What is Kinako Powder?

Kinako powder is a versatile Japanese ingredient made from roasted soybeans ground into a fine flour.

What is Kinako Powder

Its warm, nutty flavor and golden color make it a popular topping for desserts and a unique addition to both sweet and savory dishes.

This traditional ingredient has many modern applications as more people discover its distinctive taste and nutrition benefits.

How Kinako Powder is Made

Kinako literally means “yellow powder” in Japanese. It’s made from whole soybeans that are slowly roasted until the beans split open and become golden brown. The roasted soybeans are then ground into a fine powder that resembles all-purpose flour in texture.

Depending on the roast time, kinako can range in color from light golden to reddish-brown. Darker roasted kinako has a more intense, nutty flavor while lighter roasts are subtler in taste. Some kinako contains the soybean skins while other varieties have the skins removed before grinding.

The Unique Flavor of Kinako Powder

Kinako powder has a warm, nutty aroma reminiscent of roasted peanuts or hazelnuts. The toasting process caramelizes the natural sugars in soybeans, bringing out sweet, nutty notes. The flavor is often described as a cross between peanut butter and toasted nuts.

Kinako has a subtle sweetness on its own. When mixed with sugar, its naturally sweet taste becomes more pronounced. The powder can be used unsweetened or sweetened depending on the application. A touch of salt brings out the roastiness and enhances the overall flavor.

Key Takeaway: Kinako powder has a warm, nutty taste similar to roasted peanuts or hazelnuts. It can be used sweetened or unsweetened.

Traditional Uses in Japanese Cuisine

In Japan, kinako is considered a traditional ingredient and commonly used to coat or flavor wagashi, a type of Japanese confectionery. Popular pairings include:

  • Mochi - Chewy pounded rice cakes dusted with kinako powder for added flavor and to prevent sticking. Both sweet and savory mochi work well with kinako.
  • Dango - Small round dumplings made from rice flour. Kinako gives dango a crispy toasted coating and additional taste.
  • Warabimochi - Jelly-like cakes made from bracken starch topped with kinako and drizzled with brown sugar syrup. The powder's crunch contrasts nicely with the soft warabimochi texture.
  • Daifuku - Soft mochi stuffed with sweet fillings like anko red bean paste then dusted with kinako. The nutty powder helps balance the sweetness.
  • Ohagi and botamochi - Rice dumplings or balls of mochi coated in kinako and filled with red bean paste. The nuttiness pairs nicely with the sweet azuki beans.

Traditionally, kinako is most often used as a topping or flavoring for Japanese confections and desserts. The roasted taste brings extra complexity while the fine powder keeps sticky rice-based treats from adhering together.

Modern Uses Beyond Japanese Cuisine

While kinako remains a vital part of traditional Japanese confections, its applications now extend far beyond wagashi. Creative cooks have found many ways to incorporate this versatile powder into both sweet and savory dishes:

  • Mix it into pancake or waffle batters for nutty whole grain flapjacks.
  • Swirl it into ice cream, milkshakes, or smoothies for extra nutrition and flavor.
  • Make a spreadable kinako butter for toast or sandwiches.
  • Add it to cookie, cake, muffin, or bread recipes for a protein boost.
  • Use it as a coating for fish or chicken before frying for crunch.
  • Sprinkle it over rice, noodles, roasted veggies or salads for some added crunch.
  • Blend it into dips, dressings, soups or stews for a roasted, nutty taste.
  • Substitute it for up to 1/4 of the flour in baked goods recipes.

Kinako powder brings its distinctive roasted nuttiness and sweetness to both desserts and main dishes. It’s an easy way to add complex flavor and nutrition to everyday recipes.

Where to Buy Kinako Powder

While not yet mainstream, kinako powder is becoming more widely available:

  • Look for it in the Asian or Japanese section of grocery stores, often near other Japanese ingredients like panko breadcrumbs.
  • Check the baking aisle or bulk bins at natural food stores and co-ops.
  • Find it at any Japanese or Asian specialty grocery store or market.
  • Purchase kinako online from retailers specializing in Japanese ingredients and foods.
  • Make your own by roasting soybeans in the oven until golden brown then grinding into powder.

If your regular stores don’t carry kinako, try an Asian grocer or buy it online. With its growing popularity, kinako is becoming easier to find.

Nutrition Benefits of Kinako Powder

This tasty powder packs a nutritional punch. Made from whole roasted soybeans, kinako provides:

  • Protein - Around 11 grams per quarter cup serving, making it an excellent plant-based protein source.
  • Fiber - Approximately 3 grams per serving to promote digestion and heart health.
  • Healthy fats - Rich in monounsaturated fats that may help lower cholesterol. Also provides omega-3s.
  • Minerals - Good amounts of iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Helps build strong bones.
  • B vitamins - Particularly high in folate, which aids cell growth and development.
  • Phytonutrients - Contains antioxidant compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that may prevent chronic diseases.
  • Low glycemic index - Helps control blood sugar when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

With lots of protein, fiber and nutrients, kinako powder offers many nutritional perks. It’s a gluten-free way to add plant-based protein to your diet.


What does kinako taste like?

Kinako has a warm, nutty flavor similar to roasted peanuts or hazelnuts. It also has a subtle sweetness.

Is kinako healthy?

Yes, kinako is rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats so it offers many nutritional benefits. The whole soybeans provide phytonutrients with antioxidant properties as well.

Can I substitute kinako for flour?

You can replace up to 1/4 of the flour in recipes with kinako. But use it sparingly as the flavor is very strong. Kinako doesn't have the same binding or rising ability as wheat flour.

How do I use kinako in desserts?

Top cakes, cookies or ice cream with kinako for flavor, sprinkle it on pancakes or waffles, or swirl it into milkshakes. You can also mix kinako with sugar to lightly coat Japanese treats like mochi or daifuku.

What are some ways to cook with kinako besides desserts?

Add it to dips, salad dressings, rice or noodle dishes for nuttiness. Use it to bread meats or fish before frying, mix into pancake batter or stir it into soups for richness.


Kinako powder is a versatile Japanese pantry staple made from roasted soybeans ground into a fine flour.

Its distinctive nutty sweetness and health benefits make it a smart addition to both sweet and savory recipes.

Use kinako to add complex roasted flavors and extra nutrition to baked goods, ice cream, smoothies, rice or noodle bowls, chicken dishes, and more.

Mix it with sugar to coat traditional Japanese confections like mochi and daifuku for authentic flavor. Kinako powder brings tasty possibilities to any kitchen.

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