Fluffy Nian Gao

If I could explain nian gao, it would basically be mochi. But, what if nian gao could be combined with a fluffy sponge cake? Yep, here’s the answer: Fluffy Nian Gao.

Okay, nian gao is SO good! The best thing about this recipe is the texture. You get the fluffiness from the whipped meringue but also the ubiquitous chewiness of nian gao. Maybe this fluffy nian gao doesn’t look the greatest on the outside, but my gosh, the texture is to die for!

Another cool thing about this recipe is that it is naturally gluten free. The oil is pretty important to this recipe so I don’t recommend leaving it out. But, you could replace it with coconut oil which could add a nice layer of flavor.

Speaking of substitutions and additions, this recipe is sort of a blank canvas. Shredded coconut, chocolate chips, sesame seeds, red bean, dried fruit, pine nuts, dates, etc. would all taste really nice. But, keep in mind that this recipe is very sensitive in that certain add-ins could weigh it down. If you do want to add something, only add a small quantity. To be completely honest, I like how pure and simple plain baked nian gao is so that is why I don’t add anything.

Let’s look at the ingredients:

The glutinous rice flour is super important. Rice flour will not work.

The oil will make the nian gao especially fluffy. It is very important that you use it (or melted butter). The type also matters as the flavor profiles in this recipe are quite minimalistic. If you use a stronger oil like sesame or olive, the flavor will definitely penetrate. Just keep that in mind.

The whipped egg whites give this fluffy nian gao its texture. It is super important that they are whipped to stiff peaks and resemble whipped cream. Cream of tartar keeps the egg whites stabilized.

For the sugar, I used organic cane sugar. You could use coconut or brown sugar but it will make a darker looking nian gao and it may weigh it down. Stay with a lighter colored and smaller granule sugar.

Vanilla extract is optional but it does add another layer of flavor. I sometimes forget to add this and it doesn’t make a big difference.

Let’s make some nian gao shall we? Fluffy nian gao I mean!

5 Word Summary:


Fluffy and airy




If you like nian gao or mochi, check these recipes out!

Sticky Rice Cakes (nian gao)

Ginger Agave Sticky Rice Cakes (nian gao)

Chocolate Sticky Rice Cakes (nian gao)

Homemade Boba Pearls (super easy)

Fluffy Nian Gao

This amazing recipe requires just a few ingredients to get a fluffy yet chewy cloud of nian gao. This nian gao is also dairy-free and gluten-free.

Course Snack
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword dairy-free, fluffy, gluten-free, nian gao, sticky rice cakes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 cakes
Calories 200 kcal


  • 1 lb bag glutinous rice flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup non dairy milk 1
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil 2
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 3
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Then add in the cream of tartar and continue beating. Then gradually add the sugar in until stiff peaks. Add in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the non dairy into the dry ingredients and mix until a batter-like consistency forms.
  4. Fold in the meringue (beaten egg whites) 1/3 at a time.
  5. Pour into a greased pan (whatever size you want) and bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes or until golden brown on top and not wet in the center.

Recipe Notes

  1. I used unsweetened soy milk but almond, coconut, cashew, rice, etc. would all work.
  2. I used canola oil but vegetable, coconut, avocado, light olive, etc. would all work.
  3. I used organic cane sugar but any kind of granulated sugar will work.

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