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Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan (gluten-free)

Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan (gluten-free)

Chinese Food, Sweets

the blog:

Chewy and nutty in flavor, these Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan (sweet glutinous rice balls) is the perfect dessert to have for Lunar New Year or any time you crave it. They are filled with a black sesame filling and served with a sweet ginger broth.

Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan (gluten-free)

I woke up excited about all the celebrations for the new year.

The first place I go is the kitchen. I can smell the sweet gingerly broth in the kitchen combined with the incense my mom lit up. There would be a large pot of Tang Yuan (sweet glutinous rice balls) on the stove, luring me into having a bowl right away, but I always wait until a little later in the afternoon to have the ones that were served to the deities (for more luck ahead).

I always looked forward to Lunar New Year as it is the main holiday that my parents celebrated. The house would be decked out in red and my mom would make a ton of holiday dishes we only have once a year. Some years we would visit temples with my grandmother. Some years if we were snowed in, we would spend the day watching Hong Kong Chinese New Year shows. We were obsessed with the zodiac fortune-telling ones.

Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan (gluten-free)

Throughout the day, we would walk around the decorated dinner table, munching on all the new year food and snacks. When the time comes when we could have the tang yuan that was served to the deities, we would all rush to the kitchen eager to have a bowl. My mom would make the majority of them in tiny sizes, but some of them would be larger and filled with a mung bean filling. I was never the biggest fan of them but I was always up for more of the small ones and the sweet gingerly broth my mom served it with. If I could, I would have them every day.

I normally just like to have tang yuan without a filling, but this year I wanted to try ones with a black sesame filling. I had some leftovers that I made and thought it would be fun to test it out. After a bite, I have no idea why I didn’t try it sooner. The black sesame filling has a nutty taste to it like peanut butter and tastes heavenly with the chewy dough and the sweet ginger broth. You would absolutely love it if you are a nut butter fan. If you don’t have any black sesame paste, no worries at all! You can make these tang yuan without any filling as well and it will still taste amazing.

Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan (gluten-free)

Here is an overview of these Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan.

What is tang yuan?
Tang Yuan is a traditional Chinese dessert made with glutinous rice flour and water. Some like to include a ground nuts or sugar filling while some like to have it plain. They are an important festive dessert in China as the round shape of the rice balls symbolizes togetherness or union and prosperity.

Tang Yuan is usually served during the Lantern Festival but because of their symbolism, they are served in other Chinese holidays as well.

What does tang yuan taste like?
The glutinous rice balls are boiled in water and served with a sweet ginger broth. The color is usually white, but with modern-day, some like to add food coloring to it to make them even more joyful to make. They are chewy in texture and if a filling is included like black sesame paste, there will be a nutty taste to them.

Are they gluten-free?
Yes, the only flour used is glutinous rice flour!

Can I use other fillings?
Yes, feel free to swap the black sesame filling with red bean paste, lotus paste or sugar!

How do I store these tang yuan?
You can store them for up to 2 days in the refrigerator once the tang yuan is cooked. If left too long in the fridge, the tang yuan will disintegrate into the syrup and will no longer be as good. To store them, place the tang yuan in an airtight container with a little bit of the sweet ginger broth.

How do I know when the tang yuan are cooked?
When you place the glutinous rice balls into the boiling water, wait a few minutes and then stir. When you see them float above the pot, the glutinous rice balls are ready.

Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan (gluten-free)


Glutinous Rice Flour: Glutinous rice flour is different from regular rice flour. Glutinous rice flour comes from short-grain glutinous sticky rice while rice flour comes from a long-grain variety of rice. Glutinous flour has a more chewy texture compared to regular rice flour. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend substituting the glutinous rice flour with anything else. You can find them pictured here in many Asian grocery stores.

Sugar: To make it refined sugar-free you can use coconut sugar. Note that there might be a coconut taste to the broth.

Black Sesame Paste: I made my own black sesame paste and you can find the recipe here.

Pandan Leaves: You can find them frozen in many Asian grocery stores.

Fresh Ginger: I like my broth to be a bit more spicy and warm in taste from the ginger. If you prefer something less spicy, reduce the amount of ginger by half and add more after you taste the broth to your preference.

If you like these Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan, you might also like to try:
Vegan Chinese Tangerine Steamed Buns
Vegan Chinese Snow Fungus Soup
Vegan Chinese Almond Cookies

I cannot wait for you to try these Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan! If you do, please tag me on Instagram @_withhelen or leave a comment below letting me know you like it!

Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan (gluten-free)

Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan (gluten-free)

Chewy and nutty in flavor, these Vegan Black Sesame Tang Yuan (sweet glutinous rice balls) is the perfect dessert to have for Lunar New Year or any time you crave it. They are filled with a black sesame filling and served with a sweet ginger broth.

  • Author: Helen Au
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 23 1x
  • Category: Sweets
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Diet: Vegan



Sweet Ginger Broth
500g (2 cups) water
25g fresh ginger, sliced thinly (reduce the amount if you prefer a less spicy broth)
50g brown sugar
2 fresh/frozen pandan leaves, knotted

40g black sesame paste
80g (½ cup) glutinous rice flour
83g (⅓ cup) hot water, plus more if needed


  1. Prepare the Sweet Ginger Broth first. Add all the ingredients for the sweet ginger broth into a pot and bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium low and allow it to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Taste and adjust the taste.
  2. Make the tang yuan dough. Divide the black sesame paste into 3g pieces and roll them into a ball. Place them into the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. 
  3. Meanwhile, add the flour and water together in a bowl. Using a pair of chopsticks, mix the ingredients together until a dough starts to form. Then, knead the dough until it is smooth, adding more water as needed.
  4. Divide the dough into 11-12g pieces, rolling them into a round ball. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel.Take the black sesame filling out of the freezer. To each dough piece and flatten it out into a thin circle about 2 inches in diameter. Place one of the black sesame paste balls into the center of the dough and close the dough over the filling, rolling it between your hands until it is smooth and round. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  5. When you are almost done with the dough, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in the sesame balls and gently stir them. Allow them to boil until the dough rises above the water. This is when you know the dough is cooked through. Remove the dough from the boiling water and into a large bowl or container with a little of the cooking water.
  6. To serve, add some of the sesame balls to a bowl and pour in some of the sweet ginger broth. You can serve the broth at room temperature or warm (I prefer warm) with the sesame balls. Enjoy!


Keywords: tang yuan, black sesame, chinese dessert, chinese food

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