Rice dessert drink

Sikhye 식혜

Sikhye is a traditional Korean beverage made with barley malt powder (yeotkiereum 엿기름) and rice. The taste is sweet and cold, with its own particular subtle flavor coming from barley malt. I love sikhye because of the flavor! Without the flavor, it will be like a bowl of sweet water and rice.

It’s known to help your digestion which is true for me! After eating lots of delicious food on festival days, I would drink sikhye for a dessert and for my digestion. I believe it cures my clogged stomach! : )

I am surprised by the fact that so many people have requested this beverage. I had thought Sikhye would be one of a few dishes not likable to people from another culture. This was my thought when I was requested this food for the first time: “Wha? Sikhye is popular to people from other cultures, too?”

I found that most people who requested this food had known about it. They say, “Maangchi, what’s the white drink served at a Korean restaurant? If you can, please post the recipe.”

“Whenever I go to my favorite Korean restaurant, they serve delicious cold rice drink, can I request the recipe?”

When I lived in Korea, one day I gave sikhye to my American friend. I remember what he said at that time after sipping a little sikhye. “oops! What is this!… it looks like cereal with sugar water and the taste is kinda weird!” : ) I thought it was very funny, I could put myself into his shoes. I may feel the same way if I taste something very new to me and I find it’s totally different from the taste that I expect!

Don’t expect the taste of a bowl of cereal with sugar water!

Here’s the recipe:


A package of barley malt powder, 2 cups of rice, 2 cups of sugar (adjust to your taste), 24-30 cups of water, and pine nuts


  1. Put 1 package of barley malted powder (1 pound) in a large basin and mix it with 24-30 cups of water. Let it sit for 2 hours until all the dregs are sunk to the bottom of the basin.3
  2. Make rice and set it aside.
    How to make rice using a pot:

    • Wash 2 cups of short grain rice. Drain and put in a pot with thick bottom.
    • Pour 1.5 cups of water into the pot. Soak it for an hour and close the lid.
    • Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat for 10 minutes.
    • Open the lid and turn the rice over with a rice scoop or spoon.
    • Simmer it over low heat for another 10 minutes! You will have nice fluffy rice!
  3. When the mixed liquid of barley malt powder and water is completely separated (it takes about 1.5 hours-2 hours), pour the clear liquid from the top into your rice cooker.
    *tip: if you have leftover clear liquid, save it and keep it in the refrigerator. We are going to use it later.
  4. Add 1 cup of sugar and the cooked rice.
  5. Stir it and set the rice cooker’s function to “warm” for 4- 5 hours. Be sure not to set it “cook.” The reason for setting it to “warm” is to ferment the rice so that the starch from the rice converts to sugar. If you boil it, the fermenting process will stop.
  6. Throw out the sediments sunk on the bottom of the basin.
  7. 4 hours later, check to see if the rice is fermented or not. When the rice is fermented, a few grains of rice will float to the top of liquid.
  8. Strain the rice and rinse it in cold water. Set it aside in a container. Add a little cold water and keep it in the refrigerator.
  9. Transfer the liquid from the rice cooker to a large pot, and add the saved leftover liquid from #3 if you have it.
  10. Add 1 cup of sugar and bring to a boil.
    * tip: you can add more water and sugar if you want.
  11. Remove the foam floating on the top of the boiling liquid.
  12. Cool it down and transfer it to a glass jar or bottle and keep it refrigerator.11
  13. To eat, serve it cold in a bowl with a scoop of rice from #8. Drop in a few pine nuts, just before serving it.
    * tip: you can add crushed ice made with sikhye liquid. If you like all your rice grains to float, add 1 tbs of sugar and mix it right before serving it.



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  1. putri90 My profile page joined 5/15
    Posted June 1st, 2015 at 2:02 pm | # |

    Hi maangchi.. can i make shikye without sugar? How long it last in the fridge?

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted June 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 am | # |

      yes, you can make without sugar. It will naturally tastes a little sweet. You can keep for a week in the fridge. Good luck with your Korean cooking!

  2. ashleele1989 Anaheim, California, USA My profile page joined 5/14
    Posted May 2nd, 2014 at 8:02 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi, thank you so so much for the great ( very thorough and clear) recipe for sikhye. I learnt about sikhye from your site and never hesitate to give it a try because of your detailing video clip. Before making my own sikhye, I have tried the drink from one of the best korean tofu house restaurant in my town called Kaju tofu house but their sikhye is really bad, overly sweet and all the rice sinks down to the bottom. I decided to make my own sikhye right after getting out of the restaurant. I followed your recipe carefully and try to read most of the comments to get more ideas about the drink. So, finally, i made it so successfully. I love to make my sikhye less sweet than usual so right before serving I can sprinkle a bit of sugar to the drink and then add the rice, amazingly all the rice float, i mean all of them float, none sinks down to the bottom. My sikhye has a unique aroma that i cannot describe, i believe the aroma comes from the barley malt and also the fermenting process with rice has made the smell more attractive. I love to cook korean food and i find your site’s recipes are great to try. I have made so far plenty dishes from your recipes. Thank you again for your great contribution

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted May 4th, 2014 at 11:44 am | # |

      It sounds like you made perfect shikhye! Yes, I like my shikhye less sweet with full malt flavor, too!
      “..right before serving I can sprinkle a bit of sugar to the drink and then add the rice, amazingly all the rice float,” yes, that’s right! Congratulations!

  3. sl100048 Singapore My profile page joined 6/11
    Posted December 22nd, 2013 at 9:16 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi – I love your Shikhye recipe which is super easy. I am wondering how to make the cooked rice float a lot when serving as I tried twice which all cases the rice sank more than floating. Appreciate your advice on this. Have a great festive season.

    ps – I will be making this dessert for the New Year as my son is here from UK to spend time with us.

    Best, JY

  4. anastasialeehanbyul Seoul, South Korea My profile page joined 2/12
    Posted July 5th, 2013 at 4:32 am | # |

    Hi, Maangchi!
    Do you know by any chance exactly at what temperature should this mixture be kept to ferment successfully? I’m asking that because I found out that my rice cooker’s keep warm temperature is 70 C. This would be too high for making yogurt for example (I can adjust this temperature to 50 C). I was thinking that same applies in this case, and I need to lower the temperature, if I don’t maybe the rice won’t ferment properly. In any case I will try this recipe with lower temp first and see how it goes.

    • Maangchi New York City My profile page joined 8/08
      Posted July 7th, 2013 at 1:53 pm | # |

      I have never measured the temperature when I made shikhey but I think I should do next time I make it again. Let me know about your experiment.

      • pink1e San Francisco My profile page joined 7/14
        Posted July 30th, 2014 at 6:47 pm | # |

        Other recipes say keep it between 50 – 60 ℃ (120 – 40 F)

  5. saigelee nunapitchuk My profile page joined 6/13
    Posted June 12th, 2013 at 6:01 am | # |

    I tried making this and it didn’t work. I followed the recipe but 5 hours later the rice didn’t float. what did I do wrong?

    • Poidog_HI Guam My profile page joined 3/13
      Posted June 16th, 2013 at 9:38 am | # |

      The first time I made Sikhye it came out just like in the video, using a Korean Malt Powder I purchased from ebay. However because the malt powder was expensive I looked for an inexpensive alternative, and used a US made malt powder meant for baking or home beer brewing. I experienced the same results; the rice would not float to the surface even after 6 hours. I am going to go back to the previous malt powder I used. I found another seller who sells the barley malt in its raw form but one package is $18US! I found in my local Korean super market “Barley Malt Tea” I wonder if I could use that instead?

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