Sikhye (rice punch) is a traditional sweet Korean drink made of fermented malt and rice. As the rice ferments, the grains turn white and become spongy, releasing their starch into the liquid, which turns light amber. The punch is never fermented long enough to become alcoholic, and it’s often served as a dessert in Korean restaurants. It has a pleasantly malty aftertaste.

It’s also sold in cans at Korean grocery stores, but the homemade version has a more intense malt flavor than anything you can get in a can. Sikhye is usually served cold, but when you make it at home, you can enjoy it right after boiling it, or even freeze it into slush!

This recipe uses a rice cooker to ferment the barley malt powder water and rice, but if you don’t have one you can do it in a pot on the stove. Just keep the temperature between 122°F and 150°F  (50°C to 65°C) for 4 hours, until some of the rice is floating. This is the traditional method I show in the larger batch of sikhye in my first cookbook. The point is to keep it at a warm temperature without cooking it, so the enzyme amalyse can help the starch from the rice turn into sugar.


Garnish (optional)

You will need a 10 cup rice cooker with a “warming” setting.


  1. Combine the barley malt powder and 14 cups cold water in a  large bowl. Stir well with a whisk or a wooden spoon.
  2. Let it sit for 2 to 3 hours until the powder settles on the bottom.

Make rice with a rice cooker:

  1. Wash the rice, changing the water a couple of times and finally draining as much water as you can.
  2. Add ¾ cup water to the rice, put it in the rice cooker, turn it on and start cooking.

Add the barley malt water to the rice & let it ferment:

  1. When the rice is done, add the clear malt water from the bowl by gently pouring it in. Be careful in moving the bowl and pouring, so you don’t disturb the dregs on the bottom.
  2. Stir the rice with a wooden spoon and break it up a bit.
  3. Set the rice cooker to warm. Let it sit and ferment.
  4. Stir the rest of the 4 cups of water into the leftover barley malt sediment. Leave it to sit and settle while the rice ferments in the rice cooker.

Check the rice:

  1. Open the rice cooker after 4 hours and check to see if some of the rice grains are floating.
  2. About dozens grains should be floating. If not floating yet, let it ferment for another hour.

Make sikhye:

  1. Pour the hot sikhye out of the rice cooker into a large pot.
  2. Gently pour in the clear malt water that has been separating while the sikhye ferments and discard the sediment. You will get about 3 cups of clear malty water.
  3. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup sugar (if used) and mix well.

Serve hot:

  1. Ladle about 1½ cup of sikhye into a small bowl or cup and serve it with a spoon. You can drink it like tea or just drink the liquid and eat the rice with a spoon.

Serve cold:

  1. Pour the hot sikhye though a strainer over a large bowl to gather all the rice. Rinse the rice under cold running water and transfer it to an airtight container with some cold water. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Cool the hot sikhye water and transfer to a glass jar. Refrigerate it.
  3. When you want to serve, ladle about 1½ cup cold sikhye water to a small bowl and gently stir in about 2 tablespoons rice.
  4. Garnish with pine nuts and jujube pieces if you use. Serve with a spoon.

How to make slush:

  1. Freeze the rice punch until it’s half frozen (8 cups of sikhye usually takes 5 to 6 hours).
  2. Or make granita by adding some clear sikhye water into an airtight container and freezing it solid.
  3. To serve, ladle out icy cold sikhye slushy and/or scrape frozen sikhye with a fork, and stir in about 2 tablespoons rice. Add garnish (if you use) and serve with a spoon.

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  1. Van611 Singapore joined 7/23 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe with us. May I know if I can use a slow cooker instead of a rice cooker to make Sikhye 식혜 but worried that it will not ferment as well as the rice cooker.

  2. karolins Snowmass joined 9/20 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi, I am learning so much from you, thank you! I am gluten-free and wonder if there is a gluten free alternative to barley malt that you would recommend?

    Thank you!

  3. Mama5 Cali joined 3/20 & has 2 comments

    Can I use 반반미 or does it have to be white rice only?

  4. eleilei Boston joined 11/19 & has 2 comments

    Hello! I was excited to try this recipe. I think I did something wrong since it came out very bland and not very malty. Can you let me know what might have caused it?

    This is what I did differently (because I had to do it overnight):
    1. I doubled the recipe 36 cups of water with 1lb malt barley flour.
    2. I let the malty water sit for around 4-5 hours.
    3. After the 2 cups of rice cooked, I added 10 cups of malty water on keep warm for 5-6 hours.
    4. I strained the rice out.
    5. And then boiled the rice water and remaining malty water on the stove. It took a long time to come to a boil. So I waited until the water was boiling and then waited 10 more minutes.

    My sikhye was clear but had a little yellow color. And did not smell as malty as when I first poured the water in.

