Easy Japanese Recipes

How To Make Anko (Red Bean Paste)

How To Make Anko (Red Bean Paste) post image

Anko, sweet red bean paste, is used in many confectioneies in Japan.  It is usually prepared by boiling and sometimes mashing azuki beans and then sweetening the paste with sugar.  The most common types of read bean paste include Tsubuan and Koshian.

Tsubuan is prepared by boiling and sweetening with sugar.  Koshian is prepared by passing through a sieve to remove bean skins, and this is most commonly used for wagawashi (traditional Japanese confectionery).

Other varieties of anko includes Shiroan, made from Japanese white beans and Kurian made from chestnuts.

Anko is used in Anmitsu, Daifuku, Dango, Dorayaki, Manju, Oshiruko / Zenzai, Taiyaki, and Yokan.

Tsubuan

Sweet Red Bean Paste (Tsubuan) Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
 
Serves: 600g (1.3 lb) anko
Ingredients
  • 200g (7 oz, a little bit less than 1 cup which is 220g) Azuki beans (Today I used Hokkaido Dainagon Azuki Beans (bigger than regular azuki))
  • Water
  • 200g (7 oz, 1 cup) granulated white sugar
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Soak the azuki beans overnight (8-12 hours).
  2. Rinse azuki beans.
  3. Use a big saucepan/pot because the amount of azuki beans will double after cooking. Put washed azuki beans in the pot and pour water till 1-2 inch above azuki beans. Turn the heat on high.
  4. When boiling, turn off the heat and cover with lid. Let it stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Throw away water and put the azuki beans into a sieve.
  6. Put the azuki beans back in the pot. Add enough water just to cover the beans and turn the heat on high. Once boiling, turn down the heat to medium low and keep it simmering.
  7. Once in a while push the azuki beans under the water with slotted spoon. Water will evaporate so you need to keep adding water to cover just above the beans. If you put too much water, the beans will move and break. If you need to leave the kitchen, make sure to turn off the heat. You will be cooking for 1+ hour.
  8. Pick one azuki bean and squeeze it with your fingers. If it is smushed easily, it’s done.
  9. Turn up the heat to high and add sugar in 3 separate times. Stir constantly. When you draw a line on the bottom of the saucepan and see the surface for more than 2 seconds, add salt and turn off heat. Anko will thicken more when it cools.
  10. Pour into a container to cool down. Do not leave it in the pot. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge to store after cool down. If you aren't planning to use it all at once, you can divide it into 100g packages. Wrap in plastic bag and store in Ziploc Freezer bags and can store in fridge for a week and freezer up to a month.

Koshian

This is from a packaged koshian.

Recipes with Sweet Red Bean Paste

Strawberry Daifuku | JustOneCookbook.com

Strawberry Daifuku (Mochi)

Dorayaki | JustOneCookbook.com

Dorayaki (Japanese Red Bean Pancake)

Zenzai | JustOneCookbook.com

Zenzai / Oshiruko (Red Bean Soup)

Anko Dango | JustOneCookbook.com

Anko Dango

Red Bean Ice Cream | JustOneCookbook.com

Red Bean Ice Cream

Red Bean Pancake | JustOneCookbook.com

Red Bean Pancake

 

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86 comments

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three + = 11

  • Victoria December 24, 2012, 9:16 pm

    Do you recommend using brown cane sugar, regular white granulated sugar or normal brown sugar?

    Reply
    • Nami December 26, 2012, 10:43 am

      Hi Victoria! I don’t think the kinds of sugar would affect the final result that much. I chose white granulated sugar so most people can use this recipe. If you use different type of sugar, please adjust the sweetness based on the kind you use. :)

      Reply
  • giovanna January 15, 2013, 5:04 pm

    Thank you so much for the recipe! I have tried to do this before but sadly missed the mark. Your recipe was easy and really tasty.

