What is Anpan?

What is Anpan?

Feb 20, 2023 Tags 

Anpan is a Japanese sweet roll bread filled with Red bean paste or Anko. If you know a little about Japanese homemade pastries, then you know that the Anko filling is consistent in many snacks, and Anpan is no exception. The bread dough is typically made from a combination of flour, sugar, yeast, and milk, and is shaped into a round or oval shape. The red bean paste, or Anko, is made from azuki beans that have been cooked, mashed with sugar and then placed in the center of the dough. Anpan has a similar look and texture to a cream filled donut. 

Anpan is a popular snack in Japan and is often sold at bakeries and convenience stores in Japan. It is also a common treat at festivals and other events. It has a soft, sweet, and slightly chewy texture, and the combination of the fluffy bread and the sweet, slightly nutty red bean paste is a classic and beloved flavor combination in Japanese cuisine. This article focuses on all you need to know about Anpan, including how you can make it yourself at home. 


Anpan Meaning


Anpan was named just like using its components. The Japanese term for azuki red bean paste is Anko, that’s where the “An” (餡,あん) or “Anko"(餡子, あんこ) in Anpan comes from. Bread in Japanese is "pan"(パン). So Anpan is literally red bean paste bread.


History of Anpan


History of Anpan


According to historians, a samurai by the name of Yasubei Kimura invented anpan in the late 19th century. The samurai's employment became outdated after the Imperial Army started handling Japan's security responsibilities, so he discovered a new line of work in baking. When Yasubei Kimura attempted to make Western bread more palatable to Japanese tastes and cuisines by stuffing it with red bean paste, he discovered anpan, and the rest is history.

An-doughnuts, which are Japanese doughnuts stuffed with red bean paste, were also influenced by the creation of anpan. Despite the fact that the two treats are remarkably similar, anpan is not composed of fried dough, but an-doughnuts are. Manj, a classic Japanese delicacy created with a soft wheat dough exterior and red bean inside, and anpan are comparable to one another. Manj has been around considerably longer than anpan; it actually came from China sometime between 307 and 250 BCE under the name mantou. In 1341, a Japanese diplomat brought the treat back with him and started selling it under the name "nara-manj." Despite the fact that the two wagashi are identical, manj is regarded as a pastry and anpan as a dish. sert.


7 Types of Anpan in Japan




There is another reason Anpan is pretty popular in Japan and that is because of the Superhero picture book (later adapted as an anime), Anpanman whose head is shaped like Anpan. As you can imagine, there are many merchandises with Anpanman characters and even Anpanman snacks. 

Anpan as a bread bun with filling is not always enjoyed the classic way. Not everyone is satisfied with just Anko filling, which is why some restaurants fill Anpan with other sweet variations. These are the several types of Anpan in Japan. 


Curry Anpan


Vegan Curry Anpan


This Anpan has a thinner crust than the usual type. It is filled with Japanese curry and the dough is usually rolled in breadcrumbs before it is deep fried, not baked.



Chocolate Anpan


Chocolate Anpan


This type of Anpan is filled with creamy chocolate instead of Anko. Luckily, it is widely sold in commercial packs and it is made in smaller bite sizes. If you love chocolate, this would be your favorite Anpan.


Matcha Anpan


Matcha Anpan


In Japan, green tea flavor is added to many staple dishes for that green tint and subtle taste. This Anpan is filled with red bean paste and flavored with matcha, a type of finely ground green tea. Anpan also comes in different shapes and sizes. 


Cream Anpan


Cream Anpan


Who doesn’t love whipped cream? It feels and tastes great alone or on anything. Along with Anko, Anpan can be topped with a layer of whipped cream for that scrumptious finger licking taste.


Meron Pan




This is a type of bread or “pan” in Japan that has a crisscross pattern meant to mimic a melon. Some Anpan is made with these patterns as meron pan they are sometimes filled with melon flavored jam. 


Tsubuan Anpan




Not everyone likes smooth creamy Anko. Some people prefer the chunky type. This is Anpan filled with chunky red bean paste (tsubuan) that includes the skins of the azuki beans. It has a more intense taste and you get to eat the chunks of bean skin.


Custard Anpan


Custard Anpan


This Anpan can either be filled with red bean paste and topped with a layer of custard cream or just filled with creamy custard only.


Anpan Recipe


Basket full of Anpan


Here is a recipe for Anpan, you can bake it at home in a few hours. It takes some work but it is definitely worth it.

Anpan Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup red bean paste (Anko)


Step-by-Step Process to make Anpan at home


Note: Before making Anpan, make sure you make your red bean paste the day before to avoid delays. All you have to do is boil the red beans and mash them with sugar to make them sweet. You can buy premade Anko in grocery stores as well. There are several ways of making the perfect bread, this recipe is simple and easy for beginners. 

  1. In a small bowl, mix the milk and egg over medium heat until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm.
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients like flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and knead for your life. At first, it will be runny and sticky but keep kneading until it is smooth and elastic.
  3. Add the butter and keep kneading until your dough is smooth.
  4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  6. Punch down the dough and roll it out into a long cylinder on a lightly floured surface. Cut it into slices.
  7. Now, you can take each individual piece, roll it flat and place the red bean paste in the middle. Pinch the sides close until it is round and smooth. Do this for all the pieces.
  8. Place the slices cut-side up on a baking sheet and allow them to rise again.
  9. Finally, bake the Anpan for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and the filling is warm and gooey. Serve warm or at room temperature.

There you have it! Everything you need to know about Anpan. You can make some amazing Anpan at home or order some Japanese snacks from ZenPop. Who knows, you just might get some Anpan in your snack pack.



This article was originally written by our freelance writer Umm-Kulthum Abdulkareem, and edited by us.