6 delicious takoyaki recipes | What it is? Diced tempura octopus

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  November 23, 2021

17 easy recipes anyone can make...

All the tips you'll need to get started in Japanese cooking with, FOR A LIMITED TIME, FREE as our first email: the complete Japanese with ease cookbook.

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

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.

Let’s look at them more closely and I’ll teach you how to make these at home in your own kitchen!

6 delicious takoyaki recipes

In this article, you’ll learn 6 takoyaki recipes and additional fillings you can use as alternatives for octopus meat.

Best homemade takoyaki recipes

Most Japanese words are a combination of two distinct words fused into one to describe someone or something, in this case, takoyaki.

Takoyaki diced tempura

Since we already know what tako means, let’s look at the word “yaki;” it is derived from the word “yaku” which means to fry or to grill.

Takoyaki is often referred to as “konamono”, which literally just means “flour things”. It falls into the same konamono category as Okonomiyaki and Ikayaki as they are all prepared with a flour batter (called “Kona” in Japanese).

5 Essential ingredients for authentic takoyaki

To make traditional takoyaki, you need 5 ingredients. Here they are.

  1. Dashi Flavored Batter – to make dashi flavored batter, add dashi stock cubes dissolved in water to your batter.
  2. Octopus – you need boiled octopus meat.
  3. Beni Shoga – red pickled ginger bits give color and flavor to the takoyaki.
  4. Tenkasu – tempura scraps add that rich umami flavor to the food. They make the takoyaki crispy and creamy. 
  5. Spring Onion – this is the best way to add some color and flavor to the takoyaki. Spring onion is a popular topping. 
Takoyaki-balls-Japanese-streetfood

Simple Takoyaki (octopus balls) recipe

Joost Nusselder
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.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • Takoyaki pan or maker

Ingredients
  

Takoyaki batter

  • 10 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 1/4 cups water (1 liter)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp kombu dashi stock you can use granules
  • 1/2 tsp katsuobushi dashi stock you can use granules
  • 2 tsp soy sauce

Filling

  • 15 ounces boiled octopus in cubes or you can use any other type of protein as a filling, although it wouldn't really be takoyaki
  • 2 green onions sliced
  • 1/3 cup tenkasu tempura bits (or use rice krispies)
  • 2 tbsp beni shoga (red pickled ginger)

Toppings

  • 1 bottle Japanese mayonnaise add to taste
  • 1 bottle Takoyaki sauce (you can buy it bottled at a lot of the Asian groceries, you can't miss it with the picture of takoyaki on the front)
  • 1 tbsp bonito flakes
  • 1 tbsp Aonori or seaweed strips (Aonori is a type of powdered seaweed)

Instructions
 

  • Crack the eggs in a small mixing bowl and add the water as well as the stock granules, then beat the mix manually or with an egg beater. Pour the egg-water-stock granules mixture into the flour, then add salt and mix well (with an egg beater or manually) until you’ve successfully created the batter.
  • Turn on the stove and place the takoyaki pan on top of it. Brush the individual half-sphere compartments with oil.
  • Two minutes into heating, pour the takoyaki batter into the concave semi-spherical molds. It’s okay if you accidentally make the batter in the molds spill over the brim as you can just gather them later when you’ll flip the batter over for the other side to be cooked.
  • Now, add the takoyaki fillings to the batter in the takoyaki pan. First, add 1 or 2 pieces of octopus to each ball, a bit of green onions in each ball, a bit of tempura, and 1 or 2 pieces of beni shoga.
  • Two to 3 minutes into cooking the takoyaki, when the bottom of the balls starts to harden, break apart the batter between the balls with your pick or skewers.
  • You may now flip it over in order for the other side to cook. Use a takoyaki pick when flipping the ball over in order to not ruin its spherical shape. You must turn the ball 90 degrees when flipping. If you can’t turn the takoyaki easily, it probably needs to cook for a bit longer.
  • When you poke the takoyaki to turn it over, some batter flows out and that's okay. Stuff it back in with the pick and add more batter if the ball loses its shape.
  • Let it sit in the pan for another 60 seconds before flipping it over. Turn the balls over repeatedly every 45-60 seconds for the next 5 minutes. The takoyaki balls should be easier to turn over once they’ve cooked through because the batter will no longer stick to the pan.
  • You will know when the takoyaki is done because it will have a light brown crispy texture on the outside and you can flip them easily in their holes as they no longer stick to the pan. The overall cook time is estimated to be 10 minutes per batch from the time you’ve placed them on the stove to the time you’ll take them out.
  • Place the hot takoyaki on a clean plate, then drizzle them with Japanese mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce. Sprinkle them with aonori and bonito flakes as well. Then serve them to your guests.
Keyword Takoyaki
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

