Black Sesame Dumplings (Tang Yuan)
October 05th, 2011 121 Comments

Black Sesame Dumplings (Tang Yuan)

Black Sesame Dumplings (Tang Yuan)
Black Sesame Dumplings (Tang Yuan) pictures (3 of 7)

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, except for a few desserts. One of the Chinese desserts I absolutely love is tang yuan (汤圆) or sweet dumplings filled with black sesame paste or ground peanuts. I am especially partial to black sesame dumplings or 芝蔴汤圆. They are absolutely decadent, with intensely flavorful, sinful rich, and aromatic black sesame filling oozing out of the dumplings, as pictured above.

Black sesame dumplings can be served with plain hot water or with ginger syrup (姜茶). Either way works fine for me, but during colder days, nothing feels quite as invigorating as having a bowl of black sesame dumplings steeped in ginger syrup. Ginger has many health benefits and warms up a cold body like no other…

I used both screwpine “pandan” leaves and dried sweet osmanthus (桂花) for my black sesame dumplings. They impart very subtle and delicate fragrances into the ginger syrup and smell wonderful!

Here is my black sesame dumplings recipe. I will warn you that it takes some patience to make them, but the end results will be well-worth the efforts.

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121 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Favbabe says:

    Hi there,

    This is my first time leaving a comment although I’ve been browsing through your website for a while :) I LOVE black sesame filling tang yuen! I was wondering if i can pre-make and freeze the tang yuan with black sesame in them for future use? Like how it’s sold in asian stores?

  2. yan says:

    OOoh thank you! I made these when I was in kindergarten (in Hong Kong) and I still remember how it went. Although the ingredients were already prepared for us!

    Can I make this in advance and freeze them? If so, should I dip them in cornstarch to prevent sticking?

    • Hi Yan – yes, you can make them in advance and freeze them but I am not sure about dipping in cornstarch. As long as you separate them and freeze, they won’t stick together.

      • yan says:

        Ok I have just started making it… I put the ground sesame, butter and sugar in a pan to make the paste.. but the paste seems too watery…. is it suppose to look like this? or should I add more sesame seeds? I actually used a little less than 1/2 of butter, but it still turned out quite watery.

  3. Rosa says:

    They look really delicious and so pretty! I love that first shot!



  4. My favourite Chinese dessert too and i love to eat it with ginger syrup! I always wonder how osmanthus flower looks like…can get it from chinese herbal shop?

  5. noobcook says:

    woah, so beautiful. Me too, I don’t have a sweet tooth but I’ll gobble down all these delicious looking dumplings if I see them ;p

  6. wow! I have never thought to make tang yuan myself! Now I just might! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  7. I love dessert and I especially love black sesame and ground peanut!!!! Red beans is my favourite too! Since I don’t know how to make this tang yuan with filling, I would just buy them from the grocery store locally. I found that boiling them is quite tricky, I always accidentally over-cooked them and cause the filling to leak out :(

  8. I’m intrigued. I’m not sure I would attempt to make them myself, but I’ll definitely look for them when I’m out for some good Chinese.

  9. terri says:

    i haven’t been very successful with my black sesame tang yuen–the filling isn;t smooth but i will def use ur recipe next time i cook tang yuan. thanks!

  10. I love black sesame tang yuen, but peanut tang yuen is equally yummy!

  11. Agnes says:

    This is interesting. I had this a lot in my home town in Indonesia … and I always thought that this is a javanese desert. Never thought that this is a chinese desert since I never found it in chinese restaurants. Great pictures, I could imagine the sweetness of the dumpling and the warmth of the ginger broth.

  12. pat says:

    Hi Bee:

    Where do you get your pandan leaves? Frozen? I would love to have a live plant if you have one and bears some anak!


  13. S says:

    Wow! Your dumplings look sooo beautifully shiny and smooth. Mine usually looks a little lumpy. What kind of glutinous rice flower did you use? Is it the Thai brand that you usually find in grocery stores or Mochiko?

    Do you happen to have other black sesame dessert recipes? I absolutely love black sesame, but I haven’t really found any recipes using them.

  14. lk says:

    Wow! You have such a pair of delicated hands! Your dumplings look so appealing! I must give it a try one day! Hehehe!

  15. helen says:

    Finally, an end to frozen, store-bought tang yuens. Hooray!

  16. Cynthia says:

    Thanks for the introduction to another treat!

  17. Gay says:

    Wow, this sounds easy to make. I have a kilo of black sesame seeds that is languishing in the pantry. Got to try this one. Thanks!

  18. MamaFaMi says:

    I’ve never had these before but your photo sure looks tempting!

