Tang Yuan Recipe

round and heart shaped tang yuan 愛心湯 圓

Looking for a warm dessert for these cold winter months? Try this simple tang yuan recipe for chewy rice dumplings served in a sweet soup. They are easy to make and it’s a fun cooking activity for the kids too! If your kids play with play dough they can certainly make tang yuan.

湯圓 is pronounced tāng yuán and translates to soup round. Tang Yuan are also called glutenous rice balls, though they contain no gluten. They can be filled with a variety of ingredients such as ground peanuts, red beans, or sesame paste. 

Tang Yuan are traditionally eaten during holidays or cultural festivals such as winter solstice, but now it’s common to eat tang yuan year-round. In the summer you can cool off with shaved ice served with tang yuan. In the winter tang yuan is served warm in a dessert soup. 

Tang Yuan Recipe


  • 1 ½ cups  glutinous rice flour (aka sweet rice flour or Mochiko)
  • 2 tablespoons regular rice flour or tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour)*
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • ¼ room temp water
  • food coloring (red or color of choice)
  • winter melon sugar (you can substitute ginger and palm sugar if you prefer)

* You can omit the regular rice flour or tapioca start if you don’t have it. It’s not necessary but it’s supposed to make the dough less sticky.


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flours and boiling water. Use a wooden spoon or baking spatula and mix.
  2. Gradually add the room temp water, a little at a time until you get a consistency a little softer than play-dough. If the dough sticks to your hands, add a little more glutenous rice flour. If the dough is too crumbly, add a little bit more water.
  3. Divide ⅓ of the dough and add a couple of drops of food coloring. Knead until the dough is evenly colored.
  4. Roll into balls. I prefer my tang yuan to be the size of marbles. The size doesn’t matter but it’s important to make sure your tang yuan are around the same size so that they will cook evenly.
  5. Tang Yuan can be cooked right away or frozen for later.

Cooking Tang Yuan

Add tang yuan to a pot of boiling water. Once they float they are done, but I like to let them boil a couple of minutes longer. Strain cooked tang yuan into bowls.

Preparing the Soup

Boil about one cup of water per serving. Add winter melon sugar until you reach the desired sweetness. If you prefer ginger soup, replace winter melon sugar with a slice of ginger and palm sugar.

Pour soup over the cooked tang yuan. Serve immediately and enjoy!

You can make the dough into different shapes too! My daughter calls these heart shaped tang yuan 愛心湯圓

Like this tang yuan recipe? Check out my other recipes too!

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