Make Ahead

Plain Mochi

December 15, 2021
4.7 Stars
Author Notes

Is there any food happier and cuter than mochi? A gentler incarnation of a marshmallow, it's subtly sweet and a powdery pastel, with a hint of coconut and a pillowy-soft chew.

Mochi is traditionally eaten around the Lunar New Year (in fact, the Chinese version, nian gao, literally translates as “year cake”), and that means it’s currently mochi high season. There’s no better time to learn how to make mochi yourself.

Traditionally, making mochi sounds pretty labor-intensive. It’s made, more or less, by taking gigantic mallets to a pile of cooked sweet rice and pounding the crap out of it until it forms the chewy, tender consistency that we know and love. So violent for such a cute dessert!

We're not going that route. Instead, armed with some flour made from that same sweet rice, you can make your own mochi with a recipe that’s practically foolproof and not nearly as much of a workout.

This is only a basic mochi recipe, waiting to be dressed up however you like. Add about 1 teaspoon of matcha powder to the dry ingredients to make green tea mochi, or a flavored extract to the wet ingredients to flavor it to your liking.

I’ve often seen the plain version colored with a few drops of red food coloring, too, to turn it a dainty pink. Finally, you can use it to wrap around fillings, like red bean paste or ice cream. Go to town—and happy Lunar New Year! —Cynthia Chen McTernan

Test Kitchen Notes

A chewy, marshmallow-y snack, mochi is made with short-grain glutinous rice. Though in recent years its popularity has grown so that it's served year-round (it’s so desired in the United States these days that large American grocery store chains like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods even offer prepared mochi snacks or desserts), mochi is traditionally eaten during the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Numerous cultures make mochi-like treats, many of which have their own unique name and incorporate a distinct take on the recipe’s base ingredients, as well as flavors and fillings.

Though the classic technique involves pounding cooked glutinous rice over and over until it forms that delightful chewy texture, here, recipe developer Cynthia Chen McTernan outlines a shortcut for a “quick mochi”: using a base of sweet glutinous rice flour. This mochi’s flavor profile is quite simple, being that the additional ingredients are just sugar, baking powder, water, and coconut milk. Still, mochi can be flavored with ingredients such as matcha powder or various extracts (try fruity ones like strawberry or mango, or nutty taro). From there, you can even wrap mochi around various fillings, like bean and nut pastes, or the particularly popular filling in the US, ice cream.

Though plain mochi will be creamy-white in color, you can also add a few drops of food coloring—packaged natural food dyes, as well as homemade dyes like turmeric, beet juice, and spirulina will work here to tint the confection: pink, green, yellow, and blue are most common, but the sky’s really the limit. Some ingredients work as mochi coloring as well as flavoring: Matcha yields a very pastel green mochi; black sesame paste will color the treat light gray. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Plain Mochi
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • makes About 2 cups of small pieces
  • 1 cup sweet rice (mochiko) flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk, or about half of a 13.5-ounce can
  • Sweet potato starch or regular cornstarch, for dusting
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oven to 275°F. Line a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper. (Note: A 13-by-9-inch dish will yield a thin layer of mochi, only about ¼ inch thick. For thicker mochi, use a 9-by-9-inch glass dish and bake for longer, about 90 minutes.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the mochiko flour, sugar, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk the water and coconut milk. (Note: Be sure to use full-fat coconut milk. You can usually find it in cans, and it should be quite thick.) Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain. Unlike most baking, you don’t need to worry about overmixing since mochi is dense and chewy to begin with. So whisk away! Some recipes even call for mixing all the ingredients, dry and wet, in a food processor all at once, and call it a day.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour, until soft and gelatinous but holds its shape when touched. (Note: A few people have reported that their mochi didn't set. A few notes on softer mochi: Using low-fat coconut milk may result in a softer consistency. You may also want to check your oven to make sure it's at the right temperature. Also, if you want extra insurance, you can add another ¼ cup mochiko flour to the dry ingredients, which should result in significantly firmer mochi but, in my opinion, is a bit more "floury" or "pasty" in flavor. If you've already baked it for 1 hour and it doesn't appear to be set, increase the oven temperature to 300°F, remove the foil, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more. Also, note that even if it's soft and gel-like when it first comes out of the oven, the mochi will set as it cools.)
  4. Let cool completely or overnight. Dust a work surface with the starch (alternatively, you can simply use more mochiko flour) and turn the mochi onto the surface. Sprinkle more starch over the mochi. Wrap a knife in Saran wrap to prevent the mochi from sticking. Using the wrapped knife, cut the mochi into small pieces, then dust again with starch or flour, and serve!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ali Slagle
    Ali Slagle
  • Jona @AssortedBites
    Jona @AssortedBites
  • Candice
  • Lorelei Feldman
    Lorelei Feldman
  • Deborah Herman
    Deborah Herman

