Jian Dui (Deep Fried Glutinous Rice Balls or Sesame Seed Balls)

Jian Dui

Most things deep fried are popular and these sesame seed balls are no exception. Many of you have seen or are familiar with this popular dim sum dessert offering. They make a sweet ending to a sumptuous meal. Most Chinese restaurants here in the US make them with a red bean paste filling but they can also be filled with lotus seed or black sesame paste.

Jian Dui when translated means “fried heap”. I know this does not sound pretty but I assure you these deep fried glutinous rice balls are a true delight. They are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside and are delicious accompanied with a cup of jasmine or chrysanthemum tea. Their composition is similar to the traditional Tang Yuan (glutinous rice balls in sweet clear soup) dessert I posted recently.

Commercial sesame seed balls are usually made with just glutinous rice flour with a little wheat starch added to it. They tend to have a thicker, harder and crunchier exterior with a small amount of filling. Homemade ones sometimes come with mashed sweet potato added to the dough. This makes the balls a little softer but still equally if not more delicious. The mashed sweet potato also gives the jian dui a nice golden color, contrasting beautifully with the sesame seeds.

Jian Dui
Jian Dui

In the recipe below, I have decided to omit the wheat starch so that they remain gluten-free. I also did not add sugar to the dough as the red bean paste filling is already sufficiently sweet. I made the balls quite large, about 2 inches in diameter but you can certainly make them smaller if you prefer.

Caution : Always be extra careful when deep frying. Some have experienced the sesame seed balls exploding while deep frying. Make sure the heat level is at medium to medium low and fry the balls for no longer than 3 minutes per batch. They should be cooked as the crust is pretty thin. Remove any balls from the hot oil immediately if you see them expanding. Out of the 12 that I fried, only the first one expanded a little more but did not explode.

Jian Dui (Deep Fried Glutinous Rice Balls/Sesame Seed Balls)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 glutinous rice balls
  • 1 small sweet potatoes (7 oz/200g), peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups (250g) glutinous rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups (400g) red bean paste
  • ½ cup (70g) sesame seeds
  • Canola oil for deep frying
  1. Boil sweet potatoes in a medium sized saucepan with 1 cup (240ml) of water for about 10 minutes or until very soft. Remove from heat and mash sweet potatoes with a potato masher. Set aside to allow it to cool.
  2. When sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, add glutinous rice flour, baking powder, and approximately ½ cup (120ml) water to the sweet potatoes. Mix with a spatula until dough comes together.
  3. Knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little more glutinous rice flour or water if needed to form a smooth non-sticky dough.
  4. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Divide red bean paste into 12 equal portions**. Roll into balls.
  5. Flatten a portion of dough on the palm of your hand. Place a ball of red bean paste in the middle. Wrap dough around red bean paste.
  6. Roll dough with filling between your two palms to form a smooth round ball. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  7. Place sesame seeds in a shallow bowl. Roll glutinous rice balls in sesame seeds. Compact the sesame seeds into the glutinous rice balls by rolling them between your two palms.
  8. Heat about 1½ inches (4cm) deep canola oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Gently lower 4 glutinous rice balls into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. This will take about 3 minutes***.
  9. Remove with a strainer onto a paper lined plate. Repeat with the rest of the glutinous rice balls.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*You can divide the dough and red bean paste into 16 or 20 portions if you prefer smaller balls.

**Always be extra careful when deep frying. Some have experienced the sesame seed balls exploding while deep frying. Make sure the heat level is at medium to medium low and fry the balls for no longer than 3 minutes per batch. They should be cooked as the crust is pretty thin. Remove any balls from the hot oil immediately if you see them expanding. Out of the 12 that I fried, only the first one expanded a little more but did not explode.

Jian Dui

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎

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  1. Rebecca says

    We love these but I’m very lazy to make as have to deep fry !! I will try your recipe. My mother-in-law made with only 10% sweet potato but you added 4/5 parts. So the skin is orange in color !! Look great and colorful !!
    The old people used to ask all to leave before she deep fried them as it might burst, they blamed someone said some unlucky words actually due to not sealed properly, the filling leak out !!

