Secret To Making Your Onigiri Sweet: The Ohagi Recipe

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  August 28, 2022

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

Check out our new cookbook

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

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

If you’re tired of the same old rice snacks, ohagi might be the perfect thing.

It’s still a delicious snack, but this time it comes in a sweet coating, like azuki bean paste or crushed walnuts.

We’re going to make 4 delicious versions so it looks tasty and colorful when you serve them.

How to make ohagi sweet onigiri

Ohagi Sweet Onigiri Recipe

Joost Nusselder
Ohagi is the sweet variant of onigiri rice balls, a delicious snack you can make if you want something different. It can be a hassle to make, so I'll make it as simple as possible for you.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

For the onigiri rice balls

  • cups mocha gome glutinous rice
  • ½ cup Japanese sushi rice
  • 3 cups water

For the sweet toppings

  • ¾ lb anko (sweet azuki bean paste)
  • ½ cup walnuts crushed
  • tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • cup kinako (soybean powder)

Instructions
 

Preparing the rice

  • Put the 2 types of rice in a bowl and then wash using cold water.
  • Drain your rice using a colander and then set it aside for 30 minutes.

Preparing the sweet onigiri toppings

  • Make a bowl for 4 different toppings each:
    ¾ lb anko (sweet azuki bean paste)
    ½ cup crushed walnuts and 2 tbsp sugar (ground together)
    3 tbsp black sesame seed and 1 ½ tbsp sugar (ground together)
    1/3 cup kinako (soybean powder) and 2 tbsp sugar (mixed)

Cooking the rice

  • Place your rice in a rice cooker, and then add 3 cups of water. Allow the rice to soak for around 30 minutes, and then start your cooker.
  • Once your rice is cooked, allow it to steam for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Use a wooden pestle or spoon to mash your rice until it’s sticky. This can be pretty tough so be prepared to do some hard manual labor.
  • Wet your hands using water, and then mold your rice into oval balls.
  • Use your different toppings to roll the balls through and cover them completely. Then serve.

Video

Keyword Ohagi, onigiri
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Ohagi cooking tips

1. Choose the right rice. For ohagi, short grain rice is best. It’s stickier than long grain rice, so it will hold together better when you shape it into balls.

2. Cook the rice properly. Don’t overcook it or it will be too mushy. Ohagi are meant to have a slightly chewy texture.

3. Use a mold to shape the rice balls. This will make them all uniform in size and shape.

4. Be generous with the toppings. Ohagi are meant to be sweet, so don’t be shy about adding a lot of the toppings.

5. Coat the ohagi in a sweet glaze. This will give them a lovely shine and make them extra delicious.

With these tips, you’ll be able to make perfect ohagi every time!

Favorite ingredients

Substituting some of these ingredients might be hard, but this recipe is actually 4-in-1, with different toppings to enjoy. So if you can’t find some of this stuff near you, or have it delivered, you can always make more of one type.

Here are my favorite ingredients to use in this recipe:

This anko azuki bean paste from Chaganju is delicious and molds really well around your rice balls. It’s a must-have when making ohagi:

Chaganju azuki bean paste

(view more images)

Ohagi is easiest to make if you have rice with the right stickiness that’s easy to mold into shapes. That’s why I use this Nozomi short grain rice to make them:

Nozomi short grain sushi rice

(view more images)

For the glutinous rice, you need something sticky and sweet, so I use this Hakubai brand, it’s the perfect mochi gome:

Hakubai sweet glutinous rice

(view more images)

Kinako is a type of soybean flour you can use in cooking, and it’s great because it sticks to the rice very easily. I’ve found that Wel-Pac has the perfect consistency for sticking to our ohagi:

Wel-Pac Kinako soy bean flour

(view more images)

How to serve and eat ohagi

To eat ohagi, simply use chopsticks or your fingers to pick up one ball at a time. If you are using chopsticks, you can hold the ohagi in the palm of your hand, and then eat it in small bites. Alternatively, you can place the ohagi directly into your mouth.

If you are serving ohagi to guests, you may want to put them on small plates or in bowls. Each person can then take one or two ohagi at a time.

I’ve also seen people, even Japanese, eat ohagi with a fork so don’t be ashamed to use one. Ohagi can get pretty sticky so pulling off small bites is probably the smart thing to do.

Also read: how to make deliciously salty seasoned kombu onigiri

Ohagi Color And Flavor Variations

How to store leftover ohagi

Ohagi can be stored in an airtight container and kept at room temperature for up to a week, but it depends on the toppings you’ve chosen.

For example, the azuki bean paste is best kept in the fridge and lasts three days.

Conclusion

Who says rice can’t be a sweet snack? Ohagi and the Japanese certainly disagree, and these perfect sweet treats prove that you can make these for your guests as well!

Also read: these are the best onigiri recipes out there

Check out our new cookbook

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

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

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.