Looking for Japanese desserts? This is your ultimate dessert list for must-try Japanese dishes!
As a travelling foodie, I love trying the local cuisine and traditional desserts when visiting destinations.
Although Japanese cuisine is less known for their desserts compared to their food, they have a variety of delicious treats in their dessert arsenal.
Japanese desserts are quite different than other countries’ desserts!
Fun fact: There is one dessert in this list that I ate almost everyday during my trip to Japan!
A popular category of traditional Japanese desserts is Wagashi, which are tea-time confections that tend to be organic and uses fruits, nuts, sweet azuki bean paste (anko) and mochi (sticky rice cakes).
This guide will give you a tour of popular and traditional Japanese desserts for your trip to Japan, when visiting Japanese restaurants, or if you want to make them at home.
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Traditional Japanese Desserts
After having some delicious Japanese food, it’s time for desserts!
Here are 9 popular and traditional Japanese desserts you must try, listed in alphabetical order.
Dating back to the early 1860s, Amanattō (甘納豆) was created when sugar became readily available in Japan.
This traditional Japanese dessert is beans, commonly azuki or black soybeans, boiled with sugar syrup and dried and coated with sugar.
These Japanese sweet beans are a popular tea-time snack for the older Japanese people especially in retirement homes.
Anmitsu (あんみつ) is the Japanese version of parfait of kanten jelly, anko, mochi, red endo mame peas, fruits (like peaches, pineapples, cherries, Japanese satsuma orange) and drizzled with brown sugar syrup.
This traditional Japanese dessert uses agar that’s melted into water or fruit juice to make small cubes of agar-agar jelly.
Anmitsu is served sweet and cold in a bowl, making it a popular summer wagashi in Japan.
Dango (団子) is a traditional Japanese rice dumpling made from mochiko, a Japanese sweet rice flour similar to traditional mochi.
Three to five rice dumpling balls are typically skewered on a bamboo stick.
This popular Japanese street food is available year-round with seasonal variations.
The most famous variation is the mitarashi dango, which is made of white dumpling balls coated in a sweet soy syrup for a sweet and savoury combination.
Dango is one of the most popular Japanese desserts that people can identify because of its iconic emoji. 🍡
The emoji features the Hanami Dango, which has three dumplings, each with a different colour:
- Pink symbolizing peach flowers in Spring
- White symbolizing snow
- Green symbolizing leaves and new growth
One of the most popular Japanese desserts, Daifuku is also a wagashi dessert.
Literally a filled mochi, Daifuki is a small mochi ball with a sweet filling, commonly anko.
You’ll often find these mochi balls dusted in corn or potato starch so they don’t stick together.
This traditional Japanese dessert has many variations based on their filling:
- Mugwort (Yomogi daifuku)
- Sweetened Japanese apricot (Ume daifuku)
- Ice Cream
- Strawberries and Anko/Sweet Cream (Ichigo daifuku)
Dorayaki (どら焼き) is a type of Japanese confection (wagashi) consisting of two small pancake-shaped castella cake with a sweet filling (like azuki bean paste) between the patties.
This traditional Japanese dessert got popularized by hit anime and manga character, Doraemon, whose favourite food is Dorayaki.
They even sell Doraemon Dorayaki Pancake with Red Bean Paste on Amazon here.
The sweet-filled pancakes is also a popular Japanese snack because it can be quite filling.
Similar to Taiyaki, it has variations based on its filling:
- Custard Cream
- Fruits like Strawberries and Blueberries
The Japanese cheesecake is Japan’s version of American cheesecake.
This traditional Japanese dessert became popular worldwide with the expansion of Uncle Tetsu, a famous cake shop in Japan specializing in Japanese cheesecakes.
These soufflé-style cheesecakes are softer, lighter and less sweet compared to the dense and sweet Western cheesecakes because it uses less sugar and cheese.
Melonpan (メロンパン) is a type of kashi-pan, or Japanese sweet bun, originating from and popular in Japan, as well as in Taiwan and China.
This traditional Japanese dessert is made from an enriched dough with a layer of crisp cookie dough on top that has a grid-like pattern resembling a melon.
Though it’s called Melonpan and is made to look like a melon on top, it traditionally does not have any melon flavour.
It’s also not the same as Hong Kong’s pineapple bun.
Much like Dorayaki and Tayaki, you can find variations of Melonpan with different fillings nowadays.
A variation of Melonpan stuffed with actual slices of melon or melon cream is becoming popular.
This traditional Japanese dessert is a chewy and fluffy donut, which uses two key ingredients: glutinous rice flour and silken tofu.
Mochi Donuts (ポンデリング) are also called Pon De Ring because of its signature appearance: eight dough balls connected in a circle, which makes it very Instagrammable.
Though it was invented in Hawaii, Mochi Donuts was made popular by Mister Donut, Japan’s largest donut chain.
You can easily find them across Japan.
Aside from Mister Donut, you can find them at most convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Lawson.
I was addicted to mochi donuts on my trip to Japan, and tried to eat at least one Mochi Donut a day!
Taiyaki is one of the most popular Japanese desserts due to its iconic fish shape.
Did you know? The name Taiyaki comes from the fish Tai (red sea bream) to which it is molded after because it is a symbol of luck and fortune in Japan.
This popular street food in Japan can be found everywhere from food stalls and the streets to festivals and grocery stores.
Taiyaki is made of pancake batter poured into a fish mold, usually with a sweet filling.
Like most Japanese desserts like daifuku, Taiyaki has variations based on its filling:
- Sweet potato
- Ice Cream
- Savoury varieties can also be found with fillings like sausage and cheese.
VIDEO: How To Make Mesmerizing Japanese Desserts
Watch how to make mesmerizing Japanese desserts!
This awesome video from Tasty includes some of the Japanese sweet treats covered in this guide.
Have you tried all of these traditional Japanese desserts?
Japanese desserts are so different from usual sweet treats in other countries.
You can typically enjoy more of them, knowing they are a bit healthier!