53 In Dessert/ Video

Anko (sweet red bean paste) Recipe

Anko (sweet red bean paste) is the crucial ingredient for Japanese traditional confectioneries.  It is a paste made with Azuki (red beans) and sugar.  It is used in a lot of different forms of dessert in Japan.  It could be used as is in cakes like Dorayaki (Anko sandwiched between sweet pancakes), but also jellied and molded into Yokan, or made into a soup called Zenzai.

When I was a kid, I really didn’t like Anko very much.  If I had a choice, I always took western style cakes with cream and chocolate.  As I’ve gotten older (much older:-), although I still like those cakes, I’ve became more attached to Japanese sweets with Anko.  For one, I miss authentic Japanese sweets, but also I really love the simpleness of Anko taste and its healthier, much less greasy feeling.  When I’m tired and craving something sweet, Anko desserts are my choice.  They are nice and sweet, and very comforting to me.

I said Anko is simple, but that doesn’t mean it easy to make.  A lot of Japanese sweet confectionery artisans have devoted their lives to Anko making.  Some of the Anko desserts they make have impressively complex tastes.  If you have a chance to visit Japan, I strongly encourage you to go to old Japanese sweets shops. You’ll enjoy what you taste.

As you might already guess, we are no Anko artisans.  So we’ll show you an easy version of Anko.  I promise it is still very good!

Anko (sweet red bean paste) Recipe

Anko (sweet red bean paste) Recipe


  • 1 cup red beans
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • water


  1. Put red beans in a pot with 4-5 cups of water. Let boil for 5 minutes and discard water.
  2. In a clean pot, place red beans and 4-5 cups of water, cover, and let it simmer at low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (add more water to keep above the beans). The beans should now be very soft, easily crushed between fingers.
  3. Discard water again, put soft beans back in the pot with sugar at medium high heat and constantly stir and mix about 10 minutes until forming a paste that looks shiny but still loose. Immediately transfer the paste to a container.

Anko (red bean paste)

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  • kane Odumosu
    September 21, 2013 at 8:50 am

    hi my name is Kane i love all your recipes on the website this was the first thing i made. I started for my GCSE coursework but now i start to make things all the time and i make them for my friends and family.

    Thank-you for doing this

    • Noriko
      September 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Hi Kane,
      Thanks for trying our recipes! Come back for more!

  • Sherry
    November 17, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Hi! Made some red bean paste for my red bean buns. Love the texture and taste. Sweetness is just right, my mother loves it too. Will definitely make more in the future, thinking of red bean ice cream! This easy peasy recipe is a keeper! Have already memorised it by heart. 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a practical recipe.

    • Noriko
      December 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      you’re welcome! Come back for more recipes!

  • Linda Cox
    January 9, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I would love to try some Japanese sweet bean desserts. Can you recommend a book? Are there any places that mail orders pastries like these?

    • Noriko
      January 12, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      I recommend you to use the recipes on our site 🙂 There are a lot of Japanese recipe books in Japanese, but I don’t know any in English, sorry. You can probably order pastries through Marukai or Mitsuwa web sites.

      • Aja Croteau
        May 24, 2014 at 11:50 pm

        Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu is a japanese recipe book in English. I don’t know if it has sweets in it though. We found it at KEEP in Kiyosato, I think it was originally published in Canada.

  • Jin
    January 20, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Hi! Nice tutorial 🙂 awesome anko you made!
    I have a question here, because I was thinking to use this red bean paste for macaron fillings later. How should I store this? And how long it can last?
    Thanks a lot~!

    • Noriko
      February 1, 2014 at 11:40 am

      If you can use it in a couple of days, refrigerate. But longer than that, I recommend to freeze it, and use up in a couple months.

  • Alice
    January 24, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Thank you very much for all the awesome recipes!!!!
    I made dorayaki for our tea ceremony club and all my friends love it :). My Japanese friends said it’s just like the one at home.
    If only we could make mochi (we don’t have mochi rice here 🙁 )………
    I am looking forward to more recipe from you. Thank you again!! ありがとうございます

    • Noriko
      February 1, 2014 at 11:31 am

      go online to buy Mochiko, and we have a sweet mochi recipe!

  • Heather
    January 29, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Do you start with dried beans or canned?

    • Noriko
      February 1, 2014 at 11:16 am


      • gabi
        May 22, 2014 at 2:07 pm

        Hi, where I live I can only get canned bean! Is there any way can make the paste with it? Please reply!