46 Reviews

hey_k June 20, 2020
Hi! I made this mochi but using glutinous rice flour as I couldn't find anywhere that stocked the flours you recommended. I also used lower fat coconut milk and cooked it for the hour and it was perfect :) I was worried that it would taste 'too' plain (if you get me) but this mochi is some of the nicest I've ever had! And it doesn't have that artificial taste that some pre-made flavoured mochi has. The texture is smooth and squishy and I have to put it away to stop myself eating it! Thank you so much for posting this recipe, I have a feeling that I'll be making this again with different flavourings to see what I can create :)
Tim June 7, 2019
Hello! I made the recipe and it tastes great! Only one problem, the mochi is stuck to the seran wrap! I cannot get it off at all!
Holly June 3, 2018
I cut the sugar in half the 2nd time I made this and it was A LOT yummier and more like commercial mochi. I had to bake it 90 minutes even though I used a big pan to get it to set in the middle. Grateful for this recipe! Oh—I just mixed it all in the food processor and it worked great. Once I tossed some freeze dried strawberries in the mix and that turned out nice.
Ileana May 14, 2017
Love you cinthia!! And all your recipes. I'm wondering if I keep the mochi in the fridge... at the moment I want to use do I have to warmer or eat directly from the fridge. Does the Mochi freeze like a rock??
Kat September 11, 2016
Hi, I was wondering if i could use coconut cream instead of the coconut milk and how much to use if i can?
Grace P. June 19, 2020
don't use coconut cream.. it won't work.
Ali S. June 1, 2016
Can you make these ahead? If so, how long will they keep for? Thank you!
Author Comment
Cynthia C. June 1, 2016
Hi Ali!! Yes, you can! They should keep for a week in the fridge, and I have frozen them for months with good results. I love eating them just slightly thawed -- they're a bit softer when fully thawed but still good.
Jona @. October 21, 2015
I have always wanted to make mochi, especially filled with red bean paste. But I was wondering if I can use the same rice flour I use for tang yuan 汤圆?
Author Comment
Cynthia C. October 27, 2015
Hi Jona, yes! That should be the same rice flour (糯米粉, nuo mi fen). Hope it turns out well for you!! :)
Jona @. October 28, 2015
Thanks, I am gonna try it soon :)
Candice April 3, 2015
Hello Cynthia, this is such a great recipe and I can finally make my favorite froyo topping! What's more, we can make it a variety of flavors such as green tea, cocoa, pumpkin, mint, passion fruit...Oh so exciting. Thank you so much for sharing this! I do have a question about the sugar use. Do you think a reduction of sugar to half the current amount will influence negatively on the formation of this chewy cute thing? Thanks!
Author Comment
Cynthia C. October 27, 2015
Hi Candice, I'm sorry I'm so late! I can't say for sure because I've never tried it myself, but I think a reduction of sugar would be fine -- if you do give it a shot, I would love to hear how it turns out! Thank you so much for the kind words!
Lorelei F. March 6, 2015
Hi, Cynthia; this is an awesome recipe; thank you. I love that mochi is so customizable! I've made coffee mochi that everyone adores (and probably eaten so much I'm caffeinated for life now).

I wanted to make maple-flavoured mochi; do you know if using maple sugar instead of white sugar would need adjustments to the recipe? Or if some maple syrup could be substituted?

