Easy Mochi Recipe (Chi Chi Dango) - Mochi Mommy (2024)

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Are you looking for a basic but delicious mochi recipe? Try chi chi dango! It is the easiest homemade mochi recipe. With only four main ingredients and no special equipment, you can have perfectly chewy, just lightly sweetened mochi cake at home. Bonus – this mochi dessert is naturally gluten free and vegan.

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What is Mochi?

Mochi is a Japanese food that is made from a very sticky type of rice called mochikome. In English, it’s called glutinous rice, but more on this misnomer later. Traditionally, mochi in Japan refers to a dish made from pounding this sticky rice into a dense rice cake. It does not have any sugar added and can be eaten in savory dishes as well as desserts. However, in America, us Japanese Americans usually use the term mochi to describe any rice cake dessert that is made from the glutinous rice flour, or mochiko.

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I know, it’s kind of confusing.

Let’s break it down. So you have two ways of making mochi: either pound cooked rice to make a cake or use the rice flour to make some sort of treat.

In Japan, the word “mochi” most commonly refers to the first method. Desserts made using the flour usually have different names. In America, mochi can refer to any dessert made from the glutinous rice (mochikome) or glutinous rice flour (mochiko). In reality, I rarely see any mochi foods made from pounded rice here. Most mochi desserts that are popular in America are made from mochiko, the glutinous rice flour.

Examples of American mochi desserts that are made using mochiko include mochi donuts, mochi waffles, butter mochi, mochi ice cream…

But if you want just a plain, chewy, sweet bite of mochi, similar to the mochi bites you get at frozen yogurt shops, you’ll want to make chi chi dango.

For more information on mochi, definitely check out my Ultimate Guide to Mochi post!

What is Chi Chi Dango?

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If someone in my family says they want to each mochi, they are usually thinking of chi chi dango. “Dango” in Japanese means dumpling. As the name implies, chi chi dango is a mochi dessert consisting of chewy, sweet, rice dumpling bites. You often find them shaped as rectangles, like caramels or taffy, and they’re very popular in Hawaii. If you’ve never have chi chi dango before, they are most similar to the little mochi bites you find at froyo shops.

I can’t find the original source for this information, but I read before that chi chi dango originated in Japan. It was allegedly brought over to Hawaii by Japanese plantation workers, but while chi chi dango fell out of favor in its home country, it maintained its popularity on the islands. Nowadays, when Japanese tourists come to Hawaii, many think that chi chi dango is a dessert of Hawaiian origins, never realizing that it came from Japan!

Chi chi dango is a popular dessert to eat on the Japanese holiday Hinamatsuri, or Girl’s Day, and is often colored pink or with pink and white stripes.

What is the Difference Between Chi Chi Dango and Mochi?

Growing up in California, my Japanese American friends and family often referred to chi chi dango as mochi. In our communities, the two terms are interchangeable. However, as mentioned above, mochi in Japan traditionally would refer to dishes made from pounding cooked mochi rice. That means there is literally only one ingredient in making mochi: cooked glutinous rice. Chi chi dango is always made from mochiko, the mochi flour, and includes other ingredients.

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Mochi Ingredients

Out of all the mochi desserts in America, chi chi dango is the most similar to plain, basic mochi. That’s because it really only has four main ingredients: mochiko, coconut milk, water, and sugar. Food coloring is often added, but it is optional. And the last ingredient is katakuriko, or potato starch, which is just used to prevent the mochi pieces from sticking to each other.

If you’re new to Japanese ingredients, mochiko is just the name for mochi flour. It is a flour made from glutinous rice. I mentioned this above, but this is actually a misnomer. This type of rice is called glutinous rice because of how sticky it is, but there is no gluten in it. The most famous brand of mochiko in America is Koda Farm’s Blue Star Mochiko. I always buy this mochiko at our local Japanese market. If you don’t have a Japanese market near you, you can also find mochiko at Target or Amazon.

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The only other ingredient that may be new to you is katakuriko, or potato starch. I also get this at the Japanese market. I don’t really recommend using any other substitutions, so if you don’t have a market nearby, look for katakuriko online or on Amazon.

If the names of all these Japanese ingredients are very confusing to you, don’t forget to check out my food glossary!

