Close-up photo of Japanese Anko, a sweet red bean paste made from adzuki beans, commonly used in traditional Japanese desserts. The paste has a smooth texture and rich red color.

Low-Sugar Japanese Red Bean Paste (with Instant Pot)

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Anko is Japanese Red Bean Paste made from red adzuki beans. This sweet red bean paste is the perfect ingredient for various Japanese sweet treats.

In my post, I will show you 2 methods to cook Anko (Tsubuan version): the Instant Pot shortcut and the traditional stovetop way. Plus, my recipe ensures it’s way less sweet than the store-bought version.

Tsubuan (Japanese chunky sweet red bean paste) in a Aqua Green Bowl on the table.

πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ What is Anko?

Anko (逑子) is a Japanese sweet red bean paste made from adzuki beans, commonly used in Japanese desserts.

It has been an essential ingredient in Japanese confectionery for centuries, beautifully adorning treats like Mochi, Daifuku, Anpan and Dorayaki (Dora Cakes) as a delectable filling or luscious topping.

Three pairs of Japanese dorayaki, sweet red bean paste sandwiched between two fluffy pancakes, arranged neatly on a rectangular dish.
Dorayaki (Dora-cake) with Anko Paste

In my opinion, home-made Anko in general is always better than the store-bought Anko because you could adjust the amount of sugar to your liking.

There are two types of Japanese red bean paste:

  • Tsubuan (粒あん) . It has a chunky texture with bits of bean skin and whole beans, which gives it a strong bean flavor and texture.
  • Koshian (漉しあん) . It is a smooth red bean paste that has been strained to remove the skin, resulting in a silky and almost melting texture.

My Anko paste is Tsubuan version with a bit chunky texture.

Sweet recipes with Anko (Japanese Sweet Red Bean Paste):

Three pairs of Dora Cakes, sweet red bean paste sandwiched between two fluffy pancakes, arranged neatly on a rectangular dish.
Dora-cakes – Japanese Pancakes with red bean filling
A close-up image of a delicious chocolate dorayaki dessert with a soft, golden pancake exterior and a luscious Nutella filling.
Chocolate Dorayaki

❀️ Why this recipe is great

Close-up photo of Japanese Anko, a sweet red bean paste made from adzuki beans, commonly used in traditional Japanese desserts. The paste has a smooth texture and rich red color.
  • Time-saving: Skip the long soaking and simmering process with an Instant Pot, making homemade Anko in a flash.
  • Traditional stovetop method: in case you don’t have Instant Pot in hand.
  • Healthier sweetness: My recipe reduces sugar to achieve a less sweet, healthier version. It still pairs well with non-sweet coverings like Mochi and works perfectly as a filling for Dorayaki or Taiyaki.

Note: Homemade Anko paste lacks the glossy look of store-bought versions. Additionally, due to its low sugar content, it cannot be stored outside of the freezer for an extended period like the store-bought ones.

πŸ›’ Ingredients

  • This recipe only requires a few basic ingredients: Adzuki beans, sugar, and salt.
  • You also need an Instant pot, which helps to reduce the cooking time and a food processor or a large spoon to mash the cooked Adzuki.

πŸ”₯ Red Bean Paste with Instant Pot

  • To begin, rinse the dried adzuki beans under cold water, and discard any floating pieces.
Anko paste instructions
  • After draining the water, transfer the beans into your Instant Pot, and add water at a ratio of 1 part beans to 3 parts water.
Anko paste instructions
  • Cover and lock the lid of the Instant Pot, then cook the beans with high pressure for 25 minutes. Once finished, let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally for 15-20 minutes.
  • To check if the beans are done, try mashing them with a spoon. Drain any leftover water.
Anko paste instructions
  • Use a food processor to blend the beans to your desired texture (You also could use a large spoon to mash the beans).
  • Transfer the drained beans to a nonstick pan, and add sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
Anko paste instructions
  • Once the paste thickens, reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until a line drawn through the paste doesn’t disappear. This will take approximately 5-10 minutes.
Anko paste instructions
  • When the paste reaches the desired consistency, remove it from the heat and transfer it to an airtight container. Let it cool at room temperature and store it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Close-up photo of Japanese Anko, a sweet red bean paste made from adzuki beans, commonly used in traditional Japanese desserts. The paste has a smooth texture and rich red color.