  19. babe_kl says:

    mmmm this is my fave too, luckily can be easily found at tong shui shops in KL :D

  20. ck lam says:

    I love eating tang yuen and there is a pretty good one in town. I have yet to try one with added sweet osmanthus in the syrup.

  21. Yes, my Mom makes these and I love them. I didn’t know you could use osmanthus in cooking! We have a fragrant bush near our home, but now I know and will put it to good use!

    • Passionate Eater – growing up, some of the ingredients are indeed buried along the streets’ or some abandonments’ bushes. Make good use of that fragrant bush :)

  22. Miakoda says:

    Wow! The recipe is so simple, but it really looks so delicious. I want to try it right away! But I’d like some other flavor to the syrup- not really a fan of ginger. How about rose water- how does one make a syrup with that?…..I need to find that out.

    • Miakoda – too bad you’re not a fan of ginger because this is key to these dumplings dessert. Let me know how your version turns out :)

      • Miakoda says:

        Ok, I tried it, ginger and all. You make it sound so easy and I was sweating away here, anxiously waiting for those little white rocks to rise in the boiling water! Could you tell me approximately how long it takes for them to float up?

        • Hi Mia – sorry I just got this comment. Sticky rice is glutinous rice ( Well, it takes about 4-5 minutes for the dumplings to cook. If you have a deep pot of boiling water, they will sure float up, but if your pot of boiling water is shallow, they might not. But they should be done in 4-5 minutes in hot boiling water. Hope this helps.

          • Miakoda says:

            Thanks for replying! It definitely clears up my doubts- what I made is vastly different from what its supposed to be :D ….Never mind, I’ll be coming to Malaysia this year or the next and I’m going to bring back as many ingredients as I’m allowed- sticky rice flour and all :) Thanks again!

            • Mia – thanks for trying the recipe. May I ask if your version is delicious?

              • Miakoda says:

                Hmm…thats a tough one. The filling and the syrup were good, but the rice part wasn’t the right texture or consistency. So I really cannot call it a success :) But as I chewed into it, I did get an inkling of how wonderful the original would taste…. :) But its ok, I plan on trying many more recipes from your blog, you’ll see!!

                • Miakoda – good luck and yes, go to Malaysia and buy all the ingredients. Send me a note when you go to Malaysia. You definitely want to visit Penang, a UNESCO world heritage site, it has the BEST food in Malaysia. You just have to go! :)

                  • Miakoda says:

                    I will! And thanks for that tip! I’ll drop a note to you before I do go and get a low down on all the foodie things I should do… :) Thanks!

  23. tigerfish says:

    I like tang yuen with black sesame fillings too! Best! I like your addition of 桂花 :)
    Reminds me of a Shanghai dessert.

  24. Lorna says:

    I like the black sesame ones best, and the peanut ones 2nd best =)

  25. Kairi says:

    I tried to make it with peanut once. I find it’s extremely hard to warp toe filling. Later I found another way to do it. It’s way easier, but more work.

    You first moist the filling with water, then roll the moisten filling on the flour. Repeated it for 10 times, or desire thickness. Saw it from some Chinese recipe.

    Hope that helps whom experiencing difficulties, like me <:

  26. lingzie says:

    wow!! you made your own black sesame tang yuen!! i usually just run to the store to get frozen ones… lol. and i love mine with ginger syrup!

  27. Tracy says:

    i love tang yuan. tks for sharing this recipe and enticing us with your great photos!

  28. sushilover says:

    That looks yummy! Do we use unsalted or salted butter though?
    Planning on making this on Mother’s Day (:

  29. sushilover says:

    Can I use roasted/toasted black sesame seeds?

  30. sushilover says:

    Oh! Sorry but it turns out that I had dried sesame seeds not toasted. Can I use that instead? Sorry for all the questions.

  31. Wu says:

    Just found this today. Can you make this with the store bought sesame paste in a jar? Or will the recipe not work as well?

    • I guess it should work, but I have never tried the sesame paste in a jar so use your best judgment.

      • Wu says:

        Thanks for the quick reply. I will try this week:) Keep up the great work.

        • Thank you for leaving comments. Enjoy the dumplings.

          • Wu says:

            Hi Rosa

            I couldn’t find black sesame seed paste at ranch 99 so I bought Black sesame powder. It looked like grounded sesame seeds.

            Anyways, does it matter what type of sugar is used for this recipe? I am using the sugar cane which is not very fine. When i made my paste, it didn’t taste sweet. Do you think I need to use normal superfine sugar? or will the paste taste sweet in the final product?

