25 Must-Try Japanese Desserts: Old and New

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases

Japanese desserts are an adventure on a plate with traditional and modern sweets, puddings, cakes and other treats that will delight your taste buds.

Must-Try Japanese Desserts
Most delicious Japanese desserts

Got a large mug of green tea?

Sip your matcha as you browse 25 must-try Japanese desserts.

1. Castella cake 

Castella cake is a distinctly Japanese moist sponge cake that has a light sweetness and is enjoyed with green tea.

It has been enjoyed in Japan for over 400 years after being introduced to the island by Portuguese missionaries.

Fukusaya Castella, founded in 1624, is one of the oldest producers of this cake.

2. Sata andagi

These mouthful-sized deep-fried doughnuts are an Okinawan specialty.

You’ll find them served across the island with different varieties like black sugar, beni imo (sweet potato), and moreish chocolate.

The black sugar sata andagi are particularly popular because they use unrefined sugar from Okinawa that has a rich caramel taste. 

3. Anmitsu

Anmitsu is a traditional Japanese sweet made with anko (red bean paste) and agar.

Chewy cubes of this delicious dessert are served with ice cream, dainagon, fruits, and other treats.

4. Coffee jelly

Coffee jelly is a Japanese national favorite that anyone can prepare and enjoy.

The Japanese make it by combining decent sweetened black coffee with sugar and gelatin.

Refrigerate to set and then cut the jelly into chunks and serve it with cream.

5. Daifuku

This special type of wagashi is a special type of mochi (rice cake), that is filled with flavored red bean paste.

These fruit mochi are presented with a string that is used to cut them open, revealing the 

6. Dango

Dango is a classic Japanese dumpling that is made from uruchi and glutinous rice flour.

You’ll find these served as street food throughout Japan.

They are usually served on a skewer with a sticky syrup, or presented with green tea.

7. Raindrop cake

This fascinating Japanese dessert has become world-famous because it is so unusual!

Its traditional name is Mizu Shingen Mochi and it is a completely transparent dessert with a water-like texture.

Raindrop cake is made with mineral water, agar, and Yuzu flavoring. It is served with kinako roasted soybean flour and brown sugar!

8. Mochi

Mochi is a traditional chewy Japanese rice cake made from mochigome short-grain glutinous japonica rice.

These rice cakes can be filled with bean paste or even ice cream in more modern versions.

9. Nerikiri 

Nerikiri is a type of wagashi that is made from sweetened glutinous rice flour, and Shiro-an, a white bean paste.

10. Cherry Blossom Milk Pudding

This fragrant milk pudding is a highlight of the sakura season in Japan as it is decorated with fresh cherry blossoms.

FYI: it does not taste like cherry, just milk. 

11. Dorayaki

Dorayaki was invented by the famous confectioner Usagiya in Tokyo in the early 20th century.

It is a pancake sandwich filled with a sweet azuki bean paste.

12. Oshiruko

Oshiruko or Zenzai (ぜんざい) is a sweet dessert soup that is made from adzuki beans.

It is enjoyed hot with mochi or dango on the side. 

13. Tokyo Banana

You’ve not been to Tokyo if you haven’t brought home a Tokyo banana.

This tasty banana-shaped sponge with rich cream filling is an official souvenir of Tokyo. There are all sorts of flavors and special editions to collect. 

14. Byakuya 

Byakuya is the world’s most expensive ice cream, costing $6,696 per serving!

The high price tag comes from its ingredients which include white truffles from Alba in Italy, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese; and sake lees (pressed leftovers from sake production)

15. Senbei

Senbei are traditional Japanese rice crackers that come in a range of shapes and formats. They can have a sweet or savory flavor. 

16. Kit Kat

Did you know that Japan has its own version of the Kit Kat. Learn more in my article ‘Why Does Japan Have So Many More Kit Kat Flavors?’.

17. Amezaiku

Amezaiku (飴細工) is the Japanese craft of making art from sugar candy.

Detailed sculptures can be made from candy and finished with edible dyes to create a life-like model.

The starchy syrup used to make these models is heated and molded, using pinching, tweezers, and other implements.

18. Matcha ice cream

Matcha ice cream is another international hit! After the matcha latte, it made sense to combine strong green tea powder with ice cream for a refreshing dessert with kick!

Matcha ice cream is available in a variety of formats including soft-serve, lollies, or ice cream sandwiches and mochi. 

19. Hakuto jelly

Hakuto jelly is a Japanese summer dessert made from ripe hakuto peaches from Okayama.

The peach pulp is blended with spring water to create a smooth desert with a light taste. The whole jelly can be eaten with a spoon or cut into cubes.

20. Anpan

Anpan is a sweet bread roll that is filled with bean paste and topped with sesame or chopped chestnuts.

This dessert became popular in Japan in the 19th century after it was served to the Meiji Emperor who loved it! You’ll find these taste red bean buns everywhere 

21. Chinsuko

Chinsuko is a traditional Okinawa shortbread that has been enjoyed since the times of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

They are a popular Okinawa souvenir and are made of flour, lard, and sugar.

22. Imagawayaki

Imagawayaki is a type of traditional Japanese sweet that is made from a batter that is filled with red, white, or black bean paste.

It is chewy and moreish, especially if you get your hands on them when they are fresh. Imagawayaki is also popular in Korea and Taiwan.

23. Melonpan

These sweet buns with distinctive criss-cross patterns across their surface are called ‘melonpan’ because of their similarity to a rockmelon.

Some are filled with custard, which contrasts beautifully with the cookie-like crust. 

24. Momiji manjū

Momiji manjū is a taste of fall. These buckwheat and rice cakes are filled with sweet red bean paste and shaped like a maple leaf.

These sweets originate in Hiroshima Prefecture and are most delicious when eaten warm. 

25. Purin

If you enjoy European creme caramel, you’ll love the delicious taste of purin, which is literally a cold custard pudding that is served with a layer of caramel.

Most Japanese families will know how to make and serve purin to neighbors and friends. 

Rounding Up

Browsing these delicious Japanese desserts brings back awesome memories of Japan.

Sweet treats are something that everyone can agree on and as you explore the country, take the time to enjoy the delicious desserts that are served right across Japan.

For me, the best desserts are the fusion desserts like ice cream mochi balls that combine old and new Japanese desserts. 

About the author

Latest Posts