7 Best Takoyaki Filling Types: Ultimate Recipe Flavor Variations

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  August 3, 2022

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Takoyaki is a Japanese snack made famous for its octopus filling. It’s a wheat flour-based batter with a round shape cooked in a special molded pan.

This Japanese snack is a ball of mixed ingredients that includes the “tako” (octopus, usually diced but could be minced), “tenkasu” (which are scraps of tempura), and you often add some green onions and also pickled ginger to the filling to spice up the flavor.

But, you can get a lot of amazing flavor variations by making these different filling types!

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

In this article, you’ll learn 7 takoyaki recipes and additional fillings you can use as alternatives for octopus meat.

Best homemade takoyaki recipe variations

Check out more takoyaki topping ideas, or here are a few more recipe variations for you:

Simple Authentic Takoyaki (octopus balls) recipe
Note: You can also buy a prepackaged takoyaki flour at any Asian supermarket in case you’re feeling a bit lazy to cook it the traditional way. All that’s needed to cook is just the eggs and water.
Check out this recipe
Takoyaki-balls-Japanese-streetfood
Takoyaki without octopus recipe: Mentaiko Takoyaki
If you don't like the idea of eating octopus in a ball but don't mind fish, the mentaiko or salted pollock roe is also a very good option.
Check out this recipe
Mentaiko Takoyaki without octopus
Vegan takoyaki with shiitake mushrooms
With shiitake instead of octopus, this takoyaki recipe is still delicious while being vegan.
Check out this recipe
Vegan takoyaki with shiitake mushrooms
Chicken takoyaki recipe
Takoyaki comes with all sorts of creative and exciting fillings and combinations. Today, we're going to learn how to make a simple chicken Takoyaki. 
Check out this recipe
Chicken takoyaki recipe
Matcha Adzuki Takoyaki Cake Balls Recipe
Takoyaki, but turned into delicious matcha and adzuki cake balls. This is an amazing dessert that you wouldn't expect from the "octopus balls".
Check out this recipe
Matcha Adzuki Takoyaki Cake Balls Recipe
Chocolate Takoyaki Dessert Balls Recipe
If you're craving a little sweetness at the end of the meal, this is the perfect fit, and you'll astonish your guests when they see these chocolate takoyaki balls.
Check out this recipe
Chocolate Takoyaki Dessert Balls Recipe
Mini Omurice Takoyaki Balls Recipe
The perfect alternative to takoyaki balls, these mini omurice balls with egg are mouthwatering and look amazing.
Check out this recipe
Mini Omurice takoyaki balls recipe

Read more: If you like Japanese food you’ll love these dishes

someone is making takoyaki with takoyaki pan

You even have all of these non-octopus takoyaki variations like with chicken

Other tools and skills you need to make takoyaki

Do you know how to make takoyaki? If not, watch this How To Make Takoyaki (Recipe) on YouTube:

You don’t necessarily need the skills of a world-class chef to be able to cook the takoyaki; however, you need some basic skills and lots of practice!

The one thing you’ll need to remember when cooking the takoyaki is how to flip the batter correctly.

This is because when it is done in the wrong way, then the batter could get a different shape other than a sphere and you’ll ruin the takoyaki altogether.

It’s a tricky business as the batter could split open and the uncooked part of it might end up all over the pan instead of the mold, so must have the finesse of a chef to flip the batter over and perfectly put it where it belongs.

A bamboo or a small metal skewer should do the trick, although you may still have to use your hands to aid in flipping the takoyaki over successfully.

Sauce for takoyaki

takoyaki sauce and toppings

Takoyaki toppings

Chances are, you don’t have all of these toppings, but I’ve listed them here so you can easily buy them online if you’re missing a couple of them:

Kaneso Tokuyou Hanakatsuo , Dried Bonito Flakes

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Otafuku Tenkasu

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Nori Fume Furikake Rice Seasoning

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And of course, you can check out my full post about the best takoyaki pans and how to make takoyaki

Popular alternative takoyaki fillings

  • bacon
  • sausage
  • mentaiko
  • cheese
  • shrimp
  • squid
  • mochi
  • avocado
  • green peas
  • edamame
  • kimchi
  • corn
  • crab sticks
  • fish cake
  • chicken

You should check out this post I wrote about the exact flavor of takoyaki and all of the alternative filling ideas to learn EXACTLY how to make delicious variations of this Japanese favorite!

3 Tips to make the perfect takoyaki

3 tips to make the perfect takoyaki

It is hard to get the recipe right the first time. But that’s because people don’t follow the three most important tips.

They are so simple yet essential to getting perfect takoyaki balls every time. 

Oil the pan well

People think that if you add a little teaspoon of oil, that’s enough. The secret to great, crispy takoyaki is to use lots of oil. Apply the oil generously everywhere.

Fill the holes of the pan and even add some to the surrounding area beside the molds. You need to fill holes with at least 5 mm of oil. The oil makes the takoyaki crispy and makes it easy to flip the balls. 

Pour batter generously

The secret to a round takoyaki ball is to completely fill the mold with batter. It needs to overflow with batter so don’t worry about it if it seems too full.

Fill the whole grill with batter after you put in the octopus and the rest of the ingredients.

Flip balls at 90 degrees

As the batter cooks, break it with a chopstick or skewer so that the liquid flows out. Once the bottom browns, flip the balls at 90 degrees and let any uncooked batter pour out. You have a special takoyaki pick you can use for that.

Now, push the dough into the ball and the mold. This helps you make perfect round-shaped takoyaki. 

How-to-make-crispy-Takoyaki-tempura

Why is takoyaki so good?

Takoyaki is a very popular street food in Japan. This is because it has a delicious flavor. The taste is described as umami, or savory.

It is so good because the boiled octopus filling melts in your mouth and has a traditional seafood taste.  As well, the round-shaped balls of dough are crispy and crunchy. They are easy to eat as bite-sized snacks. 

Just remember to watch out because they come piping hot straight from the cast-iron specialty grill pan!

Can you use store-bought takoyaki mix?

If you don’t feel like making your own dough and batter from scratch, you can buy ready-made mixes in some Asian grocery stores but certainly online. It’s much more delicious to make your own batter though, and quite easy if you have the right ingredients.

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.