Glutinous rice dumplings (Tang Yuan)

Tang Yuan (Glutinous rice balls in sweet ginger broth)

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 46 minutes
Servings: 2 -3 servings as dessert
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.
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  • 200 gr glutinous rice flour or mochiko flour/sticky rice flour
  • 100 ml boiling water
  • Start with 80 ml of water (not hot) You may need more or not
  • 5 gr agar agar powder optional
  • I used red gel food coloring cocoa powder, matcha powder

The sweet ginger broth:

  • 4 cups water
  • 20 gr fresh ginger thinly sliced
  • 3 screwpine leaves /pandan knotted
  • 50 gr coconut sugar or use brown sugar to substitute
  • 150 gr sugar more or less according to your taste


Making 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

Making the dough:

  • Place agar agar in a bowl (if using) Add 100 ml of boiling water. Stir and the agar agar will thicken. Add 2 Tbsp glutinous rice flour and continue to stir into paste
  • Add this paste to the glutinous rice flour. Gradually add in water (not hot) a bit by a bit and knead with your hands until the dough comes together soft and pliable. If it's too dry, add a bit more water, it shouldn't be too wet that it sticks to your hands or bowl
  • Separate the doughs into several small doughs, depends on how many colors you want to make, Drop few drops of the coloring and knead with your hand until the color is even on each dough. I found that using the powder coloring will make the dough a bit dry, in this case you can dab your palms with a bit of water and knead the dough
  • Work with one dough at a time while keeping the rest covered, knead the dough again and then pinch off some equal size of small doughs and some large ones if you like and place them on a plate lined with clean dry cloth. Once you have those, take one dough and roll them into round balls. If the dough crack when you roll them, just dab a bit of water and roll again and that will fix the problem

Cooking the tang yuan:

  • I recommend to cook the tang yuan separately and not in the ginger broth as it will make the broth cloudy. Bring large pot of water to a boil. When they are rolling boil, add in the tang yuan and let them cook until they float to the top. Use slotted spoon to remove them and submerge them in cold water

Serving the tang yuan:

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


  1. Adding agar agar powder makes the texture more springy and chewy and the dough is less likely to tear too.
  2. You can make the dough up to one day ahead and just cover them well with plastic wrapper (to prevent drying) and leave at room temperature until you are ready to cook the tang yuan the next day.
  3. Tang yuan are best served the same day they are cooked. They tend to harden when you refrigerate. Of course you can always microwave them to soften again.