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Although most butter mochi recipes may appear similar (using very consistent ingredients), there is a huge spectrum of texture and flavor when it comes to the squishy, coconut-flavored treat. In this bake off, I tested 9 popular butter mochi recipes and review all of them below. Read on to discover taster feedback on each recipe!
- 28 total tasters
- All 9 recipes were baked fresh the day of tasting
- All tasters ranked each mochi cake on a scale from 0-10 for flavor, texture, and overall as a whole
- All mochi cakes were baked in a parchment-lined glass pan
- Koda Farms sweet rice flour
- Aroy-D coconut milk
- Carnation evaporated milk
- Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
- Trader Joe’s unsalted butter
- Bob’s Red Mill baking powder and baking soda
- Heilala vanilla extract
- Diamond kosher salt
- Imperial granulated and dark brown sugar
PARTNER NOTE: I’m delighted to be partnering with Imperial Sugar on this bake off as I’ve consistently used their consistent, high-quality pure cane sugar products throughout my bake offs. Imperial Sugar is non-GMO verified, allergen free and gluten-free!
For more sweet inspiration, you can visit Imperial Sugar to find more than 4,000 expert-tested recipes, free downloadable vintage cookbooks, sugar scrubs and bath products at the Sugar Spa, and lots of helpful guides on their blog. You can also check out their Pinterest, You Tube, Instagram and TikTok for even more recipe inspiration!
What is Butter Mochi?
Butter mochi is a Hawaiian sweet that’s typically made from sweet rice flour (or mochiko), coconut milk, butter, sugar, usually a secondary milk like whole or evaporated milk, and sometimes coconut. The texture is usually soft, glutinous and chewy (quite different from the typical American cake).
As you might guess, the flavor is typically buttery with a light sweetness and sometimes a fragrant coconut flavor. Because it’s made with a base of rice flour, this treat is typically gluten-free!
How I Selected the Recipes
Whenever I’m selecting recipes for a bake off, I try to select a variety of recipes using different ingredients or unique techniques. In this case, most recipes used the same technique (mixing wet and dry together), so I looked at recipe ratios to determine the final 9.
In the below chart, you’ll notice differences such as: no coconut milk, evaporated vs. whole vs. sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar vs. white sugar, brown butter, etc. I also tried to note other recipes that were somewhat similar in case you’ve tried and loved a recipe that wasn’t included.
|Alana Kysar||Coconut milk + whole milk + unsweetened coconut + salt||Bigger Bolder Baking, Keeping It Relle, The Kitchen Bachelor, Costco Kitchen, Pint Sized Baker, Hawaiian Airlines Two Red Bowls|
|Joanne Chang||Coconut milk + whole milk + sweetened coconut (less wet ingredients than Alana)|
|Food & Wine||Coconut milk + whole milk + more sugar than Alana/Joanne + sesame seeds|
|Delicious Not Gorgeous||No coconut milk (whole milk only)||All Recipes|
|Samin Nosrat||Coconut milk + evaporated milk + brown butter + brown sugar||N/a|
|Pickled Plum||Coconut milk + evaporated milk + olive oil + honey||N/a|
|Onolicious Hawaii||Coconut milk only (no additional milk), high ratio of eggs||The Surfer’s Kitchen, LA Times|
|Pups with Chopsticks||Condensed milk + coconut cream||N/a|
|Trader Joe’s||Made from a mix!||N/a|
As always, I think it’s worth a thorough read of the blog post to understand the profile of each mochi recipe rather than just assuming the top recipe will be the best. I actually think Alana Kysar’s recipe is the most true to what I envision as butter mochi (and tied for my personal favorite), but this particular group of tasters seemed liked a bit more texture and less chewiness.
I do truly think most of these recipes are delicious and are worth a try, so I encourage you to read through the descriptions of each!
- Milk ratio: While most recipes generally used around the same amount of milk, you can see from the chart that Onolicious uses a significantly lower ratio of milk. This resulted in a spongy, cakey texture rather than the moist and chewy, very glutinous consistency of more traditional mochi. My takeaway: to achieve a cakier mochi texture, use less milk/liquid.
- Type of milk: Most butter mochi recipes call for coconut milk in addition to a secondary milk to whole milk or evaporated milk.
- Onolicious was the only recipe to use coconut milk by itself (leading to the spongier texture discussed above).
