What are Matcha Dango? (and how to make them)

What are Matcha Dango? (and how to make them)

Mar 20, 2023 Tags 

Dango is an amazing Japanese wagashi usually sold during festivals. Just like ice cream mochi, there are many variations of Dango and one of the yummiest is Matcha Dango. In Japan, green tea is extremely popular so it makes sense to create a green-tea flavored Dango. Matcha Dango is a sweet treat unique to Japan that is very popular amongst the populace and anyone who’s ever given them a taste!

There are other Matcha variations like Matcha mochi and the same goes for Dango. But with the two combined together, you get a soft tasting glutinous rice dumpling that is rich in flavor. They taste amazingly good and in this article, you can learn how to make them at home. 


What is Dango?


Hanami Dango


Dango is already quite popular on its own. They are dumplings made with glutinous rice flour, uruchi rice flour and water. Dango is a type of “wagashi,” that is often served alongside green tea. Over the years, multiple variants have popped up all over Japan some of them include, anko Dango, kinako Dango and of course, Matcha Dango. Sometimes, it is compared to mochi but they are different because Dango is not as chewy as mochi and it is skewered unlike mochi.

If you want to learn everything about Dango, read our complete Dango article here.


What is Matcha?


Matcha Powder


Matcha has been popular in Japan since the 1600s, and it forms the foundation upon which the majority of Japan’s tea ceremonies were formed. Matcha is processed green tea made by crushing the leaves of the tea to get the finest and smoothest powder. Although it was initially used only in traditional tea ceremonies, it soon evolved into an ingredient in sweets and desserts because of its unique bitter taste.

In this article, we cover tea in Japan and why it is so important.


Matcha Dango


Matcha Dango on Sticks


Essentially, the Japanese had taken two of their favorite things, Dango and Matcha, then decided to combine them into one. The gentle bitter taste of the Matcha goes surprisingly well with Dango’s chewy texture. Matcha Dango is characterized by its green color. This is because of the Matcha green tea powder mixed with it.

There are multiple places where you could find Dango being sold, as well as stores that offer Matcha green tea in Japan. Outside Japan, it is not so easy to find.



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How to Make Matcha Dango


You don’t really need many ingredients to make Matcha Dango. You just need; glutinous rice, Matcha powder, katakuriko (potato starch), sugar and water. Remember that the addition of Matcha powder to the mix is what really sets Matcha Dango apart from the plain old Dango.

Here’s a step-by-step process; 

  1. Grab a bowl and mix the glutinous rice flour, sugar, and Matcha green tea powder.
  2. The next step is to turn your mix into a dough. You do this by gradually adding water to it until it achieves the right texture.
  3. You want the dough to be nice and smooth, so make sure to knead it thoroughly for a few minutes.
  4. Next, cut up the dough into small pieces and use your palms to roll them into balls.
  5. Put a pot on the stove, and add some water. Wait until the water starts to boil before you add the balls of dough that you’ve made.
  6. Allow everything to boil for four or five minutes. When the dough is ready, you will notice them starting to float to the top of the water. 
  7. Scoop the boiled dough out of the hot water and place them in cold water. This should take only a few seconds.
  8. Take the dough out of the cold water and place it in a tray dusted with potato starch.
  9. After that, skewer the Matcha Dango prepared beforehand, and then they’re ready to be served.


If you want to sweeten the Matcha Dango a little more, then you could add a drizzle of honey just before you serve them or eat them.

You can also make Dango the regular way and mix in some Matcha with your glaze to get that taste of Matcha.


Matcha Dango vs Mochi 


Dango and Mochi are so similar in the eyes of an outsider that it is completely understandable to have the two of them mixed up. It is a rather common mistake, but there are very easy ways to differentiate between the two;

Both Matcha Dango and Mochi are made with glutinous rice flour. Their key differences lie in texture, shape, and the way they’re each served.

Matcha Dango is a small dumpling made with mochiko, a specific type of glutinous rice flour, and Matcha green tea leaves. It is often served as a set of three or four on each skewer. It has a sticky texture and is quite chewy, with a green color.

Mochi is also made with glutinous rice flour. It has a sweet sticky taste, which might seem similar to Dango, but Mochi is filled with sweet red bean paste. The fillings in Mochi often make it come out bigger than Dango.


Health Benefits of Eating Matcha Dango


Mini Matcha Dango


Matcha has been popular for many years in Japan for multiple reasons. It has a soothing and unique taste. The ingredients used to make Matcha Dango have certain health benefits associated with them. First, there’s Matcha green tea powder;

  • Matcha is rich in antioxidants and vitamins. This helps to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and cell damage, according to nutritionist Jenna Gorham.
  • Matcha contains caffeine and would make a great substitute for coffee. This can give you the boost of alertness that you need to get through the day.
  • For those who are interested in fitness and mobility. It can help to increase performance by strengthening your bones.
  • Dango is made with glutinous rice flour, which is highly nutritious.
  • It boosts the immune system to combat some inflammations and reduce the stress experienced by the body.
  • Also, the vitamin B found in rice might help to improve your rate of metabolism.

When it comes to Japanese confectionery, dumplings are the real deal. They’re uniquely shaped, and they taste great. Most of the time, they’re far more healthy than some western alternatives, like Matcha Dango. If you’re in Tokyo and you’re craving something unique and healthy, then there’s no need to fear. You’re in the city with the most delicious Dango on the planet.


Here at ZenPop Japan, we have monthly snack packs filled with amazing Wagashi from Japan (yes, that may include Dangos).



This article was originally written by our freelance writer Umm-Kulthum Abdulkareem and edited by us.