Biko (sticky rice cake)

My grandmother used to buy biko whenever she went to the market. As soon as she arrived, she would call me and my brother and we would have biko for our mid-morning merienda. That was decades ago. When I became a mommy, I introduced my daughters to biko and we have a lot of fond memories associated with it. Probably the most memorable is how my daughter lost her first baby tooth while eating biko when the loose tooth got stuck in the sticky rice cake. Fortunately, she felt it before swallowing. Biko, a sticky rice cake topped with latik (curdled coconut cream)

But what is biko? It is a cake made from glutinous rice cooked in sweetened coconut milk and topped with latik (curdled coconut cream). I was surprised to find a description of biko in another site as a rice cake with caramel topping so when I went to the market earlier today, I asked the hawkers the proper names for the different rice cakes on display. The consensus? What I’ve known from childhood as biko is indeed called biko and the one topped with caramelized sugar and coconut cream is called bibingkang malagkit. I must concede though that biko might be called by some other name in non-Tagalog speaking regions of the Philippines.

No, I did not cook the biko in the photo. I bought it in the market (outside the market, if we have to be precise) along with the puto which I ate for breakfast when I got home. So, anyone who posts a comment asking for a recipe of biko is presumed to be a person who comments without first reading what he/she is commenting on and who deserves to be ignored.

The good news, however, is that I am experimenting on how to make biko. It cannot be as simple as cooking glutinous rice and sugar in coconut milk. I’ve done that and the individual rice grains were cloudy instead of clear. I’m thinking that, perhaps, the rice is soaked then steamed after adding coconut oil. We’ll see how future experiments turn out.

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The Author

Hello, my name is Connie Veneracion. I cook, I shoot, I write. But I don't do the laundry. I don't like housekeeping very much either... (more about me)

34 Responses

  1. Maricel says:

    We cook biko by cooking the malagkit in 2nd extraction coconut milk. Then we cook up a sugar syrup until it reaches the soft ball stage and then add in the cooked malagkit. Stir until the syrup is absorbed. Pour into a tray lined with banana leaves smeared with coconut oil. Cut into diamonds. Top with latik made from the coconut cream.

    • Heather says:

      I think what I thought was Biko is actually the other cake you described…. Hmmm. It’s been so long. Guess I’ll just have to try both to be certain ????

  2. Maricel says:

    Oh and yes we also call the one with the coconut cream topping as bibingkang malagkit.

  3. Connie says:

    Marical, thank you! Will try it soon. Very soon. :)

  4. Gay says:

    I think this is the equivalent of sinukmani of the Tagalog. I grew up knowing it as biko but it became sinukmani when we came to Laguna. Isn’t it surprising that just three ingredients – rice, coconut and sugar can equate to different rice cakes? If you grind the rice, you get bibingka, puto, etc…

    I haven’t cooked biko yet, but I know you steam the rice first (not sure if with coconut milk ha). Then make latik from sugar and coconut cream. When it starts to oil, I think that’s the time you add the steamed rice. I can’t remember at what point rally you should add the steam rice. If too early, the biko spoils easily.

  5. Maricel says:

    You are welcome! I forgot to tell you that we pat the cooked biko into the desired thickness with our fingers wrapped in oiled banana leaves. Cut the biko while still hot using a knife wrapped with an oiled strip of banana leaves.

  6. gina says:

    tama po c ms. maricel. we also cook biko that way. for added flavor. you can add lemon zest in the sugar syrup while cooking.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Hi there–I love biko, but growing up my mom just called it bibingka. They did not teach us Tagalog, so I think it was a shortcut of a name.

    At any rate, she soaked the rice overnight, then strained it, added it to a pan of coconut milk sweetened with palm sugar or brown sugar, and a dash of salt. She warmed everything enough just to be able to taste the sweetness of the mix, and then put it into a baking dish, covered it (baked at 350 for about 30 minutes, checking rice tenderness to be sure).

    When the rice cake was tender, she made the topping–coconut cream, brown sugar, a pinch of salt. She curdled the cream and cooked the topping until it was close to caramelized, and then she spread it over the rice cake and broiled it to finish the caramelization. The rice was a lovely, translucent and gooey texture, the topping a coconut, toasted treat. I love it–

  8. Joy says:

    Mmmm…I love biko! I used to make it a lot a few years back. I’ll try to find the recipe again.

  9. brenda says:

    If I remember it right, sinasaing muna ng Nanay ko ang malagkit pero hindi yung lutong-luto. Tapos lulutuin nya ulit sa coconut milk with sugar.

  10. Mely PJ says:

    Hello Ms. Connie,
    In Pangasinan, Biko is also Biko pero yung kakanin with caramelized topping we call it LATIK or NILATIKAN. You don’t need to soak the malagkit in water or in coconut milk. Just cook it in rice cooker the way you do regular rice except unplug the Cooker as soon as it beeps so its not fully cooked. For topping I just use a bottle of matamis na bao with a little bit of coonut milk. I learned this from a friend. Its always a hit in Filipino parties.

