In addition to plain rice used in daily meals, Vietnamese glutinous rice or sticky rice is also commonly used, especially for cooking traditional dishes. It is short grain rice, milky white in color and rounder than the long plain rice, opaque white in color and slightly clear. 

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vietnamese glutinous rice, vietnam glutinous rice

Vietnamese glutinous rice can be cooked into many dishes such as sticky rice, banh chung, banh giay, some types of sweet soups such as floating rice cake sweet soup, taro glutinous rice sweet soup… These dishes are all flexible, sticky, delicious, and easy to eat.

1 - Sticky rice dishes

In Vietnam, sticky rice dishes are extremely popular, sold on every street and are considered one of the most common breakfast dishes of Vietnamese people. To make sticky rice, people use glutinous rice, which has been soaked in water for about 3-5 hours, then cleaned and drained. The Vietnamese glutinous rice is then mixed with a little salt and cooked in the steamed pot until the product of sticky rice is ivory white, flexible, fragrant and sweet. Sticky rice dish made only from glutinous rice as above is also known as plain white sticky rice, can be eaten with sesame salt, peanut salt, or savory dishes such as pate, fried rice, eggs, or sausages, … 

But not only white sticky rice, but Vietnamese glutinous rice is also combined with other ingredients to form different sticky rice dishes.

Xoi dau xanh (Mung beans sticky rice)

This is a very simple dish that doesn't take a lot of ingredients to make. After being peeled, mung beans will be soaked for 2-3 hours and mixed with glutinous rice, which is also already soaked for 4-5 hours. After cooking, the resulting Mung bean sticky rice will be very flexible and fragrant and can be eaten with sausages or shredded meat to increase flavor.

Xoi xeo (Yellow sticky rice)


vietnam glutinous rice

Xoi xeo is made from Vietnamese glutinous rice, fried onions,... - Source: Vinpearl

This is a very eye-catching yellow dish because before taking it out, sticky rice is soaked in cold water with a little turmeric powder. A full set of a Yellow sticky rice dish includes yellow sticky rice, fried onions, crushed green beans, shredded meat, and fat, with an attractive taste.

Xoi suon cay (Spicy rib sticky rice)

This dish is the perfect combination of Vietnam glutinous rice, pork ribs, paprika, and fried onions. Depending on the amount of chili powder used, spicy rib sticky rice has different spiciness, and to reduce it, pickles are often served with this dish. Tender ribs, well-cooked meat, chewy sticky rice with super spicy gravy, just tasting it will definitely warm your body.

Xoi ngu sac (Five coloured sticky rice)


glutinous rice vietnamese

“Xoi ngu sac” is an amazing dish made from Vietnamese glutinous rice - Source: Petrotimes

This sticky rice dish is one of the specialties of ethnic minorities in the Northwest mountainous region of Vietnam such as Sapa, Ha Giang province, Mu Cang Chai, Hoang Su Phi, Lao Cai province,... As the name suggests, this dish has 5 colors: green - red - purple - yellow - white, representing the 5 elements of Wood - Fire - Water - Earth - Metal respectively. That is why five-colored sticky rice is often used on special occasions or in important rituals. A fact is that to create natural colors, Vietnam glutinous rice is soaked in water from the leaves and roots of forest trees.

2 - Dishes called “cake” made from Vietnamese glutinous rice

Unlike Western countries that mainly use flour to make cakes, many delicious Vietnamese cakes are cooked from sticky rice. Combined with different ingredients, glutinous rice is transformed into a variety of cakes with many colors such as Banh Duc, Banh Tro, Banh Chung, Banh Giay, Che Lam,...

Banh Tro (Ash Cake)

Tro Cake, also known as U Cake is made from the main ingredient of Vietnamese glutinous rice and ash water, prepared from coal ash obtained after burning some herbs and medicinal herbs. This cake is amber and clear so that you can even see the fleshy mung bean filling inside if any, wrapped in banana leaves to preserve the flavor, and served with sweet molasses or honey to enhance the taste. Tro cake is a popular cake in Vietnamese culinary culture, loved by many people, often appearing in the Vietnamese ancestors' worshiping ceremony or the 5th day of May lunar month. 

