Real Life Paleo

Mango Sticky (not) Rice

After Stacy and I had been together a couple years, my empty nest mom decided to take up the hobby of Thai cooking by taking lessons at a local restaurant. Once we were aware of this, it became a tradition among my brothers and myself to request a huge Thai meal for our birthdays. She would make pad Thai and drunken noodles and soups and spring rolls and fried rice. A huge spread would be presented to us and we would devour it. At the end of the meal, instead of lame birthday cake, mom would make Mango Sticky Rice.

There’s something about this pairing that really appeals as a summer treat. Ripe mangoes are deliciously sweet and juicy and the glutinous (not glutenous) rice cooked in sweetened coconut makes an almost pudding texture that is simply amazing.


Mango Sticky not Rice by PaleoParents

For over two years now I have been attempting to replace the rice with a non-grain and it has proved to be really difficult. Extremely difficult. Like throwing bowls of failed attempts across the room difficult.

In January, I attempted to make Mango Cauliflower Rice with shredded coconut, even making our own coconut milk. The boys were SUPER excited.

Mango Sticky Rice Disaster by PaleoParents

They wouldn’t eat it though. Because it was gross.
Do not attempt to make Mango Cauliflower Rice.

But luckily we hit upon a solution! While browsing through Spencer’s Market, Stacy stumbled upon something that was so crazy, it just might work. Have you ever heard of white chia seeds? Like their black brothers, the whites are a tiny seed that is high in protein, fiber and fat (for a seed, and even Mark approves of them) and has the unique property of soaking up 10x its volume in liquid. Chia seeds make an excellent pudding and end up having a sticky texture… hey! Wait a minute!

The texture of the result here is different from real sticky rice, of course, but it’s pretty close. Especially considering this dish traditionally includes a garnish of sesame seeds with an extremely similar texture. Overall the dish was close enough that when we served this at breakfast one morning, I expected to open birthday presents afterwards.

Not only that, but this is a perfect summer food, light enough not to weigh you down and taking advantage of sweet, ripe fruit. Speaking of fruit. Your mango must be super ripe and soft. Dice it gently and mind the long pit which runs the length of the center of the fruit! Stacy shows you how.

How to Cut a Mango by PaleoParents

Mango Sticky (Not) Rice

Rating: 51

Serving Size: 6

With a kid-friendly knife and some supervision this recipe can practically be made entirely by kids. Served best at room temperature, store chilled.

The color of the chia seed is simply for visuals. If you have black, feel free to use them.

NOTE; If your "rice" becomes thick more like a mousse than a pudding it can be fixed by simply adding in a few tablespoons of light coconut milk or almond milk, thoroughly mixing and allowing to rest a bit. Depending on humidity and the direction of wind, sometimes you'll need a bit more or less liquid for the perfect rice-like texture.



  1. Pour coconut milk, water and palm sugar into a small saucepan and warm over medium heat. Stir frequently.
  2. When sugar is completely dissolved and solution starts to bubble, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour warm coconut milk mixture over chia seeds in a medium mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly to moisten all the seeds.
  4. Add in 1 1/2 cups of mango and any resulting juices from cutting it.
  5. Refrigerate for at least thirty minutes.
  6. Spoon into serving bowls and top with remaining mangoes and a light sprinkle of palm sugar.

Mango Sticky (not) Rice by PaleoParents

You Might Also Like

  • Deedee

    Is it possible to substitute honey for the palm sugar? I didn’t know if it would have a drastic change to the consistency to the end product.

    • If you use honey I’d use raw honey and not heat it.

      • Deedee

        Thanks for the reply. I am trying to use what I have on hand, so hopefully it works out! I am so thankful for this post because this is one dish I miss quite a lot! Cheers!

        • LynneDowaloIaccarino

          Let me know how this works b/c I would rather use honey as well!

  • Katia

    Would it be awful without the sugar completely?

    • Not awful, definitely edible, just not as sweet, obviously.

      • Katia

        Thanks! One more question – why white chia seeds instead of the regular kind?

  • Mary

    Can you use So Delicious coconut milk instead of full fat canned?

    • For the same volume of FF coconut milk and water, probably.

  • Carmen

    This sounds delicious! Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

  • Dacia

    Thanks! I can’t wait to try this. We’re going to use black chia seeds though cause we have a 50 lb bag to use up. I’m really excited!

    • It should totally work, just look a little different 😉

  • glace

    I bet coconut tapioca pudding would be good with the mango!

    • The texture would be softer, but yes it would be!

  • Kate

    Chia seeds are still a no-no for AIP, right?

    • All seeds are out on AIP but I have no reaction to them at all, I think because they kind of “sprout” themselves in liquid making them easier to digest… unlike flax which is awful for me!

      • Kate

        awesome, good to know! I’ll have to give them a try

  • Kate @eatrecyclerepeat

    Delicious, simple, and creative – another great recipe! I love the photo of the boys looking like they want to hulk out on mangoes 🙂

  • Brian

    Your Chia Seeds link goes to a coconut milk page.

  • tara

    so crazy, i was already planning on trying my hand at making a paleo mango sticky rice tonight when i came to your blog to just get caught up. so excited that you guys tried it out too! its one of my favorites and i usually request it instead of birthday cake as well. ha! can’t wait to see how it tastes!

  • Jennifer Whittemore

    I made this with 2 oranges and its quite delightful. We were out of mango’s and I can’t wait to try it next time with those. I think its too sweet, but my kids love it. Thanks for posting!

  • Jenny @Paleofoodiekitchen

    One of the reasons I love Chia seeds, it’s so versatile! Perfect dessert for hot summer nights 🙂