This incredibly addicting Thai mango sticky rice recipe is everyone's favorite way to enjoy fresh mangos. This sweet, sticky, salty gluten-free, vegan dessert is perfect for EVERYONE this summer.
Whenever you go out to a Thai restaurant what is the one dish that you are THE MOST excited for every time? For me, it is always Thai mango sticky rice. Everything about this dish is delicious. The freshly ripe mangos, the sweet and salty coconut sauces, the sticky chewy texture of the rice, and the crunch from the topped sesame seeds and toasted mung beans. This simple dish is simply culinary magic. Pair this Thai mango sticky rice with our other Thai favorite, Thai Basil Chicken and you will have yourself a complete Thai feast!
What is mango sticky rice?
Thai Mango sticky rice is a classic Thai dessert also known as khao niaow ma muang (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง). Its claim to fame started on the streets of Thailand and is a staple in most Thai restaurants around the world. It is also a popular dessert in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Mango sticky rice only requires six ingredients that when combined create an irresistible combination of sweet, salty, and delicious. It is made with coconut milk, sugar, salt, glutinous sticky rice, and mangos.
What kind of rice do I use for mango sticky rice?
Sticky rice is also called glutinous rice, or sweet rice. They are three names for the same type of rice. For the most authentic mango sticky rice, you would need to use Thai glutinous rice. Thai sticky rice is similar to traditional sticky rice but it has long grains of rice. However, using short-grain sticky rice works just as well!
Sticky rice does not contain any gluten. When cooked, it yields a more opaque color than regular white rice. It also has a sticky, firm, and chewy texture. You can buy sticky rice online here or at your local Asian grocery store.
How do I cook sticky rice?
It is very important that you wash and soak the sticky before steaming. This cuts down the active cooking time of the sticky rice. Soaking helps hydrate the rice and allows it to cook evenly. After soaking the rice, steam the rice in your steamer for about 20-35 minutes until the rice is plump and sticky.
How do I choose and prepare the mango?
The mango is the star of the dish. Any ripe mango will work perfectly for this dish. I usually use Ataulfo or Champagne mangos because they tend to be sweeter. You can find Ataulfo mangos at your local Asian grocery store. If you cannot find Ataulfo mangos, you can use any ripe mango. A ripe mango is slightly soft to the taste and you can smell the sweetness come through its skin.
To prepare the mangos you will need to first peel the skin off of the mango. Then you will need to slice the cheeks off of the mango to remove the meat from the seed. Lastly, you will thinly slice the mango cheeks thinly to serve.
If you want to make the mango rose, you will need to thinly slice (about ½ cm thick) the mango cheeks while keeping the slices in the mango shape. Then you will need to slowly separate the slices vertically into a long strip with the ends of each slice still overlapping/touching each other (about 1 cm of overlap). Lastly, you will take one end and slowly roll inward creating a spiral. Use a spatula to place the rose on top of the rice mound.
Ingredients For This Recipe
- Fresh Mango: any fresh and ripe mango will work for this recipe. Make sure the mangoes are ripe by feeling if they are soft to the touch.
- Glutinous sticky rice: this is different than regular white rice. Make sure the label says the rice is glutinous, sweet, or sticky rice. You cannot substitute this rice with any other rice. The texture and flavor would not be the same. You can find Glutinous Sticky rice online or at your local Asian Grocery store.
- Coconut milk: make sure to use FULL FAT coconut milk.
- Pandan leaves: this step is optional but it adds a subtle pandan flavor to the rice that is quite nice. Usually you can find pandan leaves in any Thai or Vietnamese grocery market in the frozen section. Alternatively you can add 1-2 drops of pandan extract to mimic this flavor.
- Granulated sugar: the granulated sugar is used to sweeten the coconut milk. The amount of sugar here is entirely up to you. I like to stay on the less sweet side of things. But you can add up to ½ or ¾ cup of sugar if you like to amp up the sweetness.
- Salt: the salt balances out the sweetness of the mangos and coconut milk. It is the secret ingredient that really makes this dish pop.