    I will try to follow the recipe exactly next time but what do you think caused the sikhye to be bland? Thank you!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      If you make sikhye more than the recipe, you should ferment sikhye in a large pot rather than a rice cooker because the largest rice cooker for home cooking is 10 cups that I used for this recipe.

      I found you added too little malty water in your step 3. You doubled the recipe, so you mixed 28 cups water and 1 pound barley malt powder. Right? After a few hours later, the clear malty water should be a little less than 27 to 28 cups. But you said you added only 10 cups malty water! You should have used all the malty water. The malty water makes the rice sweet and flavorful.

      • eleilei Boston joined 11/19 & has 2 comments

        Thanks for replying so quickly! Yes. I only put 10cups malty water when fermenting because my rice cooker could only hold 10cups. I added the rest of the water at the end right before boiling.

        Is there any way to revive this to be flavorful again? If not then I’ll try again next time.

  5. Mtrgrrl SF Bay Area joined 10/19 & has 3 comments

    We have an old gas stove with pilot lights that keep the oven at about 125 degrees. I fermented it in a stock pot in the oven. Thought about using a slow cooker. My Korean mom enjoyed it a well as the gojuchang. Thank you!

  6. sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 308 comments

    I used only 1 cup of sugar.

    Perfect! Thank you! ♡

  7. Amyh Bew york joined 3/19 & has 1 comment

    Is there another version of this that doesn’t need a huge rice cooker? Maybe an instant pot recipe?

  8. Miss Kim78 socali joined 3/13 & has 40 comments

    You make everything seem easy! I haven’t had delicious homemade sikhye since my grandma’s (since childhood). I don’t love the store-bought ones, so I had to learn how to make it. Since your recipes are usually easy, I started with yours first. Was happy with the results.

    See full size image

  9. peaSEEjay New Jersey joined 4/16 & has 1 comment

    I definitely want to try out this recipe!

  10. aprillia Malaysia joined 2/17 & has 2 comments

    Hello Maangchi!

    First of all, I really want to thank you for all these Korean recipes! I really wanna try to make myself and family various homemade Korean foods and bam! I found your website haha. And I am a very big fan of Korean foods :)

    I really have one specific question for this recipe though. Is shikhye an alcoholic drink? This is very important to me because I’m a Muslim and we Muslim can’t drink something that’s alcoholic even a little. But seriously, if it’s not, I really really love to try this because I watch so many Korean variety shows drinking this and I think it’s very tempting. Please answer this soon. Thanks! :)

    • fairygothmom Glen Cove, NY joined 1/11 & has 8 comments

      It’s fermented, and if you leave any grain to ferment it will eventually develop alcohol. But step 10 is to boil it, which will stop the fermenting and probably cook off any tiny amount of alcohol that might have formed. If in doubt, this recipe may not be for you. You could try making it without the malt and only cooking the rice until it’s just shy of cooked – it should have a bit of a chew to it. It won’t be the same but it will be sweet and cold and most importantly non-alcoholic for certain. ;)

    • hirzy malaysia joined 11/17 & has 1 comment

      its not alcoholic. its the same as tapai there are certain amount of time before the sugar become alcohol.

  11. Stefstef Medan, Indonesia joined 12/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi, Maangchi.
    Wonder how many days can we keep the sikhye before it turns bad?
    because i plan to make a lot at once and store it in my refrigerator, but also I’m afraid that it will quickly turns bad..

  12. ahw Los Angeles joined 10/16 & has 11 comments

    I just made this sikhye yesterday, and tasted it this morning. Really good. I don’t have a rice cooker; I left it in a low oven (between 100 and 200 Fahrenheit) and it turned out great! Thanks Maangchi!

  13. ricecakes Toronto joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, I’m wondering if I would be able to reuse the barley malt powder? i.e. mix one batch and let it separate, then use the sediment to mix a second batch? Thanks! :)

  14. Hi Maangchi

    How come my sikhye is more brown (like tea color) unlike yours is more of a white color.

  15. portlif malaysia joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    Dear Maangchi…I learn how to make diastatic malt.can i use the malt powder to make this delicous drink..

  16. gn2568 Chicago joined 12/14 & has 5 comments

    Hi Maangchi! It’s summer, and it’s shikhye time!!! I craved it so much, so finally I decided to make my first one. I used honey powder instead of sugar, because that was all I had. I was also running out of it (~1/4 cup less than the total sugar). Somehow there were so much more foams than yours when while it was heated to boil, so I had to constantly take em out. And it was of course more brown. Going through all these experiments, when I tasted it, it was surprisingly sweet. I am amazed by the taste and I can’t wait til it cools down!!!

    Thank you Maangchi!!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      I think that it was a little more fermented, because it was so foamy. Next time you can dilute it with a bit of water if you want, it will be less intense, less sweet, and less brown. I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed it!

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