Tang Yuan is a popular sweet Chinese dessert, used to celebrate holidays including Lantern Festival (元宵节)and Winter Solstice Festival (冬至), but is served as desserts now and sometimes as breakfast in cold winter mornings. I make TangYuan every year at home and I would love to introduce a funny version from this year.  This is a marbled version as an improved version of traditional pure white ones.  

TangYuan Recipe|chinasichuanfood.com

I used to make this black sesame rice dumpling is made for our special holidays. In other common days, I usually made easier unstuffed version. Rice dumpling ball-Tang Yuan is loved by people for its round ball shape. Chinese people believe the round food symbolize completeness and family gathering.Back to the old days, we soaked a large batch of glutinous rice firstly and then ground them into rice milk and then filter the water out to make the rice dumpling batter. That process needs help and contribution of almost all family members. So we usually make a larger batch. I can still remember the process repeated year by year. Those sweet memories bring lots of happy memories. The rice dumpling batter can be kept for 1 month in a special jar and we can start enjoying in the new year days starting from the Spring Festival to the Lantern Festival.

Now making tangyuan can be quite easy and quick due to the easy access to  glutinous rice flour .There are various filling for Chinese Tang Yuan including peanut filling, sweet red beans, lotus root paste and savory meat filling, but the most classic version is black sesame filling. Black VS White, the best appearance match too.

black sesame tang yuan|chinasichuanfood.com

Cook’s Note

  1. Since sticky rice flour is gluten free, you may feel it is harder to control than normal flour, which might be harder in assembling process (cracks on surface) and broken skins. We can surely soften the flour and make it more obedient by adding warmer water.  I have tested with lots of combinations with hot water + cold water, cold water and warm water. Using hot water can make the dough super soft and thus easy to assemble (no cracklings on surface) but the tangyuan actually is not round but oval. It can’t hold the shape well after cooked. So I still use warm water this time. 
  2. The amount of sugar should be guaranteed. Since we contains lots of oil in the filling, limiting the sugar amount will make your filling taste fatty.
  3. Use the minimum water for a smooth surface can make the perfect round shape. 
TangYuan Recipe|chinasichuanfood.com

How to make the black sesame filling 

Toast black sesame seeds at home (I make a large batch this time and save 2/3 of the filling for later usage, so the amount in the picture is three times than the amounts listed in recipe section )

  1. rinse the black sesame seeds under water to remove any dirts.black sesame tang yuan|chinasichuanfood.com
  2. Fry over slow fire until the seeds are well dried. Do not overcook, otherwise the seeds becomes bitter. Transfer out and cool down completely. black sesame tang yuan|chinasichuanfood.com

To make the black sesame filling

Ground 1 cup of toasted black sesame with salt, powdered sugar and peanuts into flour. 

TangYuan Recipe|chinasichuanfood.com

And add 100ml  lard or butter (how to render lard at home), either melted  and then add 40 to 50ml water. 

If you are not skilled at sealing balls, shape the filling into balls firstly can make the assembling process easier. You can make around 12 to 16 sesame balls this batch. Chilled if necessary.

While the filling is being chilled, mix the dough with glutinous rice flour.

Take one piece and shape into a bowl. Place the filling in. Shape into a round ball. Slightly dust the ball with sticky rice flour for further storage. 

TangYuan Recipe|chinasichuanfood.com

To make the marbled version, cut 1/3 of a large potion of dough and mix with coloring completely. I use vegetable color powder (from purple sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin and spinach). Sprinkle some extra water. Then roughly mix the colored dough with the white dough (make sure they are combined in texture but not in color). Take a 20g dough and wrap well.  It makes around 16 ones this batch. 

TangYuan Recipe|chinasichuanfood.com

Cook them in boiling water until floating on the surface. I would suggest shaping the balls once again before cooking, which makes them perfectly round. 

How to serve Tang Yuan

Tang Yuan usually is served warm with syrup like Osmanthus syrup, sugar or fermented glutinous rice wine (酒酿). In some parts of China, people love to eat meat dumplings with a savory soup base. You need to scoop one up and gently take one bite and say hello to the lovely filling. In order to show the beautiful surface this time, I only add rock sugar to create a very faint sweet base.

