Eight-Treasure Rice (八寶飯)

Chinese Eight Treasury Rice aka babaofan is a special sweet rice dish enjoyed during holiday meals such as Chinese New Year dinner.

For more Chinese New Year Recipe, please check out my FREE Chinese New Year Cookbook.

Happy Chinese New Year, the Year of Dragon!

Unlike my last minute celebration from last year, I started this year’s celebration a lot earlier with some of my New Year special dishes. Find them here and here if you haven’t checked them out.

Looking back, year 2011 has been quite an exciting year for this site. Not only I got to experiment new ingredients and learn new cuisines, I also got to meet so many like-minded foodies and home chefs whom I have learned so much from.

In celebrating the beginning of another exciting year, I have compiled a small list of dishes I did last year that are definite worth trying (if you have not done so)!

Eight-Treasure Rice Recipe (八寶飯)

Eight-Treasure Rice Recipe (八寶飯




On to today’s recipe.

Eight-Treasure Rice is traditional served during Chinese New Year celebration and festival banquets.

The wonderful origin of Eight-Treasure Rice traces back to Western Zhuou Dynasty in ancient China. That’s over 2000 years in making of history!

The dish is common made from glutinous rice and a combination of with eight fruits that, according to Chinese medicine, are meant to provide therapeutic effect. The commonly used treasures are: dried red dates, lotus seeds, candied plums, sweetened winter melon, dried longan, red bean paste, assorted beans, assorted nuts, and etc.

Like many other Chinese dishes with long histories, the Eight-Treasure Rice has seen many variations and regional flavors. In the recipe I am sharing, I use butter instead of lard that’s normally used… I also have to skip the sweetened winter melon because it was sold out at the store I shopped…and I am also missing one or two traditional ingredients that are not available here…..

The point is, if this recipe looks very different from the Eight-Treasure Rice you had at that 200 year restaurant during your last trip to China, it is perfectly fine. No two Eight-Treasure Rice dishes are the same but they are all delicious!

Step-by-Step Illustrations

Steam the soaked gluteus rice for 30 minutes

Soak the lotus seeds and dried dates

Mix the steamed rice with butter and 1 tbsp of sugar

Assemble the rice and treasures in a serving bowl. If you are a talented decorator this will be a fun step for you

Steam the flip into a serving plate

Make the syrup and pour the syrup on top of the eight-treasure rice

Eight-Treasure Rice (八寶飯)
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Yi
Prep time: 12 hours
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 13 hours
Serves: 4
Eight-Treasure Rice is a traditional Chinese festival dish.
  • 1.5 cup Glutinous rice
  • 2 tbsp sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Butter or lard
  • 1 tsp Goji berry
  • 10 Lotus seeds
  • 10 Dried red dates
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 3 tbsp Red bean paste
  • 15 Candied mandarin orange
  • 10 Candied cherry
  • Candied winter melon (optional not shown)
  1. Soak the glutinous rice overnight in water. Before steaming, drain all the water and add about 3 tbsp of water to the rice. Steam for 30 minutes with the lid on.
  2. Soak the lotus seeds and dried dates in warm water for at least 2 hours. You can do this one day in advance. Cut the dates in halves
  3. While the steamed glutinous rice is still warm, mix in the butter and 1 tbsp of sugar. Taste the rice to make sure it’s not too dry. Mix in some warm water if the rice is too dry.
  4. Assemble the rice and treasures in a serving bowl to your liking. If you like to decorate, you’ll find this step FUN. The rule of thumb is separate each layer of treasures with a layer of glutinous rice. Try to keep the pretty ingredients on the bottom and around side of the bowl. Finish the top layer with rice.
  5. Steam the assembly with the serving bowl rim facing up for 30 minutes. Flip the bowl onto a serving plate. Generally remove the bowl.
  6. Make syrup by combining the rest of the sugar with 1/3 cup of boiling water. Thicken the syrup with a little corn starch. Evenly pour the syrup on top of the eight treasures rice.

Happy Chinese New Year and I look forward to more exciting dishes!

Eight-Treasure Rice Recipe (八寶飯


  1. 21

    Wow, your eight treasure pudding looks so gooooddddd. I was wondering if i could substitute the lard/butter with oil.