    Reply
    • Nami January 18, 2013, 10:33 am

      Hi Giovanna! I’m glad this recipe worked out for you! Thank you so much for letting me know! :)

      Reply
  • Heidi January 20, 2013, 9:45 am

    I had started using another recipe but found yours to be much more in depth and it helped me know when it was done! Thanks so much, I am making it as a surprise for my Japanese exchange student who said this was her favorite dessert! Hopefully it turns out! Thanks,

    Reply
    • Nami January 21, 2013, 6:41 pm

      Hi Heidi! Thanks for your feedback! The Japanese loves sweeten red bean sweets. I hope she will enjoy this! :)

      Reply
  • SLD February 3, 2013, 1:04 pm

    I have two questions, how much salt should be used?

    And when I cooked it, the beans lost their red colour, but it became perhaps a bit purple, with white inside. Is that okay?

    Reply
    • Nami February 3, 2013, 10:55 pm

      Hi SLD! I have updated my recipe – it should be just a pinch of salt. Thank you for noticing and letting me know. :)

      About your beans. What kind of Azuki beans did you use? If you see my picture at step#8, you can see white color inside beans. That’s okay. It’s no longer “red” like red color at step #9. Are you referring that color as purple? Then yours seem just fine. :)

      Reply
  • SLD February 4, 2013, 4:13 pm

    Thank you for the reply!

    I bought a Shirakiku brand Azuki bean – I don’t know of that’s good or not? Either way, a lot of red did disappear over all, but the end result was a bit purplish-maroon. It tastes great, despite the fact that I should have cooked it a bit longer to reduce the full beans in the paste.

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe! :)

    Reply
    • Nami February 5, 2013, 11:46 am

      Hi SLD! Shirakiku brand is okay – not the top quality azuki beans but I sometimes use that brand products too.

      And it does disappear some red color as you cook. My red bean color is just like how you see in my pictures. It’s hard to call this “red” though so we may have the same color. Was yours different color? At step #8, the bean is smushed very easily, almost without any strength. That’s the key for hardness. Thank you so much for your feedback again!

      Reply
      • SLD February 5, 2013, 9:39 pm

        Ah, I see!

        My colour looked more like your Koshian (but a bit darker). I’m going to try again, as it was only my first time making it. Thanks you! :)

        Reply
        • Nami February 11, 2013, 11:14 pm

          You’re welcome! Thank you very much for your feedback!

          Reply
  • nmi February 22, 2013, 8:47 pm

    How many cups is 7oz of beans and 7 oz sugar? I have standard U.S. measuring cups but no scale.

    Reply
    • Andre February 23, 2013, 3:10 pm

      I just checked this and 7 oz of beans, is just under 1 US cup for the brand of red bean I have.

      The sugar (I have Rogers fine granulated) worked out to ~85/100 cup. That should be about approximately 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp.

      —–
      By the way, love the recipe! My friends from Japan thought the diafuku I made with this anko were wonderful.

      Reply
      • Nami February 25, 2013, 10:39 am

        Hi Andre! Thank you SO much for answering to a reader’s question. I really appreciate it. :)

        I’m so happy to hear you liked the recipe. It’s nice to make homemade anko because we can control the amount of sugar we put in, while premade anko is convenient but often it’s too sweet. Thank you very much for your feedback on this recipe. I’m very glad your friends from Japan enjoyed your daifuku! YUM!

        Reply
  • Mellow March 5, 2013, 6:40 am

    This recipe was a complete success! I think I cooked it slightly too long and added too much extra suger, but it’s going to be perfect next time. Thanks so much! :) I’ll be making it for dorayaki soon.

    Reply
    • Nami March 6, 2013, 9:03 am

      Hi Mellow! I’m glad to hear you liked this recipe! I hope you enjoy dorayaki too! :D

      Reply
  • Gemma March 13, 2013, 8:50 am

    Thank you so much Nami for this recipe! I have just successfully made my first dorayaki :)

    Reply
    • Nami March 13, 2013, 8:57 am

      Hi Gemma! Yay! Thank you so much for letting me know. So happy to hear you made dorayaki. Hope you enjoy eating now…. hehee :)

      Reply
  • Tina March 17, 2013, 6:12 pm

    Great recipe! Great blog! Can’t wait to try this to put it in my mochi! :)

    Question: What do I do if I want to make Koshian style instead?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Nami March 18, 2013, 9:19 pm

      Hi Tina! Thank you for your kind words.