πŸ”₯ Red Bean Paste on Stovetop

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can still make Japanese red bean paste on the stovetop. It’s still easy but it will take you more time.

  • Soak the adzuki beans in water overnight or for 6-8 hours.
  • Rinse and drain the beans. Then transfer them to a pot.
  • Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then drain the beans using a fine-mesh sieve.
  • Return the beans to the pot and add enough water to cover them by 2-5 cm (1-2 inches).
  • Simmer the beans for 1.5-2 hours until they are soft. To speed up the process, you could add a small amount of baking soda. I recommend 1/4 tsp baking soda for 240g (1 cup) dried adzuki beans. Baking soda raises the pH of the boiling liquid, which breaks down the pectin molecules in the beans.
Anko paste instructions
  • To test if the beans are done, try mashing them with a spoon. Drain any excess water.
  • Proceed with the following steps, just as in the Instant Pot method.

πŸ«™ Storing

Since I tried to reduce to sugar amount in my red bean paste (sugar acts as a natural preservative), the shelf life of my paste is more limited. To ensure the best quality, I recommend the following guidelines:

  • Use the bean paste as soon as possible.
  • If you need to store it, refrigerate it for a maximum of 4 days.
  • For longer storage, you can freeze it for up to 1 month.

If you’ve tried this recipe or any others from my blog, please share your creations with me on Instagram by tagging #savour_thepho or mentioning me in your stories with @savour_thepho. I would be thrilled to see what you’ve made and it would definitely brighten my day! Don’t forget to stay in touch with me on Instagram, FacebookPinterestYouTube πŸ₯°.

Close-up photo of Japanese Anko, a sweet red bean paste made from adzuki beans, commonly used in traditional Japanese desserts. The paste has a smooth texture and rich red color.

Anko – Low-sugar Japanese Red Bean Paste (Instant Pot, Stovetop)

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Anko, the sweet Red Bean Paste from adzuki beans, perfect for Japanese treats. Create low-sugar Anko effortlessly at home with an Instant Pot.
No ratings yet
Course Dessert
Cuisine Japanese

Equipment

  • 1 Instant Pot (or a Sauce Pan)
  • 1 Food Processor (or a large spoon)

Ingredients
  

  • 240g g (1 cup) dried Adzuki Beans
  • 720 ml (3 cup) water
  • 180 g (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda (with stovetop method)

Instructions
 

Instant Pot method

  • Rinse the dried adzuki beans under cold water, and discard any floating pieces.
  • After draining the water, transfer the beans into your Instant Pot, and add water at a ratio of 1 part beans to 3 parts water.
  • Cover and lock the lid of the Instant Pot, then cook the beans with high pressure for 25 minutes. Once finished, let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally for 15-20 minutes.
  • To check if the beans are done, try mashing them with a spoon. Drain any leftover water.
  • Use a food processor to blend the beans to your desired texture (You also could use a large spoon to mash the beans).
  • Transfer the drained beans to a nonstick pan, and add sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
  • Once the paste thickens, reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until a line drawn through the paste doesn't disappear. This will take approximately 5-10 minutes.
  • When the paste reaches the desired consistency, remove it from the heat and transfer it to an airtight container.

Stovetop Method

  • Soak the adzuki beans in water overnight or for 6-8 hours.
  • Rinse and drain the beans.Β Then transfer them to a pot.
  • Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then drain the beans using a fine-mesh sieve.
  • Return the beans to the pot and add enough water to cover them by 2-5 cm (1-2 inches).
  • Simmer the beans for 1.5-2 hours until they are soft. To speed up the process, you could add a small amount of baking soda.
  • To test if the beans are done, mash them with a spoon. Drain any excess water.
  • Follow the next steps, just as in the Instant Pot method.
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5/5 - (20 votes)

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