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Bowl of Japanese anko with dango in the background.

Anko Recipe - Japanese Sweet Red Bean Paste

This easy Anko recipe needs just three ingredients, with no overnight soaking required! Get ready to make all your favourite Japanese desserts with your very own homemade Sweet Red Bean Paste.
Course Condiment, Dessert
Cuisine Japanese
Cook Time 1 hour
Soaking Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Calories 1092kcal
Cost $5


  • 1 cup azuki beans 200g / 7oz
  • 1 cup sugar 200g / 7oz
  • 1 pinch salt
  • boiling water enough to cover the beans 1 cm / 1/2 inch above the top
  • 5 cups water


  • Wash azuki beans. Pop in a saucepan and cover about 1cm / ½in above the beans with boiling water to allow them to soften for 30 mins.
    1 cup azuki beans, boiling water
  • Next place the soaked beans and water on high heat and bring to the boil. Boil down until all the liquid has evaporated (around 15 minutes). Drain any excess water which should look a murky brown red.
  • Add 2 cups of cold water and bring back to boil. Boil for another 15 minutes or until the water level goes below the beans. Stir occasionally to check no beans are sticking. Add another 2 cups of cold water and boil down again for another 15 minutes.
    5 cups water
  • Once the water dips below the beans again, it’s time to add your sugar and pinch of salt and put the heat down to low-medium. This will allow the sugar to dissolve in the last of the water and be absorbed by the beans. At this stage the liquid should be dark and gently bubbling amongst the beans.
    1 cup sugar, 1 pinch salt
  • After 10 minutes the liquid should start to thicken. Do a 'smoosh' test first and squeeze an azuki bean to see if it squishes. If your beans aren’t soft enough, add another ½ - 1 cup of water and cook them for one last round (around 10 minutes).
    5 cups water
  • Now it’s time to mash, mash, mash! You want a nice consistency where it has a nice balance of smooth and texture.
  • Your sweet red bean paste is now ready to use on your favourite Japanese desserts like mochi and dango!


  • Ingredients - 
    • Azuki Beans - Also known as Adzuki, are a very popular red beans used in sweets and desserts in Japan. You can source them at most Asian grocers. Australians can also find them Australian grown at some bulk food shops. They have a less earthy or 'beany' flavour than other beans, so they pair well with desserts when sweetened.
    • Sugar - White sugar such as castor or superfine works best.
  • Check for Sticking - Stir the beans occasionally as you cook to avoid sticking.
  • Set a Timer - Every time you add more water, set a timer for the amount recommended to help you keep an eye on it.
  • Storage - Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months. If freezing, section it out in portions so you can defrost only what you need.
  • Serving Suggestion - A creative way to eat leftover bean paste is to spread it on toast and top with slices of banana for breakfast. Delicious!


Calories: 1092kcal | Carbohydrates: 257g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 63mg | Potassium: 1282mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 198g | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 5mg