Five Ways to Use Kinako (Roasted Soy Bean Flour)

What is Kinako?

Kinako is one of many Japanese ingredients made from soybeans. It is dried, milled, and roasted soybean flour. It is golden tan in color and has a powdery texture similar to that of all-purpose flour. It has a warm, toasted, and nutty aroma, and its flavors are similar to its aroma, and slightly reminiscent of roasted peanuts. Because it is a soy product, it has protein.

For reference, other ingredients made from soybeans include soy sauce (shoyu), soybean curd (tofu), fermented soybean paste (miso), and soybean oil.

Where Can I Buy Kinako?

Roasted soybean flour is available for purchase at Japanese grocery stores, or it can be purchased online. Alternatively, your local health food store may sell unroasted soybean flour. This flour can be roasted at home in a pan over the stove and will become a golden brown color. A simple recipe for homemade kinako (roasted soybean flour) is available here.

How is Kinako Used?

Traditionally, kinako is used as a condiment for desserts, and is especially popular when paired with mochi (rice cakes) or other wagashi (Japanese-style sweets). Desserts are often dusted with kinako as is, for an unsweetened, yet toasted nutty flavor, or kinako can be mixed with granulated white sugar for a sweeter flavor profile.

Below is a list of some of the traditional ways in which kinako is used in Japanese cuisine, as well as more modern applications of this versatile protein-packed flour.

  • 01 of 05

    Unsweetened Kinako (Roasted Soy Bean Flour) as a Garnish

    A close-up of kinako
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    Unsweetened kinako is used to add a warm, nutty flavor to compliment sweet mochi (rice cakes) or other wagashi (Japanese-style desserts). It can also be used as an ingredient in a variety of desserts and recipes.

  • 02 of 05

    Sweetened Kinako (Roasted Soy Bean Flour) for Mochi (Rice Cakes)

    A plate of mochi dusted with sweet kinako
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    Sweetened kinako can be easily prepared by mixing equal parts of kinako and granulated white sugar. Optionally, a dash of salt may be added to bring out the flavors of the kinako and sugar. It is traditionally used to garnish many different types of mochi (rice cakes) and other wagashi (Japanese-style desserts). 

  • 03 of 05

    Baked Goods: Cookies, Cakes, Bread

    A plate of kinako cookies
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    Kinako, as flour, can also be used in baked goods. If you are interested in substituting kinako with all-purpose flour, a general rule of thumb is to replace 1/4 of the total amount of flour needed for a recipe, although up to 1/3 may be substituted. Kinako, has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour and a very strong flavor, unlike all-purpose flour, so it should be used sparingly. Note, the addition of kinako to baked goods tends to decrease its moisture content. Therefore liquids or fats should be adjusted accordingly. 

  • 04 of 05

    Beverages: Shakes, Smoothies, Lattes

    A kinako protein smoothie
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    Kinako can easily be incorporated into a smoothie or shake to boost its protein content. It also adds a nutty flavor to your drink of choice and is a great alternative to peanut butter or peanut flour.  

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  • 05 of 05

    Frozen Desserts: Ice Cream and Shaved Ice

    A plate of kinako ice cream
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    Kinako, either unsweetened or sweetened, may be used to garnish ice cream, shaved ice, or other frozen treats to change the "mood" of the dessert. The addition of kinako adds a savory, warm, and nutty character to an otherwise sweet dessert. Additionally, kinako is often associated with Japanese desserts and magically transforms an ordinary dessert into a mysterious Japanese dessert.