Sesame Balls with Red Bean Paste

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 01/02/2022 Updated: 30/11/2023
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 45 minutes
These crispy, chewy and nutty authentic Chinese sesame balls with red bean paste are popular for a reason—they are the perfect treat. These crispy fried sesame balls are made with only 5 ingredients and are really simple to make at home!
Sesame Balls with Red Bean Paste

These crispy, chewy, and nutty authentic Chinese sesame balls with red bean paste are popular for a reason—they are the perfect treat. These crispy fried sesame balls are made with only 5 ingredients and are really simple to make at home!

Looking down at a platter of sesame balls in a bowl.

Chinese fried sesame balls with red bean paste or Jian Dui take me back to simpler times. Growing up, my extended family had a tradition of going to a different Chinese buffet every week. We loved everything about Chinese buffets. There were dozens of Chinese dishes to choose from, the all-you-can-eat crab legs that we would always fight for, and the quality time we spent together eating and laughing at my uncle’s jokes.

These sesame balls with red bean paste are the perfect treat for when you need a little pick me up in the week. They only need a handful of ingredients and have a few easy-to-follow steps. So what are you waiting for, let’s get started! If you loved this authentic Chinese sesame ball with red bean paste recipe, you may also love my Chinese almond cookie, baked char siu bao, and honey walnut shrimp.

A detail view of an open half of a red bean filled fried sesame ball.
A serving bowl full of red bean filled fried sesame balls.

What are sesame balls?

Chinese sesame balls (Jian Dui/煎堆 or Ma Tuan/麻团) are a popular Chinese street food snack. Its origins can be traced back to the Tang dynasty as a palace food in Chang’an. They are made with sweetened glutinous rice flour, coated with sesame seeds, and stuffed with a sweetened paste generally red bean, mung beans, or lotus paste. Inside the pastry has a hollow caused by the expansion of the dough.

A detail shot of a grid of sesame balls.

Kitchen Equipment

  • Kitchen Scale: for the best results, you should use a kitchen scale! Measuring flour using measuring cups can vary widely depending on the way you scoop the flour and if there are any air pockets in your flour. The most precise way to measure these ingredients is with a kitchen scale.
  • Mixing Bowls: glass nesting bowls are a kitchen staple when it comes to baking. They allow you to lay out all your measured ingredients which makes the baking process so much easier to follow along with everything portioned and ready-to-go.
  • Heavy Bottomed Pot: you will need a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven to fry the sesame balls.
  • Thermometer: you will need a thermometer, preferably one with a clip attachment to monitor the temperature of the oil when frying.
  • Spider Strainer: A spider strainer, or alternatively a slotted spoon allows you to easily navigate frying these balls. It will ensure you are scooping up excess oil and preventing any splattering.

Ingredients

This crispy Chinese red bean sesame balls recipe only needs 5 ingredients making it super simple to make! Most of these ingredients you can find online or at your local Chinese or Vietnamese grocery store.

  • Glutinous Rice Flour: make sure you buy glutinous rice flour and not just regular rice flour. The glutinous rice flour is what creates that delicious chewy texture for the sesame balls.
  • Granulated Sugar: sugar sweetens the dough
  • Salt: the salt enhances the flavor of the red bean paste and balances out the sugar.
  • Red Bean Paste: red bean paste is one of the more popular fillings for sesame balls. You can easily buy red bean paste online or at your local Chinese grocery store.
  • Sesame Seeds: this will coat the outer exterior of these glutinous rice balls to give them that nutty flavor and crunch. You can use either un-toasted white sesame seeds or toasted white sesame seeds. Just keep in mind the un-toasted sesame seeds may turn brown when frying.
  • Vegetable oil or Neutral oil: you will need a neutral oil to fry the sesame oils. I prefer using vegetable oil because it has a high boiling point and neutral flavor that doesn’t change the flavor of the sesame balls.
The ingredients to make red bean paste filled fried sesame balls.

How to Make Sesame Balls with Red Bean Paste

Making these Chinese fried sesame balls with red bean paste is a breeze! There are only a few steps and the end result is so worth the effort.

Form The Dough

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the glutinous rice flour and sugar. Make a well in the center and slowly pour in the boiling water. Mix with a rubber spatula until it forms into a dough and all the flour has been incorporated. Knead with your hand until the dough forms into a ball.
  1. Rest. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
  1. Prepare the filling and sesame seeds. Divide the filling into 10 equal balls about 1 tablespoon each. Place the sesame seeds in a bowl and prepare a bowl of water.
Scooped balls of red bean filling prepared and ready to chill and harden.
  1. Divide the dough into 10 equal balls. Divide the dough and cut it into 10 equal balls.

Assemble the Sesame Balls

  1. Add the filling. Then flatten the dough with your thumbs until it is about 2-3 inch in diameter. Add the red bean ball in the center and wrap the dough around the filling. Pinch to seal. Roll the ball in between your hands to form a smooth round ball.
  1. Coat the balls with sesame seeds. Lightly coat the ball in water and then coat with sesame seeds. Using your hands, reshape the ball and press the sesame seeds into the dough to prevent them from falling off in the oil.

Fry the Sesame Balls

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, add 6 cups of oil or however much oil to cover at least 1/2 of the pot. Heat the oil on medium heat to 290-300°F/149°C using a thermometer with a clip attachment for accuracy. Add 5 sesame balls at a time and move them around so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Fry for 10 minutes. Press the balls underneath the oil for even frying.
  1. Turn up heat for crispy outer layer. After the 10 minutes, gradually increase the heat to medium high until it reaches 350°F and fry for an additional 5 minutes or until it is golden brown and crispy for a total of 15 minutes. Continue flipping the sesame balls for even cooking.
  1. Cool. Remove the sesame balls with a spider strainer onto a cooling wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Fried sesame balls lifted out of oil with a slotted spoon.

