Home Desserts 22 Traditional Japanese Desserts

22 Traditional Japanese Desserts

by insanelygood
Matcha Cake with Red Beans and Rice Dumpling

Looking for some easy Japanese desserts? From dessert sushi to cookies to ice cream, these traditional treats are Japanese favorites.

While Japanese cuisine is more famed for its savory dishes – sushi, ramen, tempura – it also has a myriad of confections to offer.

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If you’re looking for something new to wow your family and friends, you’ve come to the right place!

Both a treat for the mouth and the eyes, these charming desserts are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Lighter than most American sweets, Japanese desserts, or wagashi, are the perfect palate cleanser after a heavy meal.

They’re also very simple, so making them is a breeze. With these easy peasy recipes, you can effortlessly take your family on a gastronomic trip to Japan. 

Meshiagare – enjoy your meal!

1. Banana Sushi 

This Japanese-inspired dessert combines bananas, chocolate, and pistachios to make one heavenly bite. It may not be authentic wagashi, but it sure is yummy.

Banana slices are covered with chocolate and crushed pistachios. It’s wonderfully sweet, chocolatey, and crunchy. 

Plus, just look how adorable they are. Be still, my heart!

Best of all, this sweet sushi only requires 3 ingredients and 15 minutes of your time.

Even the busiest moms and dads can whip up this fun and addictive treat any time. 

2. Purin 

Purin is the Japanese version of crème caramel. It’s rich, creamy, and impossible to resist.

Melt-in-your-mouth custard is oozing with a thick caramel glaze.

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Purin, flan, pudding, crème caramel – it doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s pure bliss.

That moment of sinking your spoon into this smooth purin gives me so much joy. 

I love how it’s coated with bittersweet caramel, as it contrasts the sweetness of the custard. 

Say goodbye to store-bought custard. This recipe is all you need. It’s very easy and yields the smoothest, creamiest purin you can ever ask for.

3. Coffee Jelly

Cubes of coffee-flavored jelly swimming in thick sweetened cream: that’s what I call the perfect combination.

Coffee jelly makes me happy. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out.

The slight bitterness of coffee plus the sweetness of the cream creates the perfect balance of flavors.

It’s sweet, but not too much that it’s overwhelming. That’s why it’s so addictive.

The consistency of the jelly is also outstanding. It’s firmer than usual, so it’s wonderfully bouncy and chewy.

The caffeine boost makes it an ideal afternoon snack. 

4. Green Tea Cookies 

Crisp and buttery with a distinct matcha flavor, green tea cookies are to die for!

Matcha, or green tea powder, has been used in Japanese cooking for ages, but its worldwide fame has only recently begun.

That bitter, powdery flavor may not be for everybody, but personally, I can’t get enough. If you’re a fan of matcha, these cookies are a must-try. 

The matcha-infused cookies are also loaded with white chocolate chips, giving you a harmonious balance between sweet and bitter. 

Apart from the flavor, the matcha also gives the cookies that pretty green hue, making them ideal for Christmas.

5. Green Tea Ice Cream 

Speaking of matcha, here’s another dessert that any matcha fan will fall in love with. Matcha ice cream is a sweet and refreshing way to end your meal.

This ice cream is subtly sweet with bitter and smoky undertones. It’s an excellent treat for those who can’t stand overly sweet and rich desserts! 

It’s also a cinch to make. It only calls for 4 ingredients and 5 minutes to make. There’s no churning necessary.

The only difficult part is waiting for it to freeze.

6. Rice Krispies Candy Sushi 

Here’s another sweet sushi: rice gummy candies and Rice Krispies topped wrapped in fruit roll-ups. 

How cute are these?! You can build them two-ways: maki-style with the gummy in the center; or nigiri-style, with the gummy on top.

Either way, they’re completely adorable.

Traditional sushi with raw fish is not normally a hit with the kids, but this sweet variety will be a landslide.

It’s sweet, chewy, crispy, and downright delicious. It’s every child’s dream dessert.

7. Japanese Red Bean Cake

Manju, or red bean cakes, are small, round, steamed cakes stuffed with anko.

Anko is a sweet filling made with red beans. The beans are cooked and mashed until it turns into a paste.

It’s smooth but has a mild coarseness to it, which adds to its charm.

Traditional manju calls for anko, but other fillings may also be used. 

8. Candied Sweet Potato

Daigaku Imo or candied sweet potatoes are a popular Japanese snack enjoyed in the fall and winter.

Deep-fried sweet potatoes are coated with caramel syrup to add sweetness. 

Crisp skin and creamy, tender flesh covered entirely with sweet and crunchy caramel. The contrast of flavor and texture makes it a joy to eat.

Fun fact: “daigaku imo,” loosely translated, means “university potato.”

See, back in the 1900s, sweet potatoes were sold for cheap, hence very popular in schools and universities. 

9. Raindrop Cake

Raindrop cake is a gorgeous, delicate cake that has swept the nation since its inception.

Created in 2014 by Kinseiken Seika Company, the cake is a spherical jelly-based dessert that looks exactly like a raindrop.

Its iconic look is achieved by combining mineral water and agar-agar. Since it’s basically water, the dessert has nearly zero calories.

10. Daifuku 

Daifuku, or mochi, is a classic Japanese dessert that’s popular all over the world.

In fact, when someone says Japanese dessert, more often than not, people will instantly think mochi!

Mochi is a small, sticky, round confection with a sweet filling. It gets its iconic chewy, gelatinous consistency from rice flour.

Anko, or red bean paste, is the most common filling, but shiroan, or white bean paste, is sometimes used as well.

Traditional mochi is a bit complicated to make, but this recipe a quick method that makes the process a lot easier.

