10 Best Japanese Desserts

10 Japanese Desserts to Try When in Japan

When it comes to Japanese Desserts, the Japanese are very adventurous with popular dishes including a range of traditional and sometimes unusual ingredients. Whether you have a sweet or savoury palette, you’ll find something on our list of Japanese Desserts to wet your appetite. Many of these dishes include recipes so you can make your own at home however be warned that there are a few are unique to Japan so the only way to try the dish will be to book a flight over!

1. Mochi

Mochi is a staple ingredient within the Japanese dessert category and is often used for savoury dishes also. Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made by pounding short grain japonica rice into a variety of shapes including squares, cubes and balls. Mochi is a sweet dessert with a texture similar to that of a marshmallow. Make your own Mochi at home with these Mochi Recipes.

There are hundreds of popular mochi recipes including:

  • Mochi Ice Cream – small scoops of ice cream wrapped in a layer of mocha and topped with a dusting of mochiko (rice flour)
  • Sakuramochi – A pink dessert made with mocha, flavoured with cherry blossoms and filled with red bean paste. This dessert comes wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf.
  • Hishi Mochi – A traditional dessert associated with Girls’s Day. This dessert comes in a rhomboid shape with three different colour layers: red, white and green flavoured mocha
Sakuramochi japanese desserts

2. Dorayaki

Two pancakes sandwiched together with a sweet or fruit filling. What makes these different is that the pancakes are made of castella, a simple Japanese sponge making this dessert almost like a mini sandwich cake. The pancakes are sandwiched together with Anko, a sweet paste of mashed azuki beans and additional fillings of your choice. Popular fillings for these Japanese Desserts include chestnuts and ice cream. Make your own Dorayaki at home with this Dorayaki Recipe.

Dorayaki japanese desserts

3. Dango

Dainty rice dumplings made with mochiko, also known as rice flour. Three to four dumplings are placed on skewers and are lightly toasted, Dango can be toasted over an open fire just like mashmallows. Dango can be served as a sweet or savoury dish are a popular widely across Japan. Toppings for this dessers include red bean paste, chestnut paste, sesame seed and soy sauce. A popular accompaniment for Dango is Green Tea, which is also used as a topping! Make your own Dango at home with this Dango Recipe.

dango japanese desserts

4. Crepes

One of the more recognisable among the Japanese Desserts are crepes. Wandering through the streets of Japan, you’ll be greeted with numerous small Japanese crepe shops where they’ll have plastic models outside to advertise their menu. If you have new tried crepes before then you are in for a treat, they are basically sweet pancakes wrapped up filled with all sorts of delicious goodies including fruit, ice cream and whipped cream.

pancakes-282252_640 japanese desserts

5. Higashi

A traditional Japanese delicacy made with sugar and rice flour. Higashi is a sweet confectionary which, due to its ingredients and dry nature, has a very long shelf life. A popular time to eat Higashi would be when having high tea. These Japanese Desserts are probably one of the prettiest desserts on this list, they are uniquely and intricately designed and coloured in typical pastel shades. Higashi are often made relevant to particular seasons such as during the spring you can expect to see various cherry blossom versions. Unfortunately for us, the recipes to Higashi are highly guarded secrets so the only way to taste these sweet confections would be to visit Japan!

wagashi japanese desserts

6. Honey Toast

You know when you buy a fresh loaf of bread and there’s always a large bit at the end that looks like a doorstop which is often wasted? Never waste it again but creating these truly indulgent Japanese Desserts known as Honey Toast. Honey Toast is exactly how it sounds, a large doorstop of bread covered in honey! Sounds delicious right? Well the Japanese have made it even better, first you cut out the centre of the toast creating an almost dish and fill it with anything and everything. Popular fillings include ice cream, fruit, chocolate, biscuits and pretty much anything that it high in calories! Make your own Honey Toast at home with this indulgent Honey Toast Recipe.

By Matt @ PEK from Taipei, Taiwan (Dazzling Café - Blueberry Danish Honey Toast) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons japanese desserts
By Matt @ PEK from Taipei, Taiwan (Dazzling Café – Blueberry Danish Honey Toast) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

7. Tokoroten

Probably one of the most interesting Japanese Desserts is Tokoroten. Tokoroten is made through boiling and pressing seaweed to create a jelly which is then turned into clear noodles. The jelly is served cold and is a popular dessert for the Summer months. This is a savoury dish but is considered as a dessert in Japan. To add a little flavour to this dish, you can add soy sauce, sesame or vinegar. To make this dish, a traditional gadget is required to squeeze the jelly into noodles which is known as a Tentsuki. Make your own Tokoroten at home with this Tokoroten Recipe.

Tokoroten japanese desserts

8. Monaka

Monaka is similar to an ice cream cone sandwich but with a Japanese twist. Filled with an azuki bean jam filling, Monaka are popular and traditional Japanese Desserts. The outer crisp wafers are made from mocha and have a similar texture and taste to ice cream cones. Monaka can be as unusual or tame as you like, traditional Japanese fillings include chestnuts, sesame seeds or ice cream.

Ice Monaka (Ice cream with crisp wafers made of rice) at Ohnishi-Shoten, Mikage St., Kobe. Image source: https://opencage.info/pics.e/large_13341.asp japanese desserts
Ice Monaka (Ice cream with crisp wafers made of rice) at Ohnishi-Shoten, Mikage St., Kobe. Image source: https://opencage.info/pics.e/large_13341.asp

9. Hakuto Jelly

Hakuto Jelly are popular Japanese desserts eaten during the summer. The jelly is infused with the juice from Hakuto Peaches and mineral rich spring water giving the dessert a fresh flavour. Hakuto Jelly is often sold in a container which looks like the peaches that it was made from. The use of fresh produce makes this dish seasonal and due to the natural ingredients used, you may notice that the flavour differs season to season.

By Jason Lam [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons japanese desserts
By Jason Lam [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

10. Akumaki

Akumaki is a flavourless Japanese dessert made by soaking mochigome rice in lye overnight. Eaten by itself, the dish is known to taste quite bitter so the Japanese tend to add sugar, soybean flour, salt or honey to give it a unique flavour. This dish is often eaten during Children’s day and due to it’s core ingredients, it is known to have a reasonably long shelf life.

japanese desserts
Image Source: https://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/akumaki

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