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Khao Lam Recipe (Sticky Rice In Bamboo)

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Khao lam recipe brings the irresistible flavors of sticky rice in bamboo right to your kitchen, and no bamboo tube is needed! White or black rice is cooked in a coconut shell along with black beans, coconut milk, and palm sugar for a nutty mix of sweetness.

Khao lam, Thai sticky rice in bamboo dessert, with black beans topped with young coconut meat presented in a coconut shell.

It’s the best sweet sticky rice dessert that’s simply irresistible.

Also try some of my popular Thai desserts with glutinous rice flour: the creamy bua loy dessert and the must-try khanom tom recipe!

What is khao lam

Khao lam, or sticky rice in bamboo sticks, is a traditional Southeast Asian dessert. Sweet sticky rice, white or black, is cooked in bamboo tubes along with coconut milk, black beans, and more.

In Thai, ‘khao’ translates to rice, and ‘lam’ signifies the method of cooking in bamboo tubes. In Cambodia, it’s referred to as ‘kralan’ and ‘com lam’ in Vietnam.

Khao lam in English literally means ‘rice cooked inside bamboo stems’.

Sticky rice in bamboo (ข้าวหลาม)

Sticky rice, or glutinous rice, is a staple in Northern and Northeastern Thailand, Isan. But sticky rice desserts are popular all over Thailand!

Traditional Thai khao lam, sticky rice with coconut and black beans, served in a coconut shell for a Thai dessert.

From Bangkok to the North and South, you’ll find lots of delicious sticky rice desserts. This authentic Thai mango sticky rice recipe and sticky rice in bamboo tubes are my personal favorites.

In Nakhon Pathom, not far from Bangkok, it’s all about khao lam. You’ll find bamboo tubes lined up at street food markets, each packed with sweet sticky rice.

The fillings are easy to customize – taro, sesame, beans, and custard-like sangkaya, and maybe even durian if that’s what you like.

A spoonful of khao lam, sticky rice in bamboo mingled with coconut milk and black beans, topped with young coconut meat.

The top part is custardy and sweet, and the bottom part is chewy and sticky to perfection. So hard to resist!

I’m so glad I learned how to make khao lam without a bamboo tube, as coconut shells are more readily available for you.

And whether you’re a fan of white sticky rice or black sticky rice ‘khao neow dam’ this black khao lam recipe can be made with both.

Ready to make your own sticky rice? Check out my easy guides! How to make Thai sticky rice and Thai purple sticky rice for that black variant.

Why try this recipe

  • No bamboo tube? No problem! I’ve perfected this dessert using coconut shells, and believe me, you can too.
  • Customize to your taste: Mix in your preferred fillings, from sweet young coconut to taro and red beans.
  • Simpler than you think: This recipe is straightforward and ideal for preparing ahead of time or as a unique party dessert.
  • No need for a grill: No more hunting for bamboo tubes and firing up the grill; this recipe for khao lam maprao is way easier! All you need are coconut shells and your oven.

This dish is a staple in Northern Thai cuisine and Isan cuisine. For more Northern food staples, try this easy chicken khao soi and nam prik ong.

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

Top-view of ingredients for khao lam: glutinous rice, coconut milk, young coconut meat, palm sugar, black beans, salt, and white sugar.
  • Young coconuts – Instead of using the traditional bamboo tubes, we will make khao lam in coconut shells. You should be able to find young coconuts at an Asian grocery store or at Asian markets.
  • Young coconut meat – Scraped from the young coconuts, the meat adds a subtle sweetness and texture to the dessert.
  • Black glutinous rice – Adds a slightly nutty note, as well as a color contrast to the white rice. You can make this khao lam recipe with white glutinous rice only if you prefer.
  • Glutinous rice
  • White sugar
  • Palm sugar – Both sugars add a distinct type of sweetness, palm sugar adds a caramel undertone.
  • Salt – Used as seasoning and as a flavor enhancer, bringing out the best in the overall flavors.
  • Black beans – Feel free to use your favorite filling ingredients.
  • Coconut milk – Always buy full-fat coconut milk for curries and Thai desserts.
  • Pandan leaves – Adds fragrance and a unique aroma to the coconut milk.

How to make khao lam without bamboo tube

Steam sticky rice and black beans

Top view of black sticky rice in a bamboo basket and soaked black beans on a cloth, preparation for khao lam recipe.

1. Steam glutinous rice: One night in advance, soak black and white glutinous rice in a bowl of water. The next day, steam for approx 20 minutes.

2. Boil black beans: One night in advance, soak black beans in a bowl of water. The next day, cook in a pot or steam until soft.

Scrape young coconut meat

Hand scraping fresh young coconut meat from the shell with a wooden tool.