This YouTube video shows exactly how to make takoyaki batter for this recipe:

x
The History of Takoyaki: How a Japanese Street Food Became Popular Worldwide

Now the octopus balls might get a bit oily from the deep-frying so it’s a good idea to keep paper towels nearby. I like to line a bowl with the paper and put each piece onto it so it can soak up some of the oil before you eat it.

The most important thing is that you use quality octopus when making these since all of the flavor and chewy texture will come from it!

Diced octopus arms

Tips for cooking takoyaki

How do you boil octopus for takoyaki?

All the recipes call for boiled octopus but it’s important to know how to do it properly. 

Boiling octopus is quite a meticulous process and it can all go wrong in an instant which makes the meat way too chewy and firm. 

While we already have an article about how to cook octopus, I want to discuss how to boil the octopus specifically for takoyaki. 

If you’re using a fresh octopus, you need to remove the beak with your knife then pull it out outwards. This should remove most of the organs inside too but then you can have to clean it out inside to remove all the innards.

If you’re just using cleaned frozen octopus meat, skip the cleaning step. 

Now, grab a large pot and fill it with water. Add a couple of pinches of salt. Next, bring the water to a simmer. 

It’s time to put the octopus in the simmering water so slowly lower the octopus into the water. At this point, the legs begin to curl and that’s a good sign that your water is at the right temperature.

Let the octopus simmer for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your octopus. The larger the animal, the longer it needs to cook. If you’re cooking a small, or baby octopus, don’t exceed the 30 minutes or it will become too tender and mushy.

Once cooked, remove the octopus from the pot. Takoyaki is best served with tender gooey meat so I recommend removing the dark red skin while the meat is still hot. 

After you’ve removed the skin, you can dice the meat into small 1.5 cm cubes or about 1/2 inch. 

How many octopus pieces per ball?

You’re probably wondering how many octopus pieces are necessary for one takoyaki ball. 

Favorite Asian Recipes

Some recipes call for 1 piece of octopus per ball while some tell you to put 2 or wing it and just decide depending on how much it takes for the batter to overflow in the pan. 

It’s up to you but if you cut the octopus into 1/2 inch or smaller you can put two to get that perfect gooey texture and seafood flavor. But, if your pieces are a bit chunkier and larger, 1 piece of octopus per takoyaki is enough. 

What else is in takoyaki apart from octopus?

The takoyaki batter is specially made with a mixture that includes flour, egg, and dashi stock, which is already delicious in and on itself.

On top of that, it is also mixed with cooked and diced octopus (or other meats and seafood like beef steak, shrimp, salmon, etc. depending on the creativity of the chef he’ll use the type of meat in order to accentuate the takoyaki’s flavor).

Often, some diced scallions or green onions are also added and tenkasu tempura bits and some pickled ginger to add to the flavor.

Okay, at this point you’re probably wondering what a tenkasu is, but you don’t need to Google it as it is simply the crunchy bits of deep-fried batter debris from cooking the tempura. Think of it as tempura batter crumbs. 

How amazing is that?! Using remains from another food as a flavoring/topping for a different recipe. You can only find it in Japan!

