A dark Japanese plate containing manju filled with red bean paste served with green tea.


Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: sweet red bean, wagashi
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 12
Encased in a soft wheat dough, filled with sweet red bean paste, and steamed to perfection, Manju is a classic Japanese confectionery (wagashi). When you crave for a fun, sweet treat, these dumplings will hit the spot!  Enjoy with a hot cup of green tea.


  • ½ cup brown sugar (packed) (½ cup packed = 80 g)
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp water (for mixing with baking powder)
  • 1 cup cake flour (1 cup = 135 g) (plus more for dusting)
  • 8.5 oz red bean paste (8.5 oz = 240 g) (I used "Koshian" - fine paste)


  1. Gather all the ingredients. Cut a sheet of parchment paper into twelve (12) 2.5” x 2.5” (6 x 6 cm) sheets.

    Manju Ingredients
  2. In a small saucepan, add water and brown sugar. Whisk to dissolve the sugar over medium-low heat.

    Manju 1
  3. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
    Manju 2
  4. Meanwhile wet your hands with a little bit of water and make 12 balls of red bean paste. Each ball should be about 1 scant Tbsp (20g).
    Manju 3
  5. Combine baking powder and water.
    Manju 4
  6. Add to the cooled brown sugar mixture and mix all together.
    Manju 5
  7. Sift the flour and add to the brown sugar mixture. Combine the mixture with a silicone spatula, chopsticks or fingers. Pinch the clumps together into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest the dough for 15 minutes in the bowl.
    Manju 6
  8. Transfer the dough on a floured work surface and knead for 1-2 minutes, incorporating flour as necessary to get rid of stickiness. The texture of the dough should be pliable (in Japanese, we say the texture should be similar to the texture of ear lobe). Do not over knead.
    Manju 7
  9. Once the dough is no longer sticky and smooth, form the dough into a stick, and cut into 12 pieces.
    Manju 8
  10. Cover them with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying.
    Manju 9
  11. Form one portion of the dough into a ball and flatten it so it becomes 2 inch (5 cm) in diameter.
    Manju 10
  12. Then flatten the piece with your fingers and roll out to form a circle shape about 2.5 to 3 inch (6-7 cm) in diameter. Only stretch the outer edges of the dough and keep the center thick.
    Manju 11
  13. Place the red bean ball in the middle and pull each corner into the center and pinch to close the dough.
    Manju 12
  14. Now you know why we need the outer dough to be thin. If you have thick outer dough, the pinched area will be harder to fold in.
    Manju 13
  15. Place the manju on the working surface, seam side down. Rotate the dough a few times to shape nicely. Place it on to the parchment paper.
    Manju 14
  16. Cover the manju with a damp towel to prevent from drying. Repeat with the remaining dough.
    Manju 15
  17. Set up a steamer. Fill the wok (or pot) with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil. Steam for 10-12 minutes with high heat (this creates lots of steam).
    Manju 16
  18. Once they are done cooking, remove manju from the steamer and let cool on a wire rack or bamboo sieve (so the air/heat won’t trap on the bottom of manju). While they are still warm, wrap each manju with plastic wrap individually. This will help to retain the moisture. Enjoy!

    Manju 17

Recipe Notes

Cake Flour: If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute with all-purpose flour and corn starch. Here’s how.

  1. Prepare 1 cup all purpose flour in the bowl.
  2. Remove 2 Tbsp from the bowl.
  3. Add 2 Tbsp corn starch back to the bowl.
  4. Now you have 1 cup cake flour.
  5. Be sure to sift the flour to distribute the cornstarch well before using it in your cake batter.


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.