  11. ingrid says:

    cant wait for the biko recipe. hehehe…
    my lola used to cook biko and she used malagkit rice, i think 1st extracted coconut milk and brown sugar.
    mmmm… yummy… ive been looking almost all over the net for a recipe of biko. i even tried to search here but didnt find any…

  12. arnie says:

    s it possible if i”?ll use canned coconut milk in this recipe?

  13. melisa says:

    Hi! I love biko, however for us kapampangan biko would include grated squash with the ingredients that is why ‘our’ biko is yellowish.

    The way we cook biko is also similar to what brenda mentioned:
    …sinasaing muna ang malagkit pero hindi yung lutong-luto. Tapos lulutuin nya ulit sa coconut milk with sugar…

    plus ung grated the squash isasama dun. Tapos lalagyan ng latik kapag luto na…

  14. starcy says:

    hey, what’s the recipe for that? i want to try that.

    • Nani says:

      Here’s my recipe all the way from Honolulu, Hawaii. We call it buut buut. 5 cups sweet rice, 1 can coconut milk, 1 box dark brown sugar. Cook the rice in a rice cooker add 5 cups water. When rice is done cooking, Boil coconut milk til bubbly add box brown sugar, turn off heat when mixture is syrupy brown. Stir in rice to mixture, pour into 9 X 11 pan bake at 250 for 1/2 hour. Cool and cut with plastic knife and serve.

  15. ruth says:

    i was looking for a biko recipe. akala ko naman meron ka.

    it’s also called sinukmani, and my folks in pampanga, they add unpeeled squash slices. adds an interesting texture. try mo.

    i tried the thai version (which they usually serve with mangoes), pero di ko type. i want it a bit makunat (ano english non?), not mushy.

  16. Connie says:

    Ruth, chewy — I think?

  17. maria says:

    The lazy person’s recipe for cooking biko in America:

    1. Cook 1 cup of glutinous rice plus 2.5 cups of water in rice cooker.
    2. When done, add 1 can of coconut milk and mix well.
    3. Move to a baking pan and flatten.
    4. Pour one whole jar of cocojam and spread evenly.
    5. Broil on high for 10-20 minutes depending on how dark/crunchy you want the topping to be.

    My co-workers love this and think it took me forever to make it.

  18. Connie says:

    LOL I love that, Maria! I think I’ll try it. :grin: Thanks.

  19. leng from netherlands says:

    lol! im gonna keep that recipe in mind maria. once i find cocojam here heheh! thanks!

  20. Alice Lozano says:

    Clarification lang po

    Bibingka is totally different from Biko. It is not a question whether it is a Tagalog or not. They both Tagalog but definitely two different items. Biko comes on a form of rice and but Bibingka is more refined and can come in differnt colour.

  21. Dinah says:

    I think I like Maria’s version of cooking this biko. I remember nakaputol ako ng sandok kakahalo ng malagkit. But the result, combined with the effort it took me to prepare, made that biko the best I ever had! My officemates like the bibingka from Kika’s, located somewhere in Sumulong.

  22. Kathy Galang says:

    Yeah so many ways of cooking biko hehe. I’m Ilocano and we consider it a specialty..I only knew it was called “kankanen” and when I moved to Laguna I kept wondering where I could get another bite of my favorite dessert. Only to find out it was called “Biko” lol. After some experimenting with what I could remember and calling/texting my mom I came up with:

    1. Cook malagkit in rice cooker. 2 cups of malagkit to 1 cup of water. When it’s done it will come out dry and a bit undercooked. If you cook it like normal rice (1 is to 1) it turns out too mushy and too soft and you still have to cook it in the coconut gata.

    2. Cook in coconut gata with sugar. Add latik toppings.

    Hope this helps! :D

    • maruh says:

      hmmm i cooked biko just now like kathy galang way! thanks for the help and i made my latik using coconut cream in can then i added 1 tbsp of muscovado sugar :) the nice aroma (while making the latik) coming from the kitchen was a real bonus! i would like to eat them now! miam! :)

  23. amylette says:

    Hi, it’s pretty interesting to know that a simple kakanin as biko has many ways to cook but i think i’ll try Maria’s recipe. Trivia…in my place Nasugbu, Batangas we call it biko but when i got married and settled in Nueva Ecija, i was surprised to learn that all kakanin here is called “puto.”:p

  24. zara says:

    hello ms. connie! there are so many ways pala in cooking biko. it is somehow diffrent here in our place. by the way i’m from cagayan de oro city. actually, i don’t know how to cook this coz it really needs a skill to do this specialty. its quite tricky when you cook glutinous rice. what i’m going to share with you is base on my father’s cooking really. hehehe! eversince i was a child i would always watch him everytime he cooks biko. until now, i have not dared to make one myself.
    anyhow, like the other biko mentioned, we also used the same basic ingredients except for the kind of sugar used. instead of brown sugar, we used muscovado sugar or kamay (ryhmes with “bahay”) as it is called here. this gives the biko the chocolate’s how my father do it.

