rice too sticky

Rice Too Sticky? Here’s Why and How to Fix It

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Rice is a staple in kitchens and cuisines across the world, and it is something that almost all of us have cooked at home. As common an ingredient as rice is, it can be really tricky to cook properly, and there are lots of ways that rice can go wrong.

One of the most common ways that rice turns out if not cooked properly, is sticky. Is your rice too sticky? Why does it get sticky, and how do you fix it?

Rice can get sticky for a few different reasons, but mostly if there was too much loose starch coating the grains, or if the rice was cooked in too much water. To fix sticky rice, you can let excess water evaporate, or you could attempt to rinse the rice or drain it in a colander.

Sticky rice is more common than you think, so read on to find out why your rice might have turned out sticky, and the different methods you can use to fix sticky rice!

Why Does Rice Turn Sticky?

It really is so disappointing, waiting for your rice to cook to enjoy with your meal, only to find that it has turned sticky and stodgy, and just completely unappealing.

There is usually a very straightforward reason for the rice turning sticky, and it is something that can easily be avoided the next time you make rice.

rice in a pot

Here are the main reasons why rice turns sticky once cooked:

Too Much Water

It might seem simple enough – throw some rice in a pot with enough water to cover it, but measuring out the right ratio of rice to water is very important.

The amount of water you need to add to rice will depend on the cooking equipment you are using, as well as what type of rice you are making. Generally, short-grain white rice should be at a ratio of 1 ½ cups of water to 1 cup of rice. Long-grain rice could be up to 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice.

It is advised to follow the cooking method and measurements on the packaging, as using too much water can lead to the rice turning sticky and mushy, and it can be really difficult to fix.


Overcooking your rice is a sure way to land up with sticky rice, especially if you have added too much water. Follow the timing on the rice packaging, and don’t just wait for all of the water to be absorbed.

Excess moisture and an extended cooking time will definitely lead to sticky and stodgy rice, and this is something that can be so easily avoided.

Not Rinsing Rice

Most types of rice need to be rinsed before being cooked, and rinsing rice is a crucial step in preventing it from turning sticky.

Rinsing rice before cooking helps to wash away loose starch that might be found on the rice grains. If this loose starch is not rinsed off, it will cause the grains to stick together as they cook.

Rinse your rice by placing it in a large bowl with cold water, and swirl the rice around with your hands. Drain away the cloudy water, and repeat this up to 3 more times, until the water runs clear, which means that almost all the excess starch has been rinsed away.

Not Resting Rice

As hungry as you might be, and as much as you might want to dig into the rice once it has cooked, you need to allow it to rest.

Once the rice has finished cooking, it needs to be left to rest for up to 15 minutes before you fluff it up.

Allowing the rice to rest means that the moisture is more evenly absorbed and distributed, and there is less chance of the rice sticking together.

Removing the Lid

Rice needs to be cooked with the lid on, as the steam helps to soften and cook the rice evenly. This is obviously made easier if you use a rice cooker, but when cooking rice on the stovetop, you need to avoid peeking at the rice by lifting the lid.

Keeping the lid on during the cooking process allows the rice to be steamed evenly, and allows it to cook properly, without becoming too mushy or sticky.

Rice Too Sticky – How to Fix It

Now that you know the reasons why rice becomes sticky, and how to avoid it next time you cook rice, you would also want to know how to fix sticky rice!

Keep in mind that if rice is too starchy, mushy, or sticky, then it might be impossible to save, but there is some hope for rice that isn’t too far gone!

rice too sticky

Here are some of the best ways to fix sticky rice at home:

Leave Water to Evaporate

If you have used too much water, then you need to try and get rid of this excess water. One way to do this is to leave the water to evaporate, by removing the lid from the pan and allowing the steam to escape. 

To help, you can set the heat to very low, and leave the rice to cook for a few more minutes. This way, the excess water should evaporate, and the rice should be less sticky.

Drain the Rice

If there is quite a bit of excess water in the rice, then you could try to drain the rice in a colander or a sieve. Place the colander or the sieve into the sink, and pour the rice into it. Let it sit for a minute or so, shifting it around, to get the water to drain.

There is a chance that your rice can be saved by draining it, as long as the rice has not been overcooked and it isn’t too mushy.

Rinse the Rice

Rice can often turn sticky if there is too much loose starch around the rice, especially if you have not rinsed the rice before cooking.

Once the rice is cooked, and if it is sticky or gummy, you can try to rinse it with cold water to get rid of the stickiness and reduce the amount of starch.

Drain the rice in a colander or sieve, and gently pour a light stream of cold water over the rice. This should unstick the grains and give you looser rice that is more enjoyable to eat.

Bake the Rice

Once again, if you have cooked the rice with too much water, you can bake it for 5 minutes to help remove the water, and to allow the rice to not be as mushy and wet.

To do this, you need to preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the rice out evenly onto a baking sheet, and place it into the preheated oven. Let it cook in the oven for 5 minutes until it is drier, and it is less sticky.

Make Fried Rice

You might not be able to save the sticky rice, and instead of throwing it away, you can make fried rice instead. This might not be what you had in mind for dinner, but you can make it for dinner the next night or for lunch the next day.

Simply fry up some garlic, onion, ginger, vegetables, and soy sauce, and add the rice in one spoonful at a time until you have the perfect ratio. The soy sauce, and other liquids of your choice, will be fine with the sticky rice!

Make Rice Pudding

Instead of having rice for dinner, you could have it for dessert! To make rice pudding, mix milk, cream and sugar in with the rice on the stove, along with some vanilla essence. Allow it to cook, stirring often, until it has reached the consistency you prefer.

rice pudding

It might not be what you had planned for dinner, but at least you will have a delicious dessert to enjoy!

Rice Too Sticky – Why and How to Fix It

Rice can be really tricky to get right, and there are quite a few things that could cause rice to turn out too sticky.

If you often land up with sticky rice, read the above guide on the various reasons why your rice might be sticky, and how to avoid sticky rice in future.

If you already have some sticky rice, we have also covered the various ways you can fix sticky rice, to still enjoy your meal. If all this fails – you could make a delicious rice pudding dessert instead!

Related Questions

Does Stirring Rice Make It Sticky?

You should not stir rice as it cooks, as this could cause your rice to turn sticky. It is fine to stir risotto as it cooks, as you want it to be creamy and slightly sticky, but normal rice should not be stirred as it cooks.

Does Less Water Make Rice Sticky?

Less water does not necessarily make rice more sticky, instead, using too much water is the main cause of sticky rice. It is better to use less water than too much water.

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