Homemade Lotus Seed Paste (莲蓉馅)

Discover what makes Chinese bakery desserts so delightful with lotus seed paste, the perfect silky-smooth, slightly caramelized flavor used in the best baked treats! {Gluten-Free, Vegan}

Lotus seed paste in a bowl

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is around the corner. Will you make mooncakes or some sweet pastries to celebrate? Homemade lotus seed paste might be a perfect option.

What is lotus seed paste

Lotus seed paste is commonly used in Chinese pastries, desserts, and mooncakes, along with red bean paste and black sesame paste. It is made from dried lotus seeds. The seeds are soaked, boiled until soft, then blended to make the paste with added sugar.

It’s incredibly easy to make, especially if you have an Instant Pot. A food processor makes short work of creating the paste from there. 

Lotus seed paste close up

Why this recipe 

I prefer my lotus seed paste homemade and I guarantee this one is on par with the quality at the best Chinese bakeries. It’s smooth and silky, and while it’s sweet, it’s not too sweet. It also has just a touch of a caramelized flavor and a gorgeous golden color. 

The thing that set this recipe apart is the sugar.

1 – This recipe uses cooked sugar

Many online recipes skip the step of cooking the sugar. Yes, skipping it does simplify the process, but I’ve found this step is essential to creating a richer taste and getting that beautiful golden hue. 

It might sound like a daunting task, but it’s incredibly easy if you follow the recipe. Without this step, your lotus seed paste will end up with a pale color that won’t look very appetizing in the mooncake.

2 – A bit of maltose make a difference

If you’ve ever tasted lotus seed pastry from a Chinese bakery, you may have found the texture of the filling to be very smooth and round. That’s the magic of maltose, a super thick syrup that is commonly used when making char siu pork. It also makes the lotus seed filling easy to shape and work with.

Asian markets usually carry it, but these days you can easily find it on Amazon.

Chinese lotus seed paste

Cooking process

I know it sounds intimidating to make, but it only requires four ingredients. Follow the steps below and you’ll see how easy it is if you just follow the instructions. 

1- Prepare the dried lotus seeds

  1. Soak the dried lotus seeds in water (prepare ahead of time)
  2. Once soaked, remove the hearts, which look like green stems. (They’re medicinal and taste bitter. In China people make tea with them, but you’ll need to remove them for this recipe)
  3. Cook the lotus seeds in an Instant pot or on the stovetop until tender
  4. Drain off the cooking liquid
  5. Blend the lotus seeds (with a blender or a food processor)

PS. Be careful when you’re blending the hot lotus seed paste. Always open the lid on the top of your blender or food processor to let the steam out while blending.

2 – Cook the blended lotus seeds

  1. Heat up the sugar with oil
  2. Wait until the sugar turns golden brown (no touching with your spatula!)
  3. Add the blended lotus seeds and sugar, cook, and stir
  4. Pour in the rest of the oil, a small amount at a time
  5. Add the maltose
  6. The lotus seed paste is done when the maltose is fully incorporated

NOTE: It’s very important to NOT stir the sugar while melting it to prevent crystallization. 

How to make lotus seed paste step-by-step

Afterthought

It takes some time and effort to make lotus seed paste at home, but it’s definitely worth it. It does not contain additives or preservatives, has a fresher taste, and is less sweet (you can easily control the level of sweetness).  

Lotus seed paste can be made ahead of time. You can refrigerate or freeze it in small batches for later use, something I always do so that it’s a little easier each time to make my Chinese pastry treats. 

My homemade lotus seed paste can be used to make so many wonderful things like mooncakes, mochi cakes, and other sweet Chinese pastries. 

Lotus seed paste for mooncake

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Discover what makes Chinese bakery desserts so delightful with lotus seed paste, the perfect silky-smooth, slightly caramelized flavor used in the best baked treats! {Gluten-Free, Vegan}

Homemade Lotus Seed Paste (莲蓉馅)

Discover what makes Chinese bakery desserts so delightful with lotus seed paste, the perfect silky-smooth, slightly caramelized flavor used in the best baked treats! {Gluten-Free, Vegan}
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Homemade Ingredient
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Chinese bakery style
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Resting time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 400 g paste
Calories: 67kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

  • 100 g (1 cup) dried lotus seeds
  • 70 g (1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons) sugar
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
  • 25 g (1 tablespoon) maltose

Instructions

Prep

  • Rinse the lotus seeds, then cover them with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water. Soak overnight (or at least 3 hours).
  • Once rehydrated, drain and discard the water. Split each seed open with your hands, then remove and discard the green core if it has one.

