Anko (Sweet Red Bean Paste) Recipe – Japanese Cooking 101

Anko or sweet red bean paste is an important ingredient in many Japanese traditional confectioneries. Anko may sound very authentic but it can easily be made at home. All you need are just 3 ingredients: adzuki beans or red beans, water, and sugar. There are many varieties of anko but the one that we are making right now is the chunky type called, tsubuan. Adzuki beans are boiled in water until very soft, then sweetened with sugar, and simmered until pasty. Once you have made this anko at home, the possibilities of sweet and delicious treats are endless. You can use it as a filling for steamed bun or mochi, make a bowl of sweet red bean soup, use it to flavor your ice cream or gelatin or even top it on some shaved ice with milk.


This recipe takes about 2 hours to make. Serves 2 1/2 cups of anko.

• 1 cup of red beans (adzuki beans)
• 1 1/2 cups of sugar
• 10 cups of water


Put red beans and 5 cups of water in a medium pot.
Boil over high heat for 5 minutes.
Drain the beans, then put them back in the pot.
This process removes the bitterness from the beans.
Pour 5 cups of water into the pot and boil over high heat.
Once the water boils, turn the heat down to low.
Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
At this point, the beans are very soft and can be easily crushed.
Drain the beans, then put them back in the pot.
Turn on the stove to medium-high heat, then add the sugar.
Stir constantly for 10 minutes or until the mixture reaches a paste-like consistency.
Immediately remove the pot from the heat.
Transfer the anko to a container and let it cool.

Ideas And Tips:

If you want to lessen the sweetness of the anko, use only 1 cup of sugar.

You can also soften the beans in the pressure cooker. For stovetop pressure cooker, cook for 20 minutes. For electric pressure cooker, cook for 25 minutes.

You can also cook the beans in a slow cooker for 8 hours, on low setting.

You can store the anko in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for up to a month.

Anko (Sweet Red Bean Paste) Recipe - Japanese Cooking 101
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