Pumpkin & Green Tea Dango

It’s been a long time since my last mochi post, so I decided to experiment with making dango this week. Also known as Japanese sweet rice dumplings, these soft and chewy rice balls are often made with water or even tofu as the binding ingredient.

With an open can of pumpkin purée staring back at me every time I opened my fridge, I decided to go for it…Pumpkin & Green Tea Dango with a Black Sesame Sauce–a recipe that sounds unique and looks peculiar, but tastes amazing!

If you are craving a mochi type of snack and don’t want a lot of mess and fuss, I’m highly convinced that dango are the way to go. Dango are commonly found in the beautiful pink, white, and green variation known as Hanami Dango.

With Halloween just around the corner, I went for orange, green, and black variation where the main flavors are pumpkin, green tea, and black sesame. These natural, wholesome ingredients are complex in texture and flavor–a fall inspired version of the traditional favorite, Goma (sesame) Dango.

I’m not sure if a 2 teaspoon measure exists out there, but this amount makes a perfectly sized dango dumpling. What’s great about these dumplings is that after you shape them, you can easily freeze the round dumplings for later. Simply boil a large pot of water, drop the dumplings in, and wait for them to float to the surface. A plunge into cold water and a quick skewering and you’re almost done!

This black sesame sauce takes just a minute to make. If you can’t find black sesame powder, you can take black sesame seeds and grind them down finely in a spice grinder. The sauce has a nutty, sweet, and slightly savory flavor, and the dumplings are naked (and not nearly as delicious) without it.

Instead of serving cupcakes, cookies, or candy to celebrate Halloween this year why not celebrate with Pumpkin Dango? A cup of toasty, twiggy (lots of stems!) Japanese Hojicha would pair perfectly with these beautiful skewers. There couldn’t be a better snack to celebrate autumn’s most delicious flavors.

Pumpkin & Green Tea Dango

Makes 9 skewers.


{Rice Dumplings}

1 cup +2 Tbsp glutinous rice flour

3 Tbsp sugar

3/4 cup pumpkin purée

2 tsp matcha powder, sifted

{Black Sesame Sauce}

1 cup black sesame powder

1/2 cup honey

3/4 cup hot water


2 large mixing bowls

tsp measure

large plate

large pot

slotted spoon

shallow medium bowl of ice water

9 skewers, 5 “or 6” is ideal

small mixing bowl


1.)  In a large bowl combine rice flour, sugar, and pumpkin. Knead until thoroughly incorporated. Divide dough in half, then place one of the halves in another large bowl and add the sifted matcha powder to it. Knead the green tea dough until it is throughly incorporated and has an even green color.

2.)  Use tsp measure to measure out 2 tsp balls of the rice dough. Use your hands to roll each ball until it is smooth, then park them on a large plate. Repeat this process with the green tea dough. You should end up with 28 balls (14 orange, 14 green).

3.)  Fill a large pot with water and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil the rice dumplings until they completely float on the surface of the water, mixing occasionally to prevent sticking. If the dumplings are at room temperature (not frozen) this will take 5-6 minutes. When the balls are floating, remove them from the hot water using a slotted spoon, then plunge them into the medium bowl of ice water.

4.)  When the balls have cooled, use a skewer to pierce through the center of 3 of the dumplings, leaving a 1/4″ allowance at the tip of the skewer. Repeat the process with all 9 skewers, then set the dango aside.

5.)  Combine the black sesame powder, honey, and hot water together in a small bowl. Plate the dango by spooning about 2 Tbsp of the black sesame sauce on a small plate, then place the pumpkin dango on top and serve.

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Lauren Danson

Oh my gosh, Bonnie, please send these to me in the mail!

They look stellar! Hope you’re doing well – Mizuba has kept me INSANELY busy, but it’s going well! Mostly label logistics with gift boxes, ugh. But you should look up the website KirikoMade – you’d love them. Mizuba will be doing a collaboration with them for a few future events this season 🙂

Thinking of what fun we had in LA! Miss you! Lauren Danson 805-705-8480 mizubatea.com | facebook | instagram

Bonnie Eng

So glad to hear that all is great Lauren! How is it in Portland!? Just looked up KirikoMade, and yes, I do love them! Can’t wait to see your collaboration. Let me know whenever you are back in SB…would love to take a weekend break there sometime soon. 🙂

Bonnie Eng

Thank you so much Kay! They are quite easy to make, and the pumpkin is such a yummy addition…hope you can enjoy them sometime soon! 😉


I wish I could trick-or-treat at your place! The black sesame sauce sounds amazing. *_* As soon as you mentioned the Hojicha to pair with these, my brain was overwhelmed with comforting images of autumn–it seems they could match so well.

Bonnie Eng

Ditto about the trick-or-treating back to you! Oh, wait, there’s no trick-or-treating in Japan is there? 😉 Hojicha is so perfect for autumn…all of the sudden this week, I am drinking cups and cups of it….thanks so much for the sweet comment Buri-chan!


I definitely have to try out your dangos, I once made green tea dangos but they were too hard and not really chewy 🙁 The black sesame sauce with it sounds great I really like the taste of goma. The last time I made a white chocolate matcha sauce for the dangos which fit really nicely as well 🙂

Bonnie Eng

These are really chewy Beatrice! I experimented several times with the proportions before I came up with the final recipe. I had even used some regular rice flour, but like you I like my dangos chewy, so I used only sweet rice flour here. That white chocolate matcha sauce sounds great…would love to see you post about it sometime! 🙂

Bonnie Eng

Maggie, these are just like tang yuan, except they have a bit of subtle flavor from the pumpkin and green tea. You could eat these any way you would normally enjoy tang yuan…even with a red bean soup! 🙂


Hello!! I’ve just come across your website and love it! Is there a way to get daily e-mails from the site?


Working off your recipe as a starting point helped me make my first dango with fresh fruit puree in the dough! Actually, it was chamoe (korean melon) tangyuan in a sweet puerh broth. And I subbed storebought vanilla frosting for the sugar, because I read somewhere that cornsyrup & confectioners sugar makes mochi even more tender. The flavors worked so well together, and the texture came out so well. Thanks for the inspiration and beautiful photos.


P.S. I have a half-tablespoon measure, so I used heaping scoops with that to get 2 teaspoons per ball.