11. Dorayaki 

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

Since it’s heavy, the sweet sandwich is more commonly eaten as a snack, rather than a dessert. 

Dora in Japanese means “gong.” Apart from the resemblance in shapes, legend has it that the first dorayaki was made by a farmer who used a gong to make pancakes.

The gong came from a visiting samurai who forgot to bring it with him upon leaving.

12. Green Tea Mochi 

The next Japanese confection is a variation on the classic mochi. 

Green tea mochi still has that wonderful sticky consistency we know and love.

The only difference is, it’s infused with matcha for more flavor and a pop of color. 

Filled with either red bean paste, ice cream, or strawberry, this mochi is sweet with a subtle hint of bitterness from the matcha.

Serve matcha mochi with a hot cup of tea for the perfect ending to your meal.

Don’t be intimidated, because mochi is easy to make. All you need is 15 minutes.

13. Barley Tea 

Muchiga, or barley tea, is a light and refreshing beverage served with ice. Unlike most teas, it’s caffeine-free, so it’s completely safe for kids. 

Barley has a wonderful aroma and a toasty flavor with a subtle bitterness. It’s also incredibly easy to prepare.

Just place a tea bag in a pitcher of water and refrigerate. It couldn’t get any easier than that. 

Apart from the aroma and flavor, here’s another reason you should consume barley on the daily: it’s crazy good for you.

It strengthens the immune system and aids with digestion and weight loss. 

14. Japanese Cheesecake

Another world-famous Japanese confection is Japanese cheesecake. Who hasn’t heard of this ultra-fluffy, airy, and jiggly cake?

Don’t be intimidated to make this cake from scratch, because it’s actually not that complicated.

The secret to its iconic consistency is whipping egg whites. If you’ve never beaten egg whites before, don’t worry, it’s so easy, it’s almost fool-proof.

Once you’ve got that covered, the batter is guaranteed to rise into a light and pillowy cheesecake. It’s so airy, it melts in your mouth. 

15. Matcha Pound Cake

Pound cake is a dense, rich, and buttery cake. It’s good on its own, but tastes even better with coffee.

But you know what else will add a special twist to the cake? 

A little matcha powder is all you need to transform it into a unique and flavorful dessert. That green hue looks spectacular, too! 

Pound cake is very easy to make. All you need are flour, sugar, butter, and eggs; and in this cake, a bit of matcha powder.

Plus, pound cake tastes better the longer it’s stored, so it’s a perfect make-ahead treat. Just wait until you try it on the third day! 

16. Souffle Pancakes

Unless you live under a rock, you have seen, heard of, or had this new trend at least once.

Souffle pancakes are another Japanese confection that rose to fame in recent years, and for good reason.

Just look at how thick and fluffy these pancakes are! Who wouldn’t want to have a bite of these cloud-like treats?

Seriously, whoever thought of combining souffle and pancakes is a genius.

Thankfully, souffle pancakes are easy enough to make every morning. Just like Japanese cake, what makes these pancakes so fluffy are egg whites.

Just whip them to stiff peaks and your cakes are guaranteed to fluff up.

17. Sesame Cookies

Rich, buttery, crisp, and nutty, black sesame cookies are insanely addictive! Looking for a new cookie recipe to try? This one’s for you.

Black sesame is popularly used in Japanese desserts. It’s rich, nutty, and smells fantastic!

Its contrasting sweet and salty flavors make the cookies incredibly addictive.

18. Anko

I’ve mentioned anko or red bean paste several times already, but how do you make it? This recipe tells you everything you need to whip up this sweet filing.

This versatile paste is used to flavor breads, ice cream, and other Japanese desserts.

While you can easily buy it in grocery stores, it couldn’t hurt to learn how to make it from scratch. Fortunately, it’s very simple. 

Fun fact: while it’s used to refer to sweet red bean paste, the word “anko” means differently.

Anko actually refers to any paste – sweet or savory – formed by boiling down ingredients.

19. Japanese Cake Roll

Japanese roll is a light and delicate cake you’ll want to eat all day.

The combination of soft pillowy cake, fluffy whipped cream, and fresh strawberries creates such a beautiful harmony in your mouth.

Mildly sweet and a little tart, both texture and flavor are spot on!

Whipped cream is normally achieved by whipping cream (no surprise there!). But in this recipe, you’ll use gelatin to stabilize the cake.

That way, the cream won’t lose its puffiness over time. 

20. Honey Toast

Crisp toast is coated with honey and topped with ice cream, mini Oreos, fresh strawberries, and chocolate chips.

Wow. Talk about a decadent dessert!

Honey toast hails from Shibuya, Tokyo, and has gained popularity in the past years. And why wouldn’t it?

Just imagine the explosion of textures and flavors, and you’ll understand why. 

Best of all, this scrumptious dessert only takes 15 minutes to prepare. It’s proof that not all crowd-pleasers require hours of labor.

21. Mizu Yokan

A jelly-based dessert flavored with red azuki beans, mizu yokan is a wonderfully light and refreshing treat. 

Giving the mizu yokan its signature gelatinous consistency is agar.

Sweetened with a bit of sugar and red bean paste, it’s a mild dessert that’s perfect for cleansing your palate.

Yokan is a generic term that refers to jelly desserts.

Mizu yokan is a type of yokan that contains more water, making it lighter and more refreshing than usual.

22. Miso Butter Cookies

Cookies flavored with miso? It sounds strange, but boy, is it good.

It’s so soft, it almost melts in your mouth. That’s what you can expect from these miso butter cookies.

As for the flavor? It’s so rich and buttery!

The miso, or fermented soy beans, add such a wonderful contrast of saltiness to the otherwise purely sweet cookies.

22 Traditional Japanese Desserts

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Japanese Desserts

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