The Lazy Cook’s Homemade Mochi: A Soft and Chewy Confection

Are you on the mochi train?

Vertical image of squares and a stack of green mochi, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

If not, you should be! This soft and chewy Japanese confection is addictively fun to eat, with a unique texture that delights with every bite.

And you can make it at home with my lazy cook’s version. Made in the microwave. Don’t judge me.

I’m too impatient to wait for dessert! A delicious sweet treat is just minutes away!

But before diving into the recipe, learn a little more about it:

What Exactly Is it?

Pronounced “MOH-chee,” mochi is a super soft, sweet rice dough confection popular in Japanese cuisine.

It is made out of glutinous sweet rice flour mixed together with sugar, water, and other optional flavorings.

Vertical image of bites of mochi, some on a dark slate.

Similar to wheat gluten, the proteins in glutinous sweet rice flour develop elasticity when heated and manipulated. The initially sticky mixture dries and hardens just slightly as it cools, creating a soft, stretchy dough.

The mochi can then be eaten on its own, or used as a wrap for other ingredients like ice cream or sweet pastes.

What Does It Taste Like?

Mochi is all about the texture! Tender, chewy, elastic – it will remind you of a very soft, almost melt-in-your-mouth gummy candy.

It doesn’t really have its own defined taste, unless the dough is flavored.

And believe me, there are tons of flavors to try!

Vertical image of a stack of three circular mochi surrounded by squares of the same food item.

Walk into any Asian grocery store, and you’ll see shelves of a variety of flavors.

On its own, it can range in flavor from taro, sesame seed, vanilla, and green tea to red bean or assorted fruits.

Stuffed mochi desserts are also available, virtually in the same range of flavors with sweet, chewy fillings.

I’ve even seen mochi wrapped around bits of cookie dough. Crazy delicious idea.

But the real star of the show is the mochi ball ice cream. I’m sure you’ve seen these!

Vertical top down image of a mound of square mochi pieces on a gray plate over a gray towel.

Small balls of ice cream or sherbet are wrapped inside a small piece of the dough. It’s a frozen delight that has been popularized by many large grocery store chains, with some featuring a mochi ball ice cream bar where you can choose your own flavors.

Strawberry, red velvet cake, coconut chocolate, orange cream – I’ve tried them all, and I love every single one.

And we’ll provide you with our own homemade mochi ball ice cream recipe, coming soon on Foodal!

Can I Make It At Home?

Absolutely! It’s easy!

Vertical image of an ice cream dish topped with green squares of mochi, with a gray napkin in the background.

There are a few different styles of making mochi (no worries, we’ll do the easy one!).

One traditional method, considered a ceremony in Japan, is called mochitsuki. While a popular ritual to celebrate the New Year, it can be prepared this way year round.

With this style, the dough is made by repeatedly pounding steamed sticky rice, called mochigome, with other ingredients. The continual pounding helps develop a perfectly smooth, soft, elastic, and chewy texture.

But with my lazy cook’s version, this vegan and gluten-free treat is actually very simple to make!

Vertical image of mochi squares and circles, with a bite taken out of one of them.

Rather than steaming and pounding rice, you can use a glutinous sweet rice flour (available at most Asian grocery markets) to quicken the process.

After mixing all of the ingredients together, you simply microwave the wet mixture for a few minutes until it thickens, roll it out, cut it, and eat it!

Print
Horizontal image of a gray plate with mini mochi.

Gluten-Free and Vegan Homemade Mochi


  • Author: Nikki Cervone
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 minutes
  • Yield: about 2 cups of small mochi pieces 1x

