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Make chewy, soft, and springy Sakura Mochi with glutinous broken rice, red bean paste, and sakura leaves. A delicious and sweet Japanese dessert!
What is Sakura Mochi?
Sakura mochi is a kind of wagashi, or Japanese confection. It’s served during the springtime, which is sakura season. It’s a short season, so these mochi are always a treat.
If you are lucky to find sakura leaves, it’s a great treat to make. However, you can also find salt pickled sakura leaves year-round. I purchased some last year and save them for the spring season.
Ingredients for Homemade Sakura Mochi
You can find all of the ingredients for this sakura mochi recipe at an Asian or Japanese grocery store. Here’s what you need:
- Glutinous broken rice. This is the key to stretchy, chewy mochi.
- Sugar. You can use regular granulated or coconut sugar.
- Red bean paste. For the mochi filling. You can make your own or buy it from the store or online.
- Sakura leaves. Fresh or preserved both work.
- Beetroot juice. This adds a beautiful pink color and extra natural sweetness.
How to Make Sakura Mochi
This recipe is quite easy to make. They’re different from most mochi because you’re using some pieces of whole and broken rice, rather than glutinous rice flour. The broken rice adds texture and structure to the finished mochi.
There are a few ways to make this mochi, based on region. My grandma is from the Kansai region so this recipe uses the Kansai style. The primary difference is in the rice used to make the mochi. The Kansai style sakura mochi is made with dōmyōji-ko, which is sweet glutinous broken rice.
It’s not the easiest to find, but you can easily make it. Simply pulse sweet glutinous rice in a food processor. My grandma uses the microwave method, which is honestly the easiest clean-up as well, but you can also steam your rice until it becomes glutinous and sticky.
Traditionally, pink food colouring is added to give the rice a nice colour. Instead of food coloring, I use beet juice, which does an incredible job. I also added some sakura powder to the beet juice mix to infuse even more sakura flower flavour.
Are Sakura Leaves Edible?
Actually no! Though these mochi get most of their falvour from the sakura leaves, you don’t actually eat the leaves. The flavor seeps into the mochi.
Other Filling Ideas
I like to fill sakura mochi with sweet and nutty red bean paste. However, you can use a different filling if you like. Try sweet white bean filling, or even peanut butter. The choice is yours!
Shaping Red Bean Mochi
Shaping and filing these mochi can be quite tricky. Often to make things a bit easier, people use plastic wrap. But I find that if you keep your hands wet, it’s actually quite easy to work.
The signature look is to wrap your mochi balls with a sakura leaf, vein side up, however, you can also add a fresh sakura blossom on top and skip the sakura leaf.
It’s usually a good idea to let the mochi sit and absorb the leaf flavor for some time before serving.
How to Serve Sakura Mochi
These cute leaf-wrapped mochi are best served fresh. Mochi doesn’t do very well when refrigerated, but if you’re making the mochi ahead of time, you can freeze or refrigerate and then revive them by microwaving.
More Japanese Dessert Recipes
- Kinako Rice Krispies with Peanuts and Mochi (vegan, gluten free)
- Matcha Butter Mochi Cake (vegan, no eggs)
- Kashiwa Mochi (Japanese Rice Cake with Oak Leaf)
If you make this Sakura Mochi recipe, be sure to let me know what you think with a comment below!
- 1 cup sweet glutinous rice
- 3/4 cup filtered water
- 1 tsp beetroot juice
- 1/2 tsp sakura powder
- 2 tsp organic cane sugar
- 1/4 cup red bean paste chilled
- 4 pickled sakura leaves
- First begin by preparing your rice. Soak your rice overnight in cool water, making sure there's ample water on top of the rice (so that all grains are covered).
- Mix together water, beetroot juice, sakura powder and cane sugar and set aside.
- Soak your sakura leaves in warm water and let sit while you work on the rice.
- Drain the rice and remove all excess water then transfer to a food processor. Pulse a few times to break down, but avoid pulsing too much. You want coarse, broken rice, but not a flour.
- Add the broken rice to a large, microwave safe bowl and add your beetroot water mixture to the bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and microwave for 2 minutes. Mix with a spatula, cover and microwave for another 2 minutes. Rice should be nice and sticky, and you should be able to pull it away from the sides of the bowl with the spatula.
- Divide the rice into 4-5 equal parts and using damp hands, roll each piece into balls. Cover with a damp towel when not in use.
- To assemble, grab one portion of mochi rice, flatten into a large circle in your hands and scoop about a tablespoon of red bean paste into the center. Fold edges around the center and tightly press so that no red bean paste escapes.
- Take a sakura leaf, pat dry and wrap your mochi with the veins and stem facing outwards.
- Repeat until all of the rice has been used! Let the mochi sit for about 10-15 minutes to absorb the sakura leaf flavour and enjoy.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.