Open your young coconuts and scrape the meat from it using a coconut scraper to extract long, thin strips.

Assemble khao lam

Step-by-step Khao Lam preparation: mixing coconut milk and pandan, black rice, combining ingredients, filling with mixture.

1. Coconut milk mixture: In a large bowl, mix together coconut milk, palm sugar, salt, and pandan leaves until the sugar completely dissolves.

2. Prepare sticky rice: Directly transfer the freshly steamed hot sticky rice into a large mixing bowl.

3. Mixing Ingredients: Add about two-thirds of the coconut milk mixture to the hot sticky rice, reserving approximately 6.75 fl oz (200ml) for later use. Add the pre-cooked black beans and freshly scraped young coconut meat to the bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap.

4. Leave to soak: Allow the sticky rice to soak up the coconut milk mixture for about 20 minutes.

5. Filling coconuts: Spoon the sticky rice mixture into the hollowed-out coconut shells, leaving space to add the remaining coconut milk later, and ensure there is a small gap at the top.

6. Cook: Preheat your oven to 356°F (180°C). Meanwhile, divide the remaining coconut milk in a thin layer over the coconut shells, ensuring there is still a small gap at the top. When ready, place the coconuts with the rice mixture on a baking tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Then, increase the heat to 392°F (200°C) and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until the top sets and is not too custard-like. Serve your sticky rice dessert hot.

Kitchen tools

  • Thai sticky rice kit or regular steaming pot
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Coconut opener tool set
  • Mixing bowl
  • Oven

How to serve

Serve in the coconut shells. If preferred, you can remove the khao lam from the coconuts and place it on a serving dish.

Garnish with sesame seeds and young coconut flesh.

How to store and reheat

Keep any leftovers in the coconut shells, wrap them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Reheating instructions: Reheat in an oven until warmed through.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know when the khao lam is cooked?

Khao lam is done when the rice has absorbed all the coconut milk and feels firm to the touch.

Can I make khao lam without bamboo tubes?

Yes, khao lam can be made in hollowed out coconut shells.

Is khao lam gluten-free?

Yes, khao lam is a vegan and gluten-free dessert made with coconut milk.

More Thai dessert recipes you’ll love

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5 from 2 votes

Khao Lam Recipe (Sticky Rice In Bamboo)

Prep Time 30 min Cook Time 40 min Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Servings: 4 Calories: 684

Description

This khao lam recipe - sticky rice in bamboo, is perfectly sweet and chewy. It's an absolute crowd-pleaser that can be served at any party.

Ingredients

Instructions

Steam sticky rice and black beans

  1. One night in advance, soak black and white glutinous rice in a bowl of water. The next day, steam for approx 20 minutes.

  2. One night in advance, soak black beans in a bowl of water. The next day, cook in a pot or steam until soft.

Scrape young coconut meat

  1. Open your young coconuts and scrape the meat from it using a coconut scraper to extract long, thin strips.

Assemble khao lam

  1. In a large bowl, mix together coconut milk, palm sugar, salt, and pandan leaves until the sugar completely dissolves.

  2. Directly transfer the freshly steamed hot sticky rice into a large mixing bowl.

  3. Add about two-thirds of the coconut milk mixture to the hot sticky rice, reserving approximately 6.75 fl oz (200ml) for later use. Add the pre-cooked black beans and freshly scraped young coconut meat to the bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap.

  4. Allow the sticky rice to soak up the coconut milk mixture for about 20 minutes.

  5. Spoon the sticky rice mixture into the hollowed-out coconut shells, leaving space to add the remaining coconut milk later, and ensure there is a small gap at the top.

  6. Preheat your oven to 356°F (180°C). Meanwhile, divide the remaining coconut milk in a thin layer over the coconut shells, ensuring there is still a small gap at the top. When ready, place the coconuts with the rice mixture on a baking tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Then, increase the heat to 392°F (200°C) and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until the top sets and is not too custard-like. Serve your sticky rice dessert hot.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 6


Amount Per Serving
Calories 684kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14.3g22%
Saturated Fat 11.6g58%
Total Carbohydrate 126g42%
Dietary Fiber 7.1g29%
Sugars 53g
Protein 12.87g26%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • This recipe uses coconut shells instead of the traditional bamboo sticks. Young coconuts are readily available at an Asian grocery store.
Keywords: khao lam, khao lam recipe, sticky rice in bamboo
About Author

Praew

I owned my own Thai restaurant and have years of experience in various other Thai restaurants. I've been whipping up classic Thai dishes by my mother's and grandma's side since I was just a little girl. Now I'm sharing my deep-rooted passion with my authentic Thai recipes on this food blog.

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