DongZhi Tang Yuan (with natural colors)

Tang Yuan / Kuih Ee / Glutinous Rice Balls (with natural colors)

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 46 minutes
Servings: 60 - 80 small tang yuan
Author: Marvellina
Soft and chewy glutinous rice dumplings or Tang Yuan served in sweet ginger broth is well-beloved Asian dessert usually eaten during special occasions. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
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Natural color options (if using powdered form):

  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder for yellow
  • 1/2 tsp matcha powder for green
  • 1/2 tsp red yeast rice powder for pink/red
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder or cinnamon powder for chocolate

Natural color options (if using juice):

  • 35 ml pandan juice for green
  • 35 ml blue pea extract (from 5 gr dried blue pea flower) for blue
  • 35 ml carrot juice (from 1 large carrot) for orange/yellow
  • 35 ml beet juice for pink/yellow

The sweet ginger broth:

  • 4 cups water
  • 20 gr fresh ginger thinly sliced
  • 3 screwpine leaves /pandan knotted
  • 200 gr sugar more or less according to your taste


Prepare the sweet ginger broth:

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add in ginger, screwpine leaves, and sugar. Bring it back to a boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Have a taste and add more sugar if you like

Prepare the juice if you plan to use the juice to color the tang yuan:

  • Follow this to make pandan juice and keep the rest in the fridge. Soak 5 gr of blue pea extract in 40 ml of hot boiling water and let it steep for 10 minutes and then discard the blue pea flowers. Use 1 cup of chopped carrot and blend with about 40 ml of water. Strain and discard the carrots. Do the same with beet juice, use 1 cup of chopped red beets and blend with 40 ml of water and then strain

Make the dough:

  • Weigh 50 gr of glutinous rice flour and 10 gr of icing sugar each, and powdered flavors to color (if using), into 4 different mixing bowls (for 4 different colors). Whisk to mix. Heat up the juices in the microwave until really hot or heat it up on the stove until it boils if you plan to use juices to color. We need to make sure they are really hot when we mix it with the glutinous rice flour.
  • Add about 35 ml of hot boiling water (or juices if you use juices to color) into the flour mixture and stir to mix with a spoon and then use a clean hand to mix and knead into a non-sticky dough. Add hot water/juices as needed to form a dough. The dough will be soft and pliable because of the hot boiling water/juices. Cover them with plastic wrap and work with one dough at a time to prevent them from drying out

Shape the dough:

  • Separate the doughs into small doughs (probably about 15-20 small doughs) and then roll into small balls. You should have no problem with the dough breaking because the dough is so soft and pliable. Keep the small balls covered with plastic wrap too. Continue with the rest

Cook the tang yuan:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When they are rolling boil, add the tang yuan balls and cook until they float to the top. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot and submerge them in a fresh water briefly


  • Portion out the cooked balls into serving bowls and ladle the sweet ginger soup over it and serve

How to store cooked tang yuan:

  • Cooked tang yuan need will harden when they are kept in the refrigerator. Keep them in a container in a fresh water for up to 2 days max. You can reheat them on the stove to soften and then serve with sweet ginger soup

How to store uncooked tang yuan:

  • Place the small dough balls on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, not touching each other. Put them in the freezer for 15 minutes and then transfer to a freezer bag, they won't stick to each other anymore. They can be kept in the fridge for up to 6 months. Do not thaw and they go to hot boiling water to cook until heated through