In fact, all rice in its natural form is gluten-free. That goes the same with glutinous rice and also glutinous rice flour. That actually answers the question, “Is glutinous rice and glutinous rice flour gluten-free?”
This also includes wild rice, rice flour, and white rice. Glutinous rice, which is also referred to as Asian or sticky rice, is gluten-free regardless of its name.
That being said, the “glutinous” term refers to the sticky nature of the rice and not the gluten protein present in barley, rye, and wheat.
Rice is definitely one of the most well-known gluten-free grains for those suffering from celiac disease.
A lot of gluten-free packaged goods are manufactured using rice flour rather than wheat flour.
What Is Glutinous Rice Flour?
Glutinous rice flour is milled flour manufactured by grinding cooked and dehydrated kernels of long- or short-grain glutinous rice (Oryza sativa glutinosa).
Glutinous rice is also commonly referred to as sweet rice or sticky rice, which means any type of rice with a high content of amylopectin starch and a low content of amylose starch.
Some of the common glutinous rice flours include Mochiko and shiratamako, which are made from cooked mochigome that you can normally find in most Asian grocery stores.
You can find a lot of examples of glutinous rice cultivars across Asian cuisines, such as Filipino malagkit, Korean chapssal, and Japanese mochigome.
Regardless of its name, glutinous rice flour is gluten-free. The chewy, sticky texture it brings to confectioneries such as mocha, dango dumplings, Filipino palitaw (sweet rice cakes), and boba pearls is characteristic of Oryza sativa var. glutinosa, which recreates the snappy stretch of gluten.
What Is Rice Flour?
Rice flour is milled flour that is manufactured by grinding the inner kernels of white and brown long-grain rice.
Also keep in mind that rice flour is gluten-free and gives a little bit of stretchy, chewy texture to several dishes.
Like glutinous rice flour, it is also a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine. There are two main types of rice flour: brown and white.
I will recommend white rice flour for light batters such as snappy noodles or tempura, as it is perfect for them and is a staple in gluten-free baking.
On the other hand, brown rice works well as a thickener for soups and stews and as a gluten-free substitute for baked goods when combined with lighter flours, as this helps offset its density.
What Are The Differences Between Glutinous Rice Flour?
There are obvious differences between the two kinds of rice flour, even though their applications sometimes overlap.
They originate from different rice cultivars. Glutinous rice flour originates from both short- and long-grain glutinous “sweet rice” or “sticky rice” varieties, whereas rice flour is gotten from Japonica long-grain rice.
Glutinous rice has more chew. And, while both flours might be used as thickeners, compared to glutinous rice flour, rice flour has less chew when cooked; thanks to this, glutinous rice flour is more often used for desserts.
Does Glutinous Rice Contain Gluten?
Well, you should know that the short and straightforward answer to the above question is no.
As you know, glutinous rice is gluten-free. Even though the name might be misleading, it just originates from the fact that glutinous rice gets glue-like and sticky when cooked.
That being said, you might ask, Why is this rice so sticky? Well, that comes down to the starch content in the rice.
The starch in rice actually has two components, which include amylopectin and amylose.
Keep in mind that medium- and long-grain rice comes with a higher content of amylose, and on the other hand, the starch in short-grain glutinous rice is more or less all amylopectin, which absolutely contributes to its moist and stickier texture.
Cooking Glutinous Rice
Glutinous rice requires the least amount of water to cook in comparison with longer-grained rice.
Most times, it is soaked and then steamed rather than boiled, thanks to the fact that it breaks down easily.
Even though it does not taste sweet, it is also commonly referred to as sweet rice, due to the fact that it is mostly used to make sweet dishes in Asia.
So, you can gladly cook and eat glutinous rice with abandon if you are among the people who avoid gluten. You can just drench it in coconut milk or make it into a rice pudding.
What Is Glutinous Rice Flour Used For?
As previously stated, glutinous rice flour is often used in Asian cuisine, especially in desserts.
It is used to make boba pearls and mocha, thanks to its chewy texture. It is also used more like starch in the case of baking.
This is so, given the fact that it permits baked foods to retain moisture.
Some of the popular recipes that use glutinous rice flour include mocha donuts, sesame balls, and ginataan bilo-bilo (sweet potato, coconut dessert, and rice balls).
Sweet rice flour is also used to make delicious dishes like dumplings and chewy noodles.
In addition, it can be used to prepare batter for deep frying; however, you have to ensure that you use sweet rice flour made from long-grain rice due to the fact that it creates a crispier surface when deep-fried.
That being said, just like rice flour, it can be used as a thickening ingredient in sauces.
Substitutes for Glutinous Rice Flour
Well, I very much consider rice flour to be the best glutinous rice flour substitute.
And again, most rice flour alternatives like cornstarch, potato starch, and tapioca starch will also serve as sweet rice flour alternatives.
Below are other options for substitutes you can use for glutinous rice flour:
This flour can be used as a direct alternative to sweet rice flour, although I strongly suggest you use it for baking.
Almond flour can be used as an alternative, but it is highly recommended that you use it when baking due to its unique flavor.
In the case of substituting glutinous rice flour, just use 1 ½ cups of almond flour rather than glutinous rice flour.
My Final Thoughts
It is a fact that glutinous rice and glutinous rice flour have always been a hidden main ingredient in Asian households.
Traditionally, chefs use it to make several different types of Asian desserts and treats.
In South Asian pantries, I will say that white and sweet rice flours are both popular staple ingredients.
So, this staple ingredient is the most valuable secret weapon in your arsenal in your kitchen, particularly if you are trying to stay on the path of being gluten-free.
Now, that being said, this concludes this guide on the question, “Is glutinous rice and glutinous rice flour gluten-free?”