

Using the correct pot so that it will not stick to the bottom will eliminate having to stir it after it is cooked. 

When the rice is finished cooking, it should fluff easily with a fork.  Always use the correct type of cooking pot for your stove.  You get different pots for different types of stoves electric, gas, etc.

Another thing to remember is to not lift the lid when the rice is cooking.  The moisture that collects on the inside of the lid will then go back into the pan. 

Make sure that the pot you are using has a glass see-through lid if possible.  That way you can check on the rice without lifting the lid.

Another thing is to try and use a pot that has a tight-fitting lid so that it does not release the steam. 

You could also use a dishtowel on the inside of the lid to collect any of the excess moisture.

By using a non-stick pot, it will eliminate the need to mix the rice harshly after the rice has been cooked.

Using The Correct Utensils

Make sure that you are using the right ratio of water.  Rule of thumb if you are cooking one cup of rice then use two cups of water.  It is better to use less water than too much water, you can always add more later.

By adding too much water you risk overcooking the rice which will make it sticky.  It will take longer for the water to absorb.  So, the 1:2 ratio is the best one to follow.  It does not add more water than what will be needed to cook the rice.

What To Do If Your Rice Becomes Sticky?

In most cases, people throw away their sticky rice and restart.  However, if you are like me and hate to waste food you can always use your overcooked sticky rice for another dish.

Some dishes where sticky rice can be used include:

  • Rice pudding – who doesn’t like a good dessert.  Rice pudding is easy and quick to make, so using your overcooked sticky rice to make some rice pudding is a winner for me.
  • Sushi – Sushi requires sticky rice, so this could be the perfect dish for your sticky rice if you like Sushi.
  • Rice and chicken soup – If you love chicken and rice then this is another winner for your sticky rice.

In my student days, when I could cook rice properly my favorite dish to make from my sticky rice was fried rice with vegetables. 

You get your sticky rice and fry it with some spices, onions and add your favorite vegetables, a touch of chicken stock and you have a new healthy new dish.  Joys of being a student.

How Do You Fix Rice That Is Sticky?

If you don’t plan to use your rice towards another dish, then there is no way that you can fix rice that has turned out sticky. 

Although if it is only slightly sticky you could use a little bit of water to separate the rice grains and then put the rice onto a baking sheet.  Bake for just a couple of minutes to remove the excess water.

But if the rice turned out very sticky there is not much you can do with it, except eat it or start over.  After many years of eating rice that turned out sticky, I can say it may not have been the best, but it did feed me.

I have learned that making a perfect pot of rice boils down to two main things: Practice and Rinsing the rice before cooking it.  But make sure that before you rinse it, it is the type that is meant to be rinsed.

How Do You Keep Rice From Sticking Together?

By adding a few drops of lemon juice into the water helps the rice from sticking together.

Let me know in the comments if you have tried any other tricks.

We live in the days where everyone is multi-tasking, juggling family life with work and that doesn’t always give you the time you need to prepare your meal and make it perfect.

One tool that I have found helpful, again and again, is the rice cooker.  This is great for when I am crunched for time and do not have time to cook a pot of rice on the stovetop.

It is not considered cheating if you use one. There is nothing wrong with a little help.  It’s there to make things a little easier and can make it quicker especially when time is limited.

A rice cooker will either steam or boil your rice giving you the perfectly cooked rice that you deserve.

Final Thoughts

I am sure that we have all cooked a pot of rice that was sticky or not the way that we expected it to turn out. 

It happens to the best of us.  I would love to say that my rice turns out perfectly every time I cook it, but I can’t.

By offering a little bit of insight into the lessons that I have learned over the years, I hope your next pot of rice will be closer to being perfect. 

So, if you end up with sticky rice, don’t give up.  My motto for myself is practice, practice, practice.  And don’t forget to rinse the rice that is meant to be rinsed.

And don’t forget you always have the option of purchasing a rice cooker, there is nothing wrong with some extra help.

If you have ever wondered “why is my rice sticky?” I hope this article has answered your question and given you some insight into what you can do to prevent your rice from becoming sticky.

If you have any other tips, we would love to hear from you in the comments.

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