These matcha & sweet potato "Tang Yuan" is made only using 4 ingredients with sweet potatoes as the main ingredient. They're also gluten-free and vegan!
What are Tang Yuan Made of?
Traditionally, tang yuan (also known as Gyeongdan in Korea, and Dango in Japan) is made with sweet rice flour, sugar and water. Food coloring and or food powders such as matcha powder, beetroot, turmeric, ground black sesame, etc. are used to add additional color.
But in this recipe, I wanted to incorporate more nutrition and fiber by using mashed sweet potatoes. To keep the chewy texture of the tang yuan, I also decided to use tapioca starch instead of sweet rice flour.
Ingredients Used to Make Healthier Sweet Potato Tang Yuan
**I've linked some of these ingredients to amazon.com to give you an idea of what they are, but you should also be able to find them in your local grocery store (usually, the natural & organic food section). They are also affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission as an Amazon Associate if you decide to purchase the items. The price will be the same for you, link or no link 🙂
- White or Asian Sweet Potatoes - you'll need mashed sweet potatoes in this recipe. The white sweet potato and Asian sweet potatoes have a light color that works best for this recipe.
Note: While you can steam or bake the sweet potatoes, I used the microwave to cook the sweet potatoes in just about 10 minutes! Here's the shortcut microwave method.
- Tapioca flour (flour , also called tapioca starch) - While traditional tang yuan are made with sweet rice flour, I decided to use tapioca starch instead to make sure the tang yuan textures are chewy and elastic, even with the addition of sweet potatoes. Arrowroot starch and Potato starch can also be used instead. Cornstarch does NOT work.
- Matcha Powder – preferably ceremonial grade matcha powder for the best color, but any kind works. Sold in Asian grocery stores, or online, below:
Filling Ingredients (Optional)
I used storebought Red Bean Paste in this recipe. Here's how you can make it at home from scratch. Keep in mind that filling tang yuan is optional, and you can choose to make them plain without any filling.
Step by Step
How to Make Matcha Sweet Potato Tang Yuan
Prep the Filling
First, prepare the filling by rolling the sweet red bean paste into teaspoon sized balls. Keep the filling in the freezer until ready to use.
Peel cooked sweet potatoes while still warm and mash with a fork until no chunks remain.
In a large bowl, knead all the dough ingredients (sweet potato, matcha powder and tapioca flour) together until smooth and pliable, and no longer sticky.
TIP: 1-2 Tbsp more of the mashed potatoes may need to be added depending on the sweet potato, or the brand of glutinous rice flour you use. The goal is to get a soft and pliable dough that is easy to work with and doesn't crack when shaping. On the other hand, if the dough is too sticky, you can always add more glutinous rice flour to adjust the consistency.
Take a small portion of the dough and flatten it in the palm of your hand.
Place the prepared filling in the center of the dough and gently fold the edges of the dough over the filling, rolling it into a smooth ball.
Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Boil a quart or two of water in a large pot. Also, get a ice bath ready (such as a bowl of ice water)
Carefully drop the prepared balls into the boiling water. If using a smaller pot, work in batches. Once the glutinous rice balls are done cooking they'll float towards the top (takes about 5 minutes). Once done, use a sieve or tea strainer to pull them out of the water, and emerge in ice water until fully cooled.
Sweet Potato Tang Yuan Filling Variations
There are many creative filling variations you can explore for tang yuan. Here are some ideas to try
- Sweet White Bean Paste has a more mild, buttery flavor compared to red bean paste. For convenience, you can use a storebought white bean paste that you can buy online here, but you can also make your own using this Blender method. The white bean paste is smooth and luscious, with a delightful sweetness that pairs perfectly with the chewy tang yuan casing.
- Lotus Seed Paste: Made from ground lotus seeds, this filling has a subtle and slightly floral flavor that pairs well with tang yuan. While it's not too difficult to make your own, I like to buy mine from a local Asian grocery store. You can also buy on Amazon, here
What are some ways you can eat sweet potato tang yuan?
- Served in a hot broth or syrup
- Plain and warm, served with honey or brown sugar syrup.
- Skewered like dango (below)
How to Store
- Once the sweet potato tang yuan have been cooked, they can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours. For longer storage, I would freeze the individual balls in a plastic freezer bag or an airtight container, then reboil them when ready to eat.
- The reason I don't recommend storing them in the fridge is that these tang yuan tend to develop a weird waxy, hard texture when stored in the fridge. So eat within a day or freeze for best results.
- Boiling time (as well as serving size) will vary based on the size of the sweet potato balls as well as how crowded they are when they're in the boiling water. Before you remove the tang yuan out of the water, do a quick doneness check by taking out one use a knife to cut it in half. Be sure the insides are cooked through before you take the rest of them out of the pot.
Healthy Matcha Tang Yuan with Sweet Red Bean Filling
Tang Yuan Dough
- 14 tsp sweetened red bean paste (koshi an) Read notes ** for alternative tang yuan filling ideas
Prep the Filling
- First, prepare the filling by rolling the sweet red bean paste into teaspoon sized balls. Keep the filling in the freezer until ready to use.
Make the Dough
- Peel cooked sweet potatoes while still warm and mash with a fork until no chunks remain.
- In a large bowl, knead all the dough ingredients together (sweet potato, tapioca starch and matcha powder) until smooth and pliable, and no longer sticky.
- Take a small portion of the dough and flatten it in the palm of your hand.
- Place the prepared filling in the center of the dough and gently fold the edges of the dough over the filling, rolling it into a smooth ball.
- Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Cook the Tang Yuan
- Boil a quart or two of water in a large pot. Also, get a ice bath ready (such as a bowl of ice water)
- Carefully drop the prepared Tang Yuan balls into the boiling water. If using a smaller pot, work in batches.
- Once the Tang Yuan are done cooking they'll float towards the top (takes about 5 minutes). Once done, use a sieve or tea strainer to pull them out of the water
- Let the Tang Yuan cool fully in the ice water.
- Remove from the ice water