- Delicious Not Gorgeous was the only recipe to use all whole milk, no coconut milk. This not only omitted coconut flavor from the cake but also reduced the amount of fat, which contributed to the slightly denser, less squishy and rich texture.
- Pups with Chopsticks was an interesting case that used sweetened condensed milk in place of most of the sugar AND used coconut cream in place of the typical coconut milk. It was hard to understand the implications of the changes here because of so many factors (like the mochi being baked in cupcake tins), but ultimately I don’t think the coconut cream contributed more coconut flavor than recipes made with coconut milk. I also think these mochi were crisper than others, but most due to the shape of the baking pan rather than the different ingredients.
- Sugar: Pickled Plum was an interesting recipe to test in that it uses some sugar, but substitutes 2/3 of the typical amount of sugar with honey. With obviously imparted a strong honey flavor and actually didn’t change the texture as much as I thought it would. Both Pickled Plum and Pups with Chopsticks (which uses sweetened condensed milk in place of much of the sugar) show that you can swap out much of the sugar for a liquid sweetener. However, this generally wasn’t desirable for most tasters (who preferred the traditional taste of mochi made with sugar). I also wonder if using a liquid sweetener takes away some of the crisp edges/caramelization that you would get with granulated sugar.
- Eggs: Most mochi recipes used 3-4 eggs per batch. Delicious Not Gorgeous and Onolicious Hawaii were the only recipes to use 5 eggs. Delicious uses a typical amount of milk, 24 oz, and Onolicious uses a smaller amount of milk, only 12 oz. Interestingly, Delicious was the only recipe to receive comments noting a slightly eggy flavor. If you’re trying to avoid an eggy flavor, make sure to try a recipe that uses coconut milk (to help mask the flavor) and aim for one that uses around 24 oz of milk per 3-4 eggs.
Analysis of the Best Butter Mochi Recipes
Pups with Chopsticks: a drier, springy, lightly perfumed mochi muffin
Joyce’s recipe stood out to me because she omits most of the typical sugar in favor of sweetened condensed milk. She also uses coconut cream instead of coconut milk for a stronger coconut flavor and for the additional fat content to get a crisper texture. The optional step of resting the batter to let the batter ome to room temperature also supposedly helps give the cake a chewier/crispier texture. This was one of two recipes that called for being baked in a muffin pan instead of a 9×13.
While these had beautifully crisp outsides, the insides were far drier than I expected and leaned cakey rather than chewy. Baker’s error definitely came into play with the second batch of muffin (overbaked), so I tried to only give tasters the properly baked ones–but I still think my error could have come into play with these ratings, so take them with a grain of salt.
The flavor is quite subtle and not nearly as rich as I expected from the coconut cream. I also don’t think the sweetened condensed milk lent it as much sweetness as I would have wanted. Overall, I think these would have turned out better in a pan than a muffin tin, but I probably won’t go to the trouble of sourcing coconut cream to try again.
- Quite liked the flavor on this one. Texture was alright but a bit too cakey.
- It had good notes of vanilla and coconut. Crust was a little dry and harder to chew – not what I’m looking for in a butter mochi.
- Fine, but a little bland–lacking any particular flavor/sweetness. Texture was also just okay.
- The flavor is great–light and sweet. I liked the shiny top on this one, too. But the crust is bleh. Not a fan of a muffin shaped butter Mochi–too much crust!
- Flavorless and too crusty. If it were in an assortment of other cookies, it would make no sense at all
Delicious Not Gorgeous: a thinner, chewy and dense mochi with a slightly crusty top
Heather’s recipe stood out to me for its lack of coconut milk, something I thought was tablestakes in butter mochi. Her recipe uses slightly less sugar than Alana’s recipe, but uses slightly more eggs. This was also the only recipe to be baked in an 11×15 dish as she says it tends to overflow in a 9×13 dish. (I used a half sheet with a foil buffer to shrink the baking size down to 11×15.)
This thinner mochi had a beautiful crusty top but tasted a little plain. I liked the thinner, chewy texture, though the dense texture did get a little tiresome after several bites. Although this had a nice buttery richness, I was definitely missing the coconut flavor here. I think this would be an interesting mochi base to use for a flavored mochi (as it’s a pretty perfect blank palette) and it’s a good option if you can’t find coconut milk.
- Very nice deep butter flavor with a nice crispy top layer. A bit too dry and chewy in a tough not gummy way.
