Pumpkin Glutinous Rice Cakes – A Chinese Sweet Treat

Chinese pumpkin glutinous rice cakes or “Pumpkin cha guo” are not so much crumbly like a cake but more like a soft chewy pancake. The glutinous rice flour in this recipe is responsible for their chewy texture.
The word “glutinous” in the name points to the fact that when cooked, it becomes sticky or glue like and not as may be mistaken because there is any gluten in it.

With only 3 ingredients plus a little oil for frying, they are really easy to make. Lets get started.


Peeled and deseeded pumpkin 700g
Sugar 200g
Glutinous rice flour 500g
Oil for frying
Optional white or black sesame seeds


1. Cut your pumpkin into medium sized chunks and steam for about 35 minutes till softened.

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes
Steam the pumpkin cubes till tender.


2. Allow the pumpkin to cool a little and mash it down with a fork or puree it with a hand held blender.

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes pumpkin puree
A hand held blender makes light work of pumpkin puree.


3. While the pumpkin is still warm, add the sugar and mix in.

4. Split the flour into 2-3 batches and mix in one at a time.

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes
Take care when mixing the flour to avoid it going all over the place.


5. Using your hands, knead the mixture till all the ingredients are completely incorporated into an even textured dough. It should be slightly sticky.

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes kneading dough
Knead until smooth

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes, This is what the dough should look like.
This is what your dough should look like. Now is the time to do a taste test if required (see notes and tips below). You can cover this with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to make it more manageable or if you are preparing in advance, it can be stored in this way for up to 3 days.


6. Take pinches of dough and roll them into balls, set aside.

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes
Pumpkin glutinous rice dough balls


Optional: Dip or roll some or all of your pumpkin dough balls into sesame seeds.

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes sesame seeds
Optional: Dip or roll in sesame seeds

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes
I prefer the taste of the plain pumpkin glutinous rice cakes but I think the sesame ones look nice so I usually like to make half and half.


7. Put your frying pan on a low heat and coat the bottom with some oil.

8. Using the part of your palm at the base of your thumb and the middle of the other palm, flatten the pumpkin dough balls into disks.

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes
Flatten the balls into disks.

9. Place as many of the pumpkin glutinous rice cakes in the pan as can fit without actually touching. Fry on a gentle heat turning once or twice.

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes
Pan fry both sides on a low to medium low flame.


pumpkin glutinous rice cakes
Don’t be tempted to speed things up by turning the heat up too high, this will just burn the outside before the inside has time to cook through. They only take 2-3 minutes on each side any way.


pumpkin glutinous rice cakes
The sesame version coated on one side.


10. Best served warm but also not too shabby when cooled!

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes
A lovely teatime treat.


Notes and tips

As pumpkins can vary in sweetness and water content, you may find that the measurements stated above may need adjusting slightly to account for the natural variations.

My personal preference for sugar is “less sweet” so naturally this recipe reflects that. If you have a sweeter tooth you may want to roll out one piece in step six and fry that first to see how it tastes to you before rolling out the whole lot. You can kneed more sugar into the mixture if that is your preference.

It is important to pan fry these on a low to medium low heat so that the flour has a chance to cook through properly before the cakes burn on the outside. I find that a very slightly sticker mixture works better for this than a mixture on the dry side. Add a teaspoon of water if you find the taste of raw flour coming through.

These pumpkin glutinous rice cakes can also be filled with red bean paste or deep fried for a crispy outer coating.

pumpkin glutinous rice cakes
Egg free and gluten free and oh so yummy! This image shows slightly less than half of what the recipe yields (my little monkey insisted on a number of taste tests before the photo was taken). I always make double of the dough so that I can cook some now and save some for later, they never last long in my house!

Image credit: Anna Hui

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