How To Make Anko (Red Bean Paste)

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  • Learn how to make Anko sweet red bean paste from scratch. Step-by-step pictures included.

    Koshian and Tubuan in small dishes.

    Anko (あんこ, 餡), or sweet red bean paste, is used in many confectioneries in Japan.  It is usually prepared by boiling azuki beans, sometimes mashing them, and then sweetening the paste with sugar.  The most common types of red bean paste include Tsubuan and Koshian.

    Other varieties of red bean paste include Shiroan (白あん), made from Japanese white beans, and Kurian (栗あん) made from chestnuts.

    All types of red bean pastes are used in many delicious Japanese sweets such as Anmitsu, Daifuku, Dango, Dorayaki, Oshiruko / Zenzai, Taiyaki, Manju, and Yokan.

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    Tsubu-an (Chunky Red Bean Paste)

    Tsubuan (粒あん) is prepared by boiling and sweetening with sugar, but otherwise untreated.  Hence the texture is chunky.  My recipe below shows you how to make chunky red bean paste from scratch.

    Tsubuan in a small dish.

    Koshi-an (Smooth Red Bean Paste)

    Koshian (こしあん) is prepared by passing through a sieve to remove bean skins. The texture is smoother and is most commonly used for wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery).

    Koshian smooth red bean paste in a small dish.

    I make Koshian with a pressure cooker.  Check out my Pressure Cooker Anko recipe for detailed instructions.  You can also purchase a packaged koshian.

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    Quick & Easy Pressure Cooker Method

    If you want to use a pressure cooker, check out my Pressure Cooker Anko recipe.

    Pressure Cooker Anko, Sweet Red Bean Paste in a bowls.

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    How to Make White Bean Paste (Shiroan)

    White Bean Paste or Shiroan is commonly used as a filling for wagashi (Japanese confectionery) such as mochi and manju. The paste has a milder bean taste, so it makes a great alternative to red bean paste.

    White bean paste on a Japanese black plate.

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    Recipes with Sweet Red Bean Paste

    Strawberry Daifuku on white dishes.

    Strawberry Daifuku (Mochi)

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    4.65 from 17 votes
    Sweet Red Bean Paste (Tsubuan)
    Prep Time
    10 mins
    Cook Time
    1 hr 30 mins
    Total Time
    9 hrs 40 mins

    Learn how to make Anko sweet red bean paste from scratch. Step-by-step pictures included.

    Course: Condiments, Dessert, How to
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: bean paste, sweet red bean
    Servings: 600 (g) (1.3 lb anko)
    Author: Nami
    • 200 g Azuki beans (7 oz; A little bit less than 1 cup)
    • Water
    • 175-200 g sugar (¾ - 1 cup)
    • ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (use half for table salt)
    1. Gather all the ingredients.

      Azuki Beans
    2. Soak the azuki beans overnight (8-12 hours).
      Anko (Tsubuan) 1
    3. Rinse azuki beans.
      Anko (Tsubuan) 2
    4. Use a big saucepan/pot because the amount of azuki bean will double after cooking. Put washed azuki beans in the pot and pour water till 1-2 inches above azuki beans. Turn the heat on high.

      Anko (Tsubuan) 3
    5. When boiling, turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

      Anko (Tsubuan) 4
    6. Throw away water and put the azuki beans into a sieve.
      Anko (Tsubuan) 5
    7. Put the azuki beans back in the pot. Add enough water just to cover the beans and turn the heat on high. Once boiling, turn down the heat to medium-low and keep it simmering.

      Anko (Tsubuan) 6
    8. Once in awhile push the azuki beans under the water with a slotted spoon. Water will evaporate so you need to keep adding water to cover just above the beans. If you put too much water, the beans will move and break. If you need to leave the kitchen, make sure to turn off the heat. You will be cooking for 1+ hours.

      Anko (Tsubuan) 7
    9. Pick one azuki bean and squeeze it with your fingers. If it is smushed easily, it’s done.
      Anko (Tsubuan) 8
    10. Turn up the heat to high and add sugar in 3 separate times. Stir constantly. When you draw a line on the bottom of the saucepan and see the surface for more than 2 seconds, add salt and turn off the heat. Anko will thicken more when it cools.

      Anko (Tsubuan) 9
    11. Pour into a container to cool down. Do not leave it in the pot. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge to store after cool down. If you aren't planning to use it all at once, you can divide it into 100g packages. Wrap in plastic bag and store in Ziploc Freezer bags and can store in the fridge for a week and freezer up to a month.

      Anko (Tsubuan) 10
    To Make Koshian
    1. After step 8, you can either use a food processor to make a paste or use a fine-mesh sieve to strain into a paste, pressing down with a wooden spatula. Then put the mashed beans in a cotton cloth and squeeze the liquid out (this part can be skipped). Finally, add the mashed beans and sugar in a pot and let the sugar dissolve completely. Add the salt at the end. Check out my Pressure Cooker Anko recipe for detailed step by step Koshian instructions.

    Recipe Notes

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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