Black Sesame Tang Yuan

  • Author: Kavitha Ramaswamy
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 20-25 glutinous rice balls 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Tang Yuan (or tangyuan) are rice balls made with sweet or glutinous rice, and filled with a sweet filling. This classic Chinese recipe calls for a sweet black sesame filling and is gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan-friendly.




  • 2 oz or 3.5 TBsp Black Sesame Seeds
  • 3 oz or 5 TBsp Fine Sugar (adjust for sweetness desired)
  • 6 TBsp unsalted Butter
  • 12 drops of Water


  • 1 cup Glutinous Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup Warm Water

To Serve:

  • Hot Water
  • Ginger Tea
  • Sweet ginger syrup (equal parts ginger, sugar boiled in 2 cups water)



  • Toast sesame seeds couple minutes, let it cool completely
  • Add to spice grinder & pulse a few times until its a powder
  • Add sugar to the sesame powder and pulse again few times to get a fine mixture of sugar & sesame
  • Add the powder to a bowl
  • Add few drops of water, softened butter & mix well. Beat the mixture to let the sugar dissolve well
  • Freeze the mixture for 15-20 minutes until the butter hardens a bit
  • Take 1-2 tsp of the filling and roll into neat ball, place on a clean plate (lined with an aluminum foil). Work quickly, and in batches, to avoid butter from melting too quickly
  • Once the sesame balls are formed freeze for 30-60 minutes until they harden


  • To a bowl, add the glutinous rice flour and warm water. Mix with a fork until mixture comes together, then knead to soft dough.
  • Don’t add too much water. As you start to knead, it’ll turn soft
  • Divide into equal portions and roll into neat big lemon-sized balls
  • Keep the dough covered with a damp cloth until you need to make the tangyuan balls

Forming the Tang Yuan:

  • Once the sesame balls have hardened, remove some of them, work in batches
  • Flatten each dough ball, add a sesame ball in the middle & cover with the dough around the filling. Roll into neat ball & place it on a plate
  • As you keep forming the balls, place them in the freezer, to avoid melting of the butter
  • Once all the balls are formed, you can go ahead and cook or store them for later

Boiling the Sweet Rice Balls:

  • Bring a pot of water to boil
  • Add rice balls in batches, don’t overcrowd the pan
  • Boil for 4-5 minutes, or until the rice balls expand in size, and start to float
  • Once the balls start to float, they’re ready to eat
  • Only boil as many as you want to eat. They should be consumed right away

How to serve the Sesame Tangyuan:

  • Once the glutinous rice balls are boiled, you can serve them in boiling water, hot ginger syrup, sugar syrup or ginger tea. You can also just eat them as is.

Storing the Tang Yuan:

  • Option 1: Roll into balls, place in airtight dish at 1-2 inch distance from each other. Save a ferrero rocher box, and place the formed balls in each groove. Keep them covered & frozen for up to 2 months. When you want to eat some, take the few out, boil until they float & serve!
  • Option 2: Just freeze the sesame filling. The dough takes less than a minute to make, so just make the dough as and when you need it
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Keywords: tang yuan, tangyuan, how to make chinese dessert, how to make chinese tang yuan, black sesame tang yuan