Sweet Red Bean Paste: the recipe for the typical Japanese anko made from azuki beans

Total time: 30 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
By Cookist
azuki beans
300 g
wholemeal cane sugar
150 g
250 g

Sweet red bean paste, or anko, is a kind of Japanese jam made with azuki beans, a legume grown extensively in East Asia. With a soft texture and a sweetish taste, these beans can be perfectly used for the preparation of jams, preserves and other various types of desserts. In Japan, anko is mainly used as a filling for some typical sweets, such as the famous dorayaki, daifuku (mochi) or taiyaki, sometimes it is also used as a garnish for ice cream.

Easy to make, you will just have to boil the beans in water, add a sugar syrup and blend everything until you get a smooth, homogeneous and super soft cream. Depending on whether the beans are left whole or pureed in cream, there are two different variants: tsubuan with whole legumes and koshiban with pureed ones.

You can enjoy this delicious sweet red bean paste for breakfast or as a snack, spread it on toasted bread, or use it to fill a tart or garnish a dessert. So let’s find out how to make anko by following our simple recipe step by step.

Tips for making Homemade Red Bean Paste

If you prefer, you can replace brown sugar with granulated white sugar, with whole coconut sugar or with honey.

For an even more fragrant red bean paste, you can also add the spices you prefer, such as cinnamon, vanilla and citrus peel.

You can also try other two pastes similar to anko: mamean, based on green mung beans, and shiroan, based on cannellini beans.

How to store Anko

Anko can be stored in sterilized and vacuum-sealed glass jars for 4-6 months, kept in a cool and dry place. Freezing is not recommended.

How to make Anko Sweet Red Bean Paste


Rinse the beans and soak them in water overnight (1).


Throw in the soaking water and boil them, covering them again with the water, for a couple of hours (2). If needed, add more boiling water during cooking.


Once cooked, drain the beans and weigh them, you will need about 400 grams of them (3).


Pour the water into a saucepan (4).


Add the sugar (5).


Melt over low heat (6).


Add the cooked beans and continue cooking for another 10 minutes (7).


Blend with an immersion blender, until you get a smooth cream (8).


Transfer the jam to the sterilized jars (9).


Bring to the table and enjoy (10).

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