Rice punch

Sikhye 식혜

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. THANK YOU SOOO MUCH MAANCHI! It’s a lot of work involved but definately worth it at the end!

  2. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

    I usually finish eating this amount in the recipe in a week.

  3. how long do you think this will last in the refrigerator before spoiling? Thanks!

  4. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

    : ) now you can even pronounce it clearly! cool!

    Good to hear from you again!

  5. Wah! Thanks for finally posting the recipe up hehe
    I remember I asked you in the summer :D

    It looks so good.. I’m going to make it once I go back home for spring break

  6. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I had tough time to even look for the name of the dish. I tried it in Korean restaurant and just loved it first time I tasted it.

  7. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

    twee moonie,
    haha, you are very clever! Of course you should do other things while waiting for well made sikhye! Start making it in the morning, then you will be able to eat it at dinner time.

  8. hi there maangchi!!!!

    so happy you have included a shikhae recipe! my future mother in law always makes this for the church and it’s so popular, hopefully it’ll be the same with her!

    thank you thank you! you’ve made the recipe very simple and easy! i guess the key to making shikhae is do other things while waiting ^_^

  9. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

    David and deborah,
    Yes, you can use other types of sweetener instead of white sugar. That’s just my recipe though. Even without using sugar, it’s a little sweet.

    * white short grain rice that’s what I use (for sushi).
    * If you don’t have a rice cooker, then you will have to keep the sikhye at about constant 60 degrees Celsius while it ferments.
    * I just use tap water and don’t find any problem until I finish sikhye.

    Good luck with making sikhye! I’m looking forward to your feedback. : )

  10. deborah Toronto, ON joined 4/09 & has 47 comments

    hi maangchi,

    thank you for posting this recipe! i have been secretly waiting for you to do this recipe for a long time now ;)
    it certainly takes a long time to finish… i’ll probably have to set aside a whole morning to do it!

    i have a couple questions:
    1. what type of rice is recommended? my family eats the brown sprouted rice so we don’t always have regular long grain white rice…
    2. what type of sugar is suitable? can i use sugars other than white sugar?
    3. i don’t have a rice cooker like you. what is an alternative method to ferment the “batch” to warm it?
    4. how long can this “batch” last in the fridge?
    5. when you store the fermented rice, you used regular tap water. will this affect the shelf life of the rice? i ask because my family use to keep tofu and we changed the water with tap water and it caused it to go bad much faster than if we used cooled boiled water.

    thanks again!!!

  11. Hello Mrs. Hammer,

    Do you think that 식혜 can be made without sugar? Maybe using a sugar substitute like Stevia? I would like to make this for someone with 당뇨병 so I wanted to make it without sugar. What do you think?

    Thanks! I love the recipes/videos on your site.

  12. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

    Fantastic! : ) Let me know how your sikhye turns out!
    Thank you very much,

  13. I was really love this drink Thk you very very much maangchi I use to drink it from can from Korean Storesx now i can make it i am making it in Weekend thank you *******

  14. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

    I think you are going to make sikhye soon! : )
    yes, soondubu jjigae recipe is included in my second book. Your nice message is already supportive. Thanks a lot!

  15. Thank you so much for you-tubing and posting this recipe. I bought the barley powder months ago to try and make it on my own since the canned stuff just didn’t taste as good as my friend’s homemade shikye. I totally prefer making food myself and am going to give this recipe a go tomorrow! Btw, made your soon du bu two days ago and… Wow, it was really delicious and authentic tasting!! Is this recipe in your new book? I’m wondering how we can support your efforts and express our appreciation? Thank you, Maangchi!!

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