This easy mochi muffin recipe pairs a bouncy, fluffy, and magical golden crispy crust with the buttery sweet flavors of Hawaiian butter mochi! These mochi muffins are surprisingly easy to make, and you can make them even faster with an air fryer.
They’re wonderfully crispy on the outside and moist and bouncy (yet soft) on the inside. Oven or air fryer is your choice. I'll show you both ways in this almost failproof recipe so that you can impress your family, friends, and guests. These will be the first to run out when served at get-togethers and dinner parties.
✨ why you'll love this recipe
If you like the crunchy edges of butter mochi, this recipe is for you! This recipe was inspired by my love of all things Q and the delicious butter mochi I’ve tried in Hawai'i!
did you know? – Q or 'QQ' is a Taiwanese saying for a 'bouncy, chewy, and satisfying toothsome texture,' like in mochi or 麻糬 môa-chî in Taiwanese, and a good boba drink.
Baking these mochi muffins in a cupcake pan gives you more of that magical crispy crust all around the edges with chewy sweet goodness inside. You can even make mini mochi muffins as one-bite snacks, perfect served with some ginger lemon honey tea.
I've also tested this recipe with an air fryer too. So you can save on baking time if you have one. To make different flavors, all you have to do is add 1-2 ingredients to this recipe – see some delicious flavors below.
If you're like me and enjoy eating something savory with something sweet, try one of these 5-minute silken tofu recipes to complete the snack.
Unlike many baking recipes, mochi cupcakes or muffins and butter mochi are more forgiving in terms of ingredient measurements and baking time, making this a super easy recipe.
fun fact: Meet co-owners of Third Culture Bakery, Sam Butarbutar and Wenter Shyu. These Indonesian and Taiwanese chefs may have been the first to bring popularity to the term “mochi muffin” in the US. Although, butter mochi, which mochi muffin is similar to, is a local food in Hawai'i. I actually didn’t know about the Third Culture Bakery until after making this recipe and hope to try theirs someday!
💭 what is mochi?
Mochi (pronounced [mōCHē]) is the general term for Japanese sweet rice cakes/desserts made with short-grain glutinous rice, also known as sweet rice or sticky rice. Many Asian and Pacific Islander cultures use sweet rice in both savory and sweet applications for that magnificent chewy texture that is hard to fully recreate with any other type of starch.
Different forms of mochi are popular in Asian cultures and for some, mochi-themed desserts are traditionally enjoyed as a celebratory food during specific holidays.
- In Taiwan, tang yuan (sweet rice balls), a dessert made with sweet rice flour, water, and sugar, is a must-have during Winter Solstice or the Lantern Festival.
- During Lunar New Year in Taiwan, nian gao 年糕 (sweet rice cake) is steamed, dipped in egg, and then pan-fried.
- Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings) is a savory food example that uses whole short-grain sticky rice.
- Butter mochi, which these muffins are a variation of, is a local food in Hawai’i. It’s a combination of the QQ texture and the essence of coconut and butter to create a not-too-sweet, light and fluffy, and satisfyingly chewy treat!
Nowadays mochi-themed foods have become so popular (in Western culture too!) that niche bakeries offer things like QQ mochi cookies and donuts. Even some large chain grocery stores sell mochi pancakes now.
I think you'll be surprised by the ingredient list for this recipe and how simple it is. You'll find most - if not all - ingredients sitting in your pantry ready to be mixed together and baked into butter mochi muffins!
- glutinous rice flour - also known as sweet rice flour. I use the Mochiko brand when available. Other sweet rice flours will work too. You'll find them at Taiwanese and East Asian grocery stores, like 99 Ranch Market, Mitsuwa, or even online at Weee! (affiliate link). ✴️ Make sure you're getting "glutinous rice flour," or "sweet rice flour," and not just "rice flour" since they're very different.
- coconut milk - use full fat, unsweetened for this recipe. Different brands of coconut milk can taste different. I prefer Native Forest (affiliate link) when I can find it.
- kosher salt - I use the Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt (affiliate link) in most recipes. Since it has lower sodium levels, it's easier to layer the seasoning without accidentally oversalting a dish. It can be found in some grocery stores. Note: If using table salt or sea salt, use half of the amount listed in the recipe.
- eggs - you'll want to take your eggs out of your refrigerator at least 10 minutes before starting this recipe so that they can come to room temperature.
- sugar - I use cane sugar in this recipe, though regular granulated sugar can work too. Cane sugar gives these muffins a more mellow sweetness.
See the recipe card for quantities.
There aren't many ingredients I would substitute here since I want to stay true to the butter mochi I've tasted in Hawai'i. This means butter and coconut milk are essential ingredients.
You also can't get mochi without sweet rice flour either, so it's important to use the right type of rice flour.
- different sweetener - you may use coconut palm sugar instead of light brown sugar if that's what you have. Both of these add a depth of flavor that you can't get with just cane sugar alone.
