Tang Yuan Recipe (Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls)

You’ll love tang yuan for its soft and chewy texture that goes well with its nutty and crunchy filling. Prepare these main ingredients: glutinous rice flour for the dough and black sesame seeds for the filling. Enjoy this traditional Chinese dessert for the Lantern Festival or any special occasion.

What Is Tang Yuan 湯圓?

If mooncakes are eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival and water chestnut cakes on Chinese New Year, Tang Yuan or sticky rice ball is a traditional Chinese dessert served every Lantern Festival. The Lantern Festival is celebrated every 15th day of the first month of the lunar new year. On this day, people traditionally eat tang yuan for luck, light lanterns, and perform lion and dragon dances.Tang Yuan3

Although tang yuan is commonly eaten in the Lantern Festival, it is also served on Chinese New Year, Winter Solstice Festival (Dongzhi) and special occasions like weddings and reunions. In a nutshell, tang yuan are chewy white balls made from glutinous rice flour and water, sometimes with sugar. It is chewier when eaten cold and softer when eaten hot.

Have this as a plain rice ball or stuffed with a filling, such as my black sesame with peanuts filling. This dessert can be sweet or savory and served either with soup or syrup. Here are some ways to serve tang yuan:

All About Ingredient Tips And AlternativesTang Yuan

Listed below are the key ingredients to making the most authentic tang yuan. If you need tips and alternatives, refer to my guidelines below. I share what makes each ingredient essential and how to alter them if needed.

Dough

  • GLUTINOUS rice flour (gluten-free): Glutinous rice flour is essential in creating a soft and chewy texture, similar to my mochi recipes like Easy Mango Mochi Recipe and Peanut Mochi Sprinkled With Coconut Powder. You’ll love its chewy and sticky texture when cooked. Plus, it is gluten-free! For your information, the word ‘glutinous’ refers to its glue-like texture, and NOT because of gluten.
    • Take note glutinous rice flour is not the same as rice flour. Rice flour is made from milled long or medium-grain white rice (ex. japonica, sinandomeng, angelica, or indica), whereas glutinous rice flour is made from glutinous rice or sticky rice.
    • I don’t recommend substituting glutinous rice flour with other types of flour. However, if you need to swap a small amount of glutinous rice flour, you can use half glutinous rice flour and half rice flour. Check out my Snow Skin Mooncake recipe where I use half glutinous rice flour and half rice flour for the dough. To learn more about their differences, refer to my guide, Rice Flour Vs Glutinous Rice Flour.
  • Warm water: I like to use warm water with temperatures between 110ºF and 130ºF. This helps me get the right texture for kneading. Remember not to make the water too hot or it will make the dough lose its elasticity for kneading. You should be able to knead and stretch out the dough without sticking to your hands.
  • Dough coloring: If you want to have colorful tang yuan, I recommend adding a small amount of natural food coloring to the dough. Use black sesame powder for a hint of black, purple sweet potato powder for purple, matcha powder or spinach powder for green, and pink beetroot juice for pink.

Filling

  • Black sesame seeds: Black sesamegives the filling a nutty taste and crunchy texture. Use raw or toasted black sesame seeds. If using raw black sesame seeds,  toast them for about 10 minutes in a non-stick pan on medium-low heat. Do not overtoast the seeds to avoid a bitter and burnt taste. If using toasted black sesame seeds, you can already add and blend them directly with the filling. An excellent substitute for black sesame seeds is white sesame seeds. However, the taste of white sesame seeds is milder than black sesame seeds.
  • Peanuts: Use any type of peanuts, such as boiled, roasted, or salted. Some types of peanuts to add are Runner, Spanish, Valencia, and Virginia. You can also use other types of nuts or seeds, like Brazil nuts, pili nuts, and sunflower seeds if needed.
  • Sugar: Any type of sugar will do, such as caster sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, cane sugar, or muscovado sugar. Adjust the amount according to the desired sweetness of the filling. You can also add sugar to your dough if you prefer a sweet rice ball.
  • Butter: Butter helps hold the filling together and make it less watery. It also creates a rich and creamy texture. Use regular salted or unsalted butter, dairy-free butter, margarine, or coconut oil. Adding any type of fat will solidify the filling once stored in the fridge or freezer,but it will become soft again when heated or melted at room temperature. Alternatively, you can use lard as a substitute for butter.

How To Store Tang Yuantang yuan on a container

The best thing about making tang yuan is that you can make a large batch of these and store them in the freezer for up to three months. In this way, you can have tang yuan fast anytime you crave them. Follow these steps to properly store tang yuan:

  1. Place the tang yuan on a container lined with parchment paper. Sometimes, I skip using the parchment paper, just like the image above. Line them on a single layer and do not stack them.
  2. Freeze until the balls are completely frozen.
  3. Once the balls are rock solid, transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag. This is the part where you can safely stack the balls and not worry about sticking.
  4. When you are ready to serve tang yuan, simply boil them straight from the freezer. Boil them for about 5 minutes or until they float.