How to Make Mochi in a Microwave

When I was in high school, my family always made mochi in the microwave. This chi chi dango recipe is actually adapted from our original microwave mochi recipe. If you’d like to make mochi in the microwave, you do need some special equipment: a plastic microwave bundt pan. Marukai, the Japanese market chain in California, sells one that is specific for making mochi in the microwave. Otherwise, you’ll have to find one on Amazon.

In order to adapt this recipe for the microwave, mix all the ingredients as noted in the recipe below. Pour the batter into the microwave pan and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 8-9 minutes or until mochi is cooked through. Be very careful lifting the plastic wrap, as the steam will be super hot.

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ALTERNATIVELY, you could cut this recipe down into like 1/4 of its original size and microwave it in a small dish for less time.

I liked making mochi in the microwave for its convenience, but recently I’ve been wanting to cut back on my use of plastic. These days, I make all my mochi by baking it in the oven.

How to Make Mochi in the Oven

I’ve found that any microwave mochi recipe can be easily adapted to the oven. First, you’ll want to make sure you are using glass bakeware. Mochi is VERY sticky, but I found that I’ve never had problems when baking it in my Pyrex. Next, you’ll need to tightly cover your baking dish with aluminum foil. Mochi, as a rice dessert, dries out easily. The steam trapped by the foil helps cook your mochi while keeping it nice and moist. Sorry to all the readers out there who hate the word moist.

One drawback to cooking mochi in the oven is that it takes a much longer time. Expect about an hour bake time. Don’t forget that you’ll need to led the mochi cool down as well, before you can slice it.

Speaking of which, want to know my secret tool for slicing mochi? A pizza cutter!! It never sticks! If you don’t have a pizza cutter, a plastic knife will also do just fine.

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Other Chi Chi Dango Recipes

This recipe is the most basic chi chi dango recipe. It’s great for beginners. If you like chi chi dango and are ready to take it up another level, definitely check out my other chi chi dango recipes:

  • Coconut Rose Chi Chi Dango
  • Mango Coconut Chi Chi Dango

Both those recipes use the layering method to get fun two-toned mochi stripes.

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Other Recipes to Use Up Mochiko

This chi chi dango recipe uses half a 16 oz box of mochiko. You can easily double it to use the entire box. OR check out these recipes below:

  • Chocolate Butter Mochi
  • Strawberry Rose Daif*cku
  • Pumpkin Butter Mochi
  • Strawberry Mochi Waffles
  • Custard Mochi

Easy Mochi Recipe (Chi Chi Dango) - Mochi Mommy (9)

Easy Homemade Mochi (Chi Chi Dango)

This easy chi chi dango recipe is the best and the simplest mochi dessert recipe you'll ever see. It's naturally gluten free, vegan, and only uses four main ingredients. I give instructions for making it in the oven, but you can use the microwave too.

4.63 from 75 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 1 hour hr

Cooling Time 30 minutes mins

Course Dessert

Cuisine Asian American, Hawaiian, Japanese

Servings 24 pieces


  • 1 3/4 cup mochiko
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 12 oz can coconut milk about 200mL or 3/4 cup
  • 1 drop food coloring optional
  • potato starch (katakuriko) for dusting


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8×8 baking dish. A glass dish is recommended to prevent the most sticking.

  • Mix mochiko, sugar, coconut milk, water, and food coloring until fully incorporated.

  • Pour into the baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

  • Bake 45-55 minutes or until mochi is cooked all the way through. See notes for microwave cooking instructions.

  • Let mochi cool. When mochi is completely cooled, dust with potato starch to prevent sticking and slice into rectangles using a pizza cutter or plastic knife, continuing to add more potato starch as needed. Chi chi dango will keep sealed at room temperature for a few days.


-This recipe can easily be doubled to fit in a 9×13″ pan. Increase mochiko to one 16 oz box and use the whole can of coconut milk. Bake time will be at least an hour.

-For microwave mochi: pour batter into a greased plastic microwave bundt pan. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 8-9 minutes. Allow to cool and slice as instructed above.

-Do NOT substitute other types of rice flour for mochiko.

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Keyword dairy free, egg free, gluten free, mochi, vegan

Did you enjoy this recipe? Have any more questions about mochi? Let me know in the comments below or come find me on Instagram!

Dairy Freedessertseasyegg freeGluten Freehawaiian foodjapanese foodMochirecipesvegan

Easy Mochi Recipe (Chi Chi Dango) - Mochi Mommy (2024)
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