Tips for the Best Chinese Sesame Balls

  • If the dough is too wet and is goopy and not coming together to form a dough you can shape with your hands, add more glutinous rice flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
  • If the dough is too dry and cracking, add warm water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
  • Rest the dough. After you mix the dough together, you will need to rest the dough for 30 minutes so that the flour has time to soak in the water. This makes the dough more pliable and easier to manage.
  • Refrigerate the red bean paste. Refrigerating the red bean paste will make it easier to work with and roll into balls.
  • For the quickest method, use pre-made red bean paste. This will save you hours of soaking overnight, boiling, and cooking on a skillet. You can find pre-made red bean paste online or at your local Chinese grocery market.
  • If the balls burst in the oil, remove them immediately. You do not want the filling to contaminate the oil for the other sesame balls. If you notice lots of dark red pieces in your oil this is a sign one of the sesame balls might have popped open.
Looking down at a table spread of fried sesame balls and toasted sesame seeds.

Storage Instructions

You can store these Chinese sesame balls with red bean paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can reheat them in the oven or in an air fryer at 350°F for 5 minutes or until crisp.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

What are sesame balls made of?

Sesame balls are made with a sticky glutinous rice flour dough and filled with a sweet paste (red bean, mung bean, lotus), rolled in sesame seeds, and fried until crispy.

Why isn’t my dough coming together?

The right consistency of the dough is where the dough is kind of like play-doh— manageable and pliable without cracking and falling apart.
The dough is too wet if it spreads into a goopy puddle when you set it down. If this happens add 1 tablespoon of glutinous rice flour at a time and combine until it holds its shape.
The dough is too dry if it is crumbly and falls apart when you try to shape it into discs. If this happens add 1 tablespoon of warm water at a time and combine until it holds its shape.

How do you reheat sesame balls?

The best way to reheat these Chinese sesame balls is to pop them in a toaster oven, air fryer, or oven at 350°F for 5 minutes or until crisp.

Did you make these sesame balls with red bean paste?

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Recipe

Looking down at a bowl of fried sesame balls with an open one showing the red bean paste inside.

Sesame Balls with Red Bean Paste

5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
These crispy, chewy and nutty authentic Chinese sesame balls with red bean paste are popular for a reason—they are the perfect treat. These crispy fried sesame balls are made with only 5 ingredients and are really simple to make at home!
Servings: 5 people
Print Recipe

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120 g) glutinous rice flour
  • 3 tablespoon (40 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cup (80 ml) boiling water
  • cup (7 ounces) red bean paste, chilled
  • ¼ cup white sesame seeds raw or toasted
  • 4-6 cups vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  • Form the dough. In a medium bowl, mix together the glutinous rice flour and sugar. Make a well in the center and slowly pour in the boiling water. Mix with a rubber spatula until it forms into a dough and all the flour has been incorporated. Knead with your hand until the dough forms into a ball. If it is too wet and goopy, add in more glutinous flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If it is too dry and crumbly, add in warm water 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • Rest. Place in a ziploc back or cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Prepare the filling and sesame seeds. Divide the filling into 10 equal balls about 1 tablespoon each. Place the sesame seeds in a small bowl and prepare a small bowl of water.
  • Divide the dough into 10 equal balls. Divide the dough and cut it into 10 equal balls.
  • Add the filling. Then flatten the dough with your thumbs until it is about 2-3 inch in diameter. Add the red bean ball in the center and gently wrap the dough around the filling. Pinch the dough together tightly to cover the filling. Roll the ball in between your hands until the seams disappear and you form a smooth round ball.
  • Coat the balls with sesame seeds. Lightly coat the ball in water and then cover completely with sesame seeds. Using your hands, reshape the ball and press the sesame seeds into the dough to prevent them from falling off in the oil.
  • Fry the sesame balls. In a heavy bottomed pot, add 6 cups of oil or however much oil to cover at least 1/2 of the pot. Heat the oil on medium high heat to 290-300°F/149°C using a thermometer for accuracy. Add 5 sesame balls at a time and use a slotted spoon to move them around so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Fry for 10 minutes. They will float to the top. Make sure to press the balls underneath the oil and flip them around with a slotted spoon for even frying.
  • Turn up heat for crispy outer layer. After the 10 minutes, gradually increase the heat to medium high until it reaches 350°F and fry for an additional 5 minutes or until it is golden brown and crispy for a total of 15 minutes. Continue flipping the sesame balls for even cooking. The sesame balls should expand and grow.
  • Cool. Remove the sesame balls with a spider strainer onto a cooling wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • If the dough is too wet and is goopy and not coming together to form a dough you can shape with your hands, add more glutinous rice flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together.
  • If the dough is too dry and cracking, add warm water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
  • Rest the dough. After you mix the dough together, you will need to rest the dough for 30 minutes so that the flour has time to soak in the water. This makes the dough more pliable and easier to manage.
  • Refrigerate the red bean paste. Refrigerating the red bean paste will make it easier to work with and roll into balls.
  • For the quickest method, use pre-made red bean paste. This will save you hours of soaking overnight, boiling, and cooking on a skillet. You can find pre-made red bean paste online or at your local Chinese grocery market.
  • If the balls burst in the oil, remove them immediately. You do not want the filling to contaminate the oil for the other sesame balls.

Nutrition:

Serving: 5g | Calories: 1917kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 189g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 108g | Monounsaturated Fat: 44g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 120mg | Potassium: 63mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 2mg

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Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    I’m a crappy cook and I made these! Recipe was so easy to follow and they turned out great. I could even make them single handed while holding a baby so anyone can. I’d probably make slightly more dough so it can be a little thicker and more chewy next time but really that’s personal preference they were fantastic as is.