Red Bean Buns

February 8, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: My first real job as a baker was at a little family owned Korean restaurant. Working there was my first exposure to a lot of different foods including kimchi, bibimbap, and these sweet red bean buns. The filling has such a unique flavor and the softness of the dough is irresistible. The dough recipe was adapted from the blog, "Angie & James Do Stuff."Samantha Ardry

Food52 Review: I'm not a huge fan of red bean buns; however, these were really good. There was such a nice hint of orange in the paste that it was delightful from the first bite until the last. The dough was also really easy to make. I made it in my mixer and it came together quickly before adding the butter, then was at the perfect "window-paning" consistency after about 10 minutes of mixing after adding the butter. The rising time was exactly as the instructions said.Victoria Ross

Makes: 8 small buns
Prep time: 12 hrs
Cook time: 1 hrs 30 min


For the filling

  • 4 ounces dried adzuki beans
  • 1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Pinch salt

For the dough

  • 2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100 milliliters warm water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon oil, plus more as needed to grease a bowl
  • 1 large egg, beaten with a splash of water
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds or quick oats, to top
In This Recipe


For the filling

  1. If it's possible, soak the beans for at least 8 hours. (I let mine soak overnight.) To cook the beans, rinse them well, add to a saucepan, and cover them with a couple inches of cold water. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until very soft, about 1 hour.
  2. After the beans have cooked, drain them, then pass them through a food mill to create a paste and remove the skins.
  3. Once processed, sweeten the still-warm paste with sugar and stir in the butter, orange zest, and salt, until incorporated. Press some plastic wrap on top so a skin doesn't form. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge until cool. It will thicken as it cools, and taste sweeter. (You can buy pre-made anko, but it's nice to be able to control the amount of sweetness in the paste.)

For the dough

  1. Preheat a conventional oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, salt, milk powder, and yeast. Turn the hook on to mix the dry ingredients while you combine the beaten egg and warm water in a separate bowl.
  2. Slowly add the water/egg mixture to the dry ingredients as the dough hook turns. Knead the dough on medium low speed until it is smooth and not too sticky. (You can also do this by hand and since it is such a small amount of dough, which may be easier.) At this point, slowly incorporate the butter in small chunks while the mixer is still running. Knead for a couple of minutes until the dough is very smooth and elastic. It will still be a bit sticky.
  3. Lightly oil a bowl. Flour your work station and turn the dough out onto the flour. Shape it into a ball and place it seam-side-up into the oiled bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest in a warm spot for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. Gently punch down the dough and divide it into eight equal pieces. Shape each eighth into little balls by folding them in on themselves and then rounding them to create some surface tension. Space them evenly on a parchment lined tray, cover with a towel, and let them proof for about 30 minutes.
  5. To bake the buns, gently flatten each ball until they are slightly larger than your palm. Fill each circle of dough with the filling. Brush the edges of the dough with egg wash and then wrap the dough around the filling, pinching and sealing it tightly. Round the buns again, creating a bit of surface tension and place each bun, seam side down, back on the lined tray. Take care not to stretch them too much, otherwise the filling will ooze out. Brush them all with egg wash and then the sprinkle sesame seeds or quick oats on top, as desired. Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

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Reviews (16) Questions (0)

16 Reviews

Lisa February 3, 2018
One can buy ready to use red bean paste in Asian food store. The tip from grand mother to make the paste taste even better is to sauté the paste in 1-2 tbsp butter for few minutes until the color darkens. It tastes so much better.
JeanBee November 30, 2016
I don't have a food mill OR a food processor. Is this recipe too advanced for my lack of tools?
JeanBee November 30, 2016
Also, this is just purely curiosity and you obviously don't have to answer if you don't care to, but what was the name of the Korean restaurant in Indiana?
Crystal S. May 3, 2015
Tried this recipe and it turned out great! Thanks for the recipe :)
Mary A. March 29, 2015
Hmmm, interesting recipe
Fran M. March 8, 2015
I have been looking for a good recipe for months. So happy to find this one to try.
Author Comment
Samantha A. March 5, 2015
A food processor is perfectly fine! The paste will have more texture but still be delicious. There are actually two kinds of sweet red bean paste - one that contains the skins and one that doesn't. There is a great little article about them here:<br /><br />
J. B. March 5, 2015
Would I be able to use a food processor instead of a food mill, or would the incorporated skins give the filling too much texture?
Author Comment
Samantha A. March 1, 2015
Hi Debora! I haven't tested this recipe substituting milk for the milk powder, but if you don't have milk powder on hand and don't want to purchase it, I would simply replace the water called for in the recipe with about 1/2 cup of milk and then obviously just eliminate the milk powder from the dry ingredients. I would suggest scalding the milk first (bring it just to a boil) and then let it cool a bit before mixing it into the bread dough. Scalding the milk first will help tenderize the dough, which is what the milk powder does for this recipe. Essentially you are making milk by reconstituting the milk powder in the dry ingredients with water in this recipe so I can't image you will have much trouble using regular milk. <br />If you are interested in purchasing milk powder but can only find it in gigantic boxes in your local grocery store, I believe King Arthur Flour sells it in smaller quantities on their website. Hope this helps! If you try it with the milk, let us know how it turns out!!
Debora S. March 1, 2015
Sam, can i also use milk instead of milk powder?
Author Comment
Samantha A. February 27, 2015
Hi Camilla! Some chain grocery stores carry adzuki beans these days - usually in the Asian food aisle. Asian supermarkets or even health food stores often carry them as well. If all else fails, purchasing them online is a good way to go! Convenient, too :) Hope this helps!
Camilla M. February 27, 2015
This looks great! Where can you find adzuki beans?
Author Comment
Samantha A. February 26, 2015
Hi Ursula! The paste is easiest to handle when cold. You can scoop it easily and drop it in the center of each individual bun after it is rolled out. You can even roll the paste into a ball with your hands if it's cold enough! Hope this helps :)
Ursula |. February 26, 2015
Thx! Yes hat helps. I also should learn to read the whole paragraph...
Ursula |. February 26, 2015
Hi, I've always wanted to make red bean buns. What's the easiest way to fill them?
vvvanessa February 8, 2015
Oooh! Fun!