- kosher salt - If you don't have Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt (which has almost half of the sodium level of regular salt), use half of the amount listed in the recipe.
- gluten-free - No substitutions are needed since this recipe is already gluten-free. Glutinous rice flour doesn’t actually have gluten in it.
I’m going to go through each step in detail below, including step-by-step photos. In a hurry? You can jump straight to the printable recipe.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Alternatively, you can preheat an air fryer at 350°F (175°C) for 3 minutes.
Note: Remove eggs from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature if you haven’t already.
In a medium mixing bowl, add the glutenous rice flour, baking powder, and salt.
Whisk the dry ingredients until well combined.
In a large mixing bowl, add light brown sugar, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
Add the melted, but not hot, unsalted butter to the large bowl.
Pour in the coconut milk.
Mix with a whisk until well combined.
Small lumps of the coconut milk fat will remain and that’s okay.
Add the mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
Whisk until the batter is just combined.
Lightly grease the inside of your muffin tins with a cooking oil spray.
Evenly divide the mochi muffin batter between 12 regular muffin tins.
I use 1½ scoops with the Oxo Medium Cookie Scoop for each tin.
Bake 40-50 minutes in regular muffin pans or 15 minutes in mini muffin pans until light golden brown, rotating halfway through for more even color.
When a cake tester comes out clean, the cupcakes are fully baked.
Use an offset spatula, or a knife, to gently loosen the cupcake from the pan.
Remove the cupcakes from the tins and enjoy!
Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool in the pan or cups for 5 minutes before serving. It helps to use a small offset spatula to remove each muffin.
air fryer instructions
- Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C) for 3 minutes. Remember to take the eggs out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before using.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mochiko sweet rice flour, baking powder, and salt until they are thoroughly combined.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the light brown sugar, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, unsalted butter, and coconut milk. Whisk the ingredients together until they are well combined. It’s normal to have small lumps of coconut milk fat remaining, so don’t worry about them.
- Add the dry ingredients from Step 2 to the wet ingredients from Step 3. Whisk the mixture until they are just combined.
- Spray the inside of 12 silicone muffin cups meant for the air fryer and scoop the batter into the lightly greased cups until just over halfway full. *Some silicone muffin cups for air fryers are larger than regular muffin tins. If using larger ones, this recipe may only yield 8 muffins/cupcakes.
- Air fry the muffins for 12 minutes.
- Remove from the air fryer and let cool in the muffin cups for 5 minutes before serving. It helps to use a small offset spatula to remove each muffin.
Easily create different flavored mochi muffins or cupcakes. Simply add one of the ingredients below to the wet ingredients (Step 3) of this recipe.
Note: The measurements are for 12 regular mochi muffins.
- black sesame flavor - Just add 1 cup of black sesame powder (ground black sesame seeds), about 122 grams, to this original mochi muffin recipe to get that nutty aroma and taste. See the full black sesame mochi muffin recipe with step-by-step photos.
- matcha flavor - Add 4 tablespoons of sifted matcha powder, about 15 grams, to the wet ingredients of this recipe for an added earthiness and umami flavor. See the full matcha mochi muffin recipe for more details.
- chocolate - For chocolate mochi muffins, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of room-temperature coffee (optional). See the full chocolate mochi muffin recipe for detailed instructions.
- mini mochi muffins - Use a mini cupcake tin to make tiny chewy mochi muffins that are great for lunchboxes and grab-and-go snacks.
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This recipe calls for classic baking equipment, plus my favorite non-stick muffin tin and cookie scooper!
- Medium + Large Mixing Bowls
- Rubber Spatula
- Offset Spatula (optional)
- Non-Stick Muffin Tins
- Mini Non-Stick Cupcake/Muffin Tins (optional)
- Oxo Good Grips Medium Cookie Scooper
- Cosori Dual Blaze Air Fryer - I use my favorite air fryer to cut down on baking time, especially when it's hot out.
- Oil Sprayer
- Silicone Muffin Cups - these are perfect for making cupcakes and/or muffins in the air fryer.
Transfer mochi muffins to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely. Store them in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Since the crust on these muffins will soften over time due to moisture, you'll want to reheat them in an oven, air fryer, or toaster oven. To reheat, bake for 3 minutes at 350°F (175°C) in an oven or for 1-2 minutes at 350°F (175°C) in an air fryer. This will revive the magical crust. If frozen, add 3-5 minutes of reheating time.
💭 top expert tip
Using the right type of flour is crucial for this recipe! I recommend Koda Farms' Mochiko (affiliate link) for this recipe, but any brand will work too. In the past, I've used ones found at 99 Ranch Market in clear plastic packaging labeled as "glutinous rice flour."
Regardless of brand, make sure the package says "glutinous rice flour," "sweet rice flour," "sticky rice flour," and not just "rice flour." It can be confusing, but regular rice flour will not give you that QQ or bouncy texture that makes these muffins so amazing!
