This red bean paste Instant Pot recipe is lightly sweetened, making it a perfect filling for any Asian dish. It is a quick and easy recipe to make at home!
I consider red bean paste to be an Asian pantry essential. It has many different names: 红豆沙 (Hong Dou Sha, Chinese), あんこ(Anko, Japanese), and 팥소(Patso, Korean). In Chinese cuisine, red bean paste is used in recipes like zhong zi (sticky rice dumplings) and nuo mi ci (Chinese style mochi). In Japan, red bean paste is used for daifuku (fruit wrapped in red bean paste and mochi) and dorayaki (red bean honey pancake sandwich). Korean dishes such as patbingsu (shaved ice) and ho-doo gwaja (walnut cookies) also use red bean paste. The list goes on and on.
You can buy canned red bean paste at your local Asian market. However, the commercially produced paste tends to be overly sweetened. So, many people prefer making their own at home. Plus, the process of making the paste is simple.
This red bean paste Instant Pot recipe drastically reduces the cooking and preparation time; no pre-soaking is required. You can decide whether you want to keep the paste chunky, blend it smooth, or do a mix of both. My red bean paste recipe also calls for less sugar than other recipes, which makes it great for both sweet and savory applications.
I used a large nonstick pan in the pictures below to further cook the red beans down into a paste. You can do this step in the instant pot on sauté mode to reduce clean up. Do note that it may require more attention because the instant pot can get hotter than a nonstick pan. A higher heat increases the chances of burning the paste at the bottom if not stirred frequently enough.
How to Make This Red Bean Paste Instant Pot Recipe
Cook the Red Beans
To begin, wash the red beans and remove any bad beans. Add the beans and the water to the instant pot. Seal the lid and pressure cook for 30 minutes. Then, let the instant pot natural release for at least 10 minutes to prevent the red beans from splattering everywhere inside the instant pot.
Drain the red beans, but reserve some of the water. At this point, decide if you want smooth or chunky red bean paste. If you would like a smooth paste, transfer the drained red beans to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If needed, add some of the reserved cooking liquid. Do not add too much, or the following step will take much longer. On the other hand, if you want a chunky or coarse paste, just light mash the red beans.
Cook Into a Paste
Add the red beans to a nonstick pan over medium heat or the instant pot on Sauté mode. Add the sugar and cook the red beans until it forms a large mass. Continue cooking until the paste has reached your desired consistency. Taste and adjust the sweetness level to your liking.
You can also complete this red bean paste Instant Pot recipe entirely in the pressure cooker. Follow the same steps as above, but make sure to stir the red bean paste quickly because the Instant Pot vessel will cook off the excess water much quicker.
You can switch the recipe up by adding in some maltose. To add in maltose:
- Remove 2 tablespoons of the sugar
- Add 1/4 cup of maltose
Adding maltose will help to bind the red bean paste together. If you have maltose and would like to use it, you can actually remove the oil in the recipe as well for an oil-free red bean paste recipe. Lower the heat to medium-low heat and add the maltose or molasses at the end so that the maltose does not turn bitter.
Maltose is beneficial when the paste needs to be a firmer/drier filling. If you do not have maltose, you can also try using these ingredients to experiment with slightly different red bean paste flavors:
- Substitute two tablespoons of the sugar with 4 tablespoons of barley malt syrup or brown rice syrup
- Substitute two tablespoons of the sugar with two tablespoons of molasses/honey
- You can substitute in more syrup/molasses/honey for sugar, just keep the proportion of sugar to the substitute the same
Note that these substitutions will result in different flavors, but the result should still taste great.
Red Bean Paste (Instant Pot)
- 500 g adzuki beans (2.5 cups)
- 1500 mL water (a little less than 6.5 cups)
- 150 g sugar (3/4 cup, more or less to taste)
- 1 tbsp oil
- Wash the red beans and remove any bad beans. Place them into the instant pot with the water.
- Set the pressure cooker to high pressure for 30 min and let it natural release for 10 minutes. Drain the excess water. Note 1
- Mash or puree the beans while they are still warm. If you want coarse red bean paste, you can lightly mash the beans directly in the instant pot. For smooth red bean paste, blend the beans in a blender or food processor.
- Cooking the paste in the Instant Pot: Turn on the Sauté mode and add the oil and sugar. Stir the beans constantly until thickened and a line drawn on the bottom of the pot holds its shape for at least a few seconds. Stir constantly to prevent the bean paste from burning. Adjust the sweetness level to your liking.
- Let the red bean paste cool down before storing. It will become much thicker once cool. Note 2
- Cooking the paste on the stove: Transfer the cooked red beans, sugar, and oil into a large nonstick skillet on medium to medium-high heat. Cook the paste until it can hold its shape. Taste and adjust the sweetness level to your liking.
- Set aside to cool before storing. It will slightly thicken once cool. Note 2
- If you want to make the bean paste smooth (not chunky), then reserve a little bit of the excess water if needed for blending into a smooth paste. Do not use too much water or the bean paste will take a long time to cook off excess moisture in the following steps.
- If you have maltose, look at my post above to see how to add it.