22 Traditional Japanese Desserts To Enjoy at Home

Purin, Japanese cheesecake, matcha, and even raindrop cake and dessert sushi, these traditional Japanese desserts are not only delicious and inventive, but easy to make too. 

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You may associate Japanese cuisine with savory dishes such as ramen, sushi, and tempura, but Japanese cuisine is filled with mouth-watering and innovative desserts that the rest of the world is finally catching onto.

Plus, Japanese desserts (or wagashi) tend to be lighter than most traditional American desserts, and more refreshing. Some of these desserts are dainty enough to be perfect palate cleansers.

Just as lovely to look at as they are to eat, these delightful desserts are sure to put a smile on your face and inspire you. 

So, as they say in Japan, Meshiagare (enjoy your meal!)

Purin: A Japanese Custard Pudding from The Spruce Eats

The Japanese version of crème caramel, Purin is rich, creamy, and irresistible! The custard melts in your mouth, and is oozing with a thick, bittersweet caramel glaze that perfectly complements the sweet custard.

 There's nothing like sinking your spoon into smooth Purin! 

What’s more, it’s easy to make too. Once you try Purin you’ll never go back to store bought custard. 

Coffee Jelly from Just One Cookbook

How does coffee-flavored jelly cubes floating in thick, sweetened cream sound? Mouth-watering? Delicious? Yeah, we think so too. 

The coffee is slightly bitter, and alongside the sweet cream you get a perfectly balanced dessert. 

As well as not being overwhelmingly sweet, the jelly also has a nice consistency that’s firmer than usual, making it deliciously bouncy and chewy. We’ll bet it’s the most fun dessert you’ll eat in a while!

Coffee jelly is not just popular in Japan, but other Asian countries too. It’s usually made of black coffee, gelatin powder, and sugar, but this recipe is vegetarian friendly so uses agar agar powder instead. 

It can be served solid in glass dishes, or it can be served in a bowl by pouring the coffee mixture into a baking pan and cutting them into cubes. 

In Japan, these almost translucent coffee cubes are added to milkshakes, ice cream floats, or sundaes for extra flavor and texture. You can also serve it with whipped cream on top, or with a few tablespoons of half & half to make it healthier. 

Green Tea Ice Cream (Matcha Aisu) from Japan Centre

Looking for a refreshing dessert? Look no further than green tea (matcha) ice cream! It’s perfect for those who don’t have much of a sweet tooth, as the ice cream is subtly sweet with smoky, and bitter notes. 

Matcha is one of the four most popular ice cream flavors in Japan, and is widely available throughout East Asia. It isn’t so prevalent in Western countries yet, but this green tea ice cream is sure to impress your friends and family and broaden their culinary horizons!

Matcha Cookies from Living on Cookies

Continuing with the matcha theme, these matcha cookies are crisp, buttery, and with an unmistakable matcha flavor. 

Matcha or green tea powder has been a part of Japanese cuisine for years, but has only recently been given the appreciation it deserves in the rest of the world. 

It’s bitter, powdery flavor may not be for everyone, but these soft and thick matcha cookies perfectly balance the flavor of matcha green tea and vanilla. 

There are also numerous health benefits to matcha. They can stimulate your metabolism, stabilise your mood, boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and even protect against cancer. 

This recipe has chopped pistachios in the dough, but you can swap out the pistachios for chopped walnuts or white chocolate chunks to complement the matcha flavor too.

Rice Krispy Treat Sushi from Tasty Oven

This adorable dessert can be assembled two ways. You can either go maki-style with the gummy in the middle, or nigri-style with the gummy on top. Either way, they’re going to look super kawaii!

The beauty of Rice Krispy Treat Sushi is how kid-friendly they are. Let’s be honest, very rarely is sushi a hit with children (at least children who don’t regularly eat Japanese food), but these sweet, fun treats are sure to go down a storm. It’s also one of the easiest candy sushi recipes to make.

Making Rice Krispy Sushi not only encourages kids to get into the kitchen and make their own recipes, it’s a fun way to introduce them to cooking and Japanese cuisine! Yes, it’s very sugary but a great treat every now and then.

Candied Sweet Potato from Just One Cookbook

Enjoyed mainly in the fall and winter, Daigaku Imo or candied sweet potatoes are a popular snack in Japan.

Japanese sweet potatoes (or Satsumaimo) have a beautiful, creamy yellow flesh on the inside, and burgundy skin.

To add sweetness, deep-fried sweet potatoes are coated with caramel syrup. The contrast of sweet and crunchy caramel with a crisp skin and creamy, soft flesh makes candied sweet potato a delight. They go great with a cup of green tea!

