Turning rice into Toasted Rice Powder can revolutionize your home cooked meals. Learn how to make khao khua AKA Thai toasted rice powder using one ingredient: rice! It’s the perfect condiment to enhance the taste and texture of almost anything!
Toasted Rice Powder is a common ingredient found in Northern Thai and Lao kitchens. This deeply aromatic granulated powder magically intensifies the flavor and improves the texture of Chicken Larb Gai (laab), Thai Beef Salad and many other Thai salads and Southeast Asian dishes.
I’ll show you how to make ground toasted rice at home instead of buying it at the store. The process is simple and all you need is rice, an oven, and something to grind the toasted rice into powder. You can make as much or as little as you need instead of buying a bag that takes up space in the pantry. How convenient!
What is toasted rice powder?
Rice powder is made by toasting sticky rice and grinding it into a mealy powder. Toasting it beforehand brings out the naturally rich, nutty aroma and deep flavors.
When toasted rice powder is added to food, what it does next is nothing short of magical:
- Adds a nutty, roasted flavor to whatever it’s used in.
- Improves texture and adds a delightful crunch to dishes.
- Thickens gravies, sauces, soups, etc.
- Acts as a binder (like breadcrumbs).
Ingredients you’ll need
All you need is the rice that’s probably already in your pantry! Toasted rice powder is traditionally made with Thai sticky rice AKA “sweet rice” or “glutinous rice”. Your local Asian market will most likely have it or you can find it online.
Jasmine rice also works in a pinch. I don’t recommend using short-grain sticky rice, like sushi or arborio rice.
How to make toasted rice powder
The first step is toasting the rice. Place your rice in a small frying pan and cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat. When the rice is golden and smells similar to popcorn, take it off the heat and let the grains cool.
Now it’s time to grind the rice. Using your preferred equipment (see below), grind the toasted rice into a coarse powder. The consistency should be mealy rather than a fine flour.
How to grind toasted rice
There are a few modern and traditional options when it comes to choosing the equipment to grind the rice:
- Mortar and pestle – This is the traditional and most efficient way to grind rice into a powder. The pestle gently crushes the toasted grains while coaxing out the rich, nutty flavors.
- Spice or coffee grinder – This is my tool of choice. Be sure to grind a small burner batch of rice first, discard, then wipe the coffee grinder clean to remove any stray coffee grounds (this is also a great way to clean your coffee grinder!). Grind up the rice you want to eat afterward, then enjoy!
- Food processor or high-speed blender – Carefully pulse the rice in small batches to achieve that breadcrumb-like texture. You don’t want to overwhelm the blade and pulverize the grains until coarsely ground.
Tips and tricks
- Make small batches – The powder is better fresh, as the aromas weaken after about a week. Only make what you need!
- Stir consistently – Gently stir the rice every 10 seconds while toasting. The grains could burn or toast unevenly if you walk away from the stove.
- Be patient – Achieving perfectly toasted rice can take about 15 minutes. Keep cooking until the rice is golden and has a roasted popcorn-like aroma.
After 1 to 2 weeks, the powder will lose its fresh, aromatic flavor. Store it in a secure sterilized jar in a cool, dry place to maximize its shelf-life.
Yes and no. While they’re both made from rice, rice powder is ground into a coarse meal and rice flour is blended into a smooth, fine powder. In most cases, the two CANNOT be used interchangeably in recipes.
This depends on the recipe you’re using it in, but toasted rice powder is best added AFTER the food is done cooking. Hot food will cook the powder, making it lose its satisfying gritty, mealy texture.
1 to 2 teaspoons should be plenty. Make sure to add it when the sauce has cooled a bit, otherwise, the rice powder will cook and lose its crispiness.
How to use toasted rice powder:
It works wonders in so many places! Incorporate toasted rice powder into any of these dishes and more:
- Larb – Toasted rice powder is necessary in a traditional larb recipe (Thai minced meat salad). It adds a distinct nutty, toasty crunch that cannot be replicated. Try using it in larb gai lettuce wraps.
- Soups and stews – Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of rice powder to soups and stews to thicken the broth and add dynamic flavor.
- Crunchy soup and salad topping – You can also use glutinous rice powder as a crispy garnish. Sprinkle it on top of Thai noodle soup or this Thai Beef Salad for crunch!
- Sauces and stir frys – Add about 1 teaspoon while simmering stir fry sauces for flavor and crunch. It’s also great mixed with the dressing in my Thai shrimp salad and Thai chicken salad.
- Breadcrumb replacement – Use roasted rice powder instead of breadcrumbs in burgers, meatballs, meatloaf, etc. It’s the perfect breadcrumb substitution in curry meatballs.
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More rice recipes:
- Instant Pot Fried Rice
- Rice Cooker Rice
- Instant Pot Red Beans & Rice
- Bacon Fried Rice
- Rice Cooker Sushi Rice
More homemade condiments and seasonings:
Toasted Rice Powder
- 2 Tablespoons uncooked rice
- Put rice in a small skillet pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are toasted and golden, about 10 minutes.
- Let cool for a few minutes and then grind into a coarse powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.