Ingredient Spotlight: 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 soy bean 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 similarly nutty and slightly reminiscent of roasted peanuts.

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...MORE Kinako?

Roasted soy bean flour is available for purchase at Japanese grocery stores, or it can be purchased online. Alternatively, your local health food store may sell unroasted soy bean 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 soy bean 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

    Kinako (Roasted Soy Bean Flour). Canacol/Moment/Getty Images

    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)

    Mochi (Rice Cake) Dusted with Sweet Kinako (Roasted Soy Bean Flour). hana-Datacraft/Imagenavi/Getty Images

    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

    Japanese Cookies. Fotosearch/Fotosearch/Getty Images

    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, while nutritionally superior due to its higher protein content, has a very strong flavor unlike all-purpose flour which is bland, so it should be used sparingly. Note, the addition of kinako to baked goods tends to decrease its moisture...MORE content. Therefore liquids or fats should be adjusted accordingly. 

  • 04 of 05

    Beverages: Shakes, Smoothies, Lattes

    Protein Smoothie. Philip Wilkins/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Kinako, due to its high protein content, can easily be incorporated into a smoothie or shake to increase its nutritional value. 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

    Ice Cream. Alexandra Granlewski/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    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 to a mysterious Japanese dessert!