How to make Dango at home

How to make Dango at home

Mar 27, 2023 Tags 

Do you ever find yourself craving a sweet and chewy snack that's not quite a cookie and not quite a candy? Look no further than Dango! This Japanese treat is made from Japanese glutinous rice flour and can be enjoyed in a variety of flavors and styles. Whether you're a fan of the classic Mitarashi Dango with its sweet and savory soy sauce glaze or you prefer the colorful and festive Hanami Dango, there's a Dango for everyone.

This article covers how to make Hanami and Mitarashi Dango in the comfort of your home with minimal ingredients. So sit back and get ready to impress your friends with Dango.


What is Dango


Woman eating Dango


Dango is the Japanese version of small round dumplings. They are super chewy with a unique flavor and consistency that's hard to describe. Dango is a versatile dessert that can be enjoyed at any time of day, from a midday snack to a sweet treat after dinner. It's typically served on skewers in groups of three to five and it can come in different flavors and styles.

Dango is usually mistaken for another Japanese snack called mochi. It’s a little confusing but our article on the different types of mochi covers everything you need to know about the two snacks.


Mitarashi Dango


This variety of Dango is popular in Kyoto. It's believed that Mitarashi Dango originated in the Kamo Shrine in Kyoto, which is dedicated to the god of water and is one of the oldest and most important shrines in Japan. During the Edo period, many pilgrims would visit the Kamo Shrine, and it was here that Mitarashi Dango was first served as a snack. Usually, 5 balls of Dango are skewered on a stick, grilled, and then a savory soy sauce glaze is poured over it before eating. 


How to Make Mitarashi Dango


Mitarashi Dango 


Ingredients for the Dango


  • ¾ cup of shiratamako/ glutinous rice flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup


Ingrediens for the Mitarashi Sauce


  • ¼ cup water 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon rice syrup/honey / corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon kokutou / brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon potato starch

Kokutou sugar may seem like a strange ingredient. Lucky for you, we have an article covering everything you should know about kokuto.



ZenPop Snack Box


Step-bystep Mitarashi Dango Recipe


  1. The first thing you should do is soak your skewers in water to clean them. Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Get a bowl and mix the dry ingredients like the rice flour and salt. 
  3. Next, add your ¼ cup of water and mix it slowly with a spoon or chopsticks. Since the water is not much, it would end up looking like scrambled eggs. 
  4. Now you can use your hands to really get in there and mix your dough. If it is too sticky, add flour, if it keeps crumbling, add water. The goal is a slightly thick dough that can be molded. 
  5. Now let’s mold the dough into small round balls. If you are a perfectionist, you can measure each portion to ensure that they are the same size. If not, you can just eyeball it and roll the dough between your palms to form a smooth ball.
  6. Remember that pot of water boiling? Yeah, you’re going to pour all of the Dango balls in it. At first, they will sit at the bottom but then they will float to the top. When this happens, wait for 2 minutes before scooping them up.
  7. Because you’ll need to hold the Dango to skewer them, pour them in a bowl of cold water first to let them cool. 
  8. Drain the water and start placing the Dango in skewers. 3-5 Dango in a stick is fine.
  9. Next, brown the Dango by grilling it using a grill pan or a non-stick pan. Flip the Dango and wait for the second side to grill. The goal is not to get them burnt so don’t let it stay for too long. 


Making the Mitarashi sauce


Mitarashi Dango Sauce


  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a pan, put it on low heat and stir until it becomes thick.
  2. Pour a generous amount of the sauce over the Mitarashi Dango and it is ready to taste.


Hanami Dango


Hanami Dango


This version of Dango is enjoyed during the cherry blossom season, which typically occurs in late March to early April. Hanami is a festival to view cherry blossom trees in Japan so Hanami Dango It's often eaten during outdoor picnics and celebrations. It comes in three different colors – pink, white, and green – which are said to represent the colors of cherry blossoms. 

The pink Dango is usually flavored with sakura (cherry blossom) petals to represent the trees, while the white Dango is plain and represents the purity and simplicity of the cherry blossoms. The green Dango is usually flavored with green tea powder and represents the leaves of the cherry blossom tree.


How to Make Hanami Dango


Making Hanami Dango is similar to Mitarashi Dango however, there are some slight differences and you may need extra ingredients.


Ingredients for Hanami Dango 


  • ¼ tsp matcha powder
  • 1 drop of red or pink food coloring
  • Cherry blossom essence 
  • 45g Granulated sugar


Step-by-step Hanami Dango Recipe


Because there is no glaze for Hanami Dango, you can add sugar in the first stages of making Dango. When you have gone through steps 1-4 as explained previously, portion your dough in 3 parts. One part will remain plain as the white Dango.

  1. Mix in 1 drop of red food coloring and cherry blossom flavor in the second portion to get the pink dough.
  2. For the last portion, add a little matcha powder for that green color and taste.
  3. You can now proceed to make Dango balls and boil them in water. Boil the colors separately so that they won't stain the white Dango.
  4. Put the Dango in cold water and skewer starting with green, white, and pink.

You can now eat your Hanami Dango with a warm cup of tea.


Difference between Hanami Dango and Mitarashi Dango


Hanami Dango and Mitarashi Dango


  • Hanami Dango has 3 colors, and Mitarashi Dango is usually just white.
  • Mitarashi Dango is eaten with a sauce, Hanami Dango isn’t.
  • Mitarashi Dango is grilled, while Hanami Dango is eaten after it is made.
  • Hanami Dango has 3 Dango on the skewer, and Mitarashi Dango has up to 5 Dango on the skewer. 


If you find yourself craving Japanese munchies, why don’t you order a ZenPop snack box where you get loads of snacks from Japan.



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