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Mochi Donuts: distinctly chewy donuts in global flavors

mochi donuts where to find them

What are mochi donuts? 

Mochi donuts are a hybrid of traditional American doughnuts and Japanese mochi.  They are made of sweet gluttonous rice which, as you may have guessed, is the primary ingredient for mochi.  This mochi rice is inherently gluten-free and has a soft gooey texture.  So after these donuts are fried, the result is a slightly crispy exterior with a surprisingly chewy interior.  Mochi donuts are normally found in three main shapes: the traditional donut, donut holes (round balls) and a donut hole ring (small round balls connected to form a ring).   They are also typically coated in an assortment of flavored icings or toppings beyond the standard chocolate and vanilla such as matcha, black sesame, ube, etc.

Where did they come from?

Although mochi itself has been around for centuries (at least since the early part of the first millennium), mochi donuts are a relatively new food creation.  Mister Donut in Japan started selling their “pon de rings” mochi donut in 2003, around the same time as the earliest mentions of “mochi donut” on the internet.

The gluttonous rice used in mochi is a pretty versatile ingredient and can essentially be used in all kinds of traditional desserts or baked goods to give them that undeniably chewy texture…

Mochi Donuts vs. Poi Mochi

Mochi donuts have a similar texture to poi mochi since they share the same glutinous base and are both commonly fried. However, unlike mochi donuts, poi mochi is made with mashed taro root that is diluted with water (i.e. poi).

In addition, poi mochi traditionally comes in the shape of donut holes. In other words, they are simply fried dough balls. Mochi donuts, on the other hand, most often come in the shape of small fried dough balls connected into a ring.

What are the different variations of mochi desserts? 

  • mochi brownies
  • mochi cakes
  • mochi cupcakes
  • mochi cookies
  • mochi muffins
  • mochi pancakes
  • mochi tarts
  • mochi waffles

Where can I get them?

Hungry for a mochi donut? You can find mochi donuts in donut shops throughout many countries in Asia, especially in Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea (where it is called “chapssal”).  Over the years, they have spread to Europe, America and other parts of the world. 

In the US, mochi donuts were first sold in Hawaii and gradually spread from coast to coast.  Some places only sell them in limited batches.  So, if you find yourself near these locations below, go grab some ASAP while they’re hot ‘n fresh.

Berkeley, CA: Third Culture Bakery

berkeley san francisco bay area mochi donuts
photo: Third Culture Bakery on Facebook

Dallas, TX: Fat Straws Bubble Tea Co.

mochi donuts dallas texas
photo: Fat Straws Bubble Tea Co. on Facebook

New York, NY: Alimama

new york nyc mochi donuts
photo: Alimama on Facebook

Honolulu, HI: MoDo

mochi donuts hawaii honolulu
photo: MoDo on Facebook

Orlando, FL: mochi dochi

mochi donuts orlando florida
photo: mochi dochi on Facebook

Las Vegas, NV: Paina Cafe

las vegas mochi donuts
photo: @painacafelv on Instagram

San Jose, CA: Le Crème Cafe

mochi donuts san jose california
photo: @lecremecafe on Instagram

Since these Hawaiian-based donuts were introduced, multiple chains (including the original mochi donut inventor) have helped put them on the map. The most prominent include

  • Mister Donut
  • Mochi Dough
  • MochiNut

Looking for specific locations? Check out this interactive map:

How can I make them?

If mochi donuts are not conveniently sold near you, there is always the option of making them yourself.  Here is a simple recipe to make powdered mochi donuts in donut hole form, which is the easiest shape to make.  Once you’ve gotten the basics down, you can expand your mochi donut skills and test out different shapes and flavors.

mochi donuts san jose california

mochi donuts

soft chewy donuts in various flavors

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mochi sweet rice flour – for starter dough
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons milk (or milk alternative) – for starter dough
  • 1 3/4 cup mochi sweet rice flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (or milk alternative)
  • 3 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar – topping
  • canola oil – for frying

Instructions

  1. First, mix the starter ingredients (the mochi rice flour and milk) in a bowl.  Heat in the microwave (25-30 second intervals), or in a small pot on the stove until dough is firm and slightly bouncy to the touch. Set starter dough aside for around 5 minutes to cool.
  2. In a bowl combine the main ingredients (mochi rice flour, milk, butter, sugar, baking powder and egg) with the starter dough using the stand mixer on low, or with clean hands.  Mix/knead until dough is sticky and slightly wet.  (Sometimes 1-2 additional teaspoons of milk is necessary to reduce the stickiness.)
  3. Shape into round donut holes around 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Heat canola oil in pot to 350°F.  
  5. Fry and rotate donut holes until they float and are golden brown.
  6. Transfer donut holes onto a paper towel-covered plate to absorb the oil.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy your mochi donut!

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Ingredients

Directions

  1. First, mix the starter ingredients (the mochi rice flour and milk) in a bowl.  Heat in the microwave (25-30 second intervals), or in a small pot on the stove until dough is firm and slightly bouncy to the touch. Set starter dough aside for around 5 minutes to cool.
  2. In a bowl combine the main ingredients (mochi rice flour, milk, butter, sugar, baking powder and egg) with the starter dough using the stand mixer on low, or with clean hands.  Mix/knead until dough is sticky and slightly wet.  (Sometimes 1-2 additional teaspoons of milk is necessary to reduce the stickiness.)
  3. Shape into round donut holes around 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Heat canola oil in pot to 350°F.  
  5. Fry and rotate donut holes until they float and are golden brown.
  6. Transfer donut holes onto a paper towel-covered plate to absorb the oil.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy your mochi donut!

Hello! I'm Kristina

Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.
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