Banh Duc (Duc Cake)


glutinous rice in vietnamese

Banh Duc - Source: Facebook

In Vietnam, Banh duc from Vietnamese glutinous rice is considered as a gift from the countryside or a delicious breakfast dish. It has a smooth, aromatic consistency, served with sweet and sour fish sauce mixed with rich stir-fried minced meat and a bit of herb. The process of making Duc cake basically consists of 3 stages: soaking glutinous rice, preparing flour and water mixture, and cooking the cake.

Nowadays, this Vietnamese glutinous rice cake also has many variations such as marble Duc cake, peanut Duc cake, coconut Duc cake, corn Duc cake, etc. On chilly rainy days, a bowl of hot, quality baked Duc cake will definitely fill your stomach and warm up your “soul”.

Chung cake

Banh chung is a rare type of cake in Vietnam that still retains the glutinous rice grain when cooked, not crushed into powder. This is also a cake with the most diverse flavors, from fragrant sticky rice, sweet green beans, to fatty meat, a little spicy pepper and the aroma of “Dong” leaves.

Giay cake

The process of making Giay Cake is quite laborious because Vietnamese glutinous rice must be pounded finely, a stage that only young and strong men could do in the past. Has become a quick and delicious breakfast for many people, this cake has a sweet, chewy taste, often served with sausages and fish sauce.

Che Lam Cake

The ingredients to make the dish include glutinous rice, molasses, ginger, and peanuts, each of which has to go through a rather elaborate process. A piece of finished Che Lam has the aroma and chewiness of Vietnam glutinous rice, the fleshy taste of peanuts, a slight spicy taste of ginger mixed with a little sweetness of molasses. The standard piece of Che Lam will be light brown in color, covered with white powder, with a thickness of about 0.5 to 1.5cm. It is absolutely an amazing experience to sip a cup of hot green tea and a small bite of soft, chewy and savory "che lam" in the chilly days. Duong Lam ancient village in Hanoi is an ideal place to enjoy Che lam. 

3 - Sweet soups made from Vietnamese glutinous rice 

Not only used to make sticky rice dishes or cakes, glutinous rice is also cooked into delicious, entertaining sweet soups that are very popular among Vietnamese people.

Taro glutinous rice pudding

The main ingredients to make this dish include glutinous rice, taro, a little tapioca flour and a little coconut milk. Taro glutinous rice pudding is a dish that everyone who has eaten it always remembers its taste - fat, sweet and delicious, perfect for a hot day.

Floating rice cake sweet soup


vietnamese glutinous rice cake

Che troi nuoc or Vietnamese glutinous rice balls - Source:

The rice balls are made of finely pounded glutinous rice, stuffed with green bean paste, and then rounded. After boiling, the cooked cake will float to the surface, leading to its name of “floating rice cake sweet soup”. The finished dish has the aroma, chewiness, and the fleshy taste of Vietnam glutinous rice mixed with sweet sugar water, little roasted sesame to make it more fragrant, or a little coconut milk to increase the fatness.

II - #5 famous brands of Vietnamese glutinous rice

Glutinous rice is widely grown and popular in all parts of Vietnam, however, there are some varieties that have become specialties and distinct brands. For example, Tu Le sticky rice is only available in Yen Bai province, where there are beautiful terraced fields, or upland sticky rice of Dien Bien district, where the largest rice fields in the North of Vietnam are located.