        • Noriko
          June 3, 2014 at 12:04 am

          if it’s canned Azuki, it must be sweetened. You can probably cook down to reduce moisture and use it as Anko.

  • Caroline
    March 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I want to try this recipe, but I´m from Germany and we don´t have the unit ´cups´, we use grams.. So can you please tell me what 1 Cup is in gram? 🙂

    • Noriko
      March 3, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      we use a 240ml cup (American cup). If you are using a 200ml cup, use 1 and 1/5 cup.

  • Jackie
    March 12, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I simmered them for 2 hours and they were still hard! I decided to follow the recipe and keep going, but when I was done the beans weren’t even fully cooked. Not only this, but your mochi recipe was terrible too. I mixed the amount of mochiko and water you said to and instead of being too dry or soft dough, it was MUSH. I had to add another half cup of mochiko just to make it sort of like soft dough.

    • Noriko
      March 12, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      I’m sorry to hear it didn’t come out very well. If you cook Azuki red beans for 2 hours and still hard, that means beans are old or something wrong with them. We have tested our Sweet Mochi recipe more than a couple of times before we put up on internet, so I don’t know what went wrong with your Mochi. Did you use 1 cup (240ml cup) of Mochiko and 3/4 cup (180ml) of water?

    • Cristina
      January 1, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      maybe try soaking them overnight and cooking them the next day? (: that’s what I did and they turned out great ^-^

      • Noriko
        January 7, 2016 at 9:15 am

        soaking doesn’t hurt, but not necessary.

  • dinosaur
    March 27, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    hi! i can’t find azuki beans in my country… would this recipe work with dark red kidney beans?

    • Noriko
      March 28, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      they have totally different flavors and textures, but you could certainly try. Have you looked online?

      • Hollie
        October 22, 2016 at 1:29 am

        They call them red mung beans here in Australia, maybe see if you can find those

  • Ana
    April 6, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Hi ladies I was about to make the anko but I started reading the comments and I realized I bought red beans the packet didn’t say azuki beans so it’s not going to work if it’s not azuki beans?

    • Noriko
      September 14, 2014 at 4:30 pm


      I’m not sure what kind of red beans you bought, so it’s hard to say how they will turn out. Anko works best with azuki beans. Other beans may have different size, texture, flavor, etc. so may cook differently. You already bought the beans so you could go ahead and give it a try. Good luck 🙂

  • A
    April 19, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    All I could find in my town was canned azuki beans.. Do I drain them and then cook them or.. Use them without cooking and just drain? Good recipes by the way

    • Noriko
      May 6, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      I assume it’s cooked and sweetened Anko. If it is too loose cook down, or add water to make it soup (Zenzai).

  • Ame
    May 12, 2014 at 8:25 pm


    I want to make Anpan soon but I prefer bean paste to have a smooth texture. Can I just blend this bean paste to make it smoother or is there a different recipe for smooth bean paste? Thanks

    • Noriko
      May 12, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      we don’t have Koshian (smooth type of bean paste) recipe yet. You could process red bean paste in a food processor although how to make Koshian is much more complecated.

      • Hollie
        October 22, 2016 at 1:30 am

        I just pushed mine through a strainer to smooth it and it was fine,

  • Phoebe
    May 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you for the great recipe! For me, I had to stretch out the final 10 minutes to a bit closer to 15 or maybe 17. The beans were initially too ‘soupy,’ but I lowered the heat to medium and kept stirring for another few minutes, and they thickened up nicely.

    I am really glad you mentioned the age of the beans in one of your comments. In my area (suburban New Hampshire), and I suspect in most parts of the US, it is very difficult to find adzuki beans that are actually fresh enough. There were three different brands in my local Asian grocery, and only one of them had an expiration date in the future. Last time I’d tried this was with bulk beans ordered online – they never cooked down, so I suspect they were quite old. Armed with the knowledge that they had to be fresh, I bought the right beans and the recipe worked perfectly.

    I am going to use this to make An Pan, and I suspect I won’t have any trouble using up the rest of the beans I have. The Anko is delicious, and I want to make it again and again! Has anyone tried putting it in milk tea (bubble tea) instead of tapioca? I am looking forward to trying that.

    • Noriko
      June 2, 2014 at 11:48 pm

      people tend to think beans last forever, but they don’t. Expiration dates for beans are usually within a year. Hope you can find a good supplier.

  • Brittany
    May 26, 2014 at 11:42 pm


    I can not wait to try this recipe! I have a question one question. I had a friend in school who was from Japan and her mother used to make us rice balls and bean paste. Have you ever heard of that? I have been trying to find a recipe for it. Is Anko usually the bean paste served with rice balls?

    • Noriko
      June 2, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      that’s Ohagi. It uses cooked mochi rice which is different from regular steamed rice.

  • Ryuu
    June 11, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Hi, I’ve tried the recipe today (found quite fresh azuki beans in a local vegie shop (and I live in 6k town/city of central Europe) and while I made some mistakes (mainly wasted some of the finest paste, when I pressed the mass after phase 2 (90-120min) too much through strainer and the some of the paste got into the sink), it turned really well.

    In comparison to my friend’s recipe (she prepares it the hard, traditional way – only smooth paste), it was much sweeter (not a big fan), so I will adjust it next time.

    AKA for next time:
    1cup of azuki beans
    3/4 cup of sugar

    • Noriko
      September 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      glad you liked our Anko recipe! The best part of home-cooking is to be able to adjust the taste to your liking!

  • Daniel
    August 25, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    I looked at two different Asian stores and looked for Anko but I couldn’t find it but I found red beans but canned, so what do I do, what do you mean by cook down, and what of you mean loose, I never learned how to cook yet but I want Anko and Dorayaki to be my first recipe, I am sorry if I sound dumb this is all new stuff to me and I found out about this stuff in Doraemon it is dubbed and is on Disney XD I love it, I wonder how this never made it in North America someone tried to dub it earlier but had unknown complications and was dropped, it makes me mad, and sorry if I bothered you, I feel dumb.

    • Noriko
      September 8, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      if canned Anko is too watery, you can cook and thicken it so that it is thick enough (and doesn’t run) to sandwich with pancakes. Best looking Dorayaki was in Doraemon, always!

  • Petra Zloki
    September 14, 2014 at 7:00 am

    I tried making Anko today with this recipe and it worked out great! Made Dorayaki with it and my family loved it!
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and everything <3!!

    • Noriko
      September 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      glad yo liked our Dorayaki recipe! We have many more sweets recipes!

  • Theresa
    January 7, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Hi, Do you have a recipe for just sweetened red beans? Instead of paste form. Or is this something I would buy at a Japanese store like Daido? Thanks for your help!

  • Mavis
    January 10, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    I tried this recipe and it really is easy and yummy! Perfect for the sesame balls I made for my family, brought old memories of home. Thank you so much!

    • Noriko
      January 11, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      glad you liked our Anko recipe!

  • Megan
    February 9, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    I just made this glorious mixture! I was short on sugar so I had to add a tiiiiny amount of brown sugar to it. I was so afraid it was going to mess it up, but I was pleasantly surprised that it didnt’! Now I just need to wait for it to cool so I can make my An Pan!

  • Melissa
    March 2, 2016 at 4:16 am

    I really love your recipe as they are simple and very tasty. I tried the mochi last time and I used the wrong sugar as there wasn’t any indication telling me to use crystal sugar ha ha. But it still came out nice. So, I would like to ask before starting this yummy mixture if I need to buy a special type of red bean, please?
    Always thanks ~

  • SARA
    August 9, 2016 at 7:46 am


  • Rod Harris
    August 11, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Is this what would most often be used in Goza-Soroh? I cannot find any recipe for Goza-Soroh and really want to try those magical looking cakes.

    • Noriko
      August 19, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      this Anko is Tsubu An (red bean paste with chunky whole red beans ) as opposed to Koshi An (smooth and strained).

  • Blue
    August 15, 2016 at 10:18 am

    The anko recipe was really good! I really want to make some mochi to go with it but unfortunately all I can find is glutinous rice flour, even when I search it up online 🙁

    • Noriko
      August 19, 2016 at 11:59 am

      did you try to search with Mochiko?

  • Maya
    October 23, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    This is so delicious! I had to cook the beans for 3 hours, but they came out perfectly soft. Also, my family prefers things less sweet so I only used half the required amount of sugar. I put this on top of your dango recipe and it was an instant hit. Thanks for the amazing recipe!

  • Jon
    January 4, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Hey love the recipes. Do you have a book so I can gift one to my mother?