Sweet baked cakes filled with red bean paste


Clarice Lam / The Spruce

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Cool Time: 30 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 6 mooncakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
517 Calories
16g Fat
84g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 517
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 124mg 41%
Sodium 504mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 84g 31%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 42g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 53mg 4%
Iron 5mg 26%
Potassium 215mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Mooncakes are the most iconic food of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important holiday for Chinese people next to Chinese New Year, but it is also celebrated in many countries across Asia. The festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar and is celebrated with family gatherings, feasts, and an abundance of lights, lanterns, and candles. It is a celebration of the fullest and brightest moon of the year, hence the name mooncake.

Typically, mooncakes are made with a sweet baked dough on the outside and filled with either red bean or lotus seed paste and salted duck yolks to represent the full moon. This version is made with just red bean paste, but feel free to get creative and use your favorite nut or seed paste.


For the Lye Water:

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the Mooncakes:

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon water

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 12 ounces red bean paste

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1 tablespoon whole milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Steps to Make It

Make the Lye Water

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Combine the water and baking soda in a small pot and boil for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Combine the honey, lye water, vegetable oil, cake flour, and salt in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until the mixture comes together into a ball.

  3. Wrap the dough in plastic and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill. At this time, place the red bean paste into a bowl, cover with plastic, and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

  4. Once the dough is chilled, set up your work surface. Spray or spread a tiny bit of oil onto your work surface, then place a piece of plastic wrap over top. The oil will help the plastic wrap stay in place. The dough is sticky and is much easier to handle with the plastic wrap. It is helpful to wear latex gloves or oil your hands to prevent sticking.

  5. Divide the chilled dough into 6 equal portions and roll each portion into a ball.

  6. Divide the red bean paste into 6 equal portions and roll each portion into a ball.

  7. Dust the top of the plastic wrap with some flour. Flatten each ball of dough into a disk about 1/4-inch thick and place the ball of red bean paste into the center. Wrap the dough around the paste and pinch the dough together to seal. Roll the whole thing into a large, uniform ball.

  8. Dust the inside of a mooncake mold with flour. Place the filled dough ball into the mold and flatten it to fill out the mold. Unmold the mooncake onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining portions. Leave at least 2 inches of space between each mooncake for baking.

  9. Place the baking sheet of mooncakes in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Freezing will help the mooncake retain its shape and design while baking.

Make the Egg Wash

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

  2. Combine all the ingredients—egg, egg yolks, milk, and salt—in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Bake the Mooncakes

  1. Brush the tops of the mooncakes with egg wash using a pastry brush. After you brush all 6 mooncakes, repeat with a second layer of egg wash.

  2. Bake until the mooncakes are deep brown in color, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.


  • Keep the baked mooncakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.


  • Both lye water and red bean paste can be found in many Asian supermarkets.
  • Mooncake molds can be found online.
  • The yield will depend on the size and shape of the mooncake mold, so you may need to adjust accordingly.

Recipe Variation

Instead of red bean paste, the sweet dough can be stuffed with your favorite nut or seed paste.