            • Yes, black sesame powder should be the same, but it might not be as aromatic because if you don’t “toast” them. For sugar, it’s up to your taste. If it’s not sweet, add more sugar.

  32. shane says:

    i am going to try out this recipe as soon as i can. it is my favourite dessert.
    thank you so much for this recipe!

  33. Clueless says:

    Hi ~~ I love this dessert. .. and finally learn how difficult it is to make them ==”

    I tried making this last night .. sad to say .. it was an absolute disaster .. :S

    1. my sesame paste .. turn into sesame candy after it cool (similar to those teochew style ones.. just harder)… (did i add too much sugar?)
    2. The dough is either too runny or too dry.. I tried to slowly add water … but still cant get the consistency right
    3. I cheated .. using my store bought red bean paste to make the dumpling … but i cant make the dumpling “close”.

    The only thing .. that went right … was the ginger syrup … I loved it ~!.. ~~ really really envy yr skill .. u make it look so easy~!! : D

    • Well, the sesame paste is supposed to be somewhat dry and in lumps. It’s fine because after you boil the dumplings, the sesame seeds will drip out of the dumplings. Different brand of glutinous rice flour is different so you just have to improvise. If it’s too dry, add a little water. If it’s too watery, add more flour. You just have to close the dumplings with your fingers, and then roll them lightly in your palms.

  34. EW says:

    I don’t have a food processor. Can I use a coffee bean grinder to grind the sesame seeds?

  35. misoriffic says:

    I just spent my morning making these and I’m ecstatic with the results! I used to have them frozen all the time growing up. There’s also a bubble tea place close to my old home in NYC’s chinatown that would make these deep fried, which are my favorite way of consuming them. I have to say that I ended up adding an additional 50 ml of water to get a smooth consistency in the flour so that it wouldn’t break. Also, while, rolling, i covered my balls of flour with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. I also used a few drops of water in my palm after closing the dumpling to help smooth out the tang yuan when rolling at the end. It helped immensely! I’ve already eaten a bowl of them and they’re great! I was definitely erring on the cautious side and did not make the skins as thin as I would have liked to consume them, but at least my dumplings didn’t burst in the boiling water! :) Great recipe! I may start making the savory versions with savory filling as well. :)

  36. Nadine says:

    Your Tang Yuen looks absolutely delectable. I was wondering if you know how to make the peanut filling as well?
    Love your blog, its a jem!

  37. Christine says:


    I tried making the glutinuous rice yesterday but i have a problem with the glutinuous rice flour. Is it supposed to be moist or drier? If it’s moist, then it will stick on the plate but if it’s drier, it seems to crack when im trying to put on the filling.

    I was using most of my time wrapping the filling and it was not as easy as it seems. However, the result turned out very well, at least i did not had my glutinuous ball burst but i put too much butter when i roast it :(

    • The glutinous rice flour is supposed to be moist and soft and not stick to your hand. If crack, then it’s too dry.

      • Christine says:

        yes, the 2nd round i make it moist but it stick on my hand, maybe i need to add some flour on my palm?..urrghhh…

        and one more thing i discovered is that the filling have to be blended again eventhough i did not fridge them on my 2nd round of making because the fillings do not melt and therefore when taken, the fillings are not smooth.

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  41. Hi I love your blog. I have made a couple of recipes from here and they have worked a treat. This is my next recipe to try. I have never had this before and am desperate to try it. Looks so good and gooey… Great post and pictures….

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  43. meiying says:

    hi bee! we have tangyuan too in indonesia, except that we call it “wedang ronde”. it has the same ginger syrup but apparently indonesians have altered the filling inside the dumplings. we use ground roasted peanut mixed with some palm sugar in it (though recently the more ‘authentic’ ones are gaining popularity here) also, we usually use a tint of red and green food coloring so when we order this menu, we will have red, green, and white dumplings…

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  45. Divina says:

    I had these in Hong Kong and they’re my favorite. I would be able to try this now. Thanks for the recipe.

  46. kevin says:

    I just want to add that the flour is a lot easier to work with if the water added is hot. It seems to “activate” the natural stickiness of the rice so it holds together better.

  47. Rebecca Lee says:

    Hi, I learn a new and best to add in 1-2 Tablespoon of starch powder to the glutinous rice flour, stir. Add in some hot or boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon then add in enough cold water to knead to a dough. That’s 1/3 cup of hot water and 1/2 cup of cold water. Try it yourself and you will see how great the different is !! Normally we are in lard in the filling, you used butter, will it taste western ??
    Happy Cooking.

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  49. Roberto Mello Pereira Filho says:

    Can i use regular rice flour??? It’s quite hard to find glutinous rice (regular and flour) here in Brazil.