Cook the lotus seeds

  • Option 1 – Cook on the stove: Add the split seeds to a pot and cover with an inch (2.5 cm) of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered with the lid slightly ajar (to prevent it boiling over), for 1 hour. The seeds are done when you can mash them with a fork and the water is milky. Keep an eye on the water level, as you may need to add more during the simmering.
  • Option 2 – Cook in Instant Pot or a pressure cooker: Add the split seeds to the Instant Pot and cover with an inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Let release naturally for 8 minutes, then use fast release.
  • Drain the cooked seeds and add them to a food processor or blender. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup boiling water. Blend until very even and smooth. Transfer to a bowl. (*Footnote 1)

Cook the lotus seed paste

  • Add a quarter of the sugar and a quarter of the oil to a medium-sized stainless pan (*Footnote 2). Shake the pan so the sugar and oil spread out. Turn the heat to low and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar turns a light amber color. Do NOT stir, which will cause the sugar to crystalize.
  • Add the lotus seed puree and remaining sugar to the pan. Stir until the sugars and oil are incorporated into the puree.
  • Raise the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste begins to dry, about 5 minutes.
  • Begin incorporating the oil, a quarter at a time. Keep cooking and stirring until the oil is fully absorbed into the paste.
  • Add the maltose (*Footnote 3). Stir and cook to dissolve it into the paste.
  • Continue cooking until the mixture is pulling away from the pan and comes together as one piece, 6 to 10 minutes. The cooking time depends on your heat level and how much water you added while blending the lotus seeds.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let cool before using. The paste will thicken quite a bit after cooling down, which will make it easy to handle when you make mooncakes or other Chinese pastries.

Store

  • Store the fully cooled lotus seed paste in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.

Notes

  1. Depending on the blender or food processor you use, you might not be able to get a very smooth result. In this case, you can strain the paste to get a smoother texture.
  2. A stainless steel pan works the best and it’s easy to clean. I tried the recipe with a nonstick pan and somehow it didn’t work. A cast iron pan should work too, but it might be harder to clean.
  3. If your maltose is very tough and difficult to scoop, heat it in the microwave to warm it up slightly. Grease your spoon with some oil before scooping, so the maltose will come off the spoon easily.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 67kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.6g | Potassium: 86mg | Sugar: 5g | Calcium: 10mg

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

Other recipes for mooncakes and Chinese pastries

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

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7 thoughts on “Homemade Lotus Seed Paste (莲蓉馅)

  1. Mellyana dewi

    hi, im so amaze with all the details you put inside this writing, the details is super helpful and beautifully written, its like im reading a super pricey cookbook, LOL… however, could you share how long the pastes (lotusbean, redbean, blacksesame) can be kept in refrigerator? and how long if in fridge? if you know something about this let me know… Or maybe if you know how to indentified the spoiled paste? please share.

    Im sending my gratitude to you for all the knowledge you write on mooncakes making, filling making, and all of them. its the most helpful essay i read, to be ready and prepare for what will happen in my kitchen… wkwkwkwk….

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Yes, all the homemade paste can be stored in the fridge or freezer. To preserve the texture and prevent it from drying out, I would use plastic wrap tightly wrap the filling and store it in a ziplock bag (or container). As for the storage time, they should be able to stay well in the fridge for at least a week and 2 to 3 months in the freezer. If the paste looks fine (not moldy etc), the best way to test its freshness is to taste it. I would taste a very small piece and see if it’s gone stale or rancid, and spit it out if it doesn’t taste right.

      Reply
  2. Yolie09

    Hi – can honey be used instead of maltose? Also if I double the recipe for the instant pot, is doubling the water sufficient?

    Reply
  3. Gamble

    5 stars
    This made a beautiful and smooth lotus seed paste for me! It was surprisingly easy. I’ll be using it in a mooncake recipe tomorrow!

    Reply