Yōkan Jelly Dessert

Yōkan Jelly DessertYōkan is a popular Japanese dessert made of red bean paste, agar-agar, and sugar. It may also contain chestnuts, persimmons, or figs and the agar-agar may be flavored with green tea. Mizu-yōkan has more water in it and is less firm. It is often chilled and eaten in the summer.

In Japan, beautifully made yōkan is served as a dessert in a kaiseki or a multi course meal. It is also served with a cup of tea as a form of greeting to your stay at a traditional Japanese inn or ryōkan. Yōkan can be purchased wrapped in plastic.

Yōkan Jelly Dessert

This Yōkan Jelly Dessert was inspired by the yōkan I have tasted in Japan. The top layer is flavored with matcha (green tea powder) while the bottom layer is left clear. Red bean paste is used for the filling.

Yokan Jelly Dessert
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 oz (28g) agar-agar
  • ¼ cup (55g) sugar
  • 1 tsp matcha
  • 1 can (18 oz/500g) red bean paste
  1. Prepare 24 small silicone molds. Place them on a tray. You can also use large ice cube trays.
  2. Drain red bean paste. Place in a pan and cook, stirring constantly until most of the moisture has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, shape red bean paste into flattened balls or logs so that it can fit into center of mold.
  3. Bring 4 cups (960ml) of water in a pot to boil. Add agar-agar and sugar, stirring constantly until agar-agar and sugar dissolve, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to the lowest setting so that agar-agar will not set.
  4. Spoon enough agar-agar to fill about ¼ inch of molds. Place in the fridge for it to set, about 10 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, mix matcha with 2 to 3 tablespoons of warm water. Stir until it is well combined. Add matcha to liquid agar-agar. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Once agar-agar has set, remove from fridge. Place little portions of red bean paste into mold on top of set agar-agar.
  7. Next, fill mold to the top with matcha agar-agar. Return to fridge and allow agar-agar to set, about an hour.
  8. Unmold by peeling back the silicone mold. If using ice cube trays, use a knife to go around the yokan and gently push it out.

Yōkan Jelly Dessert

These were molded using regular ice cube trays.

Yōkan Jelly Dessert
Yōkan Jelly Dessert

The appeal of agar-agar is not limited to Asian cuisine. It can be flavored, colored, and molded to suit many different settings. The thing with agar-agar is to get the ratio of agar-agar to water right. Too little powder (or gelatinous seaweed) will result in a soft agar-agar and too much will produce a very firm agar-agar.

The recipe below was shared by a young, talented and aspiring home chef with an Irish heritage. The agar-agar was molded in her grandma’s four leaf clover mold. It has a nice vanilla flavor and is just the right consistency. A very light and refreshing dessert, simple yet elegant.

Vanilla Agar-agar
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1½ tbsp agar-agar powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • ⅓ cup (75g) sugar
  1. Bring 3 cups (720ml) water in a pan to boil. Add agar-agar powder and sugar. Stir till dissolved.
  2. Add vanilla essence and stir until combined.
  3. Remove and pour into mold(s). Let it set in the refrigerator for an hour.

Vanilla Agar-agar

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎

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  1. denise @ quickies on the dinner table says

    I have all the ingredients in my cupboard right now, and I know my kids would love this. Your photos are gorgeous, especially the ones of the ice cube shaped yokan. Delightful post!

  2. Anncoo says

    WOW! Biren, these are so beautifully done. Like a piece of art. I still have red bean at home, I'm going to bookmark this ~ thanks!

  3. Silence Sings says

    thats really awesome and something totally new to me…what is this "agar agar"…sorry for my benightedness…

  4. A Homemakers Diary says

    WOW thats superb Biren. new to your page and am loving it….perfect creations and beautiful presentation. awesome.

  5. Cinnamon-Girl says

    These are new to me! The first ones are so perfect – and elegant looking. They both look very refreshing! I'm curious to what they taste like.

  6. Valen says

    Thats so cool! I've worked with agar before and it took forever for the stuff to dissolve, actually it simmered for 30 minutes and still hadn't dissolved, I grew impatient and used it anyway.

  7. Cristina @TeenieCakes says

    Biren: So beautifully presented and colorful. The silicone molds used…were they cupcake sized?

  8. tasteofbeirut says

    I have tried cooking with agar-agar and have found it challenging; I have also tried different labels, buying it at the Asian markets versus the American ones etc, I am so taken by your creations that I want to keep trying ti get the hang of it!

  9. Biren says

    Angie's Recipes – Jelly desserts are so light and wonderful. The ice cube trays really came in handy.

    denise@quickies on the dinner table – Thanks Denise! Yes, the kids love it and did not even noticed the matcha :)

    Sarah Naveen – Thanks!

    Anncoo – Thanks for the compliment. It is quite fun to make.

    Silence Sings – Agar-agar is like jello except that it is a gelatinous seaweed and is vegan. The dried seaweed is kind of translucent and is very light. It also comes in the form of a powder.

    A Homemakers Diary – Thanks for visiting and for the compliments :)

    Cinnamon-Girl – Agar-agar tastes very similar to jelly with a slightly firmer texture. The matcha (green tea) flavor combines very well with the sweet red bean paste.

    Valen – Thanks for visiting! It shouldn't take so long to dissolve unless you've used too much of the agar-agar and the water is saturated. Try using only half oz of agar-agar to 2 cups of water.

    Cristina@TeenieCakes – These silicone molds are the petite molds from Trudeau. They are 2 inches in diameter. I think the regular cupcake size is 2 1/2 inch.

    Kathleen – Thanks Kathleen!

    tasteofbeirut – I bought this from the Asian grodery store. A little goes a long way. Use only half oz for every 2 cups of water.

  10. luvtoeat says

    oh those look delectable. my kiddies would love them! love your plate! thanks for sharing and stopping by my blog :-)

  11. The Cooking Photographer says

    What beautiful little things! Almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

    You just helped me. I'm going to get some agar agar and start working with it. My doctor recently found I was allergic to beef, and gelatin is out now of course. I needed an alternative.

    Thanks a bunch!


  12. Biren says

    5 Star Foodie – Thank you. It was really fun to make.

    Tina – Thanks!

    Pedhakka – Thanks for visiting!

    luvtoeat – Thank you and you are most welcomed :)

    MaryMoh – It's very light and refreshing dessert. Have to make quite a few as they go fast :)

    Anonymous – Wow….thanks for the compliment!

    The Cooking Photographer – Sorry to hear about your allergy but I am glad to be of help. Thanks for visiting.

    shanti – Thank you. I will visit soon :)

    Peggy – Thanks!


  1. