Kutsinta: A Complete Guide to Its Ingredients & Preparation

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Kutsinta is a Filipino delicacy that’s a little hard to describe. It’s a soft, chewy, cake-like snack made from rice flour, brown sugar, and lye water, and it’s usually topped with grated coconut.

Kutsinta is a traditional Filipino snack that’s made by cooking a mixture of rice flour, water, brown sugar, and lye. It’s a soft, chewy, cake-like snack that’s usually topped with grated coconut. It’s a unique combination of sweet and savory flavors that’s hard to describe but easy to love.

Let’s take a look at what makes it so special and how it’s made.

What is Kutsinta

Kutsinta (full recipe here) (or cuchinta) is an all-purpose type of puto or brown steamed rice cake. This type of delicacy isn’t that sweet, so if you’re watching your sugar levels, you can give this a try. You won’t regret it!

In fact, this Filipino dessert is a form of “kakanin”. For perfect results, it should contain the following: lye water, brown sugar, rice flour, and annatto (atsuete) seeds.

In the Philippines, it’s a popular snack or “merienda,” and it’s usually served with grated coconut on top in all kinds of small corner shops.

When eaten with grated coconut on top, kutsinta is at once slightly sticky and chewy. The perfect combination of these textures makes it an irresistible dessert for merienda.

Kutsinta is one of those rare delicacies that’s both easy to prepare and delicious to eat!

The best kutsinta is one that’s soft and slightly sticky, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Luckily, you can make kutsinta at home, and the prep time and total cooking time are quite short.

Fun fact: Philippine president Noynoy Aquino expressed fondness for kutsinta after receiving 2 pieces from another Filipino for Christmas during his exile in Boston.

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The Sweet and Chewy Taste of Kutsinta: A Filipino Delight

Kutsinta is a type of Filipino snack that is traditionally made from rice flour, brown sugar, and lye water. It has a gelatinous and sticky texture that is enhanced by the annatto, a native ingredient that gives it a reddish color and a shiny appearance. The texture of kutsinta is soft and chewy, and it has a bit of a cake-like consistency. It is usually topped with grated coconut, which adds to its already amazing taste.

Taste and Flavor

Kutsinta has a sweet and delicious flavor that is usually sweetened with molasses or brown sugar. It has a hint of smoky flavor that comes from the steaming process. The flavor of kutsinta is enhanced by the annatto, which gives it a unique taste that is inseparable from the Filipino culture. The taste of kutsinta is a great snack to wake up to, especially when sold by a peddler howling in the early morning.

How it is Eaten and Served

Kutsinta is usually served steamed and eaten as a snack or dessert. It is commonly sold by street vendors and can be found in regular Filipino markets. It is a common thing to be served in school, and it is a funny kind of snack that Filipinos remember from their childhood. Kutsinta is usually paired with puto, another glutinous Filipino snack, and is enjoyed with a cup of hot coffee or tea.

The Meaning Behind the Name: Why is it Called Kutsinta?

Have you ever wondered where the word “kutsinta” came from? Well, the word “kutsinta” originated from the Chinese language, specifically from the word “kuchinta” which means “cake made from rice flour.” The word was later adapted by the Filipinos and became known as “kutsinta.”

The Ingredients that Make Kutsinta

Kutsinta is made from a mixture of rice flour, water, and brown sugar. Lye water is also added to the mixture to give it a slightly sticky and firm texture. Some recipes also include annatto extract to give it a distinct orange color.

The Special Cooking Process of Kutsinta

Kutsinta is steamed instead of baked or fried. The mixture is poured into small molds or cups and steamed until it becomes solid. After cooking, it is topped with grated coconut or served plain.

Why is Kutsinta So Popular?

Kutsinta is a common and affordable snack in the Philippines. It is usually sold by street vendors and can be found in almost every corner of the country. It is also a popular item in Filipino restaurants and is often served as a dessert or a midday snack.

The Different Kinds of Kutsinta

Kutsinta comes in different shapes and sizes, depending on the availability of molds and the preference of the cook. Some kutsinta are sold in regular sizes while others are made in heart or pocket shapes. There are also some kutsinta that are topped with grated cheese or served with a side of vinegar.

The Key to Making Great Kutsinta

Making kutsinta may sound easy, but it requires a certain level of skill and patience. Here are some tips to help you make the perfect kutsinta:

  • Use the right amount of ingredients and mix them well.
  • Allow the mixture to cool for a couple of hours before steaming.
  • Prevent the kutsinta from turning dark by covering the molds with a cloth while steaming.
  • Finally, make sure to stir the mixture well before pouring it into the molds to ensure that the lye water is evenly distributed.


Kutsinta was derived from the words “kueh tsin tao”, which is a Chinese phrase that means “little cake”. This food can be served as a dessert or snack.

