Apple Infused Sticky Rice Cakes (nian gao)

These Apple Infused Sticky Rice Cakes sound complex and fancy right? They aren’t really, but they are incredibly yummy!

I have made a couple variations on my sticky rice cakes (nian gao). But all of them used non dairy milk. So I thought, what if we changed that to a juice?

I have to say that it worked surprisingly well. They have a nice combination of apple with cinnamon. I was really worried that the rice flour would screw with the flavors. Thank gosh it didn’t. I actually can’t taste the rice flour at all. It only adds to the opaque-ness.

These sticky rice cakes, aka nian gao, are nice and chewy. They have this texture that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s in between the stickiness of mochi and the firmness of jello. I can’t describe it well…

Here are some recipe tips:

Well, these are definitely not traditional, but they are a fun take on nian gao or sticky rice cakes. I find that the soy milk in the original nian gao can be a little overpowering. So this variation of using juice, more specifically apple juice, is the perfect adjustment.

It’s quite important that you reduce the apple juice. If you don’t, the apple flavor will not come through. Surprisingly enough, when I made these without reducing, all I tasted was the cinnamon and the faintest hint of apple. When you reduce the juice, it results in a bolder flavor.

Final comment: wheat starch is difficult to find at stores. You can find it online at Amazon, but it is quite expensive. I get my wheat starch at 99 Ranch Market. If you have no idea what that is, I would recommend looking in an Asian grocery store. If that doesn’t work, you can buy it here. I have also used tapioca starch. It is a good substitution if you need it.

5 Word Summary:

Apple flavors





5 from 1 vote

Apple Infused Sticky Rice Cakes

These sticky rice cakes (nian gao) are so good! I don't know what else to say... 🙂

Vegan and dairy-free.

Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword apple, nian gao, sticky rice cakes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 1 loaf tin worth
Calories 200 kcal


  • 3 cups glutinous rice flour
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat starch 1
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar 2
  • 3 cups apple juice
  • 1/2 tsp oil 3


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and place a large pan filled with water in. This cake is steamed so it uses the water vapor from the water bath to cook.
  2. In a pot, reduce the apple juice to 2 cups. Add in the sugar and let it dissolve.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour and the wheat starch together.
  4. Let the reduced apple juice cool down. Once it is lukewarm, combine it with the dry ingredients.
  5. The batter should resemble a thick waffle batter.
  6. Grease a loaf pan. Cover the tin with foil and put the tin itself into the water bath.
  7. Steam for 45 minutes in the 350 degree oven. It should be firm to the touch and slightly see through. If it is still runny, steam for longer and continue to check on it.
  8. Take the rice cakes out and let cool before slicing. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  1. Tapioca starch also works here.
  2. Any granulated sugar works here.
  3. Any neutral oil works here (canola, vegetable, light olive, coconut, grapeseed, avocado, etc.)

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