Tang Yuan (Gluntinous Rice Dumplings/汤圆)

December 17th, 2009Culture, Dessert, Heritage28 Comments
Tang Yuan (Gluntinous Rice Dumplings)
Tang Yuan (Gluntinous Rice Dumplings) pictures (1 of 3)

Contributor: Ho Siew Loon

How time flies and we will be ushering 2010 in about 2 weeks.

December has always been my favorite month with so many festivals like Christmas, New Year and Dong Zhi (冬至) festival. Dong Zhi or winter solstice has always been a very important event in the Chinese custom. It is also known as Tang Check by the Peranakan which means the arrival of winter. It signifies the longest night in the year. Tang Check is a very important day in the Chinese calender and some people celebrate it on a bigger scale than Chinese New Year. On this day, the Chinese will make Tang Yuan (汤圆) or Kuih Ee to signifies the arrival of winter and by eating this we will be a year older. In Chinese custom, this round shaped rice ball symbolizes togetherness and completeness of the family. This year Tang Check will be celebrated on 21 December…(get Tang Yuan recipe after the jump)

Tang Yuan is also known as glutinous rice balls. This dessert (check out other Nyonya desserts such as bubur cha cha and bee koh moy) is made during the Dong Zi festival and it comes in different colors like white, pink, green, yellow, blue and orange. This little rices balls are then served with syrup but these days people are getting more creative and Tang Yuan comes with different types of filling like peanut, black sesame, red bean etc. There are savoury ones as well. However, the traditional ones are still my favorite.

(Click on Page 2 for Tang Yuan Recipe)

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28 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Su-yin says:

    Oooh thanks for the recipe. I finally managed to find pandan leaves in Chinatown so will have to make this this weekend. :)

  2. heng bee says:

    Thank you for sharing all your recipe generously. Will try all my favorites soon. Happy holidays

  3. kirbie says:

    I love tang yuan! Especially when they are colored. I love so many foods, but tang yuan has got to be one my favorite of all time. Seeing this picture makes me want to make some right now.

  4. tracieMoo says:

    Although this is a simple dessert it does give me a warm feeling just by looking at the great photos :)

  5. janet says:

    i wanna find the recipe of Dragon In tong yuen… i ate last time.. so nice…
    got arak de….
    duno wat its name…

  6. in says:

    Ooohh….ginger in the syrup is a must! Btw, isn’t it supposed to be on the 22nd? It falls on the same day every year.

  7. catty says:

    I ADORE your blog and it has brought me much homesickness and joy over the past year. Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! Catty x

  8. Michael Cheah says:

    seeing this Tang Yuan…reminds me of my childhood where i help my nyonya grandma (paternal) make this lovely dessert…i would help roll the small red and orange ones only…it seemed easier to handle and make…:) thanks for reminding me of my humble but happy childhood with very beautiful memories…of my grandma..

  9. Karen Lim says:

    My mom let us dip the tang yuen in ground roasted peanuts/sugar mixture. Delicious!

  10. linda says:

    Wow, really remind me of my childhood days when my grandmother cooked for me. I am a crazy fan of your blog! Everyday, without fear, I will log into to view your delicious recipes. How I wish I can cook like you! By the way, do you know where can I get pandan leave (Screwpine leaves) in Australia? I went to the local Chinese Market, I cant get any of it. Or would you know of any online purchase of pandan leaves or seed so that I can grown on my own? Thank you!

    • Nyonya Food says:

      Linda – thanks for your kind comment, do you visit Rasa Malaysia ( It’s also my blog.

      I don’t live in AU, so I don’t know where to get it. Sorry.

    • Lara says:

      Hello, where about do you live in Australia? You can get the pandan leaves at the grocer that sells other greens. But your best bet is around grocers who are vietnamse, as the hk style store dont often have them i find. If in Syndey, the store in Cabramatta or Canley Heights will have them.

    • karla says:

      hi linda,
      i live in melbourne and managed to find pandan leaves in chinese grocery stores their usually frozen though and hidden, so its best to ask someone who works there where they keep it. for fresh ones they can be found in any asian suburban markets, like springvale, boxhill, footscray etc.

    • Rebecca says:

      I did see the Chinese/Vietnamese Market selling Pandan leaves in Melbourne. It is hard to tell, so you have to hunt around, may be in the freezer in some places ( Paris )!
      I would like to share a good tip when making the Tang Yuan/汤圆, add in 2 Tablespoon of tapioca flour to the above recipe, then pour in 3oz of hot water, stir with a wooden spoon or chopstick then add in the rest of cold water to knead to a dough. After boiling the Tang Yuan/汤圆 is very QQ, I’m sure you will be delighted as we when I first tried !!
      Yes, if you can’t find any Pandan leaves, just add in some ginger. We add in both in Malaysia.
      Any left over Tang Yuan/汤圆 can add to any soup with meat and veggie and it is a meal by itself !! That’s a Hakka dish !!

  11. Pingback:Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls) Recipe for cookery! #ece #preschool #chinesenewyear « cynthia.

  12. arlo says:

    sorry how many servings does this make? how much would i need for 8 servings??

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  14. Danielle says:

    Hello, I have just found your blog and started to love it. I would like to make Tang Yuan this year. From the recipe given by you, it seems quite easy. However, I have a few questions..
    1. What if I wanted to put some peanut into it?
    2. When you are not able to finish it in one day, you store it in the fridge, right? Then the next day when you want to eat, do you need to make it hot again or just leave it on the table for some time?
    Thank you =)

    • Nyonya Food says:

      Oh yes, you can add peanut into it. You need to store it in the fridge if you dont finish it and heat it up a little. If you dont, the centre of the dumpling would be a bit hard.

  15. Jesse Abdullah says:

    Recent trip back home, dear mom made some with coconut milk & gula melaka gravy.

  16. lily says:

    let’s say i wanna make the rice dumpling dough for future use, how long can i keep the dough?

  17. Pingback:Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Dumplings) | The Trishaw

  18. winnie chung says:

    if we set aside for a few hours need to be in the fridge or room temperature?


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