- Similar to [Trader Joe’s] and I love the simple flavor. But it’s denser so I think I prefer the airy, lighter one like [Trader Joe’s]
- This is nostalgic and reminds me of a classic Chinese nian gao. VERY chewy and subtly sweet. Like the baked top
- The thinnest butter mochi out of the samples, which made for good chewy-ness but it lacked some depth of texture since there was only a thin crust on top. A bit dry and flavorless.
- Definitely on the denser/tougher side while still being soft and chewy. This has less coconut flavor than many of the others, tastes eggy
Pickled Plum: a thick and chewy mochi cake with strong honey and olive oil notes
To be frank, I threw this recipe into the mix for something a little different since most mochi cake recipes are very similar. Caroline changes up the typical formula by swapping in honey for part of the sugar and extra virgin olive oil for the butter. I had a feeling the untraditional flavors would probably not be looked up favorably by the tasters in a sea of traditionally-flavored mochi, but I wanted to try!
Sure enough, the prominent flavors of honey and olive oil were a bit jarring in contrast to the other mochi made with butter and sugar. Texturally, these were still gorgeously chewy and moist. But olive oil is not my favorite flavor when it comes to mochi. While the honey wasn’t as offensive to me as the olive oil, it just didn’t ring true to what I want in a butter mochi flavor. I think these would be perfectly enjoyable served on their own, but I personally would stick with a more traditional recipe.
- Enjoyed this one! More mochi and minimal crust/outside layer, so maybe better for those that prefer more of a mochi ratio. The flavor also tasted more buttery
- Great buttery flavor and a bit sweet which I like. Good chew, but I would still like a little chewier!
- Great mochi texture – felt traditionally Hawaiian. However there’s a funny after taste from some kind of spice that I don’t think I love.
- Similar chewiness and stickiness to [Trader Joe’s], though slightly stronger/different coconut flavor coming through. Has a slightly funny aftertaste that I can’t put my finger on.
- Flavor was off, it tastes like there’s some type of vegetable oil in it and I could very much taste the oil. Texture was moist and squishy. Color was interesting.
Samin Nosrat: a caramelized, brown butter-driven mochi muffin with an airy, drier crumb
As a brown butter fanatic, I was very excited to try Samin’s recipe with brown butter! She also uses brown sugar to bring out the “nutty, butterscotch notes of caramelization” and compares the dark crust with chewy center to a French canele (but much easier to make). If we compare recipes to Alana’s recipe as the benchmark, Samin’s recipe is basically the same but browns the butter, uses dark brown sugar and evaporated milk instead of whole milk. She also bakes her mochi in a muffin pan.
Samin’s mochi did indeed bake up with a thick, dark crust that revealed an even, airy center that had a cakey, drier bite. I enjoyed the caramelized, buttery flavor of these but found them a little dry (which could have been due to my baking error). Because the butter is browned, you lose some of the moisture that you would get with simple melted butter, and I wonder if that contributed to the dryness. Both muffin recipes were on the very dry end of the spectrum–I’d be curious to try this recipe baked in a standard 9×13 and possibly adding a little extra liquid to compensate for the brown butter.
- Really good buttery, caramelized flavor. A little dry but the flavor was perfect.
- Very fun nutty and toasty flavor. More similar to regular cake texture than full on mochi texture.
- I love the browned flavor inside the mochi but the crust took it a little far. The texture was nice but still a bit fluffier than I prefer.
- A little too crispy on the outside, I think due to being cooked in a muffin tin. normally I would like the crispy edges but the flavor isn’t very strong so it tastes kind of flat overall. Would be interested to see how it turns out baked in a square pan.
- Very toasted flavor. Texture isn’t as chewy as I’d like. A little grainy
Trader Joe’s: a chewy, picturesque but slightly gritty and plain-tasting mochi cake
Trader Joe carries both butter mochi and chocolate mochi cake mixes. Based on your responses on Instagram, their mixes seemed highly popular so I decided to test their butter mochi mix as a control. The mix contains sweet rice flour, sugar, coconut milk powder, leavening and “natural flavors.” It only requires eggs, butter and water to make! There was a sign in-store that recommended trying this with coconut milk instead of water–but I tested it with water per the original recipe.
