A plate with a couple of mini daifuku with one cut in half to show the red bean paste

Daifuku: A Mochi Treat Stuffed with Deliciousness

When we talk about Japanese ramen, it is often a savory affair. That being said, ramen can leave you craving something sweet afterward. Some opt for sweets like chocolate or something healthy like fruit, but one traditional Japanese sweet option that we love is daifuku!

Read on to learn all about this tasty Japanese mochi treat, its history, its varieties and the basics of how to make it yourself.

What is Daifuku

Two daifuku mochi in the shape of two Sanrio characters on a tray
This mochi-wrapped treat can come in many different forms, including in the form of kawaii characters.

Daifuku is a tasty Japanese sweet made of mochi that is wrapped around a tasty and (usually) sweet filling.

For those who may not know, mochi is a rice cake made of Japanese glutinous rice. Depending on the style of mochi, it can also include water, sugar or cornstarch. Traditionally, people make mochi by pounding cooked rice into a paste that they then mold into a mochi shape.

The traditional filling is anko, which is a sweet red bean paste made from Japanese red beans (adzuki). You might also feel a slight powder on the outside. This comes from rice flour, corn starch or potato starch to prevent it from sticking to other diafuku and to your fingers (if you choose to eat it by hand).

Daifuku is a very popular, more traditional Japanese sweet that goes perfectly with green tea.

History of Daifuku

Two larger mochi dumplings split in half to show the red bean paste
The classic daifuku hasn't changed much in the over 250 years that its been around! Image via Instagram (@mituki_akasaka_wagashi)

The main theory is that daifuku comes from the tail end of the Meiwa era (1764-1772) of the Edo period (1603-1867). A woman living in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) thought of and sold this treat starting in 1772, calling it harabutomochi (腹太餅), or belly thick mochi. This name came from how filling it was. At that time, it was also served hot.

The name later changed to futoharamochi (太腹餅), meaning thick belly mochi, and that changed to daifukumochi (大腹餅), meaning big belly mochi. The kanji for belly () can also be read as fuku, but fuku can also mean luck (). So, the final name became daifuku mochi (大福餅) and this treat became popular, even being used for ceremonies.

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Our Favorite Types of Daifuku

A plate of pink strawberry mochi dumplings with a strawberry in the center
Spoiler: Our favorite is this tasty, strawberry-filled daifuku variant. Image via Instagram (@gourmet_kushiro)

There are actually quite a few types of mochi, both official regional specialties and limited-edition fun fillings. So while we’d love to go into detail of all the types, that’s something we can save for another day. Here’s some of our favorite types of daifuku.


Nothing beats the classic. The simple taste of the mochi and the red bean paste work together to create a perfectly timeless Japanese sweet treat. Plus, it’s a great mix of soft and chewy, creating a fun texture.

Ichigo Daifuku

Ichigo daifuku is a much-loved variation that adds strawberry (ichigo) into the mix. Springtime is strawberry season in Japan, so this treat is popular in spring, although many places sell it year-round. It was invented in the 1980s. Ichigo daifuku sees strawberry wrapped in red bean paste (or shiroan white bean paste) and wrapped in mochi. You can even find pink mochi used for the outside, especially around cherry blossom season.

Mont Blanc Daifuku

A single daifuku with a chestnut cream, steamed chestnut and gold leaf on top
Mont Blanc has quite a fancy reputation in Japan, making Mont Blanc daifuku an extra fancy treat. Image via Instagram (@sosaku_wagashi_sense)

Mont Blanc daifuku is another stylish variation making delicious use of chestnut. Some variations see a chestnut cream added inside. Others opt to add a generous helping of chestnut cream on top. You can even find some that use both chestnut cream and a steamed chestnut in the middle. If you’re lucky, you may even find a shop that incorporates all three.

Purin Daifuku

Purin is the Japanese word for pudding, but Japanese pudding is more similar to a custard than a western pudding. Purin daifuku replaces the anko completely and swaps it for a creamy, caramel-flavored Japanese pudding that is so delicious.

Mochi Ice Cream

When you say mochi ice cream, there are really two different versions that come to mind. For many Japanese people, they think of Yukimi daifuku (snow-viewing daifuku), which is a product from Lotte (a big Japanese chocolate and snack maker) released in 1981. However, the filling isn’t actually ice cream, opting for a frozen rice milk.

A caramel mochi ice cream with brown mochi and a beige frozen milk filling
It looks like ice cream, but this salted caramel yukimi daifuku is just frozen rice milk. Image via Instagram (@jr_ksupfe)

The other and more famous one outside of Japan is mochi aisu, or mochi ice cream. This version sees actual ice cream wrapped in a layer of mochi. It was actually invented by Japanese-American Frances Hashimoto (the former president and CEO of Miyakawa) in the United States. This creation comes in plenty of delicious flavors and is really a sweet treat.

However, because it’s more of an American creation, don’t expect to find this version during your trip to Japan. In fact, if you ask for mochi ice cream in Japan, you’ll either be directed to Yukimi daifuku or to ice cream with mochi on top. The only exception that we know is mochi ice cream sold at Costco in Japan.

The Basics of Making Daifuku

Hands in gloves covered with starch shape mochi around red bean paste
To make diafuku yourself, you'll need gloves and a bit of cornstarch to help it not to stick. Image via Unsplash

While we’re not great cooks here, we do know the basics of how to make daifuku at home. We’ll tell you the basics and you can find a recipe that works for what you want.

Sweet mochi is really just a mix of glutinous rice flour, sugar and water. The sugar and water are mixed first and the mixture is added into the flour. This creates a dough that you microwave or steam shortly and then stir. Do this repeatedly until you get a translucent mochi.

Then, dust a flat tray with rice flour, corn starch or potato starch (so the mochi doesn’t stick) and place the mochi on top. There are different ways to prepare the mochi from here, but we personally just opt for putting starch onto our hand and just tearing off pieces of the mochi.

After dusting off any excess flour or starch, just flatten them into circles to create your daifuku shell. Then, just place your desired filling inside and shape it closed around the filling.

If you want a more detailed recipe, we recommend this video from Delish Kitchen for Ichigo daifuku and this video by Yukari’s Kitchen how to make fruit daifuku. For regular daifuku, try The Spruce Eats’ recipe for daifuku with its easy guide.

Three daifuku made with green mochi sit on a tray
There are not just a variety of fillings; you can also find daifuku made with different types of mochi! Image via Instagram (@karup_nn)

Do you like this tasty Japanese treat? Have you tried any of the varieties on the list? Would you make this at home or will you stick to the shop versions? Let us know in the comments!

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