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How to Make Red Bean Paste

How to Make Red Bean Paste

5 from 1 vote
The azuki bean (赤红豆, Chi Hong Dou) is one of the most important ingredients for making Chinese desserts. It is commonly used in Mainland-style hot pastries and Cantonese and Taiwanese cold desserts. 
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 3 cups paste
Author: Maggie Zhu


  • 300 grams (10 ounces) azuki beans
  • 200 to 250 grams (7 - 9 ounces) rock sugar (or white sugar)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


To Cook with pressure cooker

  • Combine red beans and 3 cups of water in pressure cooker. Lock the lid and heat over medium high heat until rated pressure has been reached. Turn to lowest heat and cook at high pressure for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the pressure release naturally.
  • Remove the lid and stir the beans several times. Add rock sugar and turn back to medium high heat. Stir the beans constantly with a spatula and boil until the mixture has thickened. When you draw a line in the mixture with a spatula and can see the bottom of the pot for 1 or 2 seconds, the beans are finished. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. The red bean “soup” is, at this point, still a thick liquid and not quite as thick as a paste. It will thicken quickly after cooking down, and transform into a paste after it has been chilled.
  • The paste will last about a week in an airtight container in the fridge, or about a month in the freezer.

To Cook without pressure cooker

  • Rinse azuki beans and pre-soak them in room temperature water overnight.
  • Discard the soaking water. Combine beans and 4 cups water in a large pot. Bring the water to a boil, then turn to lowest heat. Simmer, covered, for about 1 hour, until beans are soft and can be easily mashed with a spatula. Throughout the simmering, check the water level and make sure the water still covers the beans, so they won’t be burnt on the bottom. Add water in small amounts, if necessary. Stir beans gently (without mashing them), occasionally during simmering.
  • Follow steps 2 and 3 above to complete the paste.


Red Bean Paste for Mooncake
If you'd like to use red bean paste for mooncake and certain Chinese pastries, you will need to use the recipe (make 400 g paste) below because the oil-less version won't work. 
  • 100 g dried azuki beans (dried red beanss)
  • 50 g vegetable oil
  • 80 g rock sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 15 g maltose
  1. Method 1 Use Instant Pot: Add the beans to an instant pot (or a pressure cooker) with 1.5 cups water and cook with high pressure for 25 minutes, with a natural release.
  2. Method 2 Use stovetop: Soak the beans overnight, drain and add to a tall pot. Cover with water by at least an inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 1 hour, until the beans are soft and easy to mash . Keep an eye on the water level as you may need to add more during the simmering.
  3. Puree the beans and cooking liquid in a food processor or high powered blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
  4. Add 1/3 of the oil and the bean puree to a pan over medium heat. Cook until the oil is incorporated into the puree. Once the oil is absorbed add the rock sugar and stir until dissolved.
  5. Cook and stir until the paste begins to dry out, then add the remaining oil in two batches, stir to let it absorb fully each time.
  6. Add the maltose. stir and cook until it melts and fully absorbed. 
  7. Continue cooking until the mixture is pulling away from the pan and comes together as one piece, 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Once done, transfer to a bowl and let it cool completely before using.


Serving: 42g, Calories: 147kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 5.6g, Fat: 0.3g, Sodium: 26mg, Potassium: 340mg, Fiber: 3.8g, Sugar: 17.2g, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 2mg, Iron: 9mg