How to Make Puto (Steamed Rice Cake)

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How to Make Puto (Steamed Rice Cake)



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Puto, a beloved Filipino delicacy, is a delightful steamed rice cake that has been a part of Filipino culture for generations. It’s a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a snack, dessert, or even as a side dish to complement savory meals. With its fluffy texture and subtle sweetness, puto has captured the hearts and taste buds of many around the world. In this article, we’ll explore the art of making puto from scratch, complete with step-by-step instructions and some creative variations to tantalize your palate.


Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s gather all the ingredients you’ll need to make delicious puto:

For the Batter:

2 cups of rice flour
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 ½ cups of water
1 ½ tablespoons of baking powder
1 cup of coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)
For Toppings and Fillings (Optional):

Grated cheese
Salted duck eggs (itlog na maalat)
Sliced salted fish (tinapa)
Freshly grated coconut (buko)

Mixing bowls
Muffin molds or puto molds
Banana leaves (optional, for lining molds)
Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that you have all your ingredients and equipment ready, let’s get started on making delicious puto.

Step 1: Prepare the Molds

If you’re using molds, grease them with a little oil or line them with banana leaves. This adds a subtle fragrance to the puto and makes it easier to remove from the molds once they’re cooked.

Step 2: Prepare the Steamer

Fill the bottom of your steamer with water, making sure it doesn’t touch the steamer rack. Bring the water to a boil while you prepare the puto batter.

Step 3: Make the Puto Batter

In a mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, sugar, and baking powder. Mix these dry ingredients until they are well incorporated.

In another bowl, combine the water and coconut milk. Gradually add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring continuously to avoid lumps.

Step 4: Add Flavor and Aromatics

For a fragrant touch, add a pinch of salt and a half teaspoon of vanilla extract to the batter. Mix well until all the ingredients are fully integrated. The batter should have a smooth consistency.

Step 5: Pour the Batter into Molds

Carefully pour the puto batter into your prepared molds, filling each mold to about three-fourths full. This allows room for the puto to rise as it steams.

Step 6: Add Toppings or Fillings (Optional)

Now comes the fun part! You can customize your puto by adding toppings or fillings. Some popular options include grated cheese, slices of salted duck eggs, salted fish (tinapa), or freshly grated coconut (buko). Sprinkle or place these toppings on top of the batter in the molds.

Step 7: Steam the Puto

Once your steamer is boiling and ready, place the filled molds on the steamer rack. Make sure there’s enough space between each mold to allow steam to circulate. Cover the steamer with a lid to trap the steam inside.

Step 8: Steam the Puto

Steam the puto for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the puto comes out clean. Be patient during this step, as the steaming process is essential for the puto to achieve its light and fluffy texture.

Step 9: Cool and Serve

Once the puto is done, carefully remove the molds from the steamer using kitchen mitts or a cloth to protect your hands from the heat. Allow the puto to cool for a few minutes in the molds, then transfer them to a serving platter.

Step 10: Enjoy Your Homemade Puto

Puto is best enjoyed while it’s still warm. Serve it as a snack, dessert, or alongside savory dishes like dinuguan (a Filipino pork blood stew) or pancit (noodles). Pair it with a hot cup of coffee or tea for a delightful treat.

Variations and Creative Ideas

While the classic puto is already a delight on its own, you can get creative and experiment with different flavors and presentations:

Ube Puto: Add ube (purple yam) flavoring or ube halaya (purple yam jam) to the batter for a vibrant purple twist on traditional puto.

Puto Bumbong: Mimic the flavors of the traditional Filipino puto bumbong by adding purple yam and coconut to the batter, and then steaming it in bamboo tubes for an authentic touch.

Puto Flan: Create a fusion dessert by adding a layer of leche flan (caramel custard) on top of your puto batter before steaming. This results in a delightful combination of two Filipino favorites in one bite.

Chocolate Puto: Satisfy your chocolate cravings by adding cocoa powder to the batter. You can also sprinkle chocolate chips on top for an extra chocolaty treat.

Puto Pao: Fill your puto with savory or sweet fillings like adobo, chicken asado, or even chocolate ganache. Encase the filling in the puto batter before steaming for a delightful surprise inside.

Making puto from scratch is a rewarding culinary experience that allows you to savor the rich flavors and textures of this beloved Filipino delicacy. Whether you enjoy it plain, with cheese, or filled with delightful surprises, puto is a delightful treat that can be enjoyed at any time of day. So, gather your ingredients, follow our step-by-step instructions, and let the steam work its magic as you create your homemade puto masterpiece. Share it with family and friends, and watch as their faces light up with joy at the taste of this classic Filipino comfort food.

While making puto is generally straightforward, there are some common issues that may arise, along with tips to overcome them:

Lumpy Batter: To prevent lumps in your batter, make sure to mix the dry ingredients thoroughly before adding the wet ingredients. Gradually pour in the liquid while continuously stirring to create a smooth batter.

Flat Puto: If your puto turns out flat and dense, it may be due to expired or insufficient baking powder. Make sure your baking powder is fresh and check the measurement. Also, avoid over-mixing the batter, as this can deflate it.

Sticky Puto: Puto should have a soft, tender texture but should not be overly sticky. If your puto sticks to the molds, try greasing them more liberally or using silicone molds. You can also let the puto cool slightly before attempting to remove them from the molds.

Dry Puto: If your puto turns out dry, it might be due to overcooking. Be mindful of the steaming time, and avoid steaming the puto for too long. A toothpick or skewer inserted into the center should come out clean but not bone-dry.

Inconsistent Texture: Ensure that you mix the batter thoroughly to distribute the ingredients evenly. Additionally, make sure your steamer has even heat distribution to prevent uneven cooking.

Flavor Variations: Don’t hesitate to experiment with flavors and toppings. You can add pandan extract for a fragrant green color, or experiment with other extracts like mango or coconut for a unique twist.

Molding Options: If you don’t have traditional puto molds, you can use silicone muffin molds, ramekins, or even cupcake liners as alternatives. Be creative with your presentation; puto can take various shapes and sizes.

Storage: To keep your puto fresh, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two. If you need to store them longer, place them in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Reheating: If you have leftover puto, you can reheat them in the steamer for a few minutes to restore their softness and flavor.

Scaling the Recipe: If you want to make more or fewer puto, remember to adjust the ingredients accordingly while maintaining the ratios. Consistency in measurements is essential for a successful batch.

In conclusion, making puto is a delightful culinary adventure that allows you to explore the rich flavors and textures of Filipino cuisine. Whether you choose to stick to the classic recipe or add your own creative twists, the joy of indulging in these fluffy, steamed rice cakes is truly unbeatable. So, gather your ingredients, follow the steps, and embark on a culinary journey that will not only fill your stomach but also warm your heart with the flavors of the Philippines. Whether enjoyed on its own or as part of a larger meal, puto is sure to become a favorite in your culinary repertoire.


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