      Koshian requires more extra steps so I haven’t actually had time to photo shoot and prepared it for the blog.

      After step 8, you can either use food processor (short cut) to make a paste, or use fine sieve to strain using rubber spatula.

      After that you put the mashed beans in cloth and squeeze the liquid out.

      Then add the mashed beans and sugar in a pot and mix until sugar melts completely. Add the salt at the end.

      Hope this helps. :)

      Reply
      • Tina March 19, 2013, 7:35 am

        Thank you so much!! Can’t wait to try it.

        Reply
  • Felicia March 28, 2013, 9:03 am

    Hi Nami,
    At step 9, we check for the consistency and then turn off the heat. After turning off the heat, do we drain off the water and mash the red beans? I don’t see this step.

    Appreciate your advise.

    Reply
    • Nami April 1, 2013, 8:37 pm

      Hi Felicia! We do not need to drain. The moisture from anko will continue evaporate and the mixture will be harder. This is “tsubuan” recipe (has texture of beans), which still has texture. For “koshian” recipe (mashed paste), please see the comment number 21. I briefly mentioned how to make it. Hope this helps. :)

      Reply
  • Lx March 29, 2013, 12:19 am

    Can i use normal red bean to make this?

    Reply
    • Nami March 30, 2013, 11:54 am

      I’m not sure if other kinds of red bean work… I have never tried and I assume the taste and texture are quite different. However if you happen to try and it works, please let me know so others can follow as well. :)

      Reply
      • Trudy May 15, 2013, 11:09 pm

        I used ‘normal’ red bean, although it did say ‘Azuki beans’ on the packet. But it was the small red beans that the Chinese often used. Product of Australia, it said on the packet…
        Thanks Nami, loved the detailed instructions and pictures. I’d always wanted to make this. I used the same technique.
        With 200g of sugar (I used raw sugar), it’s still on the sweeter side. What is the smallest amount of sugar you’ve tried using to get the same texture?

        Reply
        • Nami May 15, 2013, 11:26 pm

          Hi Trudy! I usually use 200g, if it’s for sweets. Canned or packaged anko is even sweeter, and 200g works for making dorayaki and mochi filling, especially drinking bitter green tea. :D

          Try reducing 20 gram to see if it fits your liking. The texture should be okay. It’s more of your preference for sweetness. :)

          Reply
  • John April 1, 2013, 7:19 pm

    Hi, With the uncertainty of Japanese products possibly being contaminated from the nuclear fallout after the tsunami and the knowledge that millions of pounds of tainted products were shipped to be sold abroad do you know a domestic source of those beans? I mean, if they grow in japan, they will possibly grow in a large part of the rest of the world in similar climates. Any idea where to get some that are not from Japan?

    Reply
    • Nami April 1, 2013, 9:25 pm

      Hi John! I wish I know the answer but I don’t know. Other Asian countries use red beans for their sweets, so maybe try finding in Chinese and Korean market. Hope that helps. :)

      Reply
  • Rebecca April 10, 2013, 4:54 am

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! Measurements in cups!

    Reply
    • Nami April 10, 2013, 11:07 am

      Hi Rebecca! It’s hard to be precise with cup, but the recipe is now updated. Hope you enjoy!

      Reply
  • Vanessa April 16, 2013, 8:37 pm

    Hi, how long will the paste be good for if kept in freezer? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Nami April 18, 2013, 10:31 am

      Hi Vanessa! It’s usually recommended to use within 1 month, but 3 months is okay but remember the quality level is not the same as within 1 month period. :) I’ll update the info in my recipe. Thanks for asking!

