If you have ever been on a low-calorie eating plan or diet, you are likely familiar with rice cakes.
These snacks are lauded for their very low-calorie count but are also gluten-free and fairly inexpensive to buy.
While rice cakes themselves may not taste like much, there are new and exciting flavors hitting the market that are rejuvenating interest and piquing curiosity about this diet-friendly snack food.
What do rice cakes taste like?
Rice cakes have a slightly sweet taste due to the starchiness of the rice. Thinly sliced rice cakes are lighter and more crunchy, while thicker rice cakes have a more chewy texture and are usually drier. Different rice cake flavors combine other natural ingredients like quinoa, different seeds, and even dried fruits to achieve a fuller flavor profile. Salted rice cakes are richer in flavor without adding any other foods to the rice cakes. Whether you buy the dried rice cakes on the health foods aisle or the fresh rice cakes known as nian gao in Chinese or dok in Korean, the flavor profile is similar.
Do you enjoy eating rice cakes? Keep reading to learn more about this healthy snack!
What Are Rice Cakes?
Rice cakes are made from puffed rice that has been pressed together.
The rice may be cooked or air puffed to produce lightness of texture.
These pressed rice cakes are a great low-calorie substitute for bread.
But What Do Rice Cakes Taste Like?
Some rice cakes include other grains to help boost the flavor profile, while others have added spices or salt to improve the taste.
Plain, unflavored rice cakes are semi-sweet due to the starch content of the rice.
Rice cakes can be chewy or crispy, depending on the composition, thickness of the rice cake, and the method of preparation.
The taste of rice cakes is nearer to neutral than any specific flavor.
Rice cakes have a mild taste that’s somewhere between sweet and salty.
Due to rice cakes having a muted flavor profile, they form a great base for other more flavorful toppings.
Traditional rice cakes such as nian gao and dok are used in stews and other cooked foods where these soak up the flavorful juices to produce chewy semi-sweet bites in these foods.
These traditional rice cakes are freshly made and not dried like conventional rice cakes.
Nian gao can be fried, which produces a lighter texture and slightly oily tasting cracker that can be served with other dishes or as a snack on its own.
Factors Influencing the Flavor of Rice Cakes
Rice cakes don’t all taste the same.
This may seem a given, since rice cakes come in a range of flavors due to additives, flavorants, and extra components like seeds and other grains.
However, rice cakes that are plain and unflavored also don’t always taste the same.
There are several factors that influence the taste of even plain rice cakes.
Preparation of Rice Cake
The method in which the rice cake is prepared will influence its taste. Oil fried rice cakes have a slight flavor of oil to them.
Air fried or popped rice cakes have the most neutral or authentic flavor profile as all you will taste is the rice ingredient.
I found that I preferred air popped rice cakes as these were less greasy, but air popped rice cakes also have the driest texture, and this may take some getting used to when you’re just coming off a bread diet.
The kind of rice used also influences the flavor substantially. White rice has less taste, while brown rice cakes are more flavorsome.
The taste difference between brown and white rice is not huge, but brown rice tends to be sweeter with a wholesome taste profile.
Thickness of Rice Cake
Thicker rice cakes are more chewy, and they also take a bit more biting force to chew through.
I prefer to serve thicker rice cakes with a moist topping such as a salad or tuna fish dressing.
I found the thicker rice cakes added bulk to the food I chewed, but not much flavor. When lightly salted, the flavor improved substantially.
Size of Rice Cake
Smaller rice cakes are more flavorsome than larger rice cakes, and the shape of the rice cakes also provides a better taste.
Irregular shaped rice cakes are more tasty and have a better sweetness than hard-edged rice cakes that have a distinctive cardboard taste.
Smaller rice cake chips are also becoming popular where the rice cake is made from densely compressed rice grains.
These cakes are dried in a mold to create a curved shape that further influences the taste buds’ reaction to the rice cakes.
Topping On Rice Cake
The topping on rice cakes will have a substantial flavor influence on rice cakes.
Any topping on rice cakes will immediately influence the taste, texture, and flavor.
A salty dressing will create a more salty flavor, while a sweet dressing will ensure the rice cakes have a more dominant sweet taste.
A Bit About Rice Cakes
Essentially, most rice cakes are made from puffed rice or rice flour- which may be comprised of white, brown, or other sorts of rice varieties.
These cakes are crispy, more like crackers than cakes or bread.
When rice cakes initially hit the market in the 1980s, they were only offered in an unsalted variety that is devoid of any distinct flavor profile.