- Sesame seeds: the toasted sesame seeds are optional. You can simply toast the sesame seeds on a dry skillet until the seeds are fragrant.
- Mung beans: the mung beans are also optional. This adds an additional crunch to the dish that makes it chef's kiss.*
How to Make This Recipe
This Thai Mango Stick Rice recipe is very simple and easy to re-create. All you need to do is 1) cook the sticky rice 2) make the coconut sauce and coconut drizzle and 3) prepare the toppings.
Make the Sweet Sticky Rice
- Prepare the rice. In a large bowl, thoroughly wash and drain the rice with cold water until the water is clear. About 3-5 times. Let the rice soak in 2 cups of water for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Steam the rice. Using a steamer, bring the lower pot of water to a hard boil. Drain the rice and lay the sticky rice on a cheesecloth, parchment paper banana leaf on the steamer with the lid on for 25-35 minutes until the rice is soft and translucent.
- Make the sweet coconut sauce for the rice. While the rice is cooking, place the coconut milk, salt, sugar, pandan leaves (optional) in a small saucepan. Mix together until the sugar dissolves and bring to a simmer/gentle boil for 3 minutes until it slightly thickens. Set aside.
- Make the salted coconut drizzle. Mix together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl to make the cornstarch slurry. In a saucepan, add ¾ cup of coconut milk and ¼ tsp of salt on medium heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Slowly pour in the cornstarch slurry into the sauce pan and mix until the sauce thickens. Set aside.
- Mix rice and coconut sauce. Once the rice is cooked, place the rice in a heat proof bowl and pour the sweet coconut sauce onto the rice and mix. Stir and break up any lumps and then cover with foil and let the coconut sauce steep in for 20 minutes.
Prepare the Toppings
- Prepare the mangos. Peel the mangos and slice the cheeks from the seed. Then slice the cheeks vertically in thin slices.
- Toast the sesame seeds (optional). Place the sesame seeds on a small skillet and continuously stir for 1-2 minutes on medium heat until lightly browned. Set aside.
- Toast the mung beans (optional). Place the mung beans in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once it hits a boil, turn off the heat and cover the saucepan with a lid and let the mung beans sit for 10 minutes. Then drain and dry the mung beans. Toast the mung beans in a small skillet with a tablespoon of vegetable oil on low heat, stirring regularly until golden brown and crispy about 2 minutes. You will know they are done if you smell their nutty aroma. Be careful not to burn them! Set aside.
- Serve. Serve the mango and sticky rice. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and the salted coconut drizzle.
Tips For This Recipe
- Wash and soak the rice overnight. The washing removes the extra starches from the rice making them overly sticky and gummy. The soaking allows the rice to cook evenly when you steam the rice.
- Use a steamer pot for the rice. The steamer pot allows for even slow cooking of the rice. This is the traditional method and yields a foolproof perfect rice every time. If you opt for a rice cooker use a 1:1 ratio of rice to water. But be careful! The rice cooker may overcook the rice leaving it to be gummy and overly sticky.
- Choose a fresh and ripe mango. Since the mango is the star of the show, it needs to be the best. Make sure to use a slightly softened mango, that is rich in a deep yellow color on the inside. You know it is ripe when you slice it, it is as smooth as butter.
- Adjust the sweetness to your preference! This is YOUR mango sticky rice. There is no rule that you have to follow my exact recipe. You can add or subtract the sugar levels however you choose. If you want a sweeter coconut sauce add ½ or ¾ cup of sugar. If you want a less sweet coconut sauce use 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar instead.
- Make sure to create the cornstarch slurry before adding it to the salted coconut drizzle. Creating a cornstarch slurry (1:1 cornstarch: water) ahead of time will prevent the headache of trying to de-clump the cornstarch in your coconut milk.
Mango sticky rice is best served immediately. However, the rice and sauces may be refrigerated in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To re-heat the rice, sprinkle a few drops of water onto the rice, cover with a wet paper towel, and microwave for 1-2 minutes until softened.