Daigaku Imo loosely translates into ‘university potato.’ This name comes from the fact that sweet potatoes were very cheap in the 1900s, so were very popular in schools and universities.

You can find Japanese sweet potatoes at Japanese grocery stores, Chinese or Korean grocery stores, local farmers markets, or even Trader Joe’s during the fall and winter months. 

Raindrop Cake from Kirbie’s Cravings

Created in 2014 by Kinseiken Seika Company, a raindrop cake is a spherical, jelly-based dessert that looks exactly like - you guessed it - a raindrop. Needless to say, it’s an absolutely beautiful, delicate cake that took Japan by storm. 

The raindrop cake is actually inspired by another Japanese dessert called Mizu Shingen Mochi, and was introduced to the US by Chef Darren Wong at the restaurant Smorgasburg, in New York. This captivating dessert has grown in popularity ever since. 

It’s breathtaking look is achieved by combining mineral water and agar agar. Plus, since the dessert is basically water, it has zero calories. The non-existent calorie content is apparently what makes it so popular in Japan.

While the raindrop cake gets its name from its appearance, it’s also aptly named for its taste. When you bite in, the dessert dissolves in your mouth and takes you back to being a kid in a rainstorm, lifting your head to the sky, mouth open wide, and catching raindrops on your tongue. 

The dessert is of course very fragile, and can only hold its form for about 30 minutes. 

While this cake is beautiful, the flavor is extremely mild and practically non-existent. It needs to be paired with something else to give it flavor. This recipe is paired with roasted soy bean flour (kinako) and black sugar syrup (kuromitsu) that adds sweetness and some texture. This makes for an enjoyable, refreshing dessert. 

Easy Green Tea Mochi from Izzy Cooking

A twist on classic mochi, green tea mochi still has the wonderful, sticky consistency you’d expect from mochi, but infusing it with matcha dials up the flavor and gives it a pop of color.

Traditional mochi fillings include red bean paste, strawberry, or ice cream. But this mochi is filled with matcha that gives it a hint of bitterness.  

Mochi only takes about 15 minutes to make and is incredibly easy. Serve this matcha mochi with a cup of tea at the end of a meal.

Roasted Barley Tea (Mugicha) from Foodie Baker

Barley tea (or Muchiga), is a light and refreshing beverage served with ice. It’s also caffeine-free, so is kid-friendly. 

Barley has a lovely aroma and a toasty, subtly bitter flavor. This tea is also easy to make, all you need to do is place a tea bag in a pitcher of water and refrigerate. Simple!

Besides having an irresistible aroma and flavor, another reason to enjoy this tea is that it’s incredibly good for you. It not only helps with digestion and weight loss, but strengthens your immune system. 

While barely tea is called Mugicha in Japan, it’s known as Boricha in Korea. In Japan, cooling barley tea is usually enjoyed during the summer, but in Korea they enjoy it all year round.

Japanese Cheesecake Simplified from Bigger Bolder Baking

Japanese cheesecake is airy, jiggly, and super fluffy. No wonder it’s much loved all around the world!

Japanese bakers took the cheesecake and somehow made it even better. In Japan, it’s sometimes known as ‘Japanese cotton cheesecake’ or ‘jiggly cheesecake’ and has the same tangy sweetness of American cheesecake, but an ultra-fluffy texture and wobbliness reminiscent of a custard.

This dessert is not too hard to make from scratch either. To achieve its famous consistency, you need to whip egg whites. If you’ve never whipped egg whites before, don’t worry, it’s easy-peasy!

Once that is covered, your batter will rise into a light and pillowy cheesecake that’s melt-in-your-mouth levels of airy.

Japanese Souffle Pancakes from Kirbie’s Cravings

Japanese souffle pancakes are all the rage at the moment, gaining popularity a few years ago with good reason. 

They’re thick and fluffy pancakes, and who doesn’t love those? Their cloud-like consistency is enough to make your mouth water and have you grabbing for the nearest fork!

We don’t know who thought of combining souffle and pancakes, but we would like to personally thank them. 

Although you may see ‘souffle’ in the title and panic, there really is no need! They’re super easy to whip up for a decadent breakfast. Just like Japanese cheesecake, the secret to these fluffy pancakes are egg whites. Just whip them to stiff peaks and the pancakes are sure to fluff up.

Japanese Cake Rolls from Rice ‘n Flour

Japanese cake rolls are a light, delicate cake you’ll want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! 

The soft, pillowy cake, fluffy whipped cream, clementines, and fresh strawberries is an absolutely heavenly combination. It’s not too sweet and a little tart, making one well-balanced dessert.

