This Homemade Adzuki Red Bean Paste is a classic sweet Chinese dessert filling. It's made with only a few ingredients and is incredibly versatile. Use it in mooncakes, mochi, breads, and steamed buns.
What is red bean paste?
Chinese red bean paste is a sweetened paste made from red adzuki beans (also known as anko in Japanese or pat in Korean).
The beans are cooked with sugar until soft and then pureed to a smooth consistency.
You can find readily-packaged red bean paste in Asian supermarkets.
The sweet red bean paste is a staple Chinese cuisine -- used in steamed buns, glutinous rice balls, and mooncakes, amongst other dishes.
What does it taste like?
The red bean paste filling is slightly sweet and earthy, similar to mashed sweet potato or taro.
Homemade bean paste has a slight bit of graininess due to the bean's natural texture.
Why you'll love this recipe
This recipe for Homemade Adzuki Red Bean Paste is easy to make.
The beans are creamy, lightly sweet and delicious.
Using an Instant Pot (pressure cooker) cuts down on the cooking time significantly.
Making the red bean paste from scratch means you can control the sweetness.
It's naturally gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free.
Best of all, it only requires 4 ingredients.
Ingredients you'll need
- red adzuki beans: preferably soaked overnight; you can find dried beans in Asian supermarkets
- granulated sugar: or yellow rock sugar, palm sugar
- a touch of coconut oil: for texture and additional flavour; if you don't like coconut, you can use a neutral vegetable oil or refined coconut oil instead
How to make the paste in an Instant Pot
The night before you want to make the paste, soak the dry adzuki beans. This gives the beans a chance to soften.
Ad the drained beans, sugar and water in to the Instant Pot.
Set to the BEANS/CHILI function on HIGH PRESSURE and set it to cook for 28-30 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to blend the beans into a paste, or transfer to a blender to puree.
Depending on how thick the paste is, you may need to cook the paste down in a small pot.
Finally, once it's thickened, stir in the coconut oil to finish.
Add adzuki beans into a large pot.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, and reduce to a simmer.
Cover with a lid, leaving it slightly ajar (watch for bubbles).
Don't add in the sugar until the beans have been fully cooked.
Cook the beans for 1.5-2 hours, until soft and tender.
Note: you will need to replenish the water as it evaporates while cooking.
Drain the beans.
Add the beans back into the pot, along with sugar and just enough water to cover.
Over low heat, blend the mixture (using an immersion blender or high-speed blender).
Cook the red bean mixture until thick (when you can draw a line through it).
If the mixture is too thick, add a little more water to thin it out.
How to store
Store the red bean paste in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
For a longer storage time, keep the paste in an airtight, freezer-safe container and place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Thaw in the fridge overnight before using.
Ways to use red bean paste
Use the red bean paste as a filling in:
- Steamed Red Bean Buns
- baked buns
- Cantonese-Style Mooncakes
- Snowskin Mooncakes
- Japanese sweets: dorayaki, dango, Red Bean Mochi/daifuku (mochi ice cream), rice cakes
It's a versatile filling that can be used in cinnamon-style rolls, or as a spread, like Ube Halaya (Purple Yam Jam), or Black Sesame Paste on toast.
Thin out the red bean paste with liquid to make Chinese Red Bean Soup.
FAQs & troubleshooting
Is it vegan?
Yes. The red bean paste is completely vegan.
The paste is too thick/thin.
If the red bean paste is too thick, add a little water to loosen to your desired consistency.
If the paste is too thin, place it back onto the heat, and cook until thickened.
Other recipes you may like
Hodugwaja-Inspired Chestnut Black Sesame Waffles
Let me know if you try out this recipe for homemade red bean paste. Tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below!
Homemade Adzuki Red Bean Paste
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 100 g red azuki beans soaked overnight
- 96 g granulated sugar or to your taste
- 400 ml water
- 15 g coconut oil
- The night before making the beans, soak the adzuki beans in big pot of water.
- The next day, drain the water from the beans.
- Add the drained beans into the Instant Pot along with the sugar and water.
- Place the lid on and set the valve to SEAL.
- Set to BEANS/CHILI function on high pressure for 28-30 minutes.
- Let the pressure naturally release.
- Use an immersion blender to blend the cooked beans. (Or transfer to a blender to puree).
- Transfer the blended beans to a small saucepot.
- Cook over medium heat until it thickens (it should be thick enough for a spoon to stand up on its own when it's stuck into the paste).
- Stir in the coconut oil and remove from heat.
- Transfer to a container if not using right away and let cool.
- Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or for longer-term storage, place into the freezer for up to 3 months.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.
Ooh I love how you broke down the recipes into two! This paste looks so good and I love how sweet but not overly sweet it is 🙂
I figured it might be useful to break it down into two recipes since the paste can be used in lots of things! 🙂 Love making it from scratch since I can control how much sugar to use too!
What is another cooking option if you don’t have an insta pot?
If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can cook the cover the beans with 2" of water and bring to a boil. Then lower to a simmer, crack open the lid a little (beware: it will bubble and foam) and cook for 1-2 hours, until the beans are tender.
Do you have a crock pot? You can cook the beans in a crock pot over high for 4-6 hours, or low for 8-10 hours. Hope that helps.
David @ Spiced
Interesting! So as I was reading this post, I was thinking, "Hmmm, I've never heard of red adzuki beans." But then I got to the part about red bean paste and steamed buns. Then I realized, "OH! That's what inside of those steamed buns." Haha! I've definitely never made a homemade version, and I love this idea. Great photos of something that is certainly hard to take photos of. 🙂
Ahh thank you David! Now you know! 😉 It's more common to buy the bean paste packaged from the store, but I love the ability to make it from scratch. 🙂
Yummy! This looks amazing and so delicious! I can’t wait to give this a try!
I definitely had red bean paste in various desserts, but never made it myself. Thank you for the recipe!
I never knew it was so easy to make. I will definitely be giving it a try.
Love red bean paste, but I haven't tried making it homemade yet. Yours looks absolutely amazing! Especially in those steamed buns.
I have always relied on store-bought red bean paste. Your recipe looks heavenly!
I like to make steam buns with red bean paste filling. They are delicious!
The recipe was super simple to follow and it turned out delicious! I've used it in red bean buns and strawberry daifaiku with really good results. Definitely a recipe I always go back to!
Glad to hear the recipe is a favourite, Gloria! Thanks for sharing your creation with me on Instagram! 🙂
This looks a lot like the recipe that my mom used when I was growing up, although I know she didn’t use coconut oil. I think she used solid vegetable shortening (Crisco). Does that sound right? And would I use the same amount as the coconut oil in your recipe?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Eileen, yes, traditionally lard is used in making the red bean paste; I use coconut oil in place as a healthier alternative. You can substitute with the same amount of shortening. Hope that helps!
I love red bean paste desserts but never knew how to make the paste! I can't wait to surprise my family with this!
I really like that I can control the sweetness using this recipe. I've had red bean paste buns before where they were too sweet and others where they weren't sweet enough. Make my own and that solves the problem.
Absolutely, making it yourself really allows for you to control the amount of sweetness 🙂 Glad you enjoyed, Andrea!
I have had bean paste, but have never made it myself. Thank you for sharing how to make it!
I've never made this before but I'm going to try it! Looks amazing!