What is in okonomiyaki flour? + the best substitutes

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  January 27, 2022

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Picture this; you’re in the mood for some okonomiyaki, so you gather all your favorite veggies, and pick out the perfect cabbage.

You lay out all the ingredients, and you realize…you’re out of okonomiyaki flour!

This is a perfectly normal situation, and I understand your pain.

What is okonomiyaki flour and a good substitute

Okonomiyaki translates literally to “whatever you like best”. So technically, you can add the available ingredients at your place and make your own version of it!

So what’s so special about okonomiyaki flour?

Today I’ll be discussing exactly that. Additionally, I’ll mention the best alternatives to okonomiyaki flour that you can use to get just the same (or even better) results.

So read on ahead to find out!

First, see how okonomiyaki is made in an authentic Japanese restaurant:


What is okonomiyaki flour?

Traditionally, okonomiyaki flour is made from unbleached wheat flour and soy flour. There’s the addition of leavening agents and seasoning that add a kick of flavor to the flour itself.

Favorite Asian Recipes x
Favorite Asian Recipes

This flour is made to rise independently and form a thick texture without any additional ingredients like nagaimo (mountain yam).

Initially, the okonomiyaki recipe was made with a blend of mountain yam mashed up, and slowly, okonomiyaki flour replaced it as a more accessible choice for everyone.

Some people assume that using okonomiyaki flour is cheating on the original recipe.

However, the aura of this dish lies in its versatile nature. You can make it whatever you want it to be!

Flavors and varieties of okonomiyaki flour

Okonomiyaki flour comes in a wide variety of flavors. Each flavor has its own leavening agent and seasoning.

Traditional okonomiyaki used Japanese mountain yam and wheat flour to get a thick and glutinous mix.

To mimic that texture, the modern interpretation of okonomiyaki flour combines yam flour within the wheat flour, alongside other seasonings like shrimps and scallops. Some common brands you can purchase include:

That being said, there’s no “correct” method of making okonomiyaki, so you can easily swap out ingredients with ones at your home.

So if you’re short on okonomiyaki flour, that’s completely okay. You can easily switch up the flour with one of these alternatives!

Best substitutes for okonomiyaki flour

You can add whatever you desire to this Japanese classic. However, some combinations just work out better than others.

Here are some of the alternative flour options that you can use in place of traditional okonomiyaki flour.

Gluten-free okonomiyaki substitute

Coming across ready-made gluten-free okonomiyaki flour is pretty rare, so here’s a quick alternative you can quickly whip up.

You’ll need rice flour and some sort of thickening agent. For that, you can use nagaimo.

However, if that isn’t easily accessible, eggs are an excellent thickening agent. This way, you can quickly get the authentic fluffy and thick texture of okonomiyaki you know and crave.

All-purpose flour as an okonomiyaki substitute

All-purpose flour is a lifesaver, and chances are, it’s in your home already. From baking cookies to making a white sauce, all-purpose flour has it all covered!

So it’s an excellent substitute for okonomiyaki. This flour provides an authentic pancake texture while incorporating the ingredients well.

However, this flour alone will lack the sticky nature of okonomiyaki we all love, so I suggest that you add some yam starch. Potato starch and the addition of rice flour work just as fine as thickening agents.

You can also add some portion of baking powder to add the leavening agent to your batter. This will make sure that the flour batter rises evenly and the pancake obtains its beautiful round shape.

Takoyaki flour in place of okonomiyaki flour

Okonomiyaki flour is unbleached wheat and soy flour filled with spices and herbs to add flavor to the base. It rises without any additional ingredients and gives you a thick fluffy texture.

Takoyaki flour is made with a touch of soy sauce taste, making the batter a savory treat. It’ll give your okonomiyaki a slightly richer and saltier taste with the soy sauce’s sweet lingering tinge.

Add some water and egg, and you’ll have the signature sticky batter for these Japanese pancakes.

The reverse is also true, so you can make delicious takoyaki with okonomiyaki flour!


So what flour should I use?

The answer is, any flour works perfectly fine! The whole essence of okonomiyaki lies in making do with whatever resources you have.

Whether you have okonomiyaki flour, plain flour, or even the original yam recipe down, the dish’s authenticity isn’t compromised.

I hope this article’s helped guide you about okonomiyaki flour and all the alternatives you can use in place of it.

Just remember to have fun and add whatever your heart desires. Happy cooking!

Also read: this is how you make okonomiyaki and monjayaki

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.