Adding tenkasu enhances the flavor of the takoyaki as it gives off a piquant flavor or smell.

Add a pop of color to Takoyaki with some red pickled ginger. It gives the octopus balls a refreshing, yet pungent taste when you take a bite. 

What is takoyaki batter like?

The takoyaki batter is runny and similar to that of okonomiyaki

The similarity between the two batters comes from the fact that they are both made with wheat flour and dashi stock.

Therefore, the batters have a similar texture, appearance, and flavor because they’re basically made of the same ingredients. What differs is the ingredients, shape, and cooking method. 

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

Benishoga takoyaki with takoyaki sauce

Cooking instructions

1. Get a large mixing bowl and whisk eggs, soy sauce, and salt together until it becomes vacuous.

2. Place the takoyaki pan on the stove and brush it with light oil only in the holes, then heat it up until the oil starts smoking. Spread the oil using a brush thoroughly to coat the holes of the pan. This way, you’ll keep the batter from sticking to the pan. After that, you may now pour the batter into the holes.

3. While the batter is being cooked, drop the diced octopus meat in each hole, and then drizzle it with the chopped onions as well as the minced ginger throughout the takoyaki pan.

4. Cook the takoyaki balls for about 1-2 minutes at medium heat and then flip them over using special takoyaki picks like these, bamboo or metal skewers, or even chopsticks. Cook the other half of the batter for another 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a clean plate and let cool.

5. Once cooked, put them on a clean plate and pour the takoyaki sauce over them thoroughly, then add Japanese mayo to taste. To complete the dish and make them ready for serving, sprinkle it with green dried seaweed called “aonori” and dried bonito flakes called “katsuobushi.”

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

Tenkasu takoyaki

someone is making takoyaki with takoyaki pan

Ingredients

Cooking instructions

  1. Combine water, egg, and dashi stock together in a bowl and mix well until frothy.
  2. Get a strainer and sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, then pour 1/2 of the water mixture into it.
  3. Whisk the dry flour and water mix thoroughly until they become viscous.
  4. Pour the other half of the water mixture into the mixing bowl with the flour and water mix and blend well.
  5. Use a kitchen brush and brush the takoyaki pan with cooking oil and then start heating it in the stove.
  6. Pour the batter into each hole on the pan and make sure that you fill them halfway to the top and add the pickled ginger, tempura crisps, green onion, and diced octopus into the batter, then add more batter to seal it inside.
  7. Allow the batter to cook for 2-3 minutes before flipping it over and let the other side cook too. Do remember to trim off the excess batter that overflowed when you poured them earlier. You can remix these batter into the next batch of takoyaki when you’ll pour them into the pan holes.
  8. Do not stop flipping the takoyaki every minute or so until they become golden brown in color. The color change will indicate whether or not it is cooked.
  9. When they’re ready, transfer them into a clean plate and coat them with the takoyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise, then drizzle them with bonito and aonori flakes before serving them to your guests.

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

Mentaiko takoyaki

Mentaiko Takoyaki

Ingredients

Cooking instructions

  1. Add the takoyaki batter mix, water, and egg into a small mixing bowl, then whisk them until they become frothy.
  2. Pre-heat the takoyaki pan and brush them with vegetable oil. Once the pan reaches the right temperature, then pour the batter into the pan holes to cook.
  3. Add the mentaiko and cheese, then pour more batter until it slightly overflows the brim of the pan holes.
  4. Once bottoms have dried, flip each takoyaki over and cook until they are done (they should have a golden-brown color when they cook).
  5. Transfer to serving plates, pour the takoyaki sauce over them and then serve.