      Reply
  • Nicole April 17, 2013, 7:31 am

    Incredible site Nami, Directions are strait forward and easy to follow, the pictures are amazing & helps ease my NEED for occasional Japanese cuisine :)

    Just curious, has anyone made anko with artificial sweetener? (I try to cut back on sugar as much as possible & it looks like this recipe is actually pretty healthy; considering the fiber in the beans :))

    I’ve had red bean ice cream & bean rolls (i believe) & they were absolutely wonderful; what other sweet red bean snacks can you recomend?
    Thank you for all the very helpful info! :)

    Reply
  • Nancy June 3, 2013, 12:15 pm

    Hi Nami,
    Have you ever heard of an anko custard??? I just saw this unicorn
    crepe (which I had never heard of either) and it says it uses anko custard and cream..
    http://www.cakespy.com/blog-old?currentPage=24
    If so, do you have a recipe??
    Sincerely,
    Nancy

    Reply
    • Nami June 3, 2013, 5:11 pm

      Hi Nancy! I saw the post – I never heard of “anko custard” in Japanese but I think it’s their recipe with anko and whip cream. Sorry I can’t help, but maybe try experimenting with the ratio between anko and whip cream to get the delicious anko custard. :)

      Reply
  • NI September 10, 2013, 6:56 pm

    I really liked this recipe. It has easy instructions and the photos are really useful! I followed it to make my own red bean paste. I decided that the store bought paste with corn syrup could be improved upon! Instead of white sugar, I used organic coconut sugar by Madhava (Costco) and the taste is delicious. One thing though. I will cook it far beyond the beans being “easy to squish” next time because when I did that the end product wasn’t a paste; instead it was semi firm whole beans after it became more solid during the cooling (still yummy). Next time I’m going to boil it beyond that by double the time I think.

    Reply
    • Nami September 11, 2013, 9:04 pm

      Hi NI! Thank you for trying this recipe. Yes, store bought ones are usually a bit too sweet. I need to share how to make “koshian” which is probably the one you are looking for – the paste is smooth and not coarse. This recipe is “tsubuan” which should have some bean texture (which I actually like to use for most of my anko filling sweets). Thanks so much again! xo :)

      Reply
  • Donna Whitley September 17, 2013, 8:21 am

    Hi,
    I am very excited to try this recipe. I want to make taiyaki and my pan has just arrived.
    Do you have a taiyaki recipe?

    Many thanks

    Reply
    • Nami September 17, 2013, 8:47 am

      Hi Donna! I’m so jealous you got Taiyaki Pan! I’ve been thinking about purchasing it for years, and every time I go back to Japan I think about it, then my luggage is too big that I give up. :D Maybe one day! Hope you enjoy homemade Taiyaki!

      Reply
  • Paola October 2, 2013, 1:49 pm

    Hi Nami! I love your web page! I’m a fan :o)
    Do you know how long it last in the fridge?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Nami October 2, 2013, 2:05 pm

      Hi Paola! Thank you so much for your kind words. :) In fridge, about a week, and about a month in freezer. :)

      Reply
      • Paola October 2, 2013, 2:25 pm

        Thank you very much for your quick answer. I will let you know how it turned out (both anko and daifuku) :)
        Greetings from Uruguay!!!

        Reply
        • Nami October 2, 2013, 8:14 pm

          Hope you enjoy this anko recipe! Thank you so much for reading my blog from Uruguay! :)

          Reply
  • Pat Manning October 8, 2013, 7:38 pm

    I made this and used your Dorayaki recipe with it. Everyone but my mom loved it. She ended up just eating the dorayaki pancakes. Thank you for posting this!

    Reply
    • Nami October 9, 2013, 9:28 am

      Hi Pat! I’m glad everyone (but your mom – haha) liked it! Thank you so much for your feedback. :)

      Reply
  • azalea November 2, 2013, 5:44 pm

    Can I use another red beans? Not the azuki red beans? It’s hard to find it in my town

    Reply
    • Nami November 5, 2013, 12:49 am

      Hi Azalea! Azuki beans are sweet, so if your substitute is not sweet, you may need to adjust the flavor. According to this site (http://www.foodsubs.com/Beans.html), azuki’s substitute is black azuki beans OR red kidney beans OR Tolosana beans. Hope that helps. :)

      Reply
  • WillowTree December 11, 2013, 11:32 am

    I’m looking forward to trying this!