Checklist Of Ingredients For Tang YuanTang Yuan on hand

It is super easy to make tang yuan at home with your basic kitchen tools, such as a blender for blending the filling and a pot for boiling. I also recommend a knife or dough cutter to cut the dough and kitchen gloves for kneading. The ingredients to prepare are the following:

Filling:

  • 100g of black sesame seeds
  • 20g of peanuts
  • 25g of sugar
  • 45g of butter
  • 45g of water

Dough:

  • 400g of glutinous rice flour
  • 300g of warm water
  • Glutinous rice flour for dusting

Step-By-Step Instructions To Make Tang Yuan 湯圓Tang Yuan2

Making tang yuan involves simple steps, such as blending the filling, kneading the dough, and boiling the assembled balls. I did the recipe in 3 main parts, which you can follow with my tutorial video on Instagram or TikTok. Once you are done making tang yuan, don’t forget to tag me @kitchenmisadventures!

Make The FillingMake The Filling

  1. Blend the black sesame seeds, peanuts, and sugar in a blender or food processor.
  2. After blending, mix in melted butter and water.
  3. Mix well and freeze for 5 minutes.
  4. Afterward, shape the filling into 9g balls and put it back again in the freezer.tang yuan Filling

Knead The DoughKnead The Dough

  1. Combine the glutinous rice flour with warm water.
  2. Knead until you form a semi-solid dough.
  3. Take 1/4 of the dough, flatten it, and boil it in water for 3 minutes.
  4. Then, combine the cooked dough with the remaining dough. In this way, you get an even chewier dough.Knead The Dough2
  5. Knead the dough and roll it into a log.
  6. Divide it into small portions of about 13g each. Use a dough cutter or knife to cut the dough.Divide it into small portions

Assemble The Tang YuanAssemble The Tang Yuan

  1. Take each piece of dough and flatten it into a small circular wrapper.
  2. Place the black sesame filling in the center, seal it, and shape it into balls. As you do this step, you can dust the surface with flour to prevent the balls from sticking.
  3. Cook in simmering water for 5 minutes until they float.Cook in simmering water for 5 minutes until tangyuan floatTang Yuan after cooking
  4. Serve the balls in a bowl and pour hot water used for boiling the balls.
  5. Enjoy this hot or cold, the perfect dessert for winter or summer!

For more traditional desserts, check out these recipes: Taro Snow Skin Mooncake With Cheese, Red Bean Cake Recipe, and Steamed Piggy Buns.

Tang Yuan2

How to Make Tang Yuan

You'll love tang yuan for its soft and chewy texture that goes well with its nutty and crunchy filling. Prepare these main ingredients: glutinous rice flour for the dough and black sesame seeds for the filling. Enjoy this traditional Chinese dessert for the Lantern Festival or any special occasion.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4
Calories 563 kcal

Ingredients
  

Filling:

  • 100 g of black sesame seeds
  • 20 g of peanuts
  • 25 g of sugar
  • 45 g of butter
  • 45 g of water

Dough:

  • 400 g of glutinous rice flour
  • 300 g of warm water
  • Glutinous rice flour for dusting

Instructions
 

Make The Filling

  • Blend the black sesame seeds, peanuts, and sugar in a blender or food processor.
  • After blending, mix in melted butter and water.
  • Mix well and freeze for 5 minutes.
  • Afterward, shape the filling into 9g balls and put it back again in the freezer.

Knead The Dough

  • Combine the glutinous rice flour with warm water.
  • Knead until you form a semi-solid dough.
  • Take 1/4 of the dough, flatten it, and boil it in water for 3 minutes.
  • Then, combine the cooked dough with the remaining dough. In this way, you get an even chewier dough.
  • Knead the dough and roll it into a log.
  • Divide it into small portions of about 13g each. Use a dough cutter or knife to cut the dough.

Assemble The Tang Yuan

  • Take each piece of dough and flatten it into a small circular wrapper.
  • Place the black sesame filling in the center, seal it, and shape it into balls. As you do this step, you can dust the surface with flour to prevent the balls from sticking.
  • Cook in simmering water for 5 minutes until they float.
  • Serve the balls in a bowl and pour hot water used for boiling the balls.
  • Enjoy this hot or cold, the perfect dessert for winter or summer!

Nutrition

Calories: 563kcalCarbohydrates: 93gProtein: 12gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 257mgFiber: 6gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 375IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 263mgIron: 4mg
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