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25 Traditional Japanese Desserts

Japan is known for having some of the best desserts in the world. With flavors unique to Japan, like matcha, lychee, and red bean paste, there are no two Japanese desserts alike. One of the best parts about traditional Japanese desserts is the sweetness level.

Japanese Desserts

If you’re expecting to bite into a Japanese sweet and have it be the same level of decadence as an American dessert, you’ll be quite surprised. They’re much less sweet, which allows the incredible delicate flavors of the desserts to be front and center.

Many of the desserts in Japan carry a long history that dates back hundreds of years.

These recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, providing the same flavor found many years ago. There’s something special about desserts that have withstood the test of time.

Japanese sweets can seem intimidating because of their delicate flavors. Though, they’re easier to make than you think! If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out the list below. Here, you’ll find 25 desserts so tasty that you’ll want to make them as often as possible.

You’ll find everything from souffle to ice cream and more on this list. Let’s get cooking!

1.  How to Make Japanese Mochi Ice Cream Recipe

Japanese mochi is such a tasty treat! The soft, chewy exterior perfectly complements the sweet ice cream inside. It’s the perfect sweet for hot summer days, plus it’s super easy to make.

The secret ingredient is vanilla ice cream; you’ll be using this for the interior. If you want a more authentic flavor, purchase green tea ice cream instead. It provides a delicious, refreshing, not-too-sweet flavor that you won’t be able to get enough of.

You can also use strawberry ice cream or any flavor that you please.

2.  Purin: Japanese Custard Pudding

Have you ever had flan before? If you have, purin will taste quite similar to you! It’s a delicious, decadent custard covered with a caramel sauce. Yum!

The topping is made from white sugar – this creates that tasty caramel sauce poured on top! If you want an even more decadent flavor, you can use brown sugar to make caramel.

You’ll need a smaller amount of brown sugar to produce the same amount of caramel sauce.

3. Fluffy Jiggly Japanese Cheesecake

Jiggly Japanese cheesecake is all the rage lately! It’s delicious, and a super fun treat to enjoy. Plus, you can serve it to guests and watch them be awestruck at your creation.

Part of what makes this dessert so fun is the toppings that you can add. It calls for powdered sugar and strawberries. However, you can add any other berries or fresh sliced fruit on top that you’d like.

Mango slices, peaches, blackberries, etc., all work well on top of these jiggly cheesecakes.

4. Japanese Banana Rice Pudding

This banana rice pudding is one of the tastiest (and easiest!) Japanese dessert recipes. It only requires a handful of ingredients and is ready in less than an hour. How can you say no to that?!

The whipped cream added to the mixture makes the rice pudding even creamier. If you want an even fluffier consistency, try using Cool Whip. Defrost the Cool Whip beforehand, or it won’t mix well.

Tip: Using coconut milk instead of regular milk will provide a more tropical flavor.

5. Daifuku

This traditional treat is served in Japan and is typically stuffed with red bean paste. It’s got a mochi exterior, so it’s deliciously chewy. This incredibly popular treat is a perfect match with a steaming cup of green tea.

When the mochi is done, it’s typically very sticky. It’s necessary to cover it in potato starch to help prevent it from sticking to other surfaces and other bits of dough. If you have cornstarch on hand, this will work equally well.

6. Japanese Coffee Jelly

Japanese coffee jelly is unlike any other dessert you’ve ever had! It has the consistency of jello but with a strong and sweet coffee flavor. You’ll likely see this coffee jelly topped with various items like sweet syrups, whipped cream, and chopped nuts.

What gives this jelly its jello-like consistency? The secret is in the gelatin that is mixed with the coffee flavoring. If you’re vegan or don’t have gelatin on hand, agar agar will also work in this recipe.

Tip: Get creative with the toppings! You can use any syrup flavor you would normally add to a latte.

7.  Japanese Sweet Potato

You may be wondering how you can make a tasty dessert out of sweet potatoes? Japanese sweets are known for using “unusual” flavors that are incredibly delicious. You’ll be delighted by the sweet, custardy flavor you get once the recipe is made.

For a more authentic dessert, it’s necessary to use satsumaimo, aka Japanese sweet potatoes. However, it may not be easy to find this in the grocery store, depending on the season and the local offerings. If this is the case, you can use a standard sweet potato instead though it will change the flavor slightly.

8. Butter Cookies (Homemade Hato Sabure)

Who doesn’t love butter cookies?! These cookies are so decadent they’ll melt in your mouth after the initial crunch. They’re everything you could want in a butter cookie and more.

This recipe calls for unsalted butter. However, you can use salted butter if it’s on hand. Using this swap will help balance out the sweetness as well.

Your guests will love these cookies that taste identical to the Hato Sabure brand butter cookies.

Tip: You can add a glaze or drizzle to the cookies for a sweeter flavor.

