Sweet Red Bean Soup (with Tang Yuan)

Thick and glossy sweet red bean soup (紅豆湯) with soft, chewy tang yuan (湯圓). A heavenly pairing! One of my favorite traditional desserts.

Sweet red Bean Soup (紅豆湯) is a ubiquitous one amongst East Asian cuisine you’ll find the dessert enjoyed in China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan alike. Growing up in Taiwan, I’ve certainly had my fair share of red bean soup. To me, the perfect bowl is thick and sweet; each red bean is intact and distinct, but falls apart in your mouth like puree.

Sweet Red Bean Soup (with Tang Yuan)

4 from 7 votes
Recipe by George L. Course: DessertCuisine: TaiwaneseDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Thick and glossy sweet red bean soup (紅豆湯) with soft, chewy tang yuan (湯圓). A heavenly pairing! One of my favorite traditional desserts.


  • Red Bean Soup
  • 300 grams (1.5 cups) red adzuki beans (dry weight)

  • 9 cups water

  • 1.5 cups dark brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • Tang Yuan
  • 160 grams (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) sweet rice flour, or mochiko

  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar

  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) water


  • Prepare the Red Bean Soup. Soak red beans in cold water overnight, or at least 8 hours. Drain the red beans and place them in a large pot, along with water and salt. Note: Adding salt here is crucial as it prevents the red beans from splitting (an undesirable result for texture and appearance).
  • Cook the Red Bean Soup. Bring the water to a boil, and lower the heat to simmer covered for 1.5 to 2 hours. Stir occasionally in case anything sticks to the bottom. Once at your desired doneness, add brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Note: Be sure not to add sugar at the start as it will prevent the red beans from cooking properly. Taste and adjust sweetness accordingly. You want to cook the soup so that it’s still a little on the runny side, as it will thicken a lot once it’s cooled down.
  • Prepare the Tang Yuan. You can do this while the red bean soup is cooking. In a bowl, combine sweet rice flour (mochiko) and sugar. Add water slowly while stirring with chopsticks or a spatula. Note: The amount of water you need varies from brand to brand. I am using Koda Farms Blue Star Mochiko Flour. Gather with your hands and knead until smooth. The dough should not be sticky, but still very soft & pliable. Divide the dough into 20-25 pieces. Roll each piece into a round ball and place them on a piece of parchment paper. Note: This helps the tang yuan keep their shape when you transfer them to boiling water. Dust with a little more sweet rice flour (or cornstarch, potato starch, etc.) to prevent sticking.
  • Cook the Tang Yuan. Bring a pot of water to boil. Lift the parchment paper and carefully slide the Tang Yuan into the pot, stirring immediately to make sure they do not stick. Simply cook until they float to the surface. Once they float, immediately place them in cold water. This stops the cooking and keeps them springy.
  • To Finish. Serve red bean soup hot with tang yuan. Optionally, drizzle a little bit of coconut cream on top.


  • A popular addition, specifically in the Cantonese variation, is dried tangerine peel (Chen Pi). This adds a nuanced citrus and slightly bitter taste that I personally don’t love in this soup.
  • Traditionally, red bean soup is sweetened with rock sugar, which has a more subtle sweetness. Some swear by rock sugar, but really the difference is minimal. I personally like using dark brown sugar as the rich caramel flavor really comes through.
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2 years ago

Will need to make this soon. Have eaten several red bean desserts in Beijing and one of the most memorable was a kind of red bean soup poured over milk ice. I think it was in a Ken Hom restaurant.

1 year ago

I love your recipes!
I came here hoping to find vegan Niu Rou Mian, because I know you are an excellent cook!
I will eat this soup until you develop a vegan Niu Rou Mian 🙂
Thank you for providing this site 🙂