This cake was incredibly easy to throw together and looked picture perfect with an even, golden top and nice smooth consistency. However, I found it fairly bland–it’s mildly sweet with just the lightest hint of coconut. I can definitely see how it would be much richer and more delicious made with coconut milk instead of water. By creating a mix that only calls for water, this option is super convenient–but sacrifices the flavor that I think would make this above average. As is, it tastes a little gritty and artificial. I might try this again with coconut milk, but given how easy it is to make mochi cake from scratch, I’m not sure I’ll be trying it any time soon.
- This is the classic Hawaiian butter mochi without bells and whistles and I love it!! Simple, buttery, not too sweet – can eat this all day. Nothing to dislike
- Tasty, buttery, light and nice coconut flavor. The texture is great and what I’d imagine the mochi to be
- Very soft and chewy/bouncy texture. I want more coconut flavor, this was just sweet overall.
- A little bit more spongey than I prefer. Good taste, a tiny bit tacky
- Don’t love the grainy texture. Flavor wasn’t bland exactly but nothing out of the ordinary to note
Food & Wine: a perfectly squishy-soft, sweet mochi cake recipe
Although this recipe is very similar to Alana’s popular recipe, I was curious to see what adding an extra cup of sugar to a pretty standard mochi base. This recipe uses an almost 1:1 ratio of sugar to rice flour by volume. The most unique part of this recipe? Rolling the cut side of the mochi in toasted sesame seeds.
I loved the squishy soft texture of this mochi! It was definitely softer and a few notches sweeter than the comparable recipe from Alana, though it didn’t feel overly sweet. I also liked the contrast that the sesame seeds added both in terms of flavor and texture, though it did distract from the pure flavor of the mochi. Some tasters found it a bit too soft, but this was one of my favorites (and remains beautifully soft for several days after baking!).
- At first glance, thought it would be more like [Onolicious], but the texture was much more chewy/glutinous. Good flavor overall, though didn’t love the addition of sesame seeds on the outside – they kind of overpowered the flavor so that it made it hard to taste the coconut coming through. Really like the texture and crispy topping.
- WOW. Sesame seeds are a hack so this high rating might be because I think the sweet sesame flavor is delicious. Texture was also not super fluffy but not super gummy. This would be my pick for a “flavored” mochi and [Onolicious] would be my pick for a more traditional one
- Mochi was very soft, but balanced by the crunch of the sesame. Flavor reminded me of a Chinese dessert. Texture was more gooey than chewy
- I liked the visual appeal of the sesame but I think was a little disappointed on the rough texture and bitter flavor they added. The mochi is very soft, not as chewy as I’d like it to be but still pleasant
- It’s too soft, kinda melts in your mouth as you chew, which is not for me. Sesame adds good texture though and is its redeeming quality.
Alana Kysar: a salty sweet, crispy coconut-topped, soft, chewy and glutinous mochi
Alana Kysar is the queen of Hawaiian food and baked goods! I was thrilled to finally try her perfect mochi recipe via The Kitchn. Her recipe is similar to Food & Wine but it uses 1 cup less sugar, adds salt (an important flavor distinguisher) and adds a handful of unsweetened coconut and flaky salt on top for a beautiful crust.
Sure enough, Alana’s mochi had the most picture-perfect, golden crust post-baking (though it did crumble upon slicing). This was the platonic ideal of what I picture as butter mochi: thick, sticky, ultra-moist and chewy. Alana writes that the crust is “crispy-crunchy” on day one and transforms into a “soft, almost-melty topping” on day two–and I think that was an important difference that set this recipe apart. While I loved the coconut topping, I was surprised to see some tasters didn’t love the crumbly topping and also found the salt distracting to the flavor. Some found it too thick and glutinous, but I thought this was perfect (and I loved the salty-sweet contrast)! Make sure to check out her blog for other fun mochi variations like peaches and cream butter mochi.
- God tier mochi. The crumble on top knocks the score down slightly, but a beautifully chewy and dense mochi. I would love to sleep on a bed of this delightful consistency
- Yum, perfectly sweet and buttery and rice-y. The texture is dense and perfectly chewy. Loved it.
- By far the most sticky/glutinous of out 1-5; very chewy texture. Very nice coconut flavor. Kind of milky with interesting roasty notes that was pretty unique to this mochi.
- I love the extra coconut flakes on top. Great chew, and I particularly love the edge texture.