1 - Vietnamese glutinous rice in Tu Le

glutinous rice in vietnam

The landscape of Tu Le - Source: Kenh14

Also known by Thais as Tan La sticky rice, this is a specialty type of rice found only in Tu Le valley, Van Chan district, Yen Bai province. Tu Le rice is one of the most delicious types of glutinous rice in Vietnam because when cooked, the rice has a sweet taste and flexibility, but the grains aren’t sticky like other types of Vietnamese glutinous rice. It is said that Tu Le sticky rice is delicious because it is grown in fields with rare earth substrates, and is watered by the Muong Lung stream. It is not only used to make sticky rice and cakes but also can be cooked into an incomparably delicious wine and the famous five-color sticky rice plate that is only available on festivals of the Thai people here.

Coming to Yen Bai province, you can not only enjoy delicious dishes from Tu Le rice - a famous kind of Vietnam glutinous rice but also explore the landscape here. Seeing the terraced fields in the ripe rice season in Mu Cang Chai, stopping by Muong Lo valley to taste five-color sticky rice or a pot of Thai can wine, immersing in the lyrics and dance, will be unforgettable experiences.

2 - Vietnamese glutinous rice with yellow flowers

In the Northern plains and midlands of Vietnam, yellow flower glutinous rice (Nep cai hoa vang in Vietnamese) is more famous. This type of rice has round, flexible and aromatic grains, often used to make sticky rice dishes, green sticky rice, cakes, or even brew into soy sauce and cook wine. The name yellow flower sticky rice comes from the fact that when the rice blooms, the pollen is yellow, while other types of Vietnamese glutinous rice only have white pollen. When cooked, this rice is very flexible and has a sweet aroma, while the yellow flower sticky rice wine is very "soft", sweet down the throat, easy to drink.

3 - Dien Bien upland sticky rice

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The vast rice field in Dien Bien - Source:

In addition to the historical achievements, the Northwest mountainous region also produces an unusually delicious Vietnam glutinous rice known as Dien Bien upland sticky rice. This is a place where fertile farmland, and streams with cool water, give birth to long and fine rice grains, white color, sweet and natural aroma when cooked. It takes 7 months to harvest so only one crop can be planted each year, cultivated in the traditional way, so no pesticides are used, making this kind of Vietnamese glutinous rice more valuable and becoming a specialty of the Northwest mountains. The rice grain is not very sticky, has a certain expansion, not as much as some other types of sticky rice, but when eaten, you will feel the sweet, fragrant taste. This rice can sometimes be left for 2-3 days and still retains its flexibility, so it is often used to cook many specialties such as banh chung, banh day, five-color sticky rice, lam rice, ...

4 - Goose sticky rice - an outstanding Vietnamese glutinous rice

This is the famous sticky rice of South Vietnam, grown mostly in the Mekong Delta, whose name comes from the fact that the rice grain is large and round, looking like a miniature goose egg. With a characteristic passionate aroma, making people remember forever, goose glutinous rice when cooked is flexible and soft, often used to make sticky rice, banh chung, banh tet... or fried to make burnt rice. This type of Vietnamese glutinous rice has a completely natural origin, does not use chemicals or preservatives, resulting in high nutritional value, providing many starches and vitamins.

5 - Velvet glutinous rice

Velvet sticky rice can be said to be one of the most traditional rice varieties grown in the Northern Delta provinces of Vietnam such as Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Nam Dinh, Hai Duong, etc. This type of Vietnam glutinous rice is consumed in large quantities because of its delicious taste and affordable price, with very unique characteristics such as large-grained, smooth, white in color, natural light and soft aroma. When cooked, the rice is flexible but not sticky, especially when made into sticky rice dishes, the grains are very beautiful and glossy, so it is very popular with hotels and restaurants to buy and serve diners.

As one of the major rice cultivation centers of Southeast Asia, Vietnam is not only famous for exporting plain rice, but Vietnamese glutinous rice is also a very popular product. This special type of rice is an indispensable food and ingredient in Vietnamese life, especially in creating delicious traditional dishes on every Tet holiday.

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Being born and living here in Vietnam, I got a chance to see lots of beautiful places, try countless great dishes, & experience many interesting things in places I visited. And It's so great to share all things I know about Vietnam to you.

Giang Pham — Giang Pham



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