The crust of mochi muffins will soften over time due to the moisture. You can reheat them straight out of the refrigerator by baking them for 3 minutes at 350°F (175°C) in an oven, or for 1-2 minutes at 350°F (175°C) in an air fryer. This will revive the magical crust! If they've been frozen, add 3-5 minutes of reheating time.
Mochiko is a sweet rice flour, also known as glutinous rice flour, that is made from short-grain sweet rice. It's what gives mochi and mochi desserts the bouncy yet fluffy - or QQ chewy goodness - texture we all love.
Yes! Glutinous rice flour doesn’t have gluten in it, so it’s actually naturally gluten-free! “Glutinous” is used in the name probably because of the gooeyness of the flour once mixed with a liquid, not because of gluten.
🧁 more mochi muffin flavors
Looking to make other flavors of mochi muffins? Try my favorites and a delicious taro smoothie with boba:
👨🍳 COOKING WITH KIDS
What can kid chefs help with?
- measuring out the ingredients like the coconut milk and sugars
- whisking the ingredients together
- greasing the cupcake tins
- scooping batter into the tins
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
Happy cooking! ~ Cin
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Please give this recipe a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ if you make it. I would love to hear from you! If you have any questions at all, let me know in the comments below.
easy mochi muffin (cupcakes) with a magical crust
- 2 cups mochiko glutenous rice flour, about 11 ounces (320 grams)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt, Diamond Crystal kosher salt (use half the amount if using sea salt or table salt)
- ½ cup light brown sugar, about 2 ½ ounces (70 grams)
- ½ cup sugar, about 3 ⅜ ounces (96 grams)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature (105 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 grams
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, about 2 ounce (56.5 grams)
- 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk, full fat, Native Forest brand recommended
- cooking oil spray, neutral flavor and higher smoke point (canola, avocado, peanut)
*The Instacart button above is an affiliate link, which means we do make a small profit from your purchases (your price is not affected by this commission).
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Alternatively, you can preheat air fryer at 350°F (175°C) for 3 minutes. Remember to take out the eggs from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature if you haven’t done so already.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mochiko sweet rice flour, baking powder, and salt until they are thoroughly combined.2 cups mochiko glutenous rice flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the light brown sugar, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, unsalted butter, and coconut milk. Whisk the ingredients together until they are well combined. Small lumps of the coconut milk fat will remain and that’s normal.½ cup light brown sugar, ½ cup sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
- Add the mixed dry ingredients from Step 2 to the wet ingredients from Step 3. Whisk the mixture until they are just combined.
- Lightly grease the inside of your muffin pan with a cooking oil spray. Divide the mochi muffin batter evenly among 12 regular muffin tins. I use 1½ scoops with the Oxo Medium Cookie Scoop for each tin. If using an air fryer: spray the inside of 12 silicone muffin cups and scoop the batter into the lightly greased cups until just over halfway full.*cooking oil spray
- Bake the muffins for 40-50 minutes in a regular muffin pan, or 15 minutes in a mini muffin pan, until they turn light golden brown. Remember to rotate the pan halfway through baking for a more even color. To check if they are done, insert a cake tester or toothpick into the muffins, and it should come out clean. If using a preheated air fryer: air fry the muffins for 13 minutes or 15 minutes without preheating.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan or cups for 5 minutes before serving. It helps to use a small offset spatula to remove each muffin. If storing for later, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (see reheat instructions in the notes).
equipment and highlighted ingredients
- black sesame – see the full black sesame mochi muffin recipe with step-by-step photos
- 1 cup black sesame powder (ground black sesame seeds), about 122 grams
- matcha – see the full matcha muffins recipe with step-by-step photos
- 4 tablespoons sifted matcha powder, about 15 grams
- chocolate – see the chocolate mochi muffins recipe with step-by-step photo
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons coffee, room temperature, optional
🌺 note on the foods of Hawai'i
These muffins were inspired by butter mochi in Hawai'i. I was first introduced to them during a 3+ year stint as a line cook at two different L&L Hawaiian BBQ restaurants in California, where I worked throughout high school and college. The owners were a Japanese and Filipino couple that used to live in Hawai'i so I got to learn how to make so many different Hawaiian dishes and foods that aren't Hawaiian, but popular there.
That experience paired with my love of all things QQ inspired me to create my version of this recipe. I'm in no way an expert on Hawaiian food and culture. If you're interested in learning more, this Hawaiian culture virtual field trip by one of my favorite bloggers at Jonesin for Taste is a great place to start.
🌡️ food safety
- Do not taste uncooked batter that contains raw egg
- Don't leave these muffins/cupcakes out at room temperature for extended periods
- Refrigerate extra mochi muffins in a covered container to avoid mold. If unable to consume within 2 days, store in the freezer instead for up to 1 month and reheat before serving.
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with a high smoke point like canola or avocado oil to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove