Fact Checked

What Is Black Bean Paste?

Kristeen Moore
Kristeen Moore

Black bean paste is made from mung beans and is a traditional cooking additive to various Chinese recipes. The consistency varies depending on the other ingredients added to the paste, and some versions are more sauce-like. Black bean varieties of the paste are not as well-known in some regions as its counterpart made from red beans, but the sauce is still just as popular in Asia. This type of paste can be prepared from scratch with black beans or bought in jars of sauces from grocery stores. Black bean paste is a popular additive to stir-fry dishes, as well as those that include chicken and fish.

Different types of beans are used around the world in side dishes, or are mashed to create fillings and sauces for a variety of meals. In parts of Asia, black, or mung beans, are traditionally used to create sweet pastes for mooncakes and other types of desserts. Sweet bean pastes are traditionally prepared from scratch, which can often be time consuming depending on how long the mung beans take to cook. In order to create the paste, the black beans are cooked and mashed before they are combined with salt and other seasonings, such as garlic. Water and soy sauce are often added if a more liquid consistency is desired.

A chicken and cashew stir-fry seasoned with pungent, salty black bean paste.
A chicken and cashew stir-fry seasoned with pungent, salty black bean paste.

As the sauces continue to gain popularity in other regions besides China and Taiwan, many Asian food manufacturers have decided to process their own versions and sell them in grocery stores. Black bean paste is usually sold as a jarred sauce in supermarkets because it tends to preserve better. The sauces are usually located in the ethnic aisles of western supermarkets, but there are generally a larger variety of the pastes available in Asian food stores.

Deciding between a homemade black bean paste and jarred sauces depends on what types of dishes are being cooked. The paste version tends to work best in mooncakes and other traditional Chinese desserts because the consistency is thicker. Black bean sauces are popular additions to stir-fry meals, since they help to cook the vegetables while keeping the texture moist. Both pastes and sauces can be used as rubs for chicken and fish.

Making black bean paste from scratch may be more time consuming, but there are usually greater health benefits. Packaged and processed sauces tend to contain high levels of sodium, which can be particularly unhealthy for eaters that have hypertension. If a cook tends to use black bean paste often, he or she might consider making it in bulk and freezing portions of it for later use.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Korean noodles with black bean paste is my favorite dish. I make it at home often but I don't make my own black bean paste. That's too much work. I buy ready-made black bean paste from the Korean grocery store. I think it tastes as good as homemade.


@SarahGen-- Well, what are you planning to use the black bean paste for?

If you're going to be using the paste for meals, then you might want to add seasonings. If you're going to use it for desserts, then obviously, you need to add sugar. If you're not sure what you're going to use it for, you can also prepare it without any sugar or seasonings and then freeze to use later.

To prepare the beans, soak and boil them as you said. Mash them and push through a sieve to separate the skins. Then shape them into patties and freeze after wrapping in plastic. They can stay frozen up to a month without losing flavor.


I have made red bean paste before but I will be making black bean paste for the first time. Reading how black bean paste is made in this article, it basically sounds like how red bean paste is made. I will be soaking, boiling and mashing the beans as usual. Do I need to do anything differently for black bean paste?

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A chicken and cashew stir-fry seasoned with pungent, salty black bean paste.
      By: Periwinkle Studio
      A chicken and cashew stir-fry seasoned with pungent, salty black bean paste.