  2. 20

    For example, when I see maggots, I go intgo a cold sweat,
    hyperventilate, and my whole body itches for hours.

  3. 19

    I’ll be using a version of your recipe for this upcoming Chinese New Year!
    So if I soak the sweet rice overnight then I only need to add a few tablespoons of water to the rice when I use the rice cooker the next day? Is this the same across the board, regardless of the style of rice cooker? When I make white rice my electric Tatung rice cooker, I use a 1:1 ratio of rice to water. So 2 cups of white rice requires that I fill the water to the “2” line. Brown rice requires more water, so I wanted to double check with you about how much water is required for sweet rice that has been soaked overnight. 


    • 19.1

      Hi Sophie, thanks for considering this recipe. To answer your question, there are a few ways to make sticky rice. The steaming method I use is quite old school but effective. However it will only work if you steam the rice over boiling water. Now if you prefer to cook the rice in rice cooker (not using rice cooker as a steamer), I’d suggest following the normal cooking process you mentioned above. The only change I’d make is once you add the water, let it soak for a few hours then turn on the cooker. Hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      • Thanks so much for your reply!  The sweet rice (which was soaked overnight) cooked perfectly in the rice cooker using the normal directions for white rice. I can’t wait to see how it looks when I serve it to my family on Friday night. 

  4. 18

    Hello. I like the look of the eight treasures. May I know if I can do this one day ahead before steaming for the second time?

    This will be my first ever trying this out.


    • 18.1

      Hi Seri, sorry for getting back to you late. Yes you can make this ahead of the time and steam it before serving. That’s what I normally do too. Thanks for checking out my recipe and please let me know if you have any other questions.

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  7. 17

    It made me so homesick when I went on your Web. Thank you so much for the wonderful recipes you shared. Since I am the only Chinese among my tennis and bridge friends, I always try to impress them with my cooking. Just yesterday, I made over 30 Bao Tze, and Spring Rolls. I even make my own skins. Since you shared with me, I want to share something with you. Please go on line to Amazon.com (books). Type in “Farewell My Beijing”. It is a memoir I wrote and have sold thousands of copies, was on local TV and Newspapers, and did a book signing for our local Costco. I hope you have time to read it and write a review under Amazon.Com (books) Would be very proud to have your famous name under the reviews.
    Hope to hear from you.

    • 17.1

      Hello Chi, first of all thanks for visiting my blog. I am so glad to hear your passion in cooking and sharing Chinese food with your local friends. The book you wrote sounds really interesting and I can’t wait to read about your story moving from China to the US! – Yi

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  9. 16

    I googled Chinese New Year and found your recipt. I’m making it today for my Taoist Tai Chi class tomorrow night. I hope my turns out half as pretty as yours! Thank you.

    • 16.1

      Too bad I didn’t proof my typing before posting. That should read, “…found your recipe…” and “…I hope mine…” Let’s only hope my Eight Treasure Rice tastes better than I type.

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  11. 15

    Yu, are the candied fruits the same as fruits in syrup? Thank you.

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  13. 14

    Oh interesting. So that’s what you had for New year. Looks good.

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  15. 13

    Happy Chinese New Year to you. This is sweet and nice.

  16. 12

    What a gorgeous dish!!! That’s right, yay for loooong history of making this dish AND people like you who continue making it. This looks so pretty. I didn’t recognize it’s upside down until I started checking step by step. Absolutely beautiful!

  17. 11

    Yi, I love this dessert, I only made it once…yours looks delicious and very pretty. Happy Chinese New Year and hope you are having a fantastic week 🙂

  18. 10

    Your eight-treasure rice is beautiful! I have not eaten this before but I can imagine what it tastes like. I am surprised this is a sweet dish. When I read the title, I thought of a rich savory dish. I will have to give it a try one of these days. Happy Chinese New Year!

  19. 9

    I would love to try this! It looks so colorful and delicious.
    Happy Chinese New Year to you!

  20. 8

    That is the most beautiful 八寶飯 I have seen.

    Happy Chinese New Year of Dragon to you and your family.

  21. 7

    Happy Chinese New Year Yi! This posting brought back so many warm memories for me! My parents used to make eight treasured rice from time to time, though since we moved to the US, this doesn’t happen as often. I remember digging into the red bean paste was always the best part, thank you for sharing!

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