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Four glutinous rice balls in a bowl
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4.96 from 22 votes

Tang Yuan, Chinese glutinous rice balls (汤圆)

A sweet, nutty, runny filling sealed with a slippery, chewy wrapper, Tang Yuan (Chinese glutinous rice balls) is a delectable dessert not to miss.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Rice balls
Servings: 20 balls
Calories: 221kcal
Author: Wei Guo


For the filling

  • 80 g black sesame seeds or peanuts
  • 2.5 tablespoon sugar or to taste
  • 40 g softened lard or 30g butter

For the wrapper

  • 130 g glutinous rice flour
  • 3 tablespoon boiling water
  • 4 tablespoon room temperature water or beetroot juice


Prepare the filling

  • Toast black sesame seeds (or peanuts) in a frying pan over low heat (see note 1).
  • In a food processor, grind cooled black sesame seeds (or peanuts) and sugar until they turn into a paste texture.
  • Add lard (or butter). Mix to combine then keep refrigerated until the mixture is firm enough to handle.
  • Divide into 20 portions. Shape each piece into a ball. Put them back in the fridge while preparing the dough.

Make the dough

  • In a mixing bowl, pour hot water into glutinous rice flour while stirring with a spatula.
  • Add room temperature water (or beetroot juice) little by little.
  • Knead with your hand until a smooth, soft dough forms (see note 2).
  • Divide and roll into 20 balls.

Assemble Tang Yuan (please refer to the video below)

  • Flatten a piece of dough into a round wrapper with your fingers.
  • Place a ball of filling in the middle. Gently push the wrapper upwards to seal completely (see note 3).

Cook Tang Yuan

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Gently slide in some Tang Yuan (see note 4).
  • Push them around with the back of a cooking spoon to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • When all the balls start to float on the surface, cook for a further minute.
  • Dish out (along with some liquid) and serve warm.

Store Tang Yuan

  • Freeze Tang Yuan right after they are assembled.
  • Firstly you need to lay them on a tray lined with parchment paper to freeze. Then put them in an air-tight bag when totally frozen.
  • Follow the same cooking procedure (do not defrost).



1. Keep a close eye on black sesame seeds while toasting. When the flat seeds plump up and are very easy to break when crushed with your fingers, they are done. Do not overcook as it would lead to an unpleasant burnt flavour.
2. The amount of room temperature water (or beetroot juice) required varies depending on the brand of the flour. Adjust if necessary. The finished dough needs to be smooth, very soft but not sticky. If you are not using the dough straightaway, wrap it with cling film to avoid drying out.
3. To make assembling easier, the filling should be quite firm (you may put them in the freezer for a short while to accelerate the process). Unlike dough made of wheat flour, the dough made of glutinous rice flour isn’t very elastic. It may crack during the assembling process (especially if it’s not soft enough). If cracks appear, wet the broken part with a tiny layer of water then rub gently to reseal.
4. Cook Tang Yuan in batches. They expand while cooking (about 1.5 times bigger in the end) so make sure it’s not too crowded when all the Tang Yuan are floating on the surface.


Serving: 4balls | Calories: 221kcal