Mini Omurice

Ingredients

Cooking instructions

  1. Combine the water, ketchup, milk, and eggs in a small mixing bowl and mix them thoroughly.
  2. Once you’ve made the batter mix, then pour it into the takoyaki molds and start cooking them.
  3. After 2 minutes add the mini sausages, cooked rice, salt, and pepper to the batter in the takoyaki pan.
  4. Pour more batter to cover the added ingredients until it reaches the brim of the pan holes and overflows a bit.
  5. Flip the takoyaki once the bottoms have dried until they get that golden-brownish color (this means they are ready to be eaten).
  6. Once cooked, place the takoyaki balls in a clean dry serving plate, pour the takoyaki sauce and then serve.

Chocolate Banana Castella

Now here’s an option for dessert, takoyaki balls that are sweet instead of savory with chocolate and banana!

Ingredients

Cooking directions

  1. In order to make this sweet version of takoyaki, combine wet ingredients together and pour them into takoyaki molds.
  2. Cook the takoyaki balls in the takoyaki pan and add in the solid ingredients (i.e. chocolate and dried raspberry flakes).
  3. Flip the takoyaki balls over once the bottom half is cooked and dried to allow for the other half to cook also.
  4. Transfer to serving plates and serve with sauce.

Matcha Adzuki Cake

Matcha Adzuki

Ingredients

Cooking instructions

  1. Combine water, pancake mix, milk, egg, and matcha powder and mix them thoroughly.
  2. Heat up the takoyaki pan and brush the holes with oil, then pour the batter mix and allow takoyaki to cook.
  3. Add the shiratama, Anko, and white chocolate, then pour some more batter up to the brim of the pan holes.
  4. Don’t forget to flip each takoyaki ball, because you have to ensure that all of its sides are properly cooked with a crispy golden-brown texture.
  5. Once they’re cooked, then put them in a clean serving plate, pour the takoyaki sauce and then serve.

At a loss when it comes to mochi? Here’s the ultimate trick for Homemade Mochi: use of a stand mixer with a twist

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 that 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.

Takoyaki pan

Takoyaki octopus balls aren’t really fun to make without using a special cast iron takoyaki pan (I’ve reviewed them here).

The takoyaki pan, or its other nickname – takoyaki-nabe, is a cast iron griddle that’s dotted with indented half-spherical molds. 

The unique iron griddle heats up the takoyaki evenly until the bottom half-spherical side of it cooks. Then the ball is turned over using a special pick or a larger bamboo skewer (you know, the ones they use for yakitori as well).

This allows the uncooked batter to cook in the base of the rounded cavity. It’s kind of like deep-frying but with every ball in its own little shallow pocket of oil.

During open-air Japanese festivals, restaurants, street vendors, or individuals use LPG or LNG tanks. 

You can also get smaller electric versions that look a bit like a hotplate to use at home, and you even have some smaller cast iron makers for your stovetop.

Because takoyaki is a fairly easy recipe to cook and is quite the popular street food in Japan, so many households in Japan own a takoyaki pan.

It’s also the reason why the production and sale of this particular kitchen item are common in Japanese stores and supermarkets. However, they may not be as popular outside of Japan.

Online stores like Amazon do sell takoyaki pans, but if Amazon does not deliver to your country, or you can’t find it in your local store, then you can use the Dutch pancake pan as a replacement.

The 2 pans are very similar to each other with the exception that the Dutch pancake pan has shallower rounded concave indentions than the Japanese takoyaki pan, but they do the job nevertheless.

Another option is to look for the Danish aebleskiver pan which can also be used to make takoyaki (here’s how)

Sauce for takoyaki

takoyaki sauce and toppings

What is takoyaki sauce? 

Eating takoyaki won’t be complete without its dipping sauce!

Takoyaki is usually glazed with Worcestershire-like sauce which is just plainly called takoyaki sauce.

It is similar to the okonomiyaki soy-based sauce that takes the already flavorful takoyaki to new heights.

Make your own takoyaki sauce

To make basic Takoyaki sauce, mix Worcestershire sauce (usutah so-su), mentsuyu (noodle soup base), ketchup, and sugar. The sauce gives off a sweet fruity flavor to the bite, although it’s not as strong as the okonomiyaki sauce.