    By the way, the word you are looking for in step 9 is ‘thicken’. That is, instead of “When anko cool down, it will be a little harder (more solid)” you can say “Anko will thicken when it cools” or “When the anko cools down, it will become thicker”

    Thanks a lot for the recipe

    Reply
    • Nami December 11, 2013, 11:36 am

      Hi WillowTree! THANK YOU so much!!! I just edited it. I’m glad you understood what I meant. =P I hope you like this recipe. :)

      Reply
  • oz b. January 7, 2014, 4:36 am

    Hi! There is no accessible Japanese store in my area, so looking for the word Azuki is hard :( Are azuki beans the same as red mung beans?

    Thank you! And great photos! I absolutely love your attention to details! Those little slippers are so cute!

    Reply
    • Nami January 7, 2014, 8:38 am

      Thank you so much for your kind compliment. :) Azuki or Aduzki beans are not same as red mung beans unfortunately… I learned from other readers that they find azuki beans in their local shops rather than Japanese grocery stores… I hope you will find azuki beans somewhere… :)

      Reply
    • sara March 30, 2014, 2:32 pm

      I think you can get azuki beans on amazon.

      Reply
      • Nami March 30, 2014, 2:39 pm

        Thank you for your input Sara! :)

        Reply
  • Bill January 17, 2014, 2:25 pm

    Hi Nami, Thank you so much for your detailed steps with very helpful accompanying pictures! I’m going to give it a try and have a question before I take the plunge. Presumably a purpose of step 5 is to remove the skins using a sieve. Could you elaborate on how to get the skins out? Best Regards, -Bill

    Reply
    • Nami January 18, 2014, 12:22 am

      Hi Bill! No, you do not remove the skin of the beans at all. The purpose of throwing the water there is to get a clean water to cook azuki so that azuki has beautiful red color (instead of cooking in the initial dirty water). Hope this helps! :)

      Reply
      • Bill January 18, 2014, 6:20 am

        Thank you for the prompt response! Your final product looked perfectly fine and smooth in the picture. I was guessing skins were removed since they tend to leave bits & pieces. I’m wondering which step(s) were primarily responsible for making that nice texture?

        Reply
        • Bill January 20, 2014, 5:30 pm

          My apologies…Just looked at the pictures again and realized the smooth one I focused on was Koshian but recipe is for Tsubuan, which has skin in it, but still looked very rich. Nice! Thanks again!

          Reply
          • Nami January 21, 2014, 8:33 am

            Hi Bill! No problem! Sorry I didn’t realize it earlier too. :)

            Reply
  • Fiona Stevenson January 18, 2014, 5:45 am

    Thank you!! My nieces have just tried red bean for the first time, and have fallen in love. Unfortunately, where we live there are few places to buy red beans sweets. Now I can make some for them. AMAZING!

    Reply
    • Nami January 21, 2014, 8:39 am

      Hi Fiona! I’m happy to hear your nieces liked sweet red bean! It’s one of my favorite ingredient for Japanese sweets. Hope you like this recipe. :)

      Reply
  • Sara January 23, 2014, 4:30 am

    Turned out perfectly! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Nami January 23, 2014, 11:11 pm

      Thank you so much for your feedback! I’m so glad it turned out well! :)

      Reply
  • Jingwei Han February 15, 2014, 11:02 pm

    It’s my first time to make tsubuan.My mum knows how to make it but she is not here with me. She uses the traditional chinese cooking way of red bean paste. So i come to Nami’s website. I’m going to make anpan.So i need the stuffing. I stayed in Sagagen,JP for one year. That’s why I love red bean products.It’s a good recipe and my red bean paste can stay in fridge for a few days , ready to make all kinds of sweets. Thank you~but could you be so kind to tell me the amount of salt? onegaishimasu:)

    Reply
    • Nami February 15, 2014, 11:09 pm

      Hi Jingwei! I love anko too! Good luck making anpan! It’s one of my favorite pan… :) Generally, pinch of salt is 1/16 tsp (0.36 gram)… which is hard to measure. Just use your fingers. :)

      Reply
  • Amy Escobar March 12, 2014, 3:13 pm

    Hey Nami, do you know why the boiling water is emptied and then refilled? Cooking With Dog uses the same method and I don’t know the reason.