  50. Le says:

    Hi Bee

    I have been following your blog for a long while now and can never wait for your updates.

    I’m sorry to see that the issue about Alvin Quah made it to our papers in Australia today.

    It’s funny that the recipe is also on the Australian Masterchef site, posted almost word for word in some sections:

  51. Fern says:

    These are my absolute favourite! Are the uncooked ones suitable for freezing?

  52. Dror says:

    amazing! never made something like this before.

  53. Clarissa says:

    I LOVE tang yuan, especially the black sesame ones, but I always buy them frozen. I may have to try this recipe for the holidays, thanks for sharing!

  54. ShowShanti says:

    Yum… my favorite! I have to start making these on my own. Bummer about Alvin. Saw the jpgs. Straight out plagarism. Moving forward, let’s chalk it up to that old familiar saying, “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery,” although this situation is quite different. That said… you have the delicious original and I need to try out this RECIPE!!! xo

  55. SparklingRachel says:

    omg…I was just craving this because it has been so cold and rainy lately. Thank you!!!!

  56. Trish C. says:

    I can’t wait to try this out! Previous recipes I’ve seen use premade sesame seed paste, but this “from scratch” recipe definitely looks manageable.

  57. Nurm says:

    So sorry to hear about someone else taking this recipe from you without giving you credit. WRT tang yuan, I decided 4 years ago that I wouldn’t make anything containing mochi flour, cos it is just sticky and messy, but I am tempted to give mochi flour a fair go…

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  59. Julie @ juliechiou [dot] com says:

    mmm this was one of my favorite things to eat growing up! i loved it when my mom made it :) can’t wait to try this for myself!! <3

  60. vivienne g. says:

    Am making it right now , and it already smells so good. Can’t wait to make the rice flour. Was wondering if I was to use the red bean paste filling, any tips on the fillings? Can the uncooked ones be frozen? Thanking you in advance

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  62. jojo says:

    hi, i want to make this dumpling this weekend, but not sure if I can make it a night in advance (use it for the following afternoon). Please advise. Thank you so much in advance.

  63. Elaine says:

    I tried this recipe,but after it has been folded into the gluttonous rice, the sesame filling came out hard or how should say it…not watery or pasty, and chewy.yes, the sesame paste is chewy.can u hel me out here.what did I do wrong.

  64. jess says:

    Can I use peanut butter instead of the unsalted butter? If so how much do you think I should use? Thanks!!!

  65. your recipes are sooo helpful! have you ever tried a combo of sticky rice flour and rice flour- for these? another web blog, of the fatty reader suggested that-

    Glutinous Rice Balls/Tangyuan (湯圓)

    1/2 cup sweet rice flour + 1/2 cup regular rice flour
    Hot water
    1 tbsp granulated sugar (optional)

    filling- black sesame powder plus maple syrup
    or sweetened black bean paste
    Bring a pot of water to a boil. Combine the sweet rice flour, rice flour, and sugar in a bowl. Add hot water a tablespoon at a time, mixing with chopsticks, until the dough is not sticky but also not dry. It should be moist to the touch, without being sticky. If you accidentally add too much water, just add more of the rice flour and sweet rice flour, in equal parts.

  66. Tina says:

    Hi there!

    when I asked my mom if we had rice flour in the house she said yes, but that there are two types. Which one would I need if I’m buying it at the store? Neither of the packages differentiate between the different kinds of rice flour, so if you could make any clarifications on this detail that would be greatly appreciated!

  67. Tina says:

    Hi Bee!
    One last question, would you ever recommend black sesame powder as a substitute for toasting then grinding the seeds if in a hurry/time crunch or just out of pure convenience?

  68. laura2 says:

    I made these yesterday and they were delicious! I have leftover black sesame filling. Can I use the filling to make black sesame soup? Any ideas? Do I just add water? Thanks!

  69. Serenity says:

    Hi Bee,,
    Your recipe has 8 oz. glutinous rice flour. do u mean 8oz in volume (same as 1 cup) or in weight?

  70. Jessica says:

    how much does this recipe yield?

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  72. bubble says:

    I finally got around to making these, and they were delicious! Much easier than I had anticipated, I’ll make them again. I also froze 8 and cooked them the next day, still simple and delicious. Thank you!

  73. Maddie says:

    Hi Bee! I’ve been eyeing off this recipe for a while and am thinking of making them later on today for Chinese New Year! Thanks for the inspiration! Just a question, if I wanted to make the dumplings a couple of hours in advance, what would be the best way to store them to cook later on in the day?

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