Chinese Sesame Cookie Balls

It’s Chinese New Year soon! Nothing is better than homemade deep fried goodies and one of my favourites is the deep fried sesame cookie balls. Its name is “kai kou xiao” in Mandarin pinyin, meaning “laughing mouth”. Being brought up in a Cantonese family I’ve learnt that they are called “siu hau jo” in Cantonese which translates to “laughing dates”. The cracking part of these cookies makes them look like little laughing heads and having them during the Chinese New Year would bring lots of laughter to you and your family. Not only are they easy to make, they are also very crunchy and tasty. The size makes them so easy to pop into your mouth – overeating alert! 😉

Chinese Sesame Cookie Balls


  • 300 grams Cake/Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • 120 grams Granulated Sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Hot Water
  • 2 tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Egg
  • Raw White Sesame Seeds to coat cookie balls
  • Vegetable Oil for deep frying


  1. Mix sugar and hot water together and let cool. Add egg to sugar mixture.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and baking soda together.
  3. Add wet ingredients (sugar+ egg mixture and oil) to flour mixture. Mix to form dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll dough into long tubes and cut into small pieces to form 1.5 cm wide balls.
  5. Spay a little water onto the dough balls and roll them in the sesame seeds.
  6. Deep fry in low temperature oil, rolling the balls in the oil as they cook, until they turn slightly golden brown - I had my stove on low heat. Drain oil and cool before storing them in dry air tight containers.


  • Do not use all-purpose flour in this recipe. Cake/pastry flour will give it a nice texture and the cracking appearance.
  • To ensure the sesame seeds sticking to the dough balls, roll them lightly in your hands before deep frying them.
  • When deep frying, the oil will start to foam but it is normal because there is egg in the recipe.
  • Deep frying them in lower temperature will take longer to cook and will result in a crunchy texture and even cooking. If the oil temperature is too high, the exterior will be crunchy while the interior will still be soft and under-cooked. This step takes patience so don’t rush it.

Happy Chinese New Year! May the Year of the Dragon bring everyone health and prosperity!

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