    Reply
    • Nami March 14, 2014, 12:52 am

      Hi Amy! Thank you for asking the question. :)

      Traditional method usually includes a process of emptying water for 1-2 times. The reason is to remove impurities (we call it “aku” – English translation is “scum” – not sure if that’s the right word) from the azuki beans. They taste bitter and you don’t want to cook with them, so we get rid of it by changing the water. Some people do once, some do twice, but you don’t want to lose too much of azuki flavor, so I believe one time is good. Hope this helps. :)

      Reply
  • Yunari March 27, 2014, 4:21 pm

    Nami you are my hero!
    I used to love ohagi and daifuku when I was little, but never got to make them again because when I moved, I couldn’t find any type of anko paste, or even azuki beans themselves. Finally found azuki at a local grocery store, stumbled on your recipe, and now can make the pastes anytime. Thank you so much! My picky 3 year old daughter can’t get enough of the strawberry daifuku, and loves your dorayaki recipe (I make her the pancakes with our Hello Kitty pancake maker). She even requests them in both Japanese and English! Thank you so much! :)

    Reply
    • Nami March 28, 2014, 1:55 pm

      Hi Yunari! Aww thank you for your sweet words! :D I’m so glad to hear you like the recipes! And your daughter is just like mine, loving dorayaki… except that I don’t make a cute HK pancake shape. Haha :) Thank you so much for your kind feedback!

      Reply
  • Fahad March 29, 2014, 10:12 pm

    Hey there! First off just like to say this looks soooooo good! Been taking a look at your recipes for two days and they all look amazing! Just screaming to be made!

    Is it possible to substitute red beans or kidney beans or something else for the Azuki? It’s impossible to find Azuki where I live! Thanks! :D

    Reply
    • Nami March 30, 2014, 2:46 pm

      Hi Fahad! Thank you so much for your kind words. There are many substitute information when you look for azuki beans’s substitute. Some says kidney beans are ok, some said not good. As I haven’t tried it myself, it’s very hard for me to make a suggestion (especially taste and texture are important). Azuki beans can be found in health food store , and maybe you can check there instead of regular supermarket. Hope this helps.

      Reply
  • sara March 30, 2014, 2:34 pm

    in step 1, when you say to soak the beans overnight, how many hours would you say is “overnight?”

    Reply
    • Nami March 30, 2014, 2:40 pm

      Overnight usually means 8-12 hours. I updated my recipe with the info. Thank you!

      Reply
  • Kira April 8, 2014, 4:53 pm

    When I tried to make koshian before, I stored it in a glass jar (unsealed) in the refrigerator. Sugar crystals formed in the koshian afterwards. How do I prevent that? Did I do something wrong in the recipe? I may have used more sugar than suggested.

    Reply
    • Nami April 9, 2014, 1:32 pm

      Hi Kira! To tell you the truth, I am not sure. I have never made koshian before, and with regular anko I haven’t had this issue before. Is it really bad that you have to cook it before using it? Wish I can help, sorry. :(

      Reply
  • Elizabeth April 12, 2014, 3:46 am

    Thank you for posting this! I’m interested in making mochi and this recipe will help me know how to cook the beans just right! Can you direct me to a good mochi recipe?

    I also have discovered a red bean boba shake and I would like to try making it myself as I think it would be tasty even without boba added.

    Reply
    • Nami April 14, 2014, 7:48 pm

      Hi Elizabeth! I’m going to do the mochi tutorial one day with video, but meanwhile, you can check out this Strawberry Daifuku as a basic recipe.

      http://justonecookbook.com/recipes/strawberry-daifuku/

      Red bean boba is my favorite drink! I always ask for red bean on the side, even though there is no red bean boba as a menu. :D

      Reply