It is also brushed with Japanese mayonnaise, then it’s sprinkled with something called “aonori” (a type of edible seaweed). Traditional recipes also include bonito flakes.

They are all readily available in Japan and in most Asian or Japanese grocery stores.

So, all you need to make this recipe is 5 ingredients.

  1. Worchestershire sauce
  2. Mentsuyu (Japanese soup base)
  3. Ketchup
  4. Sugar
  5. Oyster Sauce

Add a few teaspoons of each and only a little bit of sugar.  In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients and stir them until the sauce blends well. 

Other takoyaki sauce variations

Other known variations of takoyaki include:

But you can get creative and come up with your own version of a takoyaki recipe!

Takoyaki on its own is already a delicious dish; however, you would not enjoy the best of its taste without the 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

(view more images)

Otafuku Tenkasu

(view more images)

Nori Fume Furikake Rice Seasoning

(view more images)

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

Popular alternative takoyaki fillings

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

History of takoyaki: is takoyaki from Japan?

Why is takoyaki so good

Takoyaki was originally from Osaka, circa 1935. The octopus fried ball is a transformation of what used to be called choboyaki. Choboyaki has similar ingredients as takoyaki.

A man by the name of Tomekichi Endo invented the takoyaki and popularized it in Osaka in 1935. He is a street vendor but was quite the smart cook for his time.

But instead of a round ball, choboyaki was more like a flat square. Another difference is the filling, as choboyaki uses beef instead of the octopus.

Choboyaki then evolved to rajioyaki, the very same food but with a ball-shaped like today’s takoyaki.

People still use beef as fillings, although it was not so long before people started switching it with octopus. This marked the birth of takoyaki.

This street snack gained its popularity real fast due to the unique octopus flavor. The chewy texture and light flavor of the briny meat makes a wonderful complement with the dashi and toppings.

People also try out many other things to use as fillings, but the name Takoyaki remains.

You can have the ball snack filled with shrimp, cheese, or tofu (for vegan option). Yet still, up until now, the most popular version is the octopus.

The takoyaki konamono derived from akashiyaki, which is a small spherical dumpling (made of an egg-rich batter and octopus) that originated from Akashi City in Hyōgo Prefecture.

Takoyaki-balls-Japanese-streetfood

With a new taste hitting the streets of Akashi City, so too its popularity started spreading across various regions which included Kansai, Kanto as well as the rest of the country as time went on.

It is believed that the first takoyaki snacks were introduced among the yatai street food stalls, which later evolved into takoyaki specialty restaurants, which are widespread across the Kansai region.

Today takoyaki has gained so much notoriety that it has become a household name in Japan. It is also sold at commercial outlets like 24-hour convenience stores and supermarkets.

The takoyaki dish is also very popular in Taiwan. Historically, the island nation is a common trading partner of Japan since ancient times. It has borrowed some Japanese cuisines and adopted them into their culture such as the takoyaki.

The oldest known takoyaki store is Aizuya in Osaka and was founded by the cuisine’s inventor himself, Tomakichi Endo in the 1930s. The store has remained operational to this day.

Before the takoyaki became famous for its octopus meat as one of its base ingredients, Endo first experimented with beef and konjac and improved the flavorings for the batter too!

Nicknamed as the “octopus balls”, the takoyaki was first known by that name before it was called takoyaki today. It became widespread across Japan as it was among the favorite in the classic Japanese street food stalls dipped in brown sauce.

Takoyaki in Osakatakoyaki

Although Takoyaki has now been widely popular and available throughout Japan, you still need to go to Osaka if you aim for an ultimate culinary adventure with these fried balls.

The town has more than 650 takoyaki stores, with subtle taste differences between one to another.

While most people serve takoyaki with multiple toppings, in Osaka you will see some takoyaki is garnished only with a pinch of salt to highlight the strong dashi flavor in the batter.

Another variation of a takoyaki is takosen, which is two takoyaki balls sandwiched between two crackers.

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!

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

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.