Black Sesame Tang Yuan (Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls)


Black Sesame Tang Yuan (Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls)

Tang yuán is a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flour, eaten plain or filled with black sesame, red bean or peanut paste. Tang yuan literally means “round balls in soup”. It is traditionally eaten during Chinese festivities, however it has recently come to be more associated with Dong Zhì (Winter Solstice).

Dong means “winter” and Zhi means “arrival”. Celebrated on the longest night of the year, Dong Zhi is the day when sunshine is weakest and daylight shortest, and it usually falls on 22nd December. The arrival of winter is celebrated by families and is traditionally the time when farmers and fishermen gather food in preparation for the coming cold season. These days, Dong Zhì is still an important cultural celebration for Chinese all over the world. In Chinese beliefs, it is also the day when everyone becomes one year older.

The common practice in Malaysia (where it will be hot and humid) during DongZhi is making small colourful Tang Yuan served in sweet syrup soup. It’s a fun family affair, where everyone gather to make these cute colourful balls.

Having left my parent’s home for years, this is the first year I make my own Tang Yuan and it brings back the fond childhood memories.. Instead of the colourful ones, I made Black Sesame Tang Yuan, to serve in ginger syrup soup or coated with ground cashew and dessicated coconuts.

Black Sesame Tang Yuan (Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls)

3.0 from 2 reviews
Black Sesame Tang Yuan (Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls)
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Black Sesame Tang yuán is a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flour, filled with black sesame. This Tang yuan can be eaten with ginger syrup or coated with ground cashews
Serves: 10-12
Black Sesame Filling
  • 100g cup Black sesame - toasted
  • 50g Brown Sugar
  • 50g Peanuts or Walnuts or mix of both - toasted
  • 2 tablespoon Unsalted Butter (or lard), melted
Tang Yuan (for 8 – 10 pieces)
  • 1 cup Glutinous rice flour
  • ½ cup Water
Ginger Syrup
  • 300ml Water
  • 2 inch Ginger - skin peeled and crushed
  • 50g Sugar
  • 2 Pandan Leaves - knotted
Cashew Nuts Topping
  • 50g Cashew Nuts - toasted
  • 10g Dessicated Coconut
  • 10g Brown Sugar
Black Sesame Filling
  1. Coarsely grind peanuts in a food processor, and then add the black sesame and grind everything into powder.
  2. In a container, mix grinded mixture, sugar and melted butter, stir to mix until thick paste is formed. Flatten and divide into 10-12 pieces; and chill in the freezer until it solidifies.
Tang Yuan
  1. Mix the glutinous rice flour and water to make the dough. Roll it by hands until the dough becomes sticky like play dough.
  2. Divide the dough into 1.5 inch balls and keep them covered with a damped towel as they dry up very quickly. Take a piece of dough and carefully shape it into a bowl.
  3. Place sesame fillings in the middle of the dough. Seal the opening carefully, make sure the filling does not penetrate out. Gently shape the balls as round as possible by rolling around with both hands.
  4. In a pot of boiling water cook the tang yuan until they float on the surface and cook for another 1 minute.
  5. Quickly scoop out the balls into Ginger Syrup or onto the grounded Cashew to coat. Best served warm immediately.
Ginger Syrup & Cashew Topping
  1. In a pot, add all the ingredients and bring to boil for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Grind Cashew, coconut and sugar in a food processor.


  1. Hi,

    I tried making this recipe but I’m convinced is wrong 🙁 I used 100 grams of sesame seeds but it seemed like an awful lot considering the rest of the ingredients to make the paste and in fact it was. I had to put a lot more butter than indicated to make it more like a paste which I couldnt even do cause I ran out of butter umph…

    Also in the recipe you don’t mention the brown sugar for the paste so I just melted it with the butter. Please fix the amounts and also you should remind people to toast the sesame seeds in the recipe cause I ended up forgetting…I ended up using another recipe to finish the dish as I couldn’t rely on this one…

    • Hi Tiziana. Thanks for your feedback, I’m sorry I missed out the sugar in the instruction. I personally prefer using less butter, and the mixture will harden when it is chilled. Will take note on writing the instruction to toast seeds/nuts in my future recipes. Apologies

  2. Hi! Do you know if we can make ahead and store in fridge?

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  5. This sounds really yummy and I actually have a big bag of black sesame seeds . The ginger syrup sounds fabulous too!
    EA-The Spicy RD recently posted..2012 Gluten-Free All-Star Recipes~Beard and BonnetMy Profile

  6. There’s a restaurant here that I’ve been eating Dim Sum at for over 25 years. I always end the meal with sesame seed balls. A few years back the owner told me that when she sees me walk through the door, so throws some in the vat. I do see that you boil yours instead of frying them which is even better! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this recipe. I would love to make some at home for me and my family! They would go crazy for them!
    mjskit recently posted..Sweet Kabocha PuddingMy Profile

  7. Do you have to toast the black sesame first?

  8. thanks for sharing. it worth to try…

  9. What a lovely tradition! These loom great. I love the black sesame.

  10. This is my favourite tang yuan, I adore black sesame. Great looking dish 🙂

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