Sushi Rice vs. Sticky Rice: What Is the Difference? (Explained)

Sushi rice is often called sticky rice for the apparent reason of it being sticky when cooked. Its sticky texture makes it ideal for making Asian dishes like sushi or gimbap. Now, since we know of sticky rice as well, you may wonder if it’s the same or not. Thus, you may ask: what is the difference between sushi rice and sticky rice?

Sushi rice and sticky rice are different in appearance and texture. While both are starchy and short-grain rice, sticky rice has a chalk-like and opaque color. On the other hand, sushi rice tends to have a clear one. Often, sticky rice comes in dessert, while sushi rice is often used in dishes.

Rice comes in various types to serve different needs. However, when it comes to sushi rice and sticky rice, the difference is subtle that you can use them interchangeably. Still, you’ll enjoy the best of both types of rice in their specific recipes.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the differences between sushi rice and sticky rice. This way, you can understand how these two types of rice work and how you can cook or prepare them in the best way possible.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Sushi Rice vs. Sticky RicePin

Is sushi rice and sticky rice the same?

Sushi rice and sticky rice are not the same, although they are similar in many ways. In most cases, sushi rice is also known as sticky rice due to its texture when cooked. 

Sticky rice is another name for the varieties of rice used in Korean cuisine. Though numerous forms of short-grain rice are grouped as “sticky,” only one variety of rice is utilized to produce steamed sticky rice, which is popular in Thai and Laotian cultures.

What is sushi rice?

Sushi rice is short-grain rice with a distinct stickiness when cooked. Stickiness is caused by high levels of starch in the rice, which gelatinizes when cooked. Its gel-like, creamy texture is great for making sushi rolls.

Now is the moment to clear up any confusion about sushi rice. Even though sushi rice becomes sticky when cooked, this does not explain what is also referred to as “sticky rice.”

When you hear the word “sticky rice,” you might think of rice cakes, but sticky rice, also known as sweet rice, is a staple in Thai cuisine.

Although you can create sushi with any rice, it will lack the smoothness that sushi rice delivers. So, when creating homemade sushi, search for sushi rice or any other short-grain, stocky kind of rice.

What is sticky rice?

Sticky rice (also known as gelatinous rice or waxy rice) resembles sushi rice in shape since both contain small grains, but sticky rice has an opaque and chalky white appearance.

Others claim that sticky rice has little more than 1% amylose and a very high level of amylopectin. Thus, it implies that the grains become particularly sticky after cooking. 

It’s also a little sweeter than regular rice, making it the ideal foil basis for sweets, especially in Asia, where the grain is grown.

Sticky rice is flexible in that you may use it in gourmet meals such as a filling for roast ducks and sweets such as mangoes and sticky rice, Chinese dumpling, and Japanese rice.

What is the difference between sushi rice and sticky rice?

Sushi rice and sticky rice differ in several aspects, despite sharing similarities. Let’s take a look at each of these differences to understand both better.

Sushi rice vs. sticky rice taste and flavor

Sushi rice and sticky rice differ in texture, but they don’t differ much in taste and flavor. Thus, while you won’t find a change in taste when you use both, you can see the texture affects your food’s output.

In general, well-balanced sushi rice is sweet, sour, and salty, taking away the other ingredients’ flavors. 

On the other hand, sweet rice is also the same, although it gives a high amount of starch. Thus, it makes a great deal in preparing sweets or desserts.

Sushi rice vs. sticky rice uses

Both sushi rice and sticky rice differ in their uses. Unquestionably, the distinction between sushi rice and sticky rice stems from their culinary use. Sushi rice is often used in making Asian dishes, particularly sushi, gimbap, and even other delicacies. 

On the other hand, sticky rice is often handy when you need rice grain for dessert. While you can interchange their use, you’ll find both at their best in their own designated recipes.

Sushi rice vs. sticky rice calories and nutrition

Sushi rice offers a higher calorie count than sticky rice. In general, a hundred grams of sushi rice provides 130 calories, while sticky rice only provides 97 calories for the same amount of serving. Also, sticky rice gives more vitamins and minerals, making it a better option when talking about nutrition.

Is sticky rice healthier than sushi rice?

In a way, sticky rice is healthier than sushi rice. Sticky rice is high in antioxidants and high in vitamins and minerals. It’s also a better option for people who don’t take gluten well.

Aside from the apparent flavor variations, sticky rice is a healthier option than gluten-containing grains since it does not contain gluten. Meanwhile, sushi rice, like sweet rice, is gluten-free. However, the substances that are put to it do.

As a result, people who have an immunological sensitivity to gluten cannot consume it as freely. Otherwise, it will cause irritation and damage to the linings of the small intestine.

Can I substitute sushi rice for sticky rice?

Yes, you can substitute sushi rice for sticky rice. However, you’ll still enjoy your dish best with sticky rice if the recipe calls for it. In addition, both sushi rice and sticky rice share similar textures when cooked. Thus, depending on the recipe, you can get away with using sushi rice instead of sticky rice.

Can I substitute sticky rice for sushi rice?

Yes, you can substitute sticky rice for sushi rice. However, if the recipe calls for it, you’ll appreciate your dish much more with sticky rice. Also, when cooked, sushi rice and sticky rice have comparable textures. As a result, depending on the recipe, you can substitute sticky rice for sushi rice.

Is sticky rice OK for sushi?

Yes, sticky rice is OK for sushi. Although they differ in cooking purposes, you can use sticky rice when preparing sushi.

Sushi rice is Japanese short-grain rice that turns sticky when correctly cooked and is used for sushi and sashimi rolls. Sticky rice is a spherical grain from Thailand that gets incredibly sticky and is frequently used in sweets.

Due to the similar texture, you can use both types of rice interchangeably, although you can notice a subtle difference in texture and taste now and then.

How to make sticky rice with sushi rice?

If you want to make sticky rice with sushi rice, you can use your guide and instructions in the following steps.

Wash your rice.

Place the rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear and is no longer muddy, then drain off any excess water.

Cook your rice.

Cook the rice in water (along with a sheet of kombu if desired) until soft. I’ve provided directions for cooking the rice in a rice cooker, pressure cooker, or on the stovetop below.

Prepare your sushi vinegar.

While the rice is cooking, boil the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. You may do it in the microwave or a small pot over the stove.

Season your rice.

Take the rice to a mixing bowl and equally sprinkle it with the sushi vinegar. Then, using the spatula, carefully fold the rice — slicing into it at a 45-degree angle, raising and folding the rice on top of itself — until the vinegar is well mixed in and some of the early steam has gone.

Let it cool.

Seal the mixing bowl with a moist cloth, pressing it against the surface of the rice to keep it from drying out. Allow the rice to rest on the countertop (or in the refrigerator) until it is approximately room temperature.

Serve and enjoy.

Serve and enjoy the rice right away in a dish, or store it in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


In a nutshell, Sushi rice and sticky rice have several differences, but you can use them interchangeably. The look and texture of sushi rice and sticky rice differ.

Although both are sticky, short-grain rice, sticky rice has a chalky, opaque appearance. Sushi rice, on the other hand, usually has a distinct one. Sticky rice is frequently served as dessert, but sushi rice is frequently used in entrees.



Image credits – Canva

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