Mango sticky rice (Khao Niaow Ma Muang) is such a beloved dessert in Thailand. Thai sticky/glutinous rice flavored with sweet (and salty) coconut milk and served with ripe fresh mango makes for the most creamy and refreshing sweet treat. Learn how to make this classic Thai dessert, using your instant pot! I've also included instructions to make this delicious recipe on the stove top.
Mango sticky rice
Thai mango sticky rice, or khao niaow ma muang is such a wonderful summer dessert. Sweet, sticky rice and juicy mangos are drizzled with a rich coconut sauce, creating an irresistible blend of sweet and salty, chewy and creamy. This recipe uses only a few ingredients and has a subtle but distinct flavor. Coconut and mango have always been an amazing food pairing but this dish truly epitomizes how incredible this flavor combination is.
Sweet and floral mangoes paired with rich, buttery and creamy coconut milk is truly a match made in food heaven. Fresh mangoes that are sweet and juicy, balance the creamy richness of the coconut flavored sticky rice perfectly. I also add in a few pandan leaves while steaming the rice for a beautiful earthy flavor. If you've never tried pandan flavor before, it can be described as a grassy vanilla with a hint of coconut. I usually find them in the frozen section of my Asian grocery store. Feel free to omit the pandan leaves if you can't source them easily.
This is an incredibly easy recipe to make and doesn't take more than 15 minutes of hands on time. It is the perfect hearty dessert/snack to share with friends and family. I've suggested 6 servings in my recipe below, but this recipe can be easily portioned up or down. Serve as much or as little mango as you prefer with each serving. Make this at your next party and your guests will be so impressed ❤
Choosing the right type of sticky rice is extremely important in this recipe and there are no substitutions. Sticky rice (sometimes also labelled as glutinous or sweet rice) sticks together when cooked and has a chewy texture. It also soaks the coconut sauce really well, resulting in a creamy and delightful final dish. I like to use sticky rice grown in Thailand for this recipe.
The main flavor in this dessert comes from the coconut milk, so it’s vital that you use a really good brand of full-fat coconut milk with minimal ingredients. I like using this brand of canned coconut milk in all my recipes calling for coconut milk. Make sure that the brand of coconut milk you purchase is unsweetened and has only a few basic ingredients. Coconut milk sometimes sold in cartons and labelled as coconut beverage can't be used in this recipe. It is too watery and doesn't have enough coconut cream to bring out that delicious coconut flavor.
This dessert is a fantastic way to take advantage of mango season. It doesn't matter what kind of mango you use here, any variety will work as long as it's very ripe, sweet, non-fibrous and juicy.
Using the instant pot to make mango sticky rice
Traditionally in Thailand, cooking mango sticky rice usually requires the rice to be soaked and then steamed in bamboo basket over a a tall aluminum pot. Steaming rice on the stovetop can take 25-30 minutes and not everyone has the tools required for steaming. Using the Instant Pot makes this process quicker and hands off. That being said, I've also included instructions for steaming the rice on the stove top in the recipe card below. So you can make this recipe even if you don't have an Instant pot!
Can I skip the soaking step?
When sticky rice is soaked overnight, it doubles in size and soaks up all the water. This makes the rice plump and chewy when steamed and leads to a very delightful mouth feel. That is why I personally prefer soaking the rice
You could still make this recipe in the Instant pot without soaking the rice. Here's how you do it:
After you wash the rice well and drain all the water, transfer it to a heat proof container that fits inside the instant pot. Place the pandan leaves nestled into the rice and pour 1 cup of water over the rice. Line the instant pot insert with a trivet and pour in 1 cup of water into the insert. Then place the container with the rice over the trivet. Close the instant pot with the sealing ring attached to the lid. Set the valve to the sealing position and pressure cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Let the instant pot depressurize naturally before opening. Then follow the same recipe as below, starting at step number 3. Note that this recipe can't be made without soaking if you are not using an Instant pot.
Salty and sweet combination
I am a big fan of desserts that have a salty component to them. I find that salt brings out the sweetness and flavor in desserts and makes it even more delicious. Mango sticky rice is such an amazing example of that perfect salty sweet combination. Sweet, sticky rice and juicy mangos, drizzled with a salty coconut sauce, creates an irresistible blend of sweet and salty, chewy and creamy.
In Thailand, traditionally the sauce that is served as a topping for mango sticky rice is salty and has no sugar added. This helps cut through the richness and sweetness of the sticky rice. However, I find that in the US, whenever I've ordered Mango sticky rice at restaurants they drizzle the sticky rice with a sweet sauce instead.
My recipe is very close to the traditional recipe and I've included instructions to make the salty coconut pouring sauce. If you aren't a fan of that salty and sweet combination, you might not prefer the salty coconut topping sauce. If that's the case, add a couple of tablespoons of sugar while making the pouring sauce and either reduce the salt by half or omit it entirely. This will result in a sweet pouring sauce similar to the one served in restaurants in the US.