Description

Mochi is a soft and chewy Japanese confection with a fun, unique texture that delights with every bite.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sweet rice glutinous flour
  • 1/4 cup vegan granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon matcha powder (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the rice flour, granulated sugar, salt, and optional matcha powder in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Slowly whisk in the water until completely incorporated and a thick, runny batter forms.
  2. Tightly cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for about 3 – 3 1/2 minutes, carefully removing from the microwave every thirty seconds to thoroughly stir and re-distribute the dough. The dough will be very hot as you stir, and will thicken significantly.
  3. Spread half of the cornstarch on a clean work surface. Working quickly and carefully, use a sturdy spoon or spatula to carefully remove the dough from the bowl and place on the prepared work surface. The dough will still be a little warm. Cover your hands in cornstarch and lightly stretch out the mochi to the desired thickness, applying more cornstarch if it gets too sticky. Let sit to cool completely at room temperature.
  4. With a knife or cookie cutter dusted with cornstarch, cut the mochi into your desired shapes, applying more cornstarch to the exposed sides.
  5. After creating the shapes, place the mochi in a strainer and shake to remove all of the excess cornstarch.
  6. The mochi is ready to serve immediately. It is best eaten the day of making. For short-term storage, store the mochi in a single layer in an airtight container at room temperature for one day.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Microwave
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Keywords: Japanese, dessert, candy, confection, rice, gluten-free, vegan

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Whisk Together Dry Ingredients

Horizontal image of a light green dry mixture in a white bowl stirred with a whisk.

Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, salt, and matcha powder in a large microwave-safe bowl.

The matcha powder provides a subtle taste, and light green color. It is totally optional – you can prepare this dough without any flavorings.

Step 2 – Add the Water

Horizontal image of a white bowl with a liquid green mixture and a whisk.

Slowly pour the water into the dry ingredient mixture, whisking constantly until it is completely incorporated. The mixture will look like a slightly thick, runny batter.

Step 3 – Cover and Microwave

Horizontal image of a white bowl with a green liquid mixture covered by plastic wrap.

Careful with this step! The dough will be very hot once it’s heated.

Tightly cover the bowl with a layer of plastic wrap. This will help to steam the dough as it is cooking, keeping it moist and preventing it from drying out.

Horizontal image of a white bowl stirring a sticky green dough on top of a gray towel.

Microwave on high for 3 – 3 1/2 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave. Remove the bowl very carefully from the microwave every 30 seconds to thoroughly stir the mixture, putting the plastic wrap back on the bowl every time. Again, the dough will be hot!

Horizontal image of a spatula mixing a very stick green dough.

The batter will thicken significantly, turning into a thick, sticky dough once it has been heated.

Stirring so often will help to re-distribute the dough, and will help to develop the gluten structure to get the best elasticity and chew.

Step 4 – Press Out

Horizontal image of a green dough on a marble board dusted with cornstarch.

You want to work quickly while the dough is still warm and still very pliable to roll – once it begins cooling down, it will be more difficult to shape.

Spread half of the cornstarch on a clean work surface. Using a spatula, remove the dough from the bowl and place on the prepared work surface.

Cover your hands in cornstarch and lightly stretch out the dough to the desired thickness (I’ve done about 1/4 inch thick here), applying more cornstarch if it gets too sticky.

Step 5 – Cut

Horizontal image of cutting a mound of mochi with a knife on a dusted white marble board.
Get out your Made In chef’s knife – it’s portioning time!

How do you want to shape your dough? This is the step where you decide what to do!

With a knife or cookie cutter dusted with cornstarch, cut into your desired shapes, applying more cornstarch to the exposed sides.

For a garnish on ice cream, cut them in very small cubes. For a standalone dessert, use a small cookie cutter.

Just be sure to keep your cutting utensil dusted with cornstarch to prevent sticking!

Step 6 – Remove Excess Cornstarch

Horizontal image of sifting green cubes in a sifter.

Place all the mochi in a sifter. Shake the sifter generously to remove any excess cornstarch.

Step 7 – Serve

Horizontal image of a gray plate with mini mochi.

You can serve the mochi immediately. It will cool and set quickly!

It is best eaten the day of making. For short-term storage purposes, place them in an airtight container in a single layer, and store at room temperature for one day.

Endless Applications

There really are so many ways to use mochi as a delectable dessert!

Horizontal image of a stack of three circular mochi desserts on a gray plate.

Serve on its own, as a garnish over ice cream and sherbet, or wrapped around ice cream – all applications will be sweet, tasty, and deliciously unique.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity for all of you to try this fun confection in your own kitchens! How do you think you’ll flavor it, and use it for the first time? Send your ideas my way by leaving a message in the comments below!

Looking for more bite-sized treats and confections? Try these recipes:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is a hungry foodie living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she is not tearing through her city's best cheesesteaks, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

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