- Lorelei
Author Comment
Cynthia C. March 6, 2015
Hi Lorelei! I'm so so happy to hear that you liked the recipe (and oh my gosh, coffee mochi sounds so good!) Unfortunately, I've never worked with maple sugar or maple syrup for this recipe, so I really have no idea how it will affect the mochi :( but since it's also granulated, I feel like it should work similarly in terms of liquid content? Maybe substitute half the white sugar for maple sugar? As for maple syrup, a quick Google says that for every 1 cup of sugar used, you can substitute 3/4 cup maple syrup and decrease the rest of the liquid by 3 tbsp -- so perhaps you could try that and decrease the amount of coconut milk by 1 tbsp and water by 2 tbsp (for a total of 3 tbsp less liquid)? You could also try substituting half the sweetener for maple syrup, and try 1/2 cup white sugar, 6 tbsp maple syrup, and decrease the water/coconut milk by a total of 1 1/2 tbsp, maybe. Hope that helps and fingers crossed it turns out well! I'd love to hear how it goes if you try it!
Lorelei F. March 6, 2015
Thank you! I will definitely of those. The sugar is probably the easiest, if I can find maple sugar that isn't too pricey. I'll let you know how it goes!

The coffee mochi, I just added three Sbux Via packets to the water, to make it super strong, then made it as usual. It's awesome!
Deborah H. February 18, 2015
I first had Mochi in Hawaii, when we were stationed there in 1987. We enjoyed finding the little out of the way spots that aren't on the tourist trails. Mochi became my sinful pleasure if you will. I have had a box or two of sweet rice flour in my cupboards even now. I love to use Pom pomegranate juice. UMMM I think I'll go make some now.
Betty February 16, 2015
Hey Cynthia!! Just wanted to drop a quick note to say that this recipe was THE BEST. I didn't have any coconut milk so I just used some whole milk, and I added matcha for flavoring. I also wanted it to be really thin so I could use it as some cake decoration, so I just cut the recipe in half and baked it as directed. I was a bit apprehensive about how it'd turn out... but it was SO GOOD. Soft, chewy, and so easy to cut!!! :) Successful matcha heart mochis to decorate my cake (here, if you want to see the product!

