How to Make Mochi

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

When most Americans think of cake, they usually think of wheat flour, eggs, and chocolate frosting. However, there is one variety of cake that is a staple in Japanese culture: mochi, also known as sticky rice cake.

Mochi can be sweet or savory and is used in a variety of dishes, including dango (mochi skewered and served with sauce), Daifuku (round mochi stuffed with red bean paste) and various types of soup.

Mochi originated in Japan’s Heian period (794-1185 AD). Japanese farmers would take pieces of mochi to eat while working the fields, and samurai took mochi to battle because it was easy to carry and prepare. The sound of samurai pounding mochi was a sign they were about to go into battle.

Which brings us to the making of the sweet treat. Mochi is traditionally made in a mochitsuki, a ceremony in which people take turns pounding mochi with heavy wooden mallets. One person pounds it while another person quickly kneads the mochi in between hits.

There is a much simpler way to make mochi, though: in the microwave. It is super easy and only requires a few ingredients:


1 cup glutinous rice flour (MUST be glutinous! Regular rice flour will not work.)

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cup room-temperature water

Food coloring



The first step in making mochi is mixing together the ingredients. I used a large glass measuring cup to mix my ingredients in, but any large microwave-safe bowl would work. Pour in the water, sugar and salt, then mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Slowly add the rice flour, mixing until fully combined. Make sure there are no dry spots or lumps, then pop it in the microwave for two to three minutes. When taking it out, be careful! The dish could be very hot. Add one or two drops of food coloring, stir until the mochi is all one consistency, and then microwave it for two or three more minutes. While the mochi is cooking, spread a thin layer of cornstarch over an easy-to-clean-up surface like a small plate or a smooth stone countertop. Make sure you also have some in a small bowl for dusting on top.

Now, use a spoon to scoop a small portion of the mochi onto the cornstarch. Dust your hands with cornstarch to create a barrier between the heat and your hands, then squish the mochi into whatever shape you want. Repeat with the rest of the mochi. Store it in an airtight container and refrigerate. Mochi usually lasts five to seven days, if no one eats it before then.

Feel free to experiment with flavors and fillings like chocolate and red bean paste. If you want to use your mochi in a savory dish, reduce the amount of sugar and add a little more rice flour.