  2. Christine says

    In response to Rebecca: I have made these before and have some scars because of the breaking open of the balls! I would like to try again but needt to know if this recipe (which has water in the dough) will not erode and cause me further emotional/physical scarring 😉 they are worth the trouble because the taste is soon wonderful.

    • Biren says

      I made 12 of these balls and only one partially expanded but did not explode. I used only medium to medium low heat and only fried it for 2 to 3 minutes as the crust is quite thin as you can see in the pictures. Of course, I cannot guarantee that they will not explode in your kitchen but I was fortunate that mine did not.

  3. says

    Oh to see Sesame Balls twice in one day tells me that this is going to be a GREAT day! This is my favorite treat!!! When I eat dim sum at a local restaurant, I ALWAYS get the Sesame seed balls! Shannon’s are boiled and yours are fried and who on earth doesn’t like fried! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    • Biren says

      Hee hee…MJ! It is that time of the year when you will see these glutinous rice balls in abundance. I am glad to hear you enjoy them. They are delicious and a favorite of mine. :)

    • Biren says

      That’s the best part about making these at home. We can afford to be generous with the filling. :) Happy Dong Zhi to you!

  4. says

    Oh, wow! The last photo is absolutely mouthwatering! I loved eating this when I was a wee lass in primary school, while waiting for my school van to pick me up and take me home. So, greasy, but so good! I have never tried making them, because I’m put off by the deep frying, and I’ve actually seen them exploding in the hawker’s huge wok of oil, Scary man! I also like the ones with yellow bean paste inside :)

    • Biren says

      Those were the days…sweet childhood memories! These are really tasty and my favorite are the ones with this red bean paste and also lotus seed paste. Yes, the exploding can be scary but I was fortunate none of these exploded. I fried only 4 at a time and watch them like a hawk. I took them out before they had a chance to expand too much.

  5. Jeanne says

    Hello Biren & greetings from France. Denise’s lovely blog brought me here :) Both of you have fabulous blogs for homesick asian foodies like me.
    I love these sesame balls. I’m a lazy cook but your recipe is simple yet precise so I’ll give this a go tomorrow as an added treat for Sunday brunch (fingers crossed). I’m so anxious to taste them already.

    • Biren says

      Welcome Jeanne! So glad that you visited. Good to hear you enjoy both Denise and my blog. :) All the best with your jian dui. They really are not that difficult to make and are well worth the effort.

  6. says

    Biren, Hi I’ve been missing for too long, and I’ve really missed you and all of my friends. I still need to get my own computer so I can visit everyday! I love these sesame balls, they look scrumptious, so much better than commercial made. Could you send some my way! Hehe! 😉

  7. Ning says

    Hi Biren! Thanks for the recipe! My all time fav during yum cha! Now I can make it my own!
    I tried it today and may I know rough how many gram per ball did u put for the dough? When I fried it get out of shape and inside wasnt that cook.. Please advice.. Loved this recipe heaps! Thnxx!!!

    • Biren says

      I did not measure the weight of each ball of dough but I think it is roughly 60g. Perhaps your oil was too hot and the jian dui browned too quickly. You will have to fry it for about 3 minutes. It will be slightly soft on the inside because of the sweet potatoes.

  8. Anastasia says

    Hi Biren,

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe. Just like to know instead of frying the balls can I just bake them (for health reasons)..& also can I make this balls in advance and say refrigerate or freeze them before cooking/baking. Appreciate your feedback. Also Wishing You A Very Happy Lunar New Year to you & your family

    • Biren says

      I have not tried baking the balls but you can certainly give it a try. They will probably not have such a nice even color though. I would not recommend freezing them before frying for fear that they may explode. Thanks for the well wishes and the same back to you. Have a Happy and Healthy Chinese New Year!

      • catherine says

        I do bake them all the time: I put the balls on an oiled cookie sheet, roll the ball in the oil to coat them lightly and turn the oven around 400 F, then I place the balls below the element (not too close though). When they inflate and turn golden I remove them. The outer part get crispy when baked, but they deflate and become soft after a while. You can heat them a little again before eating.

  9. //// Me says

    I grew upp eating a version of these that were filled with coconut, any idea how I can reproduce that ? Love these, would be awesome to make fresh at home !

  10. Ashley says

    Do I use 1 tsp baking powder OR 1 tsp baking soda? You mention both and I’m not sure which one to use. Thanks!

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