Honey Toast from Chopsticks Chronicles

This may be the most indulgent dessert you ever eat: crisp toast, coated with honey and topped with ice cream, fresh strawberries, chocolate chips, and mini Oreos. 

Honey toast was first made in Shibuya, Tokyo, and has only grown in popularity in recent years, and with those mouth-watering ingredients, it’s easy to see why. 

And what’s even better than that riot of flavor and texture? The fact that it only takes 15 minutes to make. Crowd-pleaser, indeed! 

Miso Butter Cookies from Just One Cookbook

We get it. You may not be on board yet with cookies flavored with miso, but trust us, it’s so good! 

They’re soft enough to melt in your mouth, and have a beautiful rich, buttery flavor.

Plus, the miso, or fermented soy beans, wonderfully offset the sweet cookies with much-needed saltiness. 

Mizu Yokan from The Spruce Eats

Flavored with red azuki beans, mizu yokan is a jelly-based dessert that is wonderfully light and refreshing. 

Yokan is actually a generic term that refers to jelly desserts. Mizu Yokan is a type of yokan that has more water, which makes it especially light and refreshing.

The key to the gelatinous consistency of mizu yokan is agar. It’s a perfect palate cleanser, sweetened with a touch of sugar and red bean paste.

Dorayaki from Chopstick Chronicles

Dorayaki is two small pancakes stuffed with red bean paste and is rich and filling.

Because it is rather heavy, this sweet sandwich is enjoyed more as a snack on its own, rather than as a dessert.

Dora is Japanese for ‘gong.’ While it does resemble a gong, apparently the name is derived from a legend regarding the first Dorayaki made by a farmer who used a gong to make pancakes. The gong was given to him by a visiting samurai, who forgot to take it with him when he left.

Daifuku Mochi from Wander Cooks

Popular all over the world, Daifuku, or mochi, is a classic Japanese dessert. In fact, we bet when you hear ‘Japanese dessert’ mochi is the first thing that pops into your head!

Mochi is a small, round sticky confection with a sweet filling (we’ve already seen matcha filled mochi on this list). Rice flour is what gives mochi its famous, chewy, gelatinous consistency. 

While anko or red bean paste is the most common filling, shiroan, or white bean paste, is often used too. 

Anko from All Recipes

You may have noticed that a few of these recipes contain anko or red bean paste, but you may be wondering how you make it.

This recipe tells you exactly how to make this sweet filling. 

Anko is an incredibly versatile paste that is used to flavor breads, ice cream, and other Japanese desserts, and while you may be able to find it in grocery stores, knowing how to make it from scratch is sure to come in handy. Plus, it’s simple to make. 

While it’s used to refer to sweet red bean paste, anko actually doesn’t mean ‘red bean paste.’ Anko refers to any paste, sweet or savory, that is made from boiling down ingredients.

Sesame Cookies from Just One Cookbook

If you’re in need of a new cookie recipe, why not try sesame cookies? They're rich, buttery, crispy, nutty, and not to mention irresistible. 

Black sesame is a common ingredient in Japanese desserts, most notably in ice cream. This is because it’s nutty, rich, and has a wonderful aroma. 

What makes these cookies so mouth-watering and impossible to resist is the contrasting sweet and salty flavors.

Most Delicious Matcha Pound Cake from Sift and Simmer

Pound cake is a buttery, rich, dense cake that can be enjoyed on its own, but is even better with coffee. But matcha powder adds a special, Japanese twist.

Not only does the matcha powder transform the humble pound cake into a unique, tasty dessert, but it’s green hue is absolutely stunning. 

Pound cake is incredibly easy to make, only requiring flour, sugar, butter, eggs and - in this case - some matcha powder.

Pound cake is the ideal dessert to make ahead of time, as it tastes better the longer it’s stored. Bake it and leave it for a couple of days. The hardest part will be resisting the temptation to just eat it straight away! 

Japanese Red Bean Cake from The Spruce Eats

Red bean cakes are also known as Manju and are small, round, steamed cakes stuffed with anko. 

The red beans are cooked and mashed until they become a smooth paste with a mild coarseness to it, which is what makes it such an interesting texture.

But while traditional Manju calls for anko, other fillings can also be used.

Banana Sushi from My Fussy Eater

Combining banana, chocolate, chia seeds, coconut, and rice krispies, this Japanese-inspired dessert is absolutely divine! 

Okay, so it’s not traditional wagashi, but it’s still delicious and super fun. 

The banana slices are covered in chocolate and a host of crunchy toppings to make a wonderfully crunchy, chocolatey, and sweet dessert.

If you’re not a fan of chocolate, you can swap it out for peanut butter.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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