Anko Recipe - Traditional Japanese Dessert Made with Azuki Beans, Water, and Sugar


Anko Recipe - Traditional Japanese Dessert Made with Azuki Beans, Water, and Sugar
Region / culture: Japan | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour and 10 minutes | Servings: 4



Anko, a sweet red bean paste, is a cornerstone of Japanese confectionery. Made primarily from azuki beans, sugar, and water, this simple yet versatile ingredient can transform any dessert into a delicacy. Its smooth texture and sweet flavor make it a favorite among dessert lovers. This recipe will guide you through the traditional method of preparing Anko, ensuring you achieve the perfect consistency and taste.


The history of Anko dates back to the Nara period in Japan (710-794 AD), where it was initially used as a medicinal paste. Over time, its sweet flavor gained popularity, and it became a staple in Japanese desserts. The method of making Anko has been refined over centuries, evolving into the sweet paste we know and love today.


How to prepare

  1. Put 4 cups of water in a pan and add azuki beans.
  2. Place the pan on high heat and bring it to a boil.
  3. Turn off the heat and drain the water.
  4. Put 6 cups of water in a pan and add the boiled azuki beans.
  5. Place the pan on low heat and simmer the beans for an hour until they become soft.
  6. Remove any excess water from the pan and add sugar.
  7. Stir the azuki beans on low heat for a few minutes until they thicken.


  • For those looking to experiment, Anko can be flavored with matcha (green tea powder), chestnuts, or even citrus zest to add a unique twist to the traditional recipe.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To achieve the perfect Anko, patience is key. Slowly simmering the azuki beans ensures they are thoroughly cooked without becoming mushy. Additionally, constantly stirring the mixture after adding sugar prevents it from sticking to the pan and ensures a smooth texture. For a smoother paste, some prefer to pass the cooked beans through a sieve to remove the skins.

Serving Suggestions

Anko can be enjoyed in various ways. It is commonly used as a filling for sweet buns, dorayaki (Japanese pancakes), and mochi (rice cakes). It can also be served over shaved ice or as a topping for ice cream.

Cooking Techniques

The key technique in making Anko is the slow simmering of azuki beans. This method ensures the beans are cooked thoroughly without becoming too soft or mushy.

Ingredient Substitutions

For a lower sugar version, consider substituting sugar with natural sweeteners like honey or agave syrup. For a different flavor profile, black beans can be used instead of azuki beans.

Make Ahead Tips

Anko can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to three months. This makes it a convenient ingredient to have on hand for quick dessert preparations.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Anko in a small bowl garnished with a mint leaf for a simple yet elegant dessert. Alternatively, layer it in a glass with whipped cream and fruits for a decadent parfait.

Pairing Recommendations

Anko pairs well with green tea, either as a beverage or incorporated into desserts. The bitterness of the tea complements the sweetness of the Anko, creating a balanced flavor profile.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store Anko in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, gently warm it in a saucepan over low heat, adding a little water if necessary to prevent it from drying out.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Anko contains approximately 200 calories. The majority of these calories come from carbohydrates, making it an energy-dense food.


A serving of Anko is rich in carbohydrates, primarily from the azuki beans and sugar. Carbohydrates are the body's main energy source, making Anko a high-energy food. A single serving contains approximately 40 grams of carbohydrates.


Anko is naturally low in fats, making it a heart-healthy choice for those monitoring their fat intake. The total fat content in a serving is less than 1 gram, with negligible amounts of saturated fat.


Azuki beans are a good source of plant-based protein. A serving of Anko contains about 7 grams of protein, contributing to muscle repair and growth.

Vitamins and minerals

Anko is a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including potassium, iron, and magnesium. These nutrients are essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure, oxygen transport, and muscle and nerve function.


Anko is free from common allergens such as gluten, nuts, dairy, and eggs, making it suitable for those with food allergies or intolerances.


Overall, Anko is a nutritious food that provides energy, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. Its low fat content and absence of common allergens make it a healthy choice for many.


Anko is a traditional Japanese sweet red bean paste that is both delicious and versatile. This recipe provides a step-by-step guide to making Anko, along with tips for achieving the perfect texture and flavor. With its rich history and nutritional benefits, Anko is a delightful addition to any dessert.

How did I get this recipe?

The first time I saw this recipe, I was immediately hooked. It was a warm summer day, and I was visiting my friend Akiko in her quaint little village in Japan. As soon as I stepped into her kitchen, I was enveloped in the intoxicating aroma of sweet red beans simmering on the stove.

Akiko had a mischievous twinkle in her eye as she handed me a spoonful of the warm, velvety anko. The smooth, creamy texture melted in my mouth, and the subtle sweetness lingered on my taste buds. I had never tasted anything quite like it before.

"Anko is a traditional Japanese sweet made from adzuki beans," Akiko explained as she stirred the simmering pot. "It's a staple in our culture, enjoyed in a variety of desserts such as dorayaki, mochi, and taiyaki."

I was captivated by the simplicity of the recipe and the depth of flavor it produced. Akiko patiently showed me how to prepare the anko, from soaking the adzuki beans overnight to simmering them with sugar until they reached a smooth, paste-like consistency.

As I stirred the pot of bubbling beans, I couldn't help but think of all the other recipes I had learned from different places and people over the years. My grandmother had passed down her secret recipes for hearty stews and comforting casseroles, while my Italian neighbor had taught me how to make the perfect pasta sauce.

Each recipe held a story, a memory, a connection to the past. And now, as I learned Akiko's recipe for anko, I knew that it would become a cherished part of my culinary repertoire.

After the anko had finished cooking, Akiko spread it on a freshly baked piece of mochi, a chewy rice cake that complemented the sweet bean paste perfectly. We sat at her wooden kitchen table, savoring each bite and chatting about our shared love of cooking.

As the sun began to set, I bid farewell to Akiko and her village, but I carried with me the memory of that delicious anko and the knowledge of how to recreate it in my own kitchen.

Back home, I gathered the ingredients for anko and set to work, following Akiko's instructions to the letter. The familiar scent of simmering adzuki beans filled my kitchen, transporting me back to that warm summer day in Japan.

When the anko was finally ready, I spooned it onto a piece of freshly baked dorayaki, a fluffy pancake sandwich filled with the sweet bean paste. The combination of textures and flavors was divine, and I knew that this recipe would become a staple in my own family for generations to come.

As I sat down to enjoy my homemade anko, I couldn't help but think of all the recipes I had learned over the years and the people who had shared them with me. Each dish was a piece of their story, a taste of their culture, a connection to the past.

And as I took another bite of the delicious anko, I smiled, grateful for the culinary journey that had brought me to this moment.


| Azuki Bean Recipes | Japanese Desserts | Japanese Recipes |

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