Thanks for this awesome recipe!!!! I can't wait to make thick ones, normal ones, tea flavored ones, etc... Mochi is one of my favorite toppings, ever.
Mona P. July 6, 2014
When you say "cover tightly" does the foil just cover the pan or it has to stick to the mochi? I read different variations on other websites so I wasn't sure. Also, could I use a 8x10 pan if I don't have any others to fit my oven? I wasn't sure how long to bake it last time so i tried 75 min and let it cool, but it came out a bit too soft and wouldn't hold its shape
Author Comment
Cynthia C. July 6, 2014
It doesn't have to stick to the mochi -- the goal is just to seal the pan as much as possible, so I try and crimp the foil around the lip of the pan if it has one so that it's fairly airtight. If you use a 8x10 pan, I would bake closer to 90 minutes, as noted above (since it's roughly the same size as a 9x9 pan). Was it too soft even after cooling overnight? Sorry you had trouble with this!
Mona P. July 6, 2014
Right now I poked a knife through and the consistency was sticky but more gel like than solid. I'm not sure what I did wrong, since I thought it'd be more solid. I'm thinking of leaving it in the fridge overnight to see if it'll hold its shape better. Last time it was too soft. I left it out in room temperature overnight so I baked it for an hour 15 min this time to see if it would help. Also, no problem! Maybe I just have trouble with mochi in general :)
Mona P. July 6, 2014
Right now it seems to be a mochi texture very sticky! I just wondered if I need to bake it longer to make it firm up more?
Elizabeth July 5, 2014
I purchased rice flour to try these but noticed after I got home that it is not sweetened, just plain rice flour. Can I add more sugar to compensate? Or will that make too much of a change in the texture? It's an hour drive to a market that carries rice flour so I'm hoping I can fix this with what I have. Thanks.
Author Comment
Cynthia C. July 5, 2014
Hi Elizabeth, I'm so sorry, but rice flour will not work for mochi. Sweet rice flour gets its name because it's made from a different type of short-grain rice ("sweet rice," or sticky rice), not because it's sweetened, per se. :( Here's a link with more info: So sorry to be the bearer of bad news! If it's any consolation, Amazon sells a variety of sweet rice flour, which could save you another drive! Here's the brand I like: And if you search "sweet rice flour" there are many more options. I hope that helps!
Sarah @. June 24, 2014
Love this oven version! I've been making it in the microwave, but always feeling a bit guilty about using plastic wrap to cover it. I'm definitely making a whole batch to snack on while I write my dissertation. Maybe I'll need a few batches...
cynthia R. June 22, 2014
hi i was wondering what you cover the mochi with while baking?
Author Comment
Cynthia C. June 22, 2014
Yep! Cover tightly with foil while baking.
molly Y. June 5, 2014
THIS WAS AMAZING!!!!! YAYY CYNTHIA!!!! i couldn't believe my eyes when i saw that i only had light coconut milk on hand (WHO DOES THAT) so i was a little bit nervous, but it totally worked and it's absolutely delicious and i had some in my yogurt this morning :) :)
lighthouse6 March 6, 2014
I want to give this a try but it needs a new name. Mochi is a Japanese word that means pounded rice. O-Mochi is not sweet and never made with sugar, coconut milk... It is highly gelatinous rice and water only. You can then dust or top with anything from sweet to savory. My favorite is kinako (roasted soy bean flour mixed with sugar). Your recipe here is a Filipino dessert called bibingka. Which is a totally awesome dessert but nothing like mochi. Only the same type of rice/flour is used. Most mochi you would find in a restaurant is the US is not really mochi but dango balls - they are a very different texture but yummy too. I lived in Japan for 6 years and was involved with an International cooking group you can only imagine all the serious discussions about various types of rice and their "correct" uses : )
skehias February 15, 2014
I had no problem with using Crisco on the pan; slid right out. Also, I did leave a batch uncovered for first half of baking (by accident), then covered it. It was slightly drier but still quite fun and tasty.
Author Comment
Cynthia C. February 16, 2014
Whew! So glad it still worked out!
Lauren C. January 26, 2022
I am in the middle of baking and just did the same thing forgetting to cover - I came on here to see if there were any notes about it or if I should jump ship and start over. Glad to see it worked out 😅
Diane February 7, 2014
These are lovely! Very easy recipe, I did the "matcha" version, and used low-fat coconut milk. I think I'll use the full-fat next time, they were a little on the gelee side, but still held together nicely. These are the perfect trifecta in poppable delights: low fat, not too sweet, and vegan. Yay! Thank you for the delightful recipe, Cynthia!
Author Comment
Cynthia C. February 16, 2014
Thank you for your lovely comment, Diane!! :)
Diane February 16, 2014
You are so welcome! This is the same mochi-addicted Diane from the comments on your site, with the experimental versions. I made another batch today. Ginger this time. My husband: "You're making mochi? Again? I thought you were trying to quit. Do you need help?" lol!
Author Comment
Cynthia C. February 16, 2014
Oh YAY!! I wanted to ask but then imagined how awkward it would be if it it wasn't you! Ginger -- you've outdone yourself again. I just have to post a link to your comment for anyone who wants more ideas for how to customize this recipe: ! Definitely the coolest feedback I've ever gotten on a recipe, Diane :) And LOL at your husband -- tell him a gift for mochi-making like yours just can't be suppressed!
Rémy R. February 3, 2014
Cynthia, I made these this weekend for my mochi-loving roommate and added almond extract. I didn't think I liked mochi until now -- thank you for converting me! (Also, can we talk about how great it is when it's still warm!?! Gooey and marzipanny.)
Author Comment
Cynthia C. February 16, 2014
Remy, this comment made my day when I read it! I actually wasn't a huge fan of mochi until I made it myself, either! (And omg, SO good warm. mmmm.) Thanks for letting me know it worked for you :):)