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Mochi donuts are chewy on the inside with a light, crisp shell and a layer of sweet icing in a variety of flavors. This recipe includes a rich and perfectly sweetened brown butter glaze.
Mochi Donuts are a Japanese treat that is now sweeping the US the way cronuts, cruffins, duffins, and wonuts have previously. Invented in Japan, they’re also called pon de ring donuts, for their pretty ring of dough balls shape.
A big bonus of mochi donuts, though, is that they are naturally gluten free so they’re safe for the gluten-sensitive people in your life.
Where did mochi donuts come from?
Mochi donuts were first popularized in Japan by the chain Mister Donut as a hybrid between Japanese mochi treats and American donuts. Mister Donut started making a pon de ring donut using mochiko flour (aka glutinous rice flour or sweet rice flour) instead of the wheat flour we typically use in American donuts.
The dough balls are formed into a connected ring and deep fried, just like an American style donut, but with a chewier texture.
Yes, you can make mochi donuts at home
The longest line in San Francisco’s Japantown Mall is always at the mochi donut shop, Mochill. I’ve seen it stretch to 40 people or more. Are mochi donuts really worth waiting in such a long line for? Yes. Yes, they are.
But the good news is that you can make homemade mochi donuts that come really close to duplicating the deliciousness of store-bought mochi donuts.
Imagine biting into a perfectly chewy mochi ring with a light, crisp outer shell and a glaze of brown butter icing. It is totally irresistible. And you made it yourself so you know that when this batch is going, you can just make another one! Amazing.
This mochi donut recipe has a brown butter glaze, but you can switch it up with whatever flavors you like. Use a matcha powder to flavor a matcha glaze, fresh strawberries for a pretty pink strawberry glaze, black sesame seeds for a dramatic black sesame glaze, white chocolate or dark chocolate for a chocolate glaze, or any other glaze that sounds good to you.
What makes mochi donuts different?
Made with a combination of glutinous rice flour (also called sweet rice flour) and tapioca flour, mochi donuts have a chewy texture, similar to the regular mochi you find in Japanese markets. The dough is formed into dough balls about the size of a superball and connected into rings of about 8 dough balls.
Because they don’t have any wheat flour, they are naturally gluten free. My husband is sensitive to gluten so he loves that he can eat these without a problem.
Like traditional donuts, they’re deep fried in vegetable oil, which gives them a crisp exterior. A sweet glaze—made with matcha powder, earl grey tea, black sesame seeds, fresh strawberries, chocolate, or in this case browned butter—gives it sweetness and additional texture contrast.
You can make baked mochi donuts, too, but they won’t have the same
The ingredients you need to make mochi donuts
This mochi donuts recipe uses glutinous rice flour and tapioca starch instead of the regular flour used for typical American-style donuts. Some recipes include silken tofu, but these are even simpler than that. Here’s what you need (note that the full ingredient list with measurements is included in the recipe card below, along with detailed step-by-step cooking instructions):
- Glutinous rice flour or (mochiko flour or sweet rice flour)
- Tapioca starch (I love Bob’s Red Mill brand)
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter
- Dark brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Hot water
- Oil for frying
Can I use regular rice flour to make mochi donuts?
Nope. You need to use glutinous rice flour to make mochi donuts. Regular rice flour won’t give them the addictive chewy texture that makes mochi donuts so special.
How to make Mochi donuts
Mochi donuts are easier to make than they look. Here’s how (note that detailed step-by-step instructions are included in the recipe card below):
- Melt butter and add brown sugar.
- Mix the mochiko flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the melted butter mixture along with vanilla.
- Add hot water and whisk thoroughly. Set aside to rise for an hour or so.
- In a deep-sided pot, heat about 3 or 4 inches of vegetable oil to 350°F.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces, then divide each piece into 8 smaller pieces. Roll each of the small pieces into a ball and then arrange them into a ring (making a donut ring made up of 8 balls). Repeat to make 16 donuts.
- Carefully add the donut rings to the oil and cook for about 2 minutes, then flip over using chopsticks or tongs, and cook on the second side for about 1 more minute, until the donut is golden brown all over. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- While the donuts are cooling, make the glaze by melting butter in a saucepan, then adding brown sugar and cooking for about 3 minutes. Stir in hte powdered sugar and milk.
- When the donuts are completely cool, dip them into the glaze adn sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
How can I store mochi donuts?
Mochi donuts are best eaten the same day they are made. If you must, you can the store any remaining donuts uncovered at room temperature until the next day.
More Japanese recipes you’ll love
If you love these Japanese donuts, you’ll want to give Japanese Souffle Pancakes a try. To make a Japanese meal to go with your donuts, try Onigiri, Miso Glazed Salmon, Spicy Miso Ramen, Chicken Karaage, Chawanmushi, Beef Yakisoba, and/or Stir-Fried Lotus Root.
Mochi Donuts with Brown Butter and Sea Salt
For the donuts
- 2 cups mochiko flour
- 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot water
- Vegetable oil for frying
For the glaze
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Heat a saucepan over high heat. Melt the butter and whisk in the brown sugar. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Prepare the dough. In a large bowl, combine the mochiko flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar. Make a well in the center and add the melted butter mixture and vanilla extract. Slowly add the hot water. Whisk thoroughly (preferably with a dough whisk) and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let rise for 1 hour.
- Fill a high-sided pot with about 3 or 4 inches of oil and heat it to 350°F.
- Lightly flour a wooden cutting board. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 8 equal sections.
- Roll each section into a ball, then divide each ball into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and arrange 8 pieces on a small square of parchment paper, forming a ring. Repeat with the remaining sections of dough.
- Carefully add donut rings to the oil with the parchment paper to help hold their shape. Remove parchment paper after 2 minutes and flip the donuts. Cook for 1 more minute. Transfer the donuts to a wire rack set on baking sheet.
- Prepare the glaze. Add the butter to a saucepan and melt it over medium-high heat. Once melted, stir in the brown sugar. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar and milk to the bowl and whisk well
- Dip the cooled donuts into the glaze and sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!