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25 Incredible Japanese Desserts That, IMO, Beat Just About Every Other Dessert Out There

They're typically not overly sweet — at least compared to some traditional American desserts — and many of them are easier to make than you think.

Japanese desserts are classic, versatile, and contain some of the most universally accessible recipes out there. (In fact, you may have already tried your hand at a few of these!)

They're typically not overly sweet — at least compared to some traditional American desserts — and many of them are easier to make than you think. From taiyaki and mille crepe cakes to purin and kasutera sponge cake, here are all the classic Japanese dessert recipes you should try at home. If I missed your favorite, leave it in the comments!

1. Matcha Roll Cake

No coffee break is complete without a slice of this matcha roll cake, which is light and delicate, and melts in your mouth. Don't be alarmed if you finish the entire roll in a day. 

Recipe: Matcha Roll Cake



2. Taiyaki

You might be aware of this dessert from its popular pairing with ice cream. Turns out, the fish-shaped pastry was served without ice cream for a very long time before the ice cream hybrid went viral. To make this recipe (which, to be clear, tastes nothing like fish), you'll need to get a taiyaki pan. Just consider it an investment into the funnest snack/party favor you'll want to show off for years to come. 

Recipe: Taiyaki

3. Fluffy Japanese Pancakes

If you're looking for the jiggliest, fluffiest pancakes in the world, you've come to the right place. You'll want a hand mixer to beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, but other than that, this recipe — and the best Sunday brunch ever — is yours for the taking. 

Recipe: Fluffy Japanese Pancakes



4. Dark Chocolate Terrine

Chocolate terrine is by origin a French flourless chocolate dessert that's become popular in the Japanese food world. This recipe uses mascarpone cheese in lieu of the usual cream. Since chocolate is the overpowering flavor, try to find an especially high-quality kind. 

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Terrine

5. Matcha Mille Crepe Cake

Don't worry: You won't need to make a thousand layers for this mille crepe cake. But you will need a lot of patience and an entire afternoon to carefully create and stack the layers of this gorgeous matcha dessert. 

Recipe: Matcha Mille Crepe Cake



6. Dorayaki

This pancake "sandwich" is traditionally made with sweet azuki bean paste, which is widely used across East Asian desserts. It's the perfect snack or sweet breakfast.

Recipe: Dorayaki

7. Kabocha Shiruko

This sweet porridge is made using kabocha, coconut milk, and condensed milk, and is swimming with firm but chewy rice dumplings (also known as shiratama). It's a comforting and not-too-sweet dessert that people of all ages can love. 

Recipe: Kabocha Shiruko



8. Purin

This recipe may call for just a few simple ingredients (eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla), but it does involve careful observation and timing so you don't overcook the egg mixture. You'll be rewarded with an elegant, tasty dessert that'll impress all your dinner guests.

Recipe: Purin

9. Kasutera Sponge Cake

Also known as Castella, this moist sponge cake is an essential pastry found in most East Asian bakeries, but especially Japanese ones. It's lightly sweetened with honey and sugar, and has a soft, pillowy texture you could really sink into.

Recipe: Kasutera Sponge Cake



10. Green Tea Mochi

Highly chewy and sticky, these mochi rice balls are fun to eat and even easier to make. Just mix together glutinous rice flour with sugar, green tea powder, and water to get the dough started. Then, flatten it out into equal circular shapes. Fill it with red bean paste, and pinch the ball closed to finish. Ta-da!

Recipe: Green Tea Mochi

11. Chakin Shibori Sweet Potato With Cinnamon

You'll need Japanese sweet potatoes for this dessert, but the result is a delicious, crumbly, dense dessert that you'd never guess uses potatoes as its base. 

RecipeChakin Shibori Sweet Potato With Cinnamon



12. Strawberry Shiratama Dango

Shiratama dango is a mochi dessert usually served in a bowl and drizzled with condensed milk or served with ice cream for flavor. Like most mochi recipes, it's straightforward to make, so don't be shy.

Recipe: Strawberry Shiratama Dango

13. Chocolate Cake Roll

As you might've realized, you can personalize Swiss cake rolls however you want, whether it's with matcha flavor, or, as in this version, double chocolate flavor.

Recipe: Chocolate Cake Roll



14. Matcha Pound Cake (Vegan)

Fun fact: Pound cake named as such because the original recipe called for one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. This recipe is vegan and replaces the butter and eggs for sesame oil and baking powder, but you'll still get the same soft, sweet bread you can enjoy all day long. And by the way, you can browse through all of Chef Ja Cooks' recipes for vegan takes to tons of classic Japanese recipes. 

Recipe: Matcha Pound Cake (Vegan)

15. Sweet Potato Yaki Mochi

These panfried sweet potato mochi totally redefine how to incorporate sweet potato into desserts, proving once again what a versatile vegetable it is. Oh potato, what can't you do?

Recipe: Sweet Potato Yaki Mochi



16. Strawberry Shortcake

A classic Japanese shortcake is made with airy sponge cake that pairs perfectly with fluffy whipped cream that just barely weighs down the cake. Use the freshest, ripest strawberries for the best result.

Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake

17. Sweet Black Sesame Soup

This might not be a soup in the traditional sense, but it does have all the makings of a nutty, sweet, and filling dessert. For an extra lil' something, feel free to top it with a few chewy mochi.  

Recipe: Sweet Black Sesame Soup



18. Shokupan (Milk Bread)

This is the pillow soft, not-too-sweet bread to end them all. And like most good breads, you'll need to commit at least a day to getting the perfect bread. But if you're a true bread aficionado, have you ever known a good bread that's not worth the wait?

Recipe: Shokupan (Milk Bread)

19. Matcha Tiramisu

You won't need any lady fingers for this tiramisu, but you will need a ready-made chocolate sponge cake that you can either buy or make at home. 

Recipe: Matcha Tiramisu



20. Candied Sweet Potatoes

Japanese sweet potatoes have such a caramelly taste that they're perfect on their own. This recipe levels them up with a glaze made of sugar and soy sauce. 

Recipe: Candied Sweet Potatoes

21. Cream Pan

For the best cream pan, make sure the ratio of cream to bread is at minimum, half and half. You won't regret it.

Recipe: Cream Pan



22. Melon Pan

This bakery mainstay might not taste like melon, but it's just as sweet and textured, with a crispy crust that makes every bite a delicious experience. 

Recipe: Melon Pan

23. Coffee Jelly

This refreshing treat can be purchased in many Japanese shops or whipped up at home with just a few ingredients. It's the perfect pick-me-up after a summer meal in the backyard.  

Recipe: Coffee Jelly



24. Fluffy Cheesecake

Unlike a dense American cheesecake, a Japanese cheesecake is known for its jiggly and airy texture, achieved by whipping eggs and baking it in the oven using a water bath. Serve with powdered sugar or some fresh berries on the side. 

Recipe: Fluffy Cheesecake

25. Mitarashi Dango

"Dango" come in several varieties, but always involve sweet rice dumplings. In this variation, they're served in a skewer and coated with a sweet soy glaze. 

Recipe: Mitarashi Dango

What's your favorite Japanese dessert? Share in the comments!



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