Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)

Biko is my all-time favorite Filipino dessert or merienda (snack) item. It uses only 4 ingredients—which, in a pinch, can even be cut down to 3—and is so simple to make and requires no special tools or pans, which makes it an easy endeavor for someone who doesn’t yet have a properly-equipped kitchen.

Last week, I wanted to make something sweet for my son Tim. His favorite: cookies. Then I looked at my favorite recipe and realized that I needed to get every single item in the ingredient list. Chocolate chips. Vanilla. Flour. Butter. Sugar. Eggs. Nuts. A whisk. A mixing bowl. Cookie sheets. Maybe a cookie scoop too, since there is this strange pain in the fingers of my right hand that could use the help.

It overwhelmed me. I wasn’t even sure I’d have enough cupboard space to keep all these ingredients. So I just bought a tub of cookie dough. In an attempt to make it kinda special, I pressed pieces of Toblerone chocolate in the cookies. (Yes, I have no butter or sugar, but I have Toblerone chocolate.)

Tim enjoyed them, but Tom is not a big fan of cookies. However, both of them love biko. And I only needed to buy 4 things: sweet rice, brown sugar, coconut milk, and coconut cream. I could have even skipped the coconut cream and used the thick cream that rises to the top in a good can of coconut milk (don’t shake it!).

The Ivory Hut: Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)

Biko is like a soft, warm, sticky rice cake. It uses sweet rice or sticky rice. It is sometimes called glutinous rice because it gets gluey when cooked but it contains no gluten. It’s a different kind of grain and often, attempts to substitute other kinds of rice for sweet or sticky rice just don’t yield the same results.

I have fond memories of biko. When I was young, I used to call my mom at her office everyday at 2:20pm (I got home from school at 2:10pm) to remind her to bring me some biko. Every single day for three months, she would get her biko call. Then I’d get tired of it and ask for something else for a week or two, after which I’d start making the biko calls all over again for another three months. Biko memories always make me smile, so yesterday, after taking one bite of still-warm biko, it instantly cheered me up and helped me get past a recent bout of the blues.

I cooked yesterday’s biko in a regular pot, then baked it in another pot. These photos don’t show that because these were taken before we lost our kitchen. I’m so glad I sent these to a food blogger friend last month (she’s a biko fanatic) because that meant I still had these photos in my Gmail sent folder to share with you now.

The Ivory Hut: Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)


Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)
Makes one 9×13 pan

You need to use sweet rice or sticky rice (sometimes called glutinous rice) for this recipe. Coconut cream is found in most Asian and ethnic stores but if you can’t find it, just use the the thick cream from the top layer of a good quality can of coconut milk. Don’t worry if you end up with less coconut milk to use with the rice—simply add enough water to reach the desired amount of cooking liquid.

This recipe can easily be halved. If you like crunchy rice edges, cook the biko in muffin pans or brownie bar pans. Be careful when you pull it out of the oven; the caramelized brown sugar is very hot and can burn you if you try to taste it immediately.


4 cups sweet rice, soaked overnight in 8 cups water
3 cans (14 oz. can) coconut milk
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup coconut cream

Soak rice overnight. The next day, drain and set aside.

Pour coconut milk and about a cup of water into a pot and let it come to a simmer over medium heat. When simmering, add soaked rice and stir constantly to prevent burning. Lower the heat if necessary. Preheat oven to 350F.

When rice is fully cooked, sticky and almost dry (it will look like sticky risotto), about 10-15 minutes, add 1 cup brown sugar. (Note: If rice is already sticky but not yet fully cooked, add small amounts of water, stir and continue cooking. Rice must be fully cooked before it goes into the oven.) Stir well and take off heat. Pour into a lightly buttered 9×13 pan and smooth the top. Mix the remaining 1 cup brown sugar and coconut cream until smooth and pour it over the rice.

Bake for about 1 hour or up to 1 1/2 hours, until topping is dark brown and has thickened. Cool slightly before serving.