This dessert is originally based on Chinese rice cakes, but Pinoy-style kutsinta has a jelly-like consistency. The original Chinese rice cake is more dense, chewy, and sticky.

Around the 9th century, direct trade between China and the Philippines was first recorded (at the turn of the Sung and Tang dynasty). Since then, kutsinta has existed in its original form. Filipinos then adapted it by serving it with grated coconut.

Another Chinese delicacy brought by Chinese traders at the time was “kueh putu” (steamed rice cake), which ultimately evolved into our favorite “puto.”

As a result, the well-known “puto-kutsinta” snacks are offered together.

What Goes into Making Kutsinta?

Kutsinta is a type of Filipino snack that is traditionally made from a mixture of rice flour, tapioca flour, and brown sugar. Other ingredients that are commonly used to enhance the flavor and texture of kutsinta include:

  • Lye water: This is a type of alkaline solution that is added to the mixture to help it set and give it a slightly firm texture.
  • Annatto powder: This is a natural coloring agent that is used to give kutsinta its reddish-brown color.
  • Desiccated coconut: This is often used as a topping for kutsinta to add a bit of texture and flavor.

The Process

Making kutsinta is a relatively simple process that involves the following steps:

1. Mix the rice flour, tapioca flour, brown sugar, and lye water in a bowl.
2. Add water to the mixture and stir until it forms a smooth batter.
3. Allow the batter to cool for a couple of minutes before pouring it into small molds.
4. Steam the molds for around 30 minutes until the kutsinta is set.
5. Allow the kutsinta to cool before removing it from the molds.
6. Serve the kutsinta topped with desiccated coconut.

The Texture and Taste

Kutsinta has a unique texture that is soft, sticky, and slightly chewy. It has a sweet flavor that is enhanced by the brown sugar and coconut topping. Kutsinta is usually eaten as a snack or dessert and is a great accompaniment to savory dishes.

Where to Find Kutsinta

Kutsinta can be found in many Filipino bakeries and food stalls. It is a popular snack that is sold both as a regular and special item. You can also try making kutsinta at home by following a recipe found online or in a Filipino cookbook.

Get Ready to Cook the Best Kutsinta: A Step-by-Step Guide

To make kutsinta, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of rice flour
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of lye water (lihiya)
  • 1 teaspoon of anatto seed (atsuete)

Preparation Process

Here’s how to prepare kutsinta:

  1. Mix the rice flour, all-purpose flour, and brown sugar in a bowl.
  2. Add water gradually while stirring the mixture until it becomes smooth.
  3. Add lye water and anatto seed. Mix well.
  4. Grease the molds with oil and fill them with the mixture about 3/4 full.
  5. Steam the molds for 30-40 minutes on medium heat.
  6. Check if the kutsinta is cooked by inserting a toothpick or skewer in the middle. If it comes out clean, it’s done.
  7. Let the kutsinta cool down before removing them from the molds.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Important Tips to Keep in Mind

To make sure your kutsinta turns out perfect, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure to use the right type of flour. Regular rice flour works best for kutsinta.
  • Lye water is an important ingredient in making kutsinta. It helps the mixture rise and gives it a chewy texture.
  • If you can’t find anatto seed, you can substitute it with food coloring.
  • Don’t overfill the molds with the mixture, as it will rise while cooking.
  • Make sure to steam the kutsinta for the right amount of time. Too long and it will become hard, too short and it will be undercooked.
  • Adding a little bit of vinegar to the water when steaming can help prevent the kutsinta from turning hard.

Learning More About Filipino Food

If you’re a fan of Filipino food and want to learn more, check out our other articles on Filipino cuisine. We have information on different types of food, cooking techniques, and more. Come and find your new favorite dish!

Questions and Comments

If you have any questions or comments about this kutsinta recipe, feel free to leave them below. We’re here to help and answer any questions you may have.

The Key Ingredient: Lye Water in Making Kutsinta

Lye water, also known as potassium carbonate solution, is a strong alkaline solution that is commonly used in Chinese and Filipino cooking. It is a key ingredient in making kutsinta as it helps achieve the smooth and silky texture of the Filipino delicacy.

What Does Lye Water Do in Kutsinta?

Lye water plays a crucial role in the structure and texture of kutsinta. Here are some of the things that lye water does in kutsinta:

  • Helps the rice flour and cassava flour mixture form a smooth and sticky batter
  • Reacts with the brown sugar to give kutsinta its distinct color
  • Prevents mold from forming during the steaming process
  • Makes the kutsinta smoother and silkier
  • Helps the kutsinta achieve the right level of sweetness

How to Prepare Lye Water for Kutsinta?

