Ingredient Intelligence

What Is the Difference Between Rice Flour and Sweet Rice Flour?

updated Aug 19, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Rice flour is a wonderful ingredient to have on hand, whether you’re using it for gluten-free baking, thickening soups or gravies, or trying your hand at projects like Dutch crunch bread or rice dumplings. You’ll notice that most recipes call for either rice flour or sweet rice flour. Do you keep one or the other on hand, and have you ever wondered if you can use the two interchangeably? The short answer is no!

Rice flour and sweet rice flour are quite unique in their traits and you’ll need either for various kitchen tasks. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between rice flour and sweet rice flour.

What’s the Difference Between Rice Flour and Sweet Rice Flour?

Rice flour is ground from long- or medium-grain rice — the same kind of rice that most of us probably have in our pantries. It has some thickening properties, but is better used in gluten-free flour mixes for baked goods. White or brown, all rice flours share similar texture and uses.

Sweet rice flour is ground from short-grain glutinous rice, aka “sticky rice.” Don’t worry, though — the fact that it’s called glutinous rice does not mean that it contains gluten. Rather, this rice has a much higher starch content than other kinds of rice, making it an extremely efficient thickening agent for sauces or binder for things like mochi and noodles.

And don’t let the fact that it’s called “sweet” rice throw you off, either. Its flavor is mild and almost milky, not at all sugary sweet. Look for this flour labeled as mochiko in Asian groceries.