    1. cook the malagkit rice (pilit in our dialect) juz like cooking for a regular rice(i juz don’t know the quantity of the water being used). set aside.

    2. mix 1st extraction coconut milk and muscovado sugar in a kawali. The amount of the milk & sugar depend on the quantity of malagkit used. i really sucked on this part coz my father does not use exact measurements…he just use estimates.

    3. the milk-sugar mixture is then cook under medium fire. stirring while letting it simmer until you get a slightly thick consistency juz like a caramel. some would add calamani rind or anise to the mixture to give it flavor.

    4. when the mixture thickens, add the cook malagkit rice and mix well. then cover with banana leaves and put on top some weight or we juz used thick wooden chopping board and continue cooking on low heat for a few minutes. then your done. juz let it cool for a while before transferring it to a serving dish to allow the rice to absorb the milk-sugar mixture. you may have to grease the dish slightly to prevent it from sticking. u may also use trays covered with slightly oiled banana leaves for presentation. the banana leaves give it a nice refreshing scent. for added taste & texture, top with latik.

    whew! that was long. anyhow, i miss the biko especially my father’s biko. your right ms. connie, home cooking rocks! ;) hope you get something from what i just shared.

    • Lou says:

      Hello Connie! I’m Lou. Sometimes I visit your site to check recipes I could use. I would like to share how I cook the biko I learned from my mom. I use the second extraction of coconut milk to cook sticky rice and I add a little salt. To measure the liquid, I use my middle finger…hehehe. The depth of liquid should be the same as the depth of sticky rice – measure from the surface of rice to the top of liquid. Add 2 pandan leaves. Cook. I have not experienced a mushy sticky rice since I learned to cook biko. Once the sticky rice is cooked, prepare the syrup using the first extraction (kakang gata). I use panutsa or brown sugar. With panutsa, the syrup tastes better. Cook until the syrup is thick and shiny. It looks like matamis na bao but thinner when it is ready. Add cooked rice and stir until thoroughly mixed. Biko is done when it separates from the kawali. You just need to endure the hardship of stirring biko…hehehe. Serve with latik on top. To cook latik, use the first extraction. Cook until coconut milk curdles. The oil will separate and the curd will turn golden brown. Add a little sugar and cook for a few more minutes. Be careful not to overcook the latik. Strain and sprinkle on top of biko or mix it with biko a few minutes before it is done. Another way is to mix latik with the syrup before sticky rice is added.

  25. sweet says:


    in visayas region its called suman latik(latik is the curdled coco milk)then binka is bibingka in tagalog however we don’t put itlog na maalat..but top it with buko and cheese..

    back to suman (BIko)

    usually we cook the malagkit with 2nd extraction og the coconut milk that is to make sure that the rice will be cooked evenly..

    then if its cooked we dissolve brown sugar with coconut milk.. and mixed it with the rice..

    continous stirring till thick..then add balat ng kalamansi for aroma.. if its done top it with latik…

    best with buko juice and sweet mango :)

  26. bkbaker says:

    I made biko just this afternoon and it’s one big pyrex dish. I was just wondering how I will store the biko. Do I put it in the refrigerator? keep it at room temperature? I have doubts with the second option because it has coconut milk and it might spoil easily. I also have doubts with the first option because I have experienced putting store-bought biko in fridge turning out to be as hard as rocks…so what is the best way to store this kakanin? Gusto ko na ubusin para wala ng isstore pero di na kaya…

    • Connie says:

      You can keep it wrapped in cling film in the fridge for a day or two. Steam to reheat and to make it soft and moist again.

  27. jhannah says:

    hello poh….i have a problem hope u can help me….i cooked bico for the first time…pero tumigas ung sticky rice….what will i do?hope u can give me some tips….thanx and more power….

  28. Dante says:

    Mahilig din ako sa biko. Maraming version ang pagkakaluto. Yun sa amin sa Tuguegarao City, ang pagkakaluto ng biko ay iba naman. Magdamag nakababad yung malagkit. Balnawan ang malagkit, then ilagay sa steamer. Siguro within 1hr naluto na yung malagkit. Habang niluluto ang malagkit sa steamer, pure gata ng niyog naman ang nakasalang habang ito ay magiging kulay brown. Depende sa gusto mo kung marami pang extra na latik magtira ka para gagawin mo as toppings later. Mix mo ang brown sugar sa mainit latik at coconut oil, kung sa palagay mo ay yung sugar tunaw na, ilagay mo na rin yung steamed rice. Nilalagyan din namin ng konting star margarine para di mahirap maghalo. Once pare-pareho na ang pagkakahalo, pwede mo na rin ilatag sa dahon ng saging or any preference na gusto mo. Mas masarap kasi yung rice na hindi gaano malambot o parang paste na. Ganyan sa amin ang biko.

  29. Gloria says:

    To prevent your biko from getting mushy or soggy,you have to leave them @ your counter,let it stand to evaporate excess moisture before you do final stage of your cooking,wether it’s stove top or bico always something to die for,soo chewy in Tagalog makunat…

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