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How To Make Toasted Rice Powder (Thai Khao Khua)

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Learn how to make toasted rice powder, or Thai khao khua, using traditional methods. In this recipe, we’ll make pan roasted sticky rice and crush it into a fine grind to use as an ingredient in Thai food.

Toasted rice powder in a black spoon.

With a mortar and pestle, this recipe will take just under 30 minutes, but with a food processor you’ll be ready in a matter of minutes.

Just like roasted peanuts, Thai chili flakes, and crispy fried garlic, khao khua is a common ingredient in Thai kitchens. Let’s found out more about it before we learn how to make it.

What is toasted rice powder

Toasted rice powder is finely ground roasted glutinous rice that adds a nutty flavor and unique crunch to dishes. It’s essential in many Thai salads like pork larb and nam tok moo.


In Thailand, we call it khao khua. The word khao means rice and khua refers to toasting in a pan. Thai sticky rice, also known as glutinous rice and khao niao, is essential for this roasted rice powder recipe.

Northeastern Thailand

In Isan cuisine from the Northeastern region of Thailand, and across the border into Laos, Thai toasted rice powder is a staple ingredient. As a person born in this rural region, I can confirm we use it on a daily basis to cook authentic Thai dishes like nam tok beef and larb gai.

Thai toasted rice powder in a wooden mortar with pestle.

Making it is really simple, we start with dry roasting sticky rice grains in a pan. Pay attention, prevent it from burning, and wait for the rice to reach the perfect toastiness. Nutty and toasty aromas will fill the air as you move the rice around the pan.

Then, it’s time to create your toasted rice powder. Use a mortar and pestle, or a food processor for convenience.

With each strike of the pestle, the sticky rice transforms into a fine grind.

Thai woman seated on a bamboo table, working with a granite mortar and pestle.

Worried it’ll take forever? You can also use your food processor, and you’ll have it done quick. But remember, you have to aim for a coarse grind, not a fine powder.

How to use khao khua

This kitchen essential is a game-changer in the world of Thai cuisine, especially when making Thai salads and nam jim jaew.

Nam jim jaew dipping sauce with grilled meats and fresh vegetables.
Nam jim jaew, a staple Thai dipping sauce made with khao khua.

It brings rich nutty and toasty flavors, and adds a yummy crunch and extra texture. It’s a must-have in your kitchen pantry if you love to cook authentic Thai recipes.

You can use it in a wide array of dishes, such as mok pla (Thai fish curry), grilled meats, nam ya (Southern Thai curry), larb moo, moo ping, and more.

Kitchenware for Thai toasted rice powder

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


  • Mortar and pestle or food processor
  • Glutinous rice
  • Pot or a pan

Cooking instructions

First, think about how much you’ll use – if you use it a lot, make a big batch. If not, just make enough for about 5 meals, which is 1–2 tablespoons for each dish. It’s great to have it on hand whenever you need it!

Glutinous rice toasted in a pan.

Step 1: Heat a pan or pot on low heat. Toss in raw sticky rice and dry roast it, making sure to stir constantly so it doesn’t burn. In about 5–10 minutes, you’ll notice a popcorn-like smell, and the rice will change to a golden brown color when it’s done.

Step 2: Let the rice cool off a bit after roasting.

Step 3: Then, use a mortar and pestle to crush the toasted rice until it’s free of grains. You’re aiming for a slightly rough powder, not too fine, to keep a crunch. If you’re in a hurry, a blender or food processor works too. Just give it a few pulses until you get the texture you want.

Thai toasted rice powder tips

  • Aim for a consistency that’s free of grains, but not too fine.
  • No oil needed – dry roasting unlocks all the nutty flavors
  • Use low heat and keep stirring to stop it from burning.
  • Avoid toasting it too much, as this can burn the rice
  • Always choose Thai glutinous rice

How to store

Put your toasted rice powder in a clean, dry container that closes tight. Store it somewhere cool and dark, like a pantry shelf. Don’t put it in the fridge or in sunlight. Try to use it within 4 to 6 months for the best taste.

Fun fact

In Isan, Thai sticky rice is an everyday staple. Many people, especially older ones, eat it every day instead of jasmine rice. My grandmother always says how it gives her lots of energy, for working in the rice fields or in her garden.

My grandfather has made cooking sticky rice his daily ritual. Every night, he’s up early while it’s still dark, getting the rice ready for the day to come.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use regular rice to make toasted rice powder?

No, the authentic flavor of toasted rice powder is nutty with a crunchy texture. With regular rice, you won’t achieve the same desired results.

Is toasted rice powder gluten-free?

Yes, sticky rice is naturally gluten-free.

Where to buy toasted rice powder?

You can buy toasted rice powder at Asian markets, Asian grocery stores, specialty food stores, or online.

Is there a substitute for toasted rice powder?

Toasted rice powder is special for its nutty taste and crunch. There’s really no good substitute because nothing else matches its unique flavor.

Essential Thai ingredients

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How To Make Toasted Rice Powder (Thai khao khua)

Toasted rice powder in a black spoon.
Discover the authentic Thai method of making toasted rice powder with this easy recipe.
Praew
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Ingredients
Serving Size 5

Ingredients

  • 3.5 ounces glutinous rice

Instructions

  • Heat a pan or pot on low heat. Toss in raw sticky rice and dry roast it, making sure to stir constantly so it doesn’t burn. In about 5–10 minutes, you’ll notice a popcorn-like smell, and the rice will change to a golden brown color when it’s done.
  • Let the rice cool off a bit after roasting.
  • Then, use a mortar and pestle to crush the toasted rice until it’s free of grains. You’re aiming for a slightly rough powder, not too fine, to keep a crunch. If you’re in a hurry, a blender or food processor works too. Just give it a few pulses until you get the texture you want.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Store it in an airtight container in a cool and dry place.
  • This recipe yields extras you can store for later.

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