Takoyaki pan: what is it & where did it come from?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  August 3, 2022

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If you’re wondering “what is a takoyaki pan,” let me explain.

A takoyaki pan is a pan or griddle with half-spherical or round molds where you place the dough and cook it. The pan heats up evenly and cooks the takoyaki balls until golden brown.

You need to flip the balls while cooking because the pan only browns the bottom of the dough.

Takoyaki pan

Takoyaki pan

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

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)

What’s the origin of the takoyaki pan?

The takoyaki pan was invented to make it easier for the street vendors of Osaka to make ball-shaped snacks.

Large cast iron grills with holes in them were born and it’s still what they look like today.

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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.