Serving and storing leftovers
Mango sticky rice tastes best when eaten on the same day, preferably within a couple of hours of being made. Sticky rice doesn't store really well and will harden in the refrigerator.
That being said, I tested this recipe multiple times and did store leftovers for the next day. Here's how you make sure your sticky rice stays nice and moist when reheated: When you make the sweet coconut sauce, save a few spoons of it for the next day. Then store the leftover sticky rice and the reserved sauce separately, in airtight containers in the refrigerator. The next day, either steam the rice again or microwave it covered with a damp cloth, until it softens up and then mix in the saved coconut sauce to loosen it up.
Frequently asked questions
What is mango sticky rice made of?
Mango sticky rice (Khao Niaow Ma Muang) is such a beloved dessert in Thailand. It is made of sticky/glutinous rice which is steamed and mixed with sweet and salty coconut cream sauce and then served with mangoes.
Is mango sticky rice served hot or cold?
Mango sticky rice can either be served warm or at room temperature. I personally prefer it served warm.
How do I store mango sticky rice?
When you make the sweet coconut sauce, save a few spoons of it for the next day. Then store the leftover sticky rice and the reserved sauce separately, in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
How do you reheat mango sticky rice?
Either steam the rice again or microwave it covered with a damp cloth, until it softens up and then mix in the saved coconut sauce to loosen it up.
Is mango sticky rice vegan and gluten free?
Yes, mango sticky rice is both vegan and gluten free!
More mango recipes to try!
Instant pot mango sticky rice
For the coconut sticky rice
For the salted coconut pouring sauce
- 3 large mangoes (use juicy, non fibrous varieties)
- 2 tablespoon split yellow mung beans (moong dal)
To make the coconut sticky rice
- Wash the sticky rice in cold water, changing the water about 4-5 times or until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in plenty of water for at least 4 hours or overnight. After it has soaked well, drain all the water from the rice.(See notes for no soak instructions).
- Instant pot instructionsPour 1 cup of water in the inner pot if the instant pot and place a trivet in it. Now place the pieces of pandan leaves in the middle of a cotton or muslin cloth, before layering the soaked & drained rice on top. Fold and tuck the excess napkin well and place it on top of the trivet, making sure that the water doesn't touch the cloth. Close the instant pot with the sealing ring attached to the lid. Set the valve to the sealing position and pressure cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Let the instant pot depressurize naturally before opening.Stove top instructionsPour 1-2 cups of water into a pot with a tight fitting lid. Choose a colander or steaming basket that fits on top of the pot. Line the steaming basket with a cotton or muslin cloth and place the pieces of pandan leaves on the bottom before layering the soaked & drained rice on top. Tuck the excess napkin well and cover the pot with the lid. Steam the rice for 25-30 minutes or until it is well cooked but still chewy and not falling apart.
- While the rice is cooking, put the coconut milk, sugar and salt in a pot on medium heat and cook it until the sugar is completely dissolved. Keep this syrup warm until the rice is cooked.
- When the rice is done, immediately transfer it into a container with a tight fitting lid and pick out the pandan leaves. Then, pour the warm syrup over the rice. Stir and break up any lumps, cover with the lid and let it sit for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir the rice again gently and mixing any unincorporated coconut sauce. Let sit for at least another 20 minutes or until ready to serve.
For the salted coconut pouring sauce
- Dissolve the rice flour in the water until there are no lumps. Combine the rice flour slurry, coconut milk, and salt in a small pot. Cook it over medium heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil and has thickened slightly. Let the sauce cool until you are ready to serve. (See notes for a sweet sauce alternative).
Toasting the mung beans
- Wash the mung beans well and dry them on a tea towel until they are completely dry. Then transfer them to a dry skilled on low heat. Dry fry the mung beans for about 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly until light golden brown and crispy.
- Divide the rice in portions and serve the it beside sweet, fresh mango. Spoon some salted coconut sauce over the rice and sprinkle a teaspoon of crispy mung beans on each serving.
- Pandan leaves are usually found in the frozen section of Asian grocery stores. You can omit the Pandan leaves if you can't source them easily.
- If you can find them, use banana leaves instead of a muslin cloth to steam the rice in. This will make the rice extra fragrant.
- I created this recipe to use an entire can of coconut milk. You can halve or double the recipe depending on how many serving you want to make.
- If mangoes are not in season, you can also use canned Alphonso mango pulp in this recipe. Spoon the mango pulp in the bottom of your serving plate before topping it with rice and the other toppings for a beautiful presentation.
- Traditionally, mango sticky rice is topped with toasted mung beans, but you can substitute toasted sesame seeds or toasted shredded coconut for an equally delicious crunch.