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How To Cook Perfect Sweetened Red Beans (Thermal Cooker + Stove-top)

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Sweetened red beans are often used in making Chinese desserts. Sweetened red beans are very useful and versatile for making desserts, breads or drinks.

After posting this Sweetened Red Beans (Instant Pot Recipe), I think I need to share with you guys how I made sweetened red beans before I bought my Instant Pot.

Yes, I used to cook it over stove top or use my thermal cooker.

This Baked Red Bean Coconut Cake was added some sweetened red beans that I made in my thermal cooker.

I was asked by readers how to make their own sweetened red beans if they don’t want to buy the canned ones. I got you. Homemade sweetened red beans are the best because you can control the sweetness and suit your own preference.

If you know how to make red bean sweet soup, you’d know how to make sweetened red beans.

Firstly, Remember to soak the red beans at least 3 hours. It’ll speed up the cooking time. Otherwise, it’ll take much longer to make your red beans soft.

Soaked Red Beans

As you’d like to keep the shape of red beans as possible, and don’t want them turned into a mushy texture, you need to control the cooking time and stove power. Sounds difficult?

Well, it’s not that difficult as you thought though. It only needs a bit more of your attention and care, especially towards the end of cooking. The water will boil away bit by bit, until the water dries up, leaving all delicate and soft red beans in the pot.

Sweetened Red Beans02

So, don’t ever leave the pot unattended along the way of cooking, especially towards the end. Hope I didn’t get you feel nervous.

I found my thermal cooker is a great helper in making sweetened red beans. For those who don’t have a thermal cooker, I also inserted the stove-top instructions within this post. Hope you all like it. If you have another way of making your own sweetened red beans, feel free to share it in the comments.

Perfect Sweetened Red Beans (Thermal Cooker + Stove-top) Recipe

(Printable recipe)

Prep time:
Cook time:
Yield: about 550 gm

Sweetened Red Beans

  • 1 cup (about 230 gm) red beans
  • 2 cups water
  • 140 gm brown sugar slab (片糖), or adjust to your liking

Thermos pot method:
  1. Rinse the red beans and soak in water for at least 3 hours, or overnight the best. You’ll find some bubbles on the surface of the water while soaking. Discard the water and rinse. Drain well.
  2. Put the red beans, water and brown sugar slab into the inner pot. Bring it to boil with cover over high heat. Continue cooking for further 5 minutes. Don’t open the cover. Immediately put inside the outer pot. Secure the lid. Let it cook inside for 4 to 5 hours. The red beans should turn soft enough by then.
Stove-top method :
  1. Follow the above steps to soak and prepare red beans. You need add 1 to 1½ cup of water more, making 3 to 3½ cups totally, if you cook over stove top. As the power of every stove is very different, the amount of water used will be different.
  2. In a heavy-based pot, put in the red beans, water and sugar. Cover and bring it to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the red beans are softened. The red beans should hold their shapes. It’s done. Don’t cook any further as you don’t want your beans turn mushy or burnt.

  • When it comes to making sweetened red beans, I like using my vacuum thermos pot. It helps save energy and retain the shape of red beans easily. Best of all, I can leave it unattended and go out for shopping.
  • The proportion of beans and water is 1:2 or 1:3. It depends on the power of your stove and material of your pot. Please adjust accordingly.
  • After the red beans are cooked and softened, make sure not to stir them too hard. Or else the bean skins will be broken. You can swirl the pot in round motions instead of stirring them with hard utensils.


  1. Thanks for sharing those great tips. I love red beans and find them really delicious even simply cooked with water. Yours looks perfect!

  2. Hi, May I know where can I buy the instant pot, it seem that I can’t get it here in Australia. Thanks

    1. Hi Qcmy,
      I got my Instant Pot from Amazon UK, that was sent to Australia. Unfortunately, after 1 July this year, all Australian visitors will be directed to Amazon AU.

  3. Hi Christine!
    May i know if cooking using a pressure cooker over a gas stove....what is the propotion of water and cooking time? Thanks!

    1. Hi Alice,
      I haven't got a pressure cooker for gas stove and didn't experiment what you asked for. Sorry.
      You might look up your own user manual that might get a clue.