9. Dorayaki (Japanese Red Bean Pancake)

Can’t get enough red bean paste? This delicious, sweet treat is filled with it! The finished product is similar to a sweet sandwich with yummy honey pancakes surrounding the sweet filling.

To make the tasty pancakes, you’ll be using standard white flour. If you’re gluten-free, you can use a gluten-free flour alternative.

This is a great make-ahead dessert. You can freeze it in baggies for up to a month. Just defrost in the fridge and enjoy them as per usual.

10. Anmitsu Yokan

Japan has some of the coolest desserts, including the anmitsu yokan. This dessert is a combination of the traditional desserts anmitsu and yokan. It’s a newer sweet treat that offers a delightfully chewy hybrid sweet with various fruit toppings.

Making the topics requires glutinous rice flour and silken tofu. This mixture helps create a super soft dough. Water will also work if you don’t have silken tofu on hand or can’t find it at the store.

Using water will change the consistency slightly, but you’ll still be left with a yummy dessert.

11. How To Make Kohakutou Candy

Did you grow up eating the orange slice candy as we did? If so, you’ll be familiar with the consistency of kohakutou candy. This jelly candy has a slight crunch from drying for a few days on the outside. Yet, the inside remains chewy.

To make the jelly candy, you’ll be using the secret ingredient – agar agar. This ingredient helps create the jello-like consistency that kohakutou is known for. You can also use gelatin instead, though be aware that it changes the dish into a non-vegetarian-friendly dessert.

12. Japanese Sponge Cake

Japan is famous for its springy cakes (like the cheesecake above). They have made creating delicious and spongy cakes look super easy. This is one of the tastiest Japanese pastries; it’s sweet but not too sweet.

What makes this Japanese sponge cake so decadent and tasty? The melted butter that’s included in the batter offers a delicious flavor. You can swap this out with vegetable oil, though the flavor will be more subtle.

Tip: This cake is fantastic paired with a cup of green tea.

13. Fruit Parfait

Craving a dessert that’s fruit-based but a little naughty at the same time? This fruit parfait is layered with ice cream, cake, fresh fruit, granola, and whipped cream. We like to think adding the fruit on top helps cancel out the other, more decadent parts of this treat!

The strawberry parfait is topped with many goodies, including sliced almonds. If you’re not a fan of almonds, try using walnut chunks. Get creative with the toppings and use the fruit you prefer with your favorite granola.

14. Mizu Yokan Recipe

Haven’t heard of or tried mizu yokan before? It’s related to anmitsu yokan in that it’s a jelly dessert. It’s much simpler to make and only requires four ingredients.

Like many Japanese sweets, this recipe calls for red bean paste. If red bean paste is not your preferred flavor, you can swap it out for matcha powder. This will provide a similar sweetness level and an equally delicious taste.

Tip: Give yourself plenty of time because the kanten will need to soak for an hour to soften before you can incorporate it into the recipe.

15. Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

It’s impossible to turn down this strawberry shortcake; trust us, we’ve tried! This cake is incredibly light and fluffy. It’s soaked with syrup, filled with homemade whipped cream, and fresh strawberries.

Wondering what the secret ingredient is that makes this cake so fluffy? It’s the cake flour. You can use regular flour and cornstarch as a replacement for cake flour.

To use flour and cornstarch, you’ll need to include two tablespoons per cup of flour. Make sure the flour and cornstarch together equal one full cup.

16. Easy Dango Recipe

We love easy Japanese sweets recipes! This dango recipe is easy, fun, and leaves you with brightly colored dango on a stick. This dessert is typically only served during the cherry blossom season in Japan.

With this recipe, you can enjoy dango year-round! To make this chewy dessert, you’ll need to use joshinko glutinous rice flour. You can swap this out if the store only has mochiko glutinous rice flour instead.

Tip: Make the dango any color you please using food coloring.

17. How To Make Anko

Can’t find anko in any of your local grocery stores? Try making it at home with this easy recipe that will have you whipping up red bean paste desserts in no time. With only four ingredients, it’s hard to turn down making this recipe at home.

One of the main ingredients in anko is sugar to add sweetness. If you want a more caramel-like flavor, you can also use dark brown sugar. While you can forego the sugar altogether, the flavor of the red beans will not be sweet and instead be bitter.

18. Black Sesame Ice Cream

If you head to an ice cream shop in Japan, you may be surprised at the color of this ice cream! It’s a greyish color that looks odd compared to the bright green matcha ice cream and other delicious flavors. All it takes to change your mind is one bite of this incredible, nutty, lightly sweetened ice cream, and you’ll be hooked!

Not a fan of a strong nutty flavor? Try using white sesame paste instead of black sesame paste. White sesame seeds have a much subtler flavor than black sesame seeds.

19. Black Sesame Cookies

Normally, we’re a soft cookie-only type of chef. However, these crunchy black sesame cookies have us singing a different tune. They’re nutty from the black sesame seeds, buttery, and highly addicting.

