Home » Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls (Tang Yuan) in Osmanthus Ginger Syrup 桂花姜汁汤圆

Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls (Tang Yuan) in Osmanthus Ginger Syrup 桂花姜汁汤圆

by Angie Liew
Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls

Watch Huang Kitchen Youtube Channel Banner

Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls (Tang Yuan) 桂花姜汁汤圆 - Photo 1

Dongzhi Festival Glutinous Rice Balls 汤圆: A Symbol Of Unity

Time really flies! Before we know it, its already coming to the end of the year again.

Before ushering the coming new year, the Chinese always celebrates the Dongzhi festival (冬至) which is a very important event in the Chinese calendar. It is a time when family members hold a reunion and gather together to make and eat glutinous rice balls or Tang Yuan (汤圆) which literally means “round dumplings in sweet soup” to mark the winter solstice. These round and chewy colourful dumpling balls are very significant for the occasion as they symbolise family togetherness. unity and happiness.

Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls (Tang Yuan) 桂花姜汁汤圆 - Photo 2

One Of The Easiest Chinese Dessert To Make

These fun and colourful glutinous sweet balls are mochi-like chewy, doughy and sticky. They are made from glutinous rice flour that everyone enjoys as dessert. These little rice balls are also one of the easiest Chinese dessert to make. All you need is glutinous rice flour and water to make the rice balls. They are then cooked and enjoyed in a classic ginger and screw pine leaves infused syrup with a tinge of sweet fragrance from the sweet osmanthus.

Last, but not least, homemade glutinous rice balls can be really fun and meaningful when your family gather to help shape the balls together. Certainly it’s a traditional Chinese dessert which is well loved by all generations.

As always, ENJOY!

Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls

Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls

P.S.: You can also use natural food colouring by using the juice of carrots, blue pea flowers and pandan leaves; like how we did in our earlier recipe, Sweet Glutinous Rice Balls with Gingko Nuts.

Or, see our other recipe on Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls 黑芝麻汤圆 with an unbelievably delicious molten black sesame filling.

Subscribe To Huang Kitchen Recipe Newsletter

Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls (Tang Yuan) in Osmanthus Ginger Syrup 桂花姜汁汤圆

Recipe by Huang Kitchen, Angie Liew
Also known as Tang Yuan, Glutinous Rice Balls are eaten during the Dongzi festival to mark the Winter Solstice. These little rice balls come in bright colours and served in a classic sweet soup infused with ginger, sweet osmanthus and screwpine leaves. A truly simple and enjoyable chinese dessert!
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes

Tap or Hover to Adjust Servings

Servings: 6 people


Glutinous Rice Balls:

  • 250 grams glutinous rice flour
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup COLD water, depends on dough consistency
  • tsp food colouring, different colours of choice, natural food colouring can also be used

Ginger Syrup:

  • 150 grams old ginger, peeled and lightly bruised
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar, or cane sugar
  • 1 tsp sweet osmanthus, (optional)
  • 2 screw pine leaves, knotted


    Ginger Syrup:

    • Cut ginger into thick pieces and lightly bruised.
      First peel the skin off the old ginger. Cut the ginger into thick pieces and lightly bruised them to release their aromatic flavour.
    • Wash, rinse and knot pandan leaves.
      Then, rinse screw pine leaves and tie into a knot. And we're ready to boil the syrup.
    • Boil water.
      To cook the syrup, first, bring a pot of water to a boil.
    • Add crushed ginger and pandan leaves.
      Add the crushed ginger and screw pine leaves into the water.
    • Boil for 10 to 15 minutes.
      Cover and continue to boil for 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Add sugar and sweet osmanthus.
      Then add sugar and sweet osmanthus and boil for another 5 minutes.
    • Simmer the ginger syrup.
      Cover and lower heat to simmer and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until all the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is fully infused with ginger and sweet osmanthus aroma.
    • Remove ginger and screw pine leaves.
      Then remove the crushed ginger and screw pine leaves from the ginger syrup. Set aside the syrup to cool while we prepare the glutinous rice balls.

    Glutinous Rice Balls:

    • Pour hot boiling water into flour.
      In a big bowl, add hot boiling water into glutinous rice flour to half cook the flour. The hot water will make the rice balls nice and chewy.
    • Stir to mix well.
      Using a spoon or spatula, stir to mix well.
    • Add in cold water.
      Then, slowly add some cold water into the dough. Water should be added a little at a time, depending on the humidity of the flour.
    • Knead the dough.
      Knead the flour as you add the water to check on the consistency of the dough.
    • Glutinous rice ball dough.
      Mix and knead till a smooth dough is formed.
    • Divide the dough into 4.
      Divide the dough into smaller portions to make colourful glutinous rice balls.
    • Add colouring.
      Using disposable stick or chopstick, first add red food colouring into one of the dough. Then, wearing plastic gloves, knead the dough until the colour is well distributed.
    • Add green, blue and yellow food colouring.
      Continue to do the same for the other dough portions using different colours leaving one part of dough without colour.
    • Roll into balls.
      Form each dough into long strips and using the palms of your hands, roll them into balls. It can be in different sizes.
    • Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls
      Place the glutinous rice balls onto a lightly floured plate to prevent sticking. Then, cover to prevent drying. And we can prepare to cook the balls!

    Cooking Glutinous Rice Balls:

    • Bring water to a boil.
      To cook the glutinous rice balls, first bring a pot of water to a boil. Make sure there is enough water to submerge the rice balls completely.
    • Add in the balls.
      Then add in the glutinous rice balls and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice balls from sticking.
    • Cook till float.
      The glutinous rice balls are cooked when they starts to float to the surface.
    • Add cold water.
      Add 1 cup of cold water into the pot when the rice balls start to float. This is to ensure the glutinous rice balls are cooked thoroughly.
    • Continue to cook.
      Cover and continue to cook till the rice balls float to the surface again. And we're done!
    • Sieve out the cooked glutinous rice balls.
      Using a sieve, drain out the cooked glutinous rice balls from the pot.
    • Place them into cold water.
      Place them into a large bowl of cold water for about one minute. This will prevent the glutinous rice balls from sticking to one another and make them more chewy.
    • Place into ginger syrup.
      Then drain and transfer the glutinous rice balls into the ginger syrup prepared earlier. And we're done!
    • Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls
      These colourful sweet glutinous rice balls can be served hot or cold. As always, Enjoy!


Tried this recipe?Mention @HuangKitchen or tag #huangkitchen!


Use old ginger instead of young ginger when boiling the syrup as old ginger gives a more gingery aroma.
Fresh pandan leaves/scew pine leaves are very fragrant and they bring out lovely flavour in the ginger syrup.
The amount of glutinous rice flour and water used is very forgiving. If the dough is too dry, add a bit more water. If its too wet, add a bit more flour.
The rice balls will become more chewy if kneaded for a longer time.
You can divide the dough depending on the number of different colours you intend to make. Add food colour, a little at a time, to each portion and knead till the colour is well distributed.
At any one time if the dough feels dry, wet your hands before shaping them into balls.
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Malaysian
Keyword: Chinese, dessert, glutinous rice balls

You may also like these recipes

Leave a Comment

If you like this recipe, rate 5 stars

Huang Kitchen