Rice cooker method:

For an alternate (easier) method, you will need 4 cups rice (soaked overnight and drained), 2 cups coconut cream, and 2 cups brown sugar. Prepare rice in a rice cooker on the “sweet rice” setting, using as much water as needed for 4 cups rice. When done, mix in 1 cup sugar and 1 cup coconut cream. Pour into greased 9×13 pan and smooth the top. Mix remaining 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup coconut cream until smooth, and pour over rice. Bake at 350ºF for about 1 hour or up to 1 1/2 hours, until topping is dark brown and has thickened.

The Ivory Hut: Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go call my mom. I think it’s time I repaid her for all those years of answering my biko calls.


76 thoughts on “Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)”

  1. What do you mean Mix remaing brown sugar coconut cream for toppings? Do i need to mix under room temp or under heat? Does the sugar need to melt before topping it on the rice mixture?
    I like to make some tomorrow. Many thanks

    1. Hi Haydee! You simply mix the remaining brown sugar and coconut cream at room temperature. No need to heat it up; it will cook in the oven. Let me know how it turns out for you!

  2. I tried Biko for the first time yesterday. It was incredibly delicious and I am jonesing for some more. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. I love biko and haven’t had one in years! I think I will try your recipe out sometime this week. I will let you know if I get it right.=) This will be the first time I make my own biko!

  4. Hi,I also love Bico and will soon try making it.It’s ironic that I should get this recipe from someone in the USA,but hey I am happy that I did.Nice picture of this Bico by the way.
    It looks yummy!

  5. I’ve been telling my husband and daughter about biko ever since you described it to me at BSP. I can not wait to make this. Just looking at the pictures, I am drooling!


  6. This recipe brought many memories of many Filipino meals I have eaten,and prepared.Having spent time in the PI, and working alongside Filipino coworkers for years here in the states made the preparation a labor of love.

  7. Good morning! I found your recipe on Pinterest. I loved this stuff growing up in Hawaii, but I never learned to make it. Your recipe looks quite easy to do. Question: what is the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream? I know I’ve seen coconut milk in a can at the store, but I can’t say that I’ve seen coconut cream. Thank you so much for any help you can give me.

  8. what kind of rice is sweet rice and where can I get it ,I live close to the coast in so. cal. near san diego and want to try this at home… zip 92028. thank you

  9. My favorite dish of sweetness from the Philippines!
    My grandma and lolo would always make this recipe, but the version from Baybay, Leyte, P.I. basically all the same except they would cut up big chunks of Ginger Root! Yes Ginger root. You boil along with rice and when your about done take tongs to pull ginger out.
    That’s the original way I was brought up. Divine sweetness from the heart!

  10. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I used to work night shift at a factory when I was at uni and the lovely filipino ladies that I worked with would bring Biko in from time to time. I loved it but never wrote down the instructions I was given for making it. Thanks again!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe. I have fond memories of this brown rice bibinka. My mom made different rice desserts , also yummy, but I often thought of this version that my aunties made at parties and special times. I made it first a few months ago for a Global bake sale at my daughter’s school and it really warmed my heart to be able to share my Filipino traditions with others. It turned out to be a nice gluten free dessert for many! Now, I am able to make it for my older parents who really appreciate it because it also reminds them of their childhood. I love how food does that! Don’t you?

    Your amazing photos are so inspirational as well. Thank you again for all of your wonderful shares!

    1. Hi Sharon! Sadly, you really need sticky rice for this recipe. Sticky rice is sometimes called “sweet rice” or “glutinous rice” (though it certainly contains no gluten). It’s what makes the grains stick together.

      1. Hmm, I though because sushi rice sticks together it would work. I guess I would really need to buy sweet rice or glutinous rice

  12. My mother-in-law from Nueva Ecija makes the best biko. I like it because it is not too sweet. She adds tiny bits of lemon zest or calamansi in the absence of it. I’m expecting it this Holy Week. But this one looks even more inviting, and I like its presentation. Great photos too.

  13. I made this recipe recently for my family and everyone loved it! Wonderful and easy recipe for a novice baker such as myself. Give this recipe a try!!

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