TangYuan Recipe|chinasichuanfood.com
TangYuan Recipe|chinasichuanfood.com

Tang Yuan Recipe-Black Sesame Filling

Classic Chinese festival food-Tang yuan with black sesame filling
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Tang yuan
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 16 Making around 12 middle size Tang Yuan
Calories: 853kcal
Author: Elaine


For black sesame filling

  • 1 cup toasted black sesame around 100g
  • 1/4 cup toasted peanuts
  • 1 cup sugar powder around 100g
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 5 tbsp. lard or butter
  • 3 tbsp. water

Tang Yuan dough

  • 2 cups glutinous rice flour
  • 1 cup warm water , around 50 to 60 degree C.
  • vegetable color powder purple sweet potato powder, pumpkin, carrot and spinach.


To make the black sesame filling

  • Toast black sesame in a pan or oven (detailed guide can be find here).
  • Add black sesame, powdered sugar, salt and peanuts into a blender. Blend well.
  • Add melted lard and water. Mix well. Then chill until hardened and then shape 1/2 tablespoon of the filling into round balls. Cover with plastic wrapper and chill in fridge again.

To make the dough

  • Stir warm water to sticky rice flour and then knead to form a smooth ball.
  • Shape to a long log and shape into 6 portions. Cover 4 portions with wet cloth.
  • Halve the remaining 2 portions and turn into 4 portions. Add vegetable color powder one by one and knead until the color is well mixed. Sprinkle water whenever necessary.
  • Mix the colored dough with the white dough roughly (to create the marbled surface). Take a 20g portion and then shape to a small ball, place the dough in and wrap well. Squeeze the ball in turn in two hands to make sure no cracks on surface. If you feel the dough is hard to handle, wet your hand before assembling. Slightly dust the ball with sticky rice flour for further storage. They can be frozen in air-tight bags.
  • Bring water to a boiling in a pot (the water should be at least 2 cm higher than the balls). Continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes after they float on surface.
  • Scoop out with the soup and serve with sugar, or sweet osmanthus or syrup.


Note 1: When shaping the bowl, we need to make the bottom thicker while the other parts uniform. If the bottom is too thin, the balls might break during the shaping process.
Note 2: If you are not skilled at sealing balls, try to shape the filling into balls too. This will make the process easier.
Note3: If you want the filling to have a liquid texture, increase lard in the filling.


Calories: 853kcal | Carbohydrates: 124g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 277mg | Potassium: 198mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 665IU | Calcium: 261mg | Iron: 4mg
Tangyuan with black sesame filling|chinasichuanfood.com

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  1. Can i use colored rice flour for this or will that affect the recipe. I made this for my little children and they loved it but wished it had better colors? Thanks

    1. Hi Jack,
      The original ingredient need to be sticky rice, so if the colored rice flour is made from colored sticky rice. It will be 100% fine.
      By the way, if you want to add some extra colors, there are lots of options. For example add some coconut powder in the dough, mix some squash or purple sweet potatoes to add some natural colors.

  2. Many years ago I used to dine at at dim sum restaurant in California where they served this dish. It tasted like they had toasted the seeds before making the paste and the paste was slightly crunchy as if they had used a coarser sugar and the crystals had not dissolved. There may have been a little sesame oil in the filling, too. The dumpling was boiled and then rolled in toasted black sesame seeds. It was quite sweet and presented a delightful variety of textures as you ate it with a good, strong sesame flavor.

    I am very happy to have found this recipe which I think I can adapt to duplicate the mochi I used to enjoy so much.

    Thank you,


    1. Sharon,
      That’s an interesting way to serve Tangyuan with toasted black sesame seeds on surface. We have similar serving way, but we use crushed toasted peanuts like this one. As for the filling, you can adjust based on personal preference. Usually for soup serving tangyuan,we wish a running texture of the filling. So the black sesame is well ground with castor sugar or even sugar powder. However if they are severed along, you can use roughly ground toasted black sesame and coarser sugar. The sugar will not dissolve after boiling.

  3. 5 stars
    when visiting in China, we had these with a lot of flavors and my daughter would Love to have them again with rose filling and chocolate filling. Would you have any idea, how to make that? Me and husband are happy with sesamw and peanut fillings 🙂

    1. Sanna,
      I have never tried rose Tangyuan and chocolate Tangyuan. I will try to see whether I can find them, eating firstly and try to copy.