How to Make Rice Glue for Plastic-Free Paper Tape

Underside of a gift wrapped in brown paper and sealed with paper tape glued with rice glue

Leftover rice has so many uses, including the basis for quick, easy and practically free homemade rice glue. Use that rice glue to make paper tape for wrapping gifts and save money while eliminating single-use, landfill-bound plastic tape.

How to make rice glue with cooked rice

I needed to wrap up a few Christmas presents today. Usually, I make wheat paste to brush onto strips and scraps of paper for homemade paper tape. I love the stuff! I’ve even used it to ship parcels. It’s that strong! Then I realized I had leftover cooked white rice in the refrigerator. With cooked rice on hand, I quickly made rice glue for my paper tape. No food wasted!

For this post, I used white jasmine rice because that’s what I had eaten with my chana masala. Basmati would work. Ditto for short grain. Sticky sushi rice would work very well but that level of stickiness isn’t necessary. The finished product creates very strong, sticky glue.

With the rice already cooked, the bulk of the work is done

To make approximately 2 tablespoons of rice glue, blend together 2 tablespoons of cooked rice and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water in a blender. The amount of water you’ll need depends on how watery—or how dry—the rice is. If the mixture remains somewhat chunky after blending, add a bit more water. You want a very smooth consistency.

If you start with uncooked rice, add more water than usual for very wet and sticky rice—unless you’d like to eat some of the rice, in which case, add the amount water you normally would and when making rice glue with some of it, add water when blending (as explained above).

The ensuing runny mixture won’t be thick enough to glue paper together so reduce it a bit in a pot over low heat while stirring constantly. The glue in this post reduced to a thick paste in less than a minute. Keep an eye on it!

Next, make paper tape with the rice glue

Cut an appropriately sized piece of paper to wrap your gift and a few strips of paper for the tape. Brush glue onto the paper strips and while those sit and dry out slightly for a minute or so, fold the paper around the gift. Apply the tape to seal up the wrapping. The glue dries completely in a few minutes with a very strong bond and almost disappears into the paper. It looks so good! And costs basically nothing!

If the glue is too thick to brush onto the paper, thin it out with water. You’ll likely need to do this after storing the glue in the refrigerator, where it keeps for about a week. Because it does not freeze or store well for the long-term, make small amounts you will use quickly.

A small jar of homemade rice glue sits on brown paper
Thick rice glue but not too thick to apply with a brush
Underside of a gift wrapped in brown paper and sealed with paper tape glued with rice glue
The back of the gift with the paper tape visible but not very noticeable
A gift wrapped in brown paper and sealed with paper tape glued with rice glue. A jar of rice glue, a paint brush and a strip of brown paper sit in the background.
The front of the gift; ready to go under the tree

After my daughter opens her gift, I’ll compost the brown paper. Our hungry compost bins need all the brown matter they can get.

Is the glued paper recyclable? Well, probably. Paper covered with adhesives cannot be recycled. Paper containing small amounts of glue (usually) can be recycled and water soluble glue on paper does not gum up recycling equipment. (This rice glue is water soluble.) Contact your city’s waste management department to find out exactly what kinds of paper you can and cannot put in your recycling bin.

Metallic wrapping paper or paper with or glitter or laminate cannot be recycled. But that is another post.

A hand holds a small jar of rice glue. In the background is a gift wrapped in brown paper and a paintbrush.
Store the rice glue in the refrigerator

My award-winning cookbook makes a great gift!

My book won silver for single-subject cookbooks at the Taste Canada awards! It also won a second-place Gourmand cookbook award in the category of food waste. And it was shortlisted for an award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Learn more about my book here.

Canadian cover

12 Replies to “How to Make Rice Glue for Plastic-Free Paper Tape”

  1. Such a cool idea! Thank you so much for always sharing your extensive knowledge with us. Happy holidays♥️

    1. My pleasure! I’m glad you like the post. The glue and tape are so fun to make! Happy holidays to you as well 🙂

  2. Betty McIntosh says: Reply

    Thank you for all your wonderful information and knowledge.
    Anne-Marie wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and have a healthy Happy New Year.

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Betty! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family as well 🙂

  3. For years, PBS aired At Home with Venetia in Kyoto. One of her tips was that she saved the water used for rinsing rice to wash the floors in her century old farm house in the rural area surrounding Kyoto. Venetia was born in the UK and raised in a palace. After finding god in India she migrated to Japan many years ago.

    1. Oh I have to look that show up! I hope I can find it. Thank you for the tip for the rice water. I think with a little imagination, we come to realize that everything is a resource.

    2. You tube has some episodes. I always learned something new. Venetia did almost everything from scratch and took her viewers to see many crafters, artists, and farmers.
      Ps I am hoping to see you January 8 at the Sunnyvale Library.

      1. Thank you! I would love this show. I hope to see you too! I’m going to bring a few SCOBYs to give away. If you can’t make it and want one, please let me know 🙂

  4. I’ve been wishing for a recipe just like this for a long time. Thank you Ann-Marie!
    I also appreciated How to Make Plastic-Free Glue and Homemade Paper Tape.
    You’ve saved me a lot of money over the last couple of years, but what I REALLY appreciate is being able to keep things OUT of the overflowing landfills. AND you always reply to questions right away. Thank you!
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    1. My pleasure, Lija. I’m often a bit slow with responses. I’m glad I’ve answered your questions. I was about to make wheat paste but had this rice already to go. It’s great for using up leftover food and also for people who can’t have gluten in their kitchen! It works so well.

      I also save so much money! Tape isn’t expensive but all these consumer products I don’t need to buy add up. You can’t beat free! Merry Christmas to you as well 🙂

  5. This Christmas I was using up the dregs of purchased Christmas wrapping paper and ended ups using some brown bag paper as you demonstrated but then used strips of wrapping paper to liven it up a bit.
    Fun and pretty festive looking, and now most of the old wrapping paper is used up. I thought that for gifts that are not going to need mailing tape, but just tape to hold the parcel together might benefit from a little potato print decorating. And of course the wheat or rice glue!

    1. That sounds lovely! What a great idea to use the colorful paper for the strips. I bet your recipients will love the wrapping. And it’s such a feeling of satisfaction to get to the bottom of a stash like that. Merry Christmas 🙂

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