12 Popular Japanese Desserts You Have to Try
From sweet red bean-filled balls of mochi to soft, decadent slices of Japanese cheesecake, we've rounded up the most popular recipes for Japanese desserts from blogs across the internet.
The key to achieving this Japanese cheesecake‘s delicate soufflé interior is by only using cake flour and a bain-marie when baking. According to blogger Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook, it’s only referred to as Japanese cheesecake outside of Japan. However, if you’re looking to dig into a slice of one of the most popular Japanese desserts when visiting the island nation, Namiko recommends asking for soufflé cheesecake to get this version.
Never baked a cheesecake before? Here’s how to test when a cheesecake is done.
Matcha Nama Choco (Chocolate)
You won’t believe that this decadent white chocolate Japanese dessert by Kitchen Princess Bamboo requires just four ingredients! Commonly given as a sweet treat on Valentine’s Day, nama choco is a unique type of solid chocolate ganache. This simple recipe developed by Akino Ogata adds a teaspoon of matcha powder for a caffeine-fueled twist.
In need of a sweet pick-me-up but short on time? Ready in five minutes, there’s no better Japanese dessert to make than this daifuku mochi recipe by Wandercooks. With an interior made of red bean paste (commonly known as anko in Japan), these stuffed sweet bean mochi balls are best fresh. Don’t try and substitute the glutinous or sweet rice powder—bloggers Laura and Sarah Turner say it’s integral to achieving the dough’s pliable texture and taste. Have you tried mochi doughnuts?
Bread flour, sugar, eggs, honey and water are the only ingredients you need to make this popular Japanese dessert recipe by Just One Cookbook. Blogger Namiko Chen explains the difference between a slice of Castella cake and regular sponge cake lies in the beating of the eggs—since there’s no leavening agent or fat used, beating them for five minutes or until they are thick and pale yellow in color is the key to making the batter rise.
Did your cake not turn out right? Here’s how to prevent the most common cake mistakes.
Matcha Green Tea Mochi Cookies
Soft, bite-size pieces of pastel-colored mochi serve as the perfect swap for chocolate chips in this delicious Japanese recipe for green-tea cookies by Kirbie’s Cravings. Blogger Jennifer Lee suggests freezing the bits of mochi before adding them to the batter to help them retain their shape while baking.
Made from coffee and sugar, coffee jelly is one of the top Japanese desserts out there—it’s common to find small three-packs of coffee jelly in supermarkets and convenience stores all across Japan. The hardest part about making this simple coffee jelly recipe by Pickled Plum is patiently waiting for it to set! If using instant coffee powder, blogger Caroline Nika Phelps recommends picking one that’s not bitter to not affect the jelly’s final taste.
Strawberry Shiratama Dango
Silken tofu, strawberries and glutinous rice flour come together in this traditional, vegan-friendly Japanese dessert by Okonomi Kitchen. Blogger Lisa Kitahara recommends serving this type of mochi with a bowl of ice cream or condensed milk for some added sweetness.
Out of condensed milk? Here are the best sweetened condensed milk substitutes to use in a pinch.
Matcha Ice Cream
Ready in under three hours, this homemade matcha ice cream recipe by Roti n Rice is your answer to soaring temperatures as summertime approaches. For a more authentic taste, blogger Linda Ooi recommends topping this refreshing Japanese dessert with some anko, aka red bean paste, before serving. The next morning, stir some extra matcha powder into the batter for these fluffy Japanese pancakes.
Taikyai is a popular Japanese dessert that’s commonly eaten as a snack. Blogger Caroline Nika Phelps explains that taiyaki are often stuffed with various sweet fillings, including anko, Nutella, custard and sometimes even cheese. This taiyaki recipe by Pickled Plum is perfect for parents and budding chefs to make together—all you need to get started is a taiyaki mold pan.
Kabocha Squash Pie
Move over pumpkin—there’s a new squash to make pies with. Also known as Japanese pumpkin, kabocha squash is a year-round squash known for its sweet, nutrient-dense fleshy interior. The addition of ginger, black pepper and chipotle chili powder in this creative pie recipe by Brooklyn Supper really elevate the flavors hidden inside the fresh kabocha squash puree. Blogger Elizabeth Stark recommends adding a dollop of whipped cream before serving—here’s how to make fresh whipped cream from scratch.
Matcha Mochi Cake
Thanks to the addition of 1-1/2 tablespoons of high-quality matcha, this ambrosial mochi cake recipe by Sarah Menanix of Snixy Kitchen offers a unique Japanese twist on the classic Hawaiian dessert, butter mochi. The use of mochiko flour (sweet rice flour) here results in a sticky and chewy cake base—a perfect contrast to the shredded coconut top layer, which, according to Menanix, “softens into a caramel-like toasted coconut blanket on the second day.”
Purin (Japanese Caramel Custard Pudding)
Commonly found in grocery stores and restaurants across Japan, purin—which means pudding—is a popular Japanese dessert that most resembles flan or crème caramel. Perfect for your next dinner party, this delectable recipe by Lokness Fan of The Missing Lokness makes five individual jar-sized servings of Japanese caramel custard pudding. And, best of all, you can make it up to three days in advance!