The taste is very similar to air-popped corn that is unsalted and unseasoned.
Since that time, many new and flavorful varieties of rice cakes are widely available but be warned- many of these contain sugars and fats that could derail your healthy eating plan.
Enjoy your favorite flavors of rice cakes, but in moderation. Try some of the newer offerings, like rice cakes with added flaxseeds or quinoa, for something different.
The Nutritional Value of Rice Cakes
As for the nutritional content of rice cakes, there is not much to say.
Yes, these snacks are low in calories and low in fat, but they are high in carbohydrates, too.
That is, rice cakes are not a low-carb or keto-friendly food option.
Some other things to know about the nutritional value of rice cakes include the following.
Remember that rice cakes are high in fiber, which is a dietary advantage.
Rice cakes are gluten-free and around 40 calories per serving size.
Rice cakes are not low in carbs but contain fewer carbs than bread or crackers, which makes them a viable substitute when eating healthily.
Rice cakes contain healthy whole grains.
Rice cakes can raise blood glucose rapidly due to their carb content.
Brown rice cakes contain necessary dietary antioxidants.
Also, some kinds of rice cakes may be higher in sodium and sugar, so read the label carefully.
A lot of the healthful benefits and nutrition of rice cakes is what you put on top or pair with them- these are an excellent vehicle for many delicious and nutritious foods!
Recipes for Rice Cakes
What do you eat and enjoy with rice cakes? Anything you want!
These light and airy cakes are more like a crisp cracker that is sturdy enough for the chunkiest guacamole or densest dip.
Adding a topping or pairing with protein can also help make rice cakes more satisfying and filling- which is helpful on any eating regimen.
Avoid the glucose level spike when eating rice cakes by pairing them with protein-rich food, like tuna or sardines, peanut butter, or almond butter.
Use rice cakes in lieu of bread for your favorite avocado toast preparation- they are fantastic and hold up well to the heft of sliced veggies.
Try seasoning your unsalted rice cakes to control the sodium level- give them a sprinkling of ‘everything but the bagel’ seasoning, seasoning salt, or something new, like lemon pepper!
Take a look in your spice cabinet to see what you have on hand.
Some other ideas include using a rice cake for an open-faced breakfast sandwich.
Top the cake with a scrambled egg and cheese, if desired.
Serve rice cakes with homemade hummus and a big pinch of fresh sprouts for a brunchtime treat!
You can also quell a sweet tooth by taking a different approach- try pairing rice cakes with sweetened yogurt and fresh berries.
Sprinkle a generous pinch of chia seeds on top before serving.
You can also spread nut butter on the rice cake and top with sliced banana and grated coconut.
Some inventive eaters use the rice cake as a base for a pizza- just add sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings, and broil!
Frequently Asked Questions About How Rice Cakes Taste Like
What are rice cakes made from?
Most rice cakes are made from puffed rice or rice flour. The rice is pressed to form a cake, which resembles the consistency of a light, crisp cracker.
What should you know about rice cakes before eating them?
If you are allergic to rice, do not eat rice cakes. Make sure to read the label to ensure you are getting what you want, without sugars and added flavorings that can boost the calorie count and change the nutritional information.
What pairs well with rice cakes?
Rice cakes are an excellent vehicle for many different toppers, from cheeses and fruit to spreads and dip. Salted or seasoned varieties are also good as a crunchy snack on their own.
Are rice cakes good tasting?
Rice cakes have a semi-neutral taste profile. Depending on the size, shape, and thickness of the rice cakes, they will have a slightly sweet flavor that results from the starch of the rice.
What tastes do rice cakes go with?
Since rice cakes are almost bland tasting, they are excellent bases for any topping from sweet to salty or even sour tasting. Serve rice cakes with anything from pickled gherkins or dill pickles to sweet tomatoes, building the flavor with the light texture of the rice cakes.
How would you describe rice cakes?
Rice cakes are cylindrical slices that are usually made from air puffed rice that has been pressed into a cake shape. There are many different types of rice that can be used to make rice cakes, and each rice type will result in a different flavor. However, plain rice cakes always have a muted flavor profile since the rice ingredient is combined with air during the puffing process.
Do you like rice cakes?
Even plain, unsalted rice cakes can be tasty and delicious when topped with your favorite spreads or dips- or try substituting rice cakes for bread in some of your sandwiches.
Rice cakes are low in calories and gluten-free so they may fit nicely in with your own eating plan and lifestyle.