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Carioca (Filipino Sweet Rice Balls)

5 from 1 vote

Carioca is a Filipino street food that is chewy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. This is a treat that my mom would make for us all the time whenever we wanted something sweet after dinner! Lightly crisp rice balls coated in a lovely caramel. What more can you ask for?

Using glutinous flour or sweet rice flour

This recipe is traditionally made with glutinous or sweet rice flour. I do not recommend using regular rice flour. Glutinous rice flour will give the carioca its distinct chewy texture. There are differences between the two. This article from Masterclass describes how they differ. Contrary to its name, glutinous rice flour actually contains no gluten at all!


Do you know what these are? Hint: 🇵🇭 🥥 Posting the recipe later this week! Stay tuned 🥰

♬ original sound – Asia Makes | Simple Recipes

This recipe uses coconut

Some recipes do not contain coconut milk nor grated coconut. This recipe in particular, does. It is how my family has made these for years and I like the flavour it provides!

Carioca also goes by a number of other names

Depending on the region, carioca is also referred to as cascaron, bitsu bitsu, amongst other names! 

Caramel coating for sweetness

Since the dough does not contain any sugar, this recipe relies on the caramel coating for sweetness. In my opinion, it provides the perfect amount of sweetness without making the carioca too sweet. The caramel coating is made from a simple mixture of brown sugar and water, reduced down to a tasty caramel. 

Growing up we would have these different ways. Sometimes we would drizzle the caramel over the fried rice balls, other times we would coat them in the caramel. I prefer the latter, which is how they are prepared in this recipe. Be careful when handling the caramel as it VERY hot. After making these for years, I have learned that a non-stick pan makes it so much easier to coat the balls in caramel. 

Like what you see? Check out more Filipino recipes!

Pork Adobo

Creamy Avocado Shake

Quick Chicken Tinola (Filipino Chicken Soup)

This recipe makes a LOT so feel free to half the recipe

I was taught how to cook and bake classic Filipino dishes by my grandma and mom. What I love about the recipes is that they seldom use cup or spoon measurements. You would wither eyeball the amount of use the whole bag/jar of something! This is a similar case with this recipe. I provided cup measurements for the grated coconut but just like all recipes I like to share, it’s all up to personal preference. 

Carioca (Filipino Sweet Rice Balls)

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by asiamakes Course: Sweets, DessertCuisine: Filipino, AsianDifficulty: Level 2


Prep time


Cooking time



Carioca is a Filipino street food that is chewy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Lightly crisp and chewy rice balls coated in a lovely caramel. What more can you ask for?

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  • 400 gram bag of glutinous rice flour

  • 400 ml can of coconut milk

  • ¾ cup grated coconut (fresh or dried will work)

  • Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • ⅓ cup water

  • 5-8 skewers (optional)

  • Oil for frying


  • To a large bowl add glutinous rice flour, coconut milk and grated coconut. Mix to combine. The dough will be thick so you may have to eventually use your hands to knead it.
  • Take 1 ½ tablespoons of the dough mixture and roll them into balls.
  • Using a chopstick or skewer, gently poke a hole in the middle of the rolled balls. This will ensure that they cook through and do not explode while cooking.*
  • Add oil to a shallow pan or pot on medium-high. You can shallow or deep fry the balls. Do not overcrowd them as the balls expand while cooking.
  • Cook for 3-5 minutes until lightly golden and crispy. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and add them to a strainer lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
  • In a large non-stick pan, add the brown sugar and water on medium heat.**
  • Once translucent and bubbling, add the carioca balls and gently stir until the caramel sauce has reduced.***
  • After the carioca is coated in the caramel, use tongs to directly add them to skewers. This step is optional but I find that it is easier to eat this way.
  • Set skewers on wax or parchment paper and allow caramel to set and cool down for 5-10 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!


  • *If you run into the issue of the dough exploding while frying, poke a larger hole into the dough and lower the heat to medium. Exploding can happen so please be careful!
  • **If you do not have a large non-stick pan, you can do this in two batches, dividing the sugar and water mixture.
  • ***Instead of coating the balls with caramel, you can drizzle the reduced caramel over the balls after skewering them. 

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