These cookies call for unsalted butter and kosher salt as part of the ingredients. If you have salted butter in your fridge, you can use that instead. Make sure to leave out the additional salt, and you’ll have cookies that are just as good as the original recipe.

Tip: Make sure to fluff your flour before measuring it. Otherwise, the cookies will be too dry.

20. Anmitsu

You may recognize anmitsu from the above anmitsu yokan recipe. It’s a traditional dessert in Japan and one of the best Japanese desserts ever created! Anmitsu is a delicious dessert that includes jelly cubes and is covered with toppings like fresh fruit, bean paste, mochi, and ice cream.

Here’s another recipe where you can swap out the ice cream if you prefer another flavor. This recipe calls for green tea ice cream. Instead, try using vanilla ice cream. While you can use other flavors, anything that’s too strong tasting will take away from the delicious toppings.

21. Strawberry Pound Cake

Can’t get enough strawberry desserts? We totally understand and agree! This strawberry pound cake offers a deliciously dense yet soft and moist pound cake with strawberry inclusions.

This cake is almost too pretty to eat, almost! If you have another berry available that’s in season; you can use that in your cake instead. Try making blueberry or blackberry pound cake; it’s equally as delicious.

This slice of cake is a great option to top with vanilla ice cream. If you don’t want as sweet of a dessert, you can eat it as-is for a yummy sweet treat.

22. Fluffy Japanese Soufflé Pancakes

Think of these soufflé pancakes as mini versions of the jiggly cheesecake above. These pancakes are so fluffy and delicious that you’ll want to eat the whole stack yourself! Finish them with maple syrup, powdered sugar, and fresh berries for the ultimate breakfast.

These souffle pancakes have a secret ingredient that makes them extra tasty – pure vanilla extract. We know pure vanilla extract can be pricey. You can do so without a noticeable flavor change if you want to use imitation vanilla instead.

23. Fresh Strawberry and Cream Japanese Cake Roll

Have you ever wanted to make a homemade cake roll? Here’s your chance to make a delicious summery version that includes whipped cream and strawberries. It’s the perfect dessert that’s not too heavy for a hot summer day.

You’ll need cream of tartar to make the cake roll and cream filling. If necessary, vinegar will also work though it may change the consistency of the roll slightly.

Keep in mind that the cake needs to be rolled before it cools; otherwise, it will crack when you roll it later.

24. Manju

Not sure what manju is? It’s a traditional Japanese dessert that is similar to a sweet dumpling. It’s filled with a delicious anko filling for a yummy treat.

You can test your cooking skills by swapping store-bought anko for the homemade version listed above. Give it a try! You might surprise yourself with how well it turns out.

These are other sweets that you can freeze easily and reheat as needed. To reheat the manju, it’s best if you steam them. Otherwise, the outside may be too hard.

25. Japanese Matcha Green Tea Mille Crepe Cake

Looking for easy Japanese desserts that look like you spent hours crafting them? This cake features 28 layers of crepes made with matcha, making it look like an elegant and complicated dessert. It will only take you 20 minutes to prep this cake.

This recipe requires vegetable oil for the crepe batter. If you want a more decadent taste, try using melted butter instead. It should have the same consistency.

Tip: If you don’t want to make the Chantilly cream, you can use store-bought instead.

Japanese Desserts

25 Traditional Japanese Desserts

Yield: Servings: 12
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 21 minutes

This recipe for a Green Tea Mousse Cheesecake is divine. It has a delectable graham cracker crust and the perfect combination of sweet and bitter from the matcha powder. Here are quick directions to make this yummy treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 (4.8 oz) package graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 tbsps white sugar
  • 3 tbsps unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsps green tea powder (matcha)
  • ½ c warm water
  • 2 tbsps unflavored gelatin
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 c whipping cream
  • ½ c cold water
  • ½ c white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ c honey
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions

    1. You’ll need to mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a bowl as the first step. Then, pour the butter on top and mix until the crackers are moistened. Then, add the graham cracker mixture to the bottom of a cake pan lined with wax paper. Press down on the mixture until it’s evenly coating the bottom of the springform pan.
    2. Add the green tea powder to the warm water to make the filling. You'll need to add the gelatin powder to the cold water
    3. Add the cream and beat it in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar, vanilla, cream cheese, and honey, and then beat in another bowl. Then, mix in one egg at a time until well combined.
    4. Set aside. Place your bowl with gelatin in the microwave for about 45 seconds until the gelatin is melted. Add the gelatin and green tea mixture into the cream cheese bowl. Beat this mixture until well combined.
    5. Then, carefully fold the homemade whipped cream into this mixture. The mixture should be smooth before pouring into the cake pan. The cake will need to sit in the fridge for at least 7 hours before serving.
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