- Great buttery flavor but texture is too smooth and thick. Love the topping
- Very soft with a little bit of bite from the salty coconut crust. Unfortunately the salinity doesn’t penetrate the mochi as much as I’d want it to.
- Not a big fan of this one. I’m slightly biased because I don’t love coconut flakes, so the crust detracted for me–it also tasted more savory/salty which took away from the flavor. The inside was very smooth/soft, but lacked some of the mochi chewy-ness
Onolicious Hawaii: a cakey, spongy, buttery mochi with a golden crust
Kathy’s recipe stood out to me as it varied from most of the other recipes. Instead of using coconut milk plus a secondary milk like whole or evaporated milk, this simply relies on a single can of coconut milk and a higher ratio of eggs. It also uses a higher amount of sugar like Food & Wine (3 cups).
The resulting texture? A thick, cakey, spongy texture with a golden brown crust! The texture was very different from what I expected from butter mochi (i.e. very different from Alana’s smooth mochi texture), but it was pleasantly cakey with a uniquely bouncy (yet tender) bite. I did appreciate the higher sweetness level from this cake. With an all-around pleasantly sweet coconut flavor, tasters rated the flavor of this cake slightly higher than the texture, but it still remained a crowd favorite.
- My second favorite. I didn’t think I’d like the cake style butter mochi but this one retained a soft, airy texture and had a classic, simple taste. Would eat this everyday!
- The crust of this one was more substantial and crackly/chewy which I liked! As a whole, it felt more like I was eating a mochi cake-esque bar vs. some of the others which were much more mochi
- Very light and cake-light. Crust added so much flavor. Overall felt the least like a mochi but still tasted very good!
- Deliciously sweet and buttery. Texture is a little bit too cakey, but the moisture content made it pleasant
- A little bit of a lingering artificial vanilla taste? I also didn’t love the crackly top- a glossy top is preferred! But the texture was great.
- The texture of the mochi was way too much like a cake. It was very dry. Flavor tasted too monotonous without much happening. Kinda just tasted sweet without much flavoring beyond that.
Joanne Chang: a squishy but structured, perfectly sweet mochi studded with shreds of coconut
Joanne’s recipe comes from her cookbook Pastry Love. This was one of three recipes I tested that was made with a combination of coconut milk and whole milk. It’s somewhat similar to Alana’s recipe, but uses 1/3 cup less sugar, 1 less egg and half a cup less milk with optional shredded sweetened coconut mixed into the batter rather than on top. (I did add the coconut in my test). My friend Amy had a hypothesis that less hydration leads to more chewiness, so I was curious to see if these tweaks would yield a significant difference from Alana’s recipe.
With a delightfully sticky texture, Joanne’s recipe did feel less moist and gelatinous than Alana’s recipe. While soft, it’s firmer than the squishiness of Food & Wine and slightly more structured than Alana–and yes, perhaps a tad chewier. But that could also be due to the shredded coconut, which helped break up the otherwise smooth texture while also adding extra sweetness. Most tasters also enjoyed the crusty topping on top of this mochi. This had a perfect buttery, coconutty flavor to me! It was honestly hard to choose which I liked better–ultimately I kept gravitating towards the softer texture of Alana’s, but I did like the chewiness and coconut flavor in Joanne’s. Everyone is a winner!
- LOVED how buttery this one was, and that it was a little more cake-y in terms of texture
- My favorite so far! Texture is on point and great amount of chew. Strongest coconut taste than others which I like. Also tastes a bit sweeter than the others. I also like the color / crust on this one–excellent taste/texture on top.
- Really great topping – buttery and flavorful and adds a lot of flavor. Corner pieces are especially good. Most flavorful of the bunch. Feels like a special occasion mochi tbh.
- The addition of coconut disrupts the chewy and smooth texture. The flavor was nice. A star butter mochi if no coconut. Note: I like coconut, just not in this application
- Similar texture and feel as [Trader Joe’s] but more coconut flavor. Very good but I think the simple classic one is still the best
- Oooo love that it had coconut flakes. Too chewy for me. Moist and greasy almost?
Erika’s picks: Alana Kysar, Food & Wine
Most traditional butter mochi: Alana Kysar, Joanne Chang, Food & Wine
Cakey-style mochi: Onolicious, Samin Nosrat, Pups with Chopsticks
Easiest to make: Trader Joe’s
Softest mochi: Food & Wine