Japanese Curry Powder Recipe

For many people outside of Japan, Japanese curry is a beloved, nostalgic comfort food. That distinctively rich, aromatic curry sauce coating juicy pan-fried pork cutlets or chunks of stewed potatoes and carrots over fluffy white rice is like a warm hug in a bowl.

Japanese Curry Powder Recipe

While some grocery stores carry Japanese curry roux blocks for convenience, a key ingredient to making authentic Japanese curry from scratch is Japanese curry powder. With a blend of spices tailored to suit the Japanese palate, adding homemade Japanese curry powder to your pantry opens up a world of flavorful recipe options.

What Makes Japanese Curry Powder Unique

While often compared to Indian curry powder, Japanese curry powder has a flavor profile all its own. The blend of spices gives it a more rounded, subtly sweet, and milder aroma compared to Indian curry's aggressively hot spiciness.

Some key characteristics that set Japanese curry powder apart include:

  • Turmeric - This spice gives Japanese curry its signature golden hue. Turmeric also has an earthy, slightly bitter taste.
  • Coriander - Ground coriander seeds lend a sweet, citrusy aroma. Coriander is used liberally in Japanese curry powder.
  • Cumin - The distinctively musky, nutty flavor of cumin is a hallmark of curry powder. Japanese blends use less cumin compared to Indian curries.
  • Fenugreek - Adds a maple-like sweetness and burnt sugar aroma.
  • Cinnamon - Japanese curry powder contains more cinnamon than Indian blends, giving it a sweeter profile.
  • Star Anise - The licorice notes of star anise give Japanese curry powder a complexity.
  • Chilies - Japanese curry packs just enough gentle heat to warm, not overwhelm. Cayenne or chili powder is used sparingly.
  • Citrus - Dried orange or yuzu peel provides a bright pop of citrus.
  • Herbs - Japanese curry powder contains Western herbs like dill, thyme, and sage rarely seen in Japanese cuisine. This adds an extra layer of savory depth.

Now let's look at how to blend these spices into your own homemade Japanese curry powder.

How to Toast and Blend Your Japanese Curry Powder

Making Japanese curry powder is simpler than you may think. With just 20 spices, you can whip up a batch at home in about 15 minutes.

The spices fall into a few categories:

  • Savory spices - Turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, fennel, black pepper
  • Sweet spices - Cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, cloves, star anise, nutmeg
  • Citrus peel - Dried mandarin orange or yuzu peel powder
  • Chili pepper - Cayenne for gentle heat
  • Herbs - Dill, thyme, sage, bay leaf
  • Aromatics - Garlic powder, ginger powder

You can use pre-ground spices, or grind whole spices yourself for maximum freshness.

Follow these steps:

1. Toast the Whole Spices

If you're grinding whole spices, start by toasting them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. This helps intensify their essential oils and aromatics.

Toast until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Grind into a powder and set aside.

2. Combine and Blend the Powdered Spices

In a bowl, mix your toasted freshly ground spices with the rest of the powdered spices.

Make sure to blend thoroughly so the flavors distribute evenly.

3. Final Toast of the Curry Powder

For an extra aromatic punch, give your blended curry powder a final toast.

Return the spice blend to the skillet over low heat. Toast for 1-2 minutes until highly fragrant, stirring continuously.

Remove from heat and allow to cool fully before transferring to an airtight container. A cool, dark place like a pantry is ideal for storage.

And that's it - you've made your own authentic Japanese curry powder to use in all your favorite recipes!

Recipe Ideas to Use Your Homemade Curry Powder

Kare Raisu
Kare Raisu

A batch of homemade Japanese curry powder unlocks a world of delicious possibilities. Here are some classic and creative ways to put your spice blend to use:

Japanese Curry Rice (Kare Raisu)

The quintessential Japanese curry dish! Make an aromatic sauce by sautéing onions and carrots, then simmering with broth, soy sauce, and your curry powder. Toss in potatoes and meat, if desired. Serve over steamed white rice.

Curry Udon Noodle Soup

Transform a basic udon noodle soup into a flavor bomb by adding your curry powder to the broth. Garnish with cooked shrimp, chicken, or fish cake.

Katsu Curry

Bread pork cutlets and fry up crispy panko-coated tonkatsu, then smother with a creamy Japanese curry sauce. A match made in heaven!

Curry Pilaf

Cook rice or grains like farro or quinoa in broth seasoned with your homemade curry powder for incredibly tasty curried pilaf!

Curry Popcorn

Infuse popcorn with exotic curry flavor by sprinkling on your spice blend after popping.

The possibilities are endless with DIY Japanese curry powder handy in your kitchen!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Japanese curry powder spicy?

Compared to Indian curry powder, Japanese curry powder has just a touch of warmth, not major heat. Adjust the cayenne pepper to suit your desired spice level. But traditionally it offers gentle, background heat.

Can I substitute Indian curry powder?

While handy in a pinch, Indian curry powder won't provide the exact traditional Japanese curry flavor profile. The spices differ significantly. For authentic Japanese curry, use a Japanese spice blend.

How long does homemade curry powder last?

Stored properly in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, Japanese curry powder keeps well for 2-3 months. The aromatics will start to fade over time. For maximum freshness and flavor, make smaller batches.

What's the difference between curry powder and curry paste?

Curry powder consists entirely of dry, ground spices. Curry paste has the spices cooked into a wet paste with added ingredients like oil or coconut milk. They are not interchangeable.


Mastering your own homemade Japanese curry powder opens up an amazing world of Asian cooking possibilities.

Japanese Curry Powder Recipe

Homemade Japanese Curry Powder

This homemade Japanese curry powder recipe produces an aromatic, versatile spice blend perfect for making classic Japanese curry dishes.


  • 2 tbsp turmeric - gives vibrant color
  • 1 tbsp coriander - sweet, citrusy flavor
  • 1 tbsp cumin - warm, earthy aroma
  • 1.5 tsp fenugreek - adds sweetness
  • 1 tsp black pepper - subtle heat
  • 1 tsp cinnamon - sweetness and warmth
  • 1 tsp ginger - zing and brightness
  • 1 tsp garlic powder - savory umami
  • 1 tsp nutmeg - sweet nuttiness
  • 1 tsp fennel - licorice notes
  • 1 tsp star anise - complex sweetness
  • 1 tsp cardamom - hints of pine
  • 1/2 tsp cloves - rich, bittersweet
  • 1/2 tsp bay leaf - herbal complexity
  • 1/2 tsp thyme - earthy, grassy
  • 1/2 tsp sage - savory, minty
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne - mild heat
  • 1 tbsp oil


  • Toast whole spices briefly until fragrant. Grind into powder.
  • Combine all powdered spices in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Toast spice blend in dry skillet for 1-2 minutes until highly aromatic.
  • Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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