Kinako (Roasted Soybean Flour) & Cookies

A lesser known culinary item greatly loved by Japanese people but quite often dismissed as bland by foreigners is kinako, or roasted soybean flour. It’s a decidedly traditional, niche food and I have rarely seen it used as anything other than an accompaniment to glutinous rice (mochi) and similar desserts. Kinako can be an acquired taste and unless you’ve been raised on the stuff, its nutty, distinctive flavour may be off-putting for some.


My mother would every so often get hold of kinako in Perth and we’d joyously chow down on some sticky mochi cakes sprinkled liberally with sweetened kinako. I also recall her using it over regular steamed rice as another type of treat. I know some people enjoy kinako with warm milk (kinako latte?) or simply mixed into hot water and consumed as a healthy beverage. As a kid, I often ate spoonfuls of kinako almost like other kids did Milo except the former is far better for you.


Indeed, kinako is a very healthy, gluten-free wheat flour alternative that people can easily adopt into their diet. It’s full of Vitamin B and protein, and works well in many baking recipes although it doesn’t need as much time in the oven. You can easily buy regular soybean flour from health food shops which is less distinctive in taste as the beans are generally not roasted before milling. Sadly, getting hold of Japanese made kinako in Australia can be tricky. I don’t think I’ve seen it readily available in Perth for a few years now.

Fortunately, I was able to put my kinako cravings to rest thanks to my trusty Thermomix. Whole soy beans can be bought aplenty from health food stores and Asian grocers so all one had to do was roast’em and mill’em.


1 cup of soy beans
caster sugar as required

Note: One cup of beans will yield enough kinako for general use but if you can see yourself using kinako as a flour replacement, you can roast and mill two or three cups of beans.

To make: Wash soy beans thoroughly and remove husky bits and any beans that are discoloured or broken. Place beans on a dry dish cloth and rub dry by wrapping them up in the cloth. This will remove any excess bits and pieces from the beans. Place beans in TMX bowl and roast gently on 100C, Speed Soft for two minutes or until you can start smelling the roasted beans. Alternatively, you can roast the soy beans on a large frying pan over a medium/high heat, shaking the pan frequently to prevent the beans from burning. Once roasted, mill the beans on Speed 9 or 10 for at least 30 seconds or until you cannot hear any whole beans swishing around. Allow flour to cool down before transferring to a air-tight container.

For kinako, I recommend sifting the flour through a fine sieve to get feather light kinako. Mix about one tablespoon of sugar to every 3 or 4 tablespoons of kinako, or to taste.

If you don’t have pre-cut mochi cakes on hand, you can easily make ohagi which is made of cooked rice (2/3 cup glutinous rice and cup 1/3 regular sushi rice), slightly pounded together. It’s not as sticky but tastes great with kinako :) For those preferring a Western-style treat, try kinako in a basic cookie.

Kinako Cookies

Kinako Cookie

(makes about 12)

85g of chilled butter (or vegan substitute)
1/3 brown sugar
1 cup kinako (or regular soy flour)
1 egg (omit if vegan and use water to bind)
2tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

To Make: Pre-heat oven to 170C. Cream butter and sugar well. Add egg and combine well. Add kinako, salt and baking powder and mix into a good stiff dough. Scoop small balls of dough and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Press patterns into cookies before cooling if desired.

Kinako Cookies



  1. Megan

    January 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    OH! yum…. they look perfect – like not overly brown but still with a snap crunchiness to them. I am going to give them a whirl and maybe use a sub for brown sugar

  2. Kelly

    February 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Do you know where I can get some in Perth? Hubby is Japanese and he has run out, he usually drinks it in milk for breakfast but when we went to the Japanese supermarket they don’t stock it any more, so sad! :(
    I’d love to make your cookies too.

    • Monica

      February 27, 2012 at 11:29 am

      Oh nice! I remember Kinako milk :) I have to say it’s been a while since I’ve seen imported Kinako in the shops and Asian grocers don’t tend to stock it.
      It’s actually not that hard to make at home even if you don’t have a Thermomix. Just get some soy beans and gentle roast on a frying pan on low heat or in the oven on a baking try. Once roasted you can smash the beans with a mortar/pestle or try a food processor with strong blades. Use a sieve to separate the bigger bits from the fine powder. Mix with sugar and you’ve got it! Otherwise you can try ringing Miracle Supermarket in Sydney and see if they have any in stock and can send you some.

  3. stefafra

    November 25, 2013 at 2:02 am

    do you think a clean cofee grinder could do the trick?

    • Moni

      November 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      Hello there. I’m afraid I don’t think it will do the job completely but you could try and sift the result through a fine mesh sieve to extract as much flour as you can. Otherwise I think it’ll be a little gritty :(

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  5. Bronx girl

    September 22, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    I made these for a friend’s birthday party, the Mom is Japanese and requested a pastry with kinako, the result was amazing and everyone loved them! I like them for future baking because the sugar content is low yet they are very tasty. i tripled the recipe and it was ok. thanks!!!

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  7. Helen

    February 16, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Is the cookies soft inside? Not sure what went wrong, but the ones i baked are soft.

  8. Tristan

    February 21, 2015 at 11:39 am

    I am a weightlifter and would like a high-protein smoothie – can 1-2 scoops of kinako be used in a blender with milk? Or is that too much?

    • Moni

      March 30, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      Hi Tristan. Kinako milk is a favourite in Japan but more for flavour than protein enrichment. Too much and I think you’ll end up with soup :| Try a scoop first and see how thick it gets. Great idea though!

      • Tristan again

        May 1, 2015 at 12:56 pm

        Thank you, Moni. I apologize for this late response – I didn’t even realize you responded until another web process brought my attention to it. I did try the kinako milk, it did have a malty taste. But you’re right – it’s not so much for protein supplement. However, the protein isolate from soy is quite high in protein and I have been using that (2 tablespoons are 16g!). It’s flavourless though, so I add other stuff to the shake. Good old soy.

  9. Bish Chan

    November 5, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I made these without the egg. I used ground flaxseed and some water instead. The dough was very dry so i added a few tablespoons of nut milk too. It was still on the dry side so i found it hard to form them into cookies. I just spread it down on a round tray like i was making cheesecake base and baked it. It turned out ok but quite different from your picture. Mine was more like shortcrust pastry. Decent enough given my limited diet but i think the missing egg makes a huge difference.

    • Moni

      November 10, 2015 at 10:02 am

      Hi Bish. Yes, you don’t realise how important eggs are in the baking process. They do a lot of magic so if you don’t want to or can’t use eggs, you do need to compromise. Still, most things taste great without adding egg. You do need to add a little fat though so perhaps try again with some nut butter or coconut oil. Thanks for visiting!

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