If you’re making kutsinta from scratch, you can buy lye water from your local Asian grocery store. Here’s how to prepare lye water for kutsinta:

  • In a small bowl, mix 1/4 teaspoon of lye water with 1/4 cup of water.
  • Stir until the lye water is completely dissolved.
  • Set aside and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before using.

Can You Substitute Lye Water in Making Kutsinta?

While lye water is a common ingredient in making kutsinta, some people prefer not to use it. If you want to try making kutsinta without lye water, you can substitute it with tapioca starch or baking powder. However, keep in mind that the texture and structure of the kutsinta may not be the same as those made with lye water.

What’s in a Kutsinta?

Kutsinta is a popular Filipino snack that is often enjoyed as a midday treat or dessert. While it may be delicious, it’s important to understand the nutritional value of this tasty treat. Here’s what you need to know:

  • One piece of kutsinta (weighing around 30 g) contains approximately 80-100 calories, depending on the version and size.
  • Kutsinta is made from rice flour, sugar, and water, with lye water being a key ingredient in the cooking process. The lye water solution raises the pH level of the dough, which gives kutsinta its distinctive texture and springy, richer color.
  • The traditional version of kutsinta is made with rice flour, but innovative processes have led to the use of other ingredients such as squash, coconut milk, and moon cake flour.
  • Kutsinta is low in fat, with less than 1g of total fat per serving. It is also low in protein, with less than 1g of protein per piece.
  • Kutsinta is high in carbohydrates, with around 20g of carbs per serving. It is also low in fiber, with less than 1g of fiber per piece.
  • Kutsinta is high in sugars, with around 10g of sugars per serving. It is important to note that these are not alcohols or supplemental sugars.
  • Kutsinta is low in cholesterol, with less than 5mg of cholesterol per serving. It is also low in sodium, with less than 10mg of sodium per piece.
  • Kutsinta is not a significant source of vitamins or minerals, but it does contain small amounts of calcium, iron, and vitamin C. One piece of kutsinta contains approximately 2-4% of the daily recommended value of these nutrients.

Is Kutsinta Gluten-Free?

Kutsinta is not gluten-free, as it is made from rice flour which contains gluten. However, there are gluten-free versions of kutsinta that use alternative flours such as cassava or cornstarch.

Is Kutsinta Healthy?

While kutsinta is a delicious treat, it is not considered a healthy food due to its high sugar and carbohydrate content. However, it can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Is Kutsinta a Gelatin?

No, Kutsinta is not a gelatin. Although both Kutsinta and gelatin are used as ingredients in desserts, they are different in many ways. Here are some points to consider:

  • Gelatin is made from animal collagen, while Kutsinta is made from rice flour, brown sugar, and lye water.
  • Gelatin is usually sold in a solid, transparent form, while Kutsinta is a steamed cake that has a brown color and a sticky texture.
  • Gelatin is commonly used as a gelling agent, while Kutsinta is a traditional Filipino snack that is usually eaten as is or topped with grated coconut.
  • Gelatin is available in many different forms, such as sheets, powder, and granules, while Kutsinta is usually made from scratch using a specific recipe.

Why the Confusion?

There might be some confusion between Kutsinta and gelatin because they share some common characteristics. For example, both Kutsinta and gelatin are:

  • Sticky and chewy
  • Sweet in taste
  • Affordable and easy to make
  • Popular in many countries and cultures

However, it’s important to remember that Kutsinta is a type of Filipino rice cake, while gelatin is a type of food ingredient that is used for its gelling properties.

What Goes Well with Kutsinta?

Kutsinta is a popular Filipino snack that is usually sold by street vendors or served in restaurants. It is a sweet and sticky rice cake that is slightly brown in color and has a reddish hue enhanced by annatto powder. This special snack is usually eaten as a midday or afternoon snack, but it can also be enjoyed as a dessert after a meal. Here are some Filipino foods that go well with kutsinta:

  • Puto: This is another Filipino snack that is made from rice flour and is steamed in small molds. It has a firm and slightly hard texture and is usually white in color. Puto is a common snack that is sold by street vendors and is often served with kutsinta.
  • Native Delicacies: Filipinos love to eat native delicacies, and kutsinta is one of the most popular ones. Other kinds of native delicacies that go well with kutsinta include bibingka, suman, and cassava cake.
  • Coconut: Coconut is a key ingredient in Filipino cooking, and it is often used in making kutsinta. Coconut milk and desiccated coconut are usually added to the mixture to give it a sweet and nutty flavor. Coconut juice or water is also a great drink to have with kutsinta.


So there you have it- everything you need to know about Kutsinta. It’s a delicious Filipino snack made with rice flour, brown sugar, and lye water, and it’s a great way to enjoy some nostalgia.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.