What are Rice Cakes?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
Uncooked rice.
Uncooked rice.

Rice cakes are snacks made from rice. They are eaten in many different countries and are made differently in each country or region of the world. In North America and other Western countries, they are round, hard, and crunchy snacks made from puffed rice.

As rice cakes made from puffed rice are naturally quite flavorless, varieties with flavoring added are popular in North America. There are a wide range of flavors available, such as cheese and caramel. Rice cakes are considered healthy and are mostly eaten for snacks alone or with a topping such as cheese or peanut butter. They are a popular addition to lunch boxes since they don't get soggy and are not messy to eat, although they do crumble a bit.

In addition to the regular sized rice cake, there are also miniature versions. The idea behind them is to have a healthier, crunchy, bite-sized snack alternative to potato chips. These may be sold in individual serving packages like potato chips.

Some types of rice cakes are made with brown rice.
Some types of rice cakes are made with brown rice.

Idli is an Indian rice cake that is very different from North American version. Idli is a steamed batter cake made of rice and de-husked black lentils. The rice and lentils are prepared into a paste and left to ferment overnight. The fermented batter is poured into molds and then steamed. Idli are often served hot for breakfast or for a snack with a condiment such as chutney.

Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from glutinous rice. Mochi is similar to idli in that it is also mashed into a paste and placed into molds. Mochi are traditionally eaten at Japanese New Year and family celebrations. The snack is said to bring good luck and health. Mochi may be eaten with a soy flour based condiment called kinako or with other toppings such as seaweed.

Discussion Comments


Mochi has to be the cutest rice cake ever. Mochi cakes are shaped like balls in different colors and designs. Some make Kawaii designs on them, which are cute Japanese anime designs.

I was gifted mochi rice cakes one year and it was difficult to eat them because they were so adorable. They looked like little toys. I did eat them finally and they were delicious too.


Rice cakes in other cuisines sound great, they sound way more delicious than my whole grain rice cake snacks. I'm addicted to the caramel flavored ones though. I can eat a whole packet of them and I don't feel guilty about it.


Dosa is another type of Indian rice cake. It's kind of like a pancake and it's prepared in a similar way to idli. The rice and lentils sit overnight, and then they are grounded, allowed to ferment and then fried on a pan like pancakes or crepes. It's a popular South Indian food.

I had dosa for the first time here in the US. My Indian friends took me to an Indian restaurant that serves South Indian food. We were served dosas with spicy potatoes, tomato chutney and coconut chutney. It was very delicious, I ate all of it. I want to learn how to make it at home. I think I can prepare the dosa, but the chutneys may be more difficult to prepare.

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    • Uncooked rice.
      By: airborne77
      Uncooked rice.
    • Some types of rice cakes are made with brown rice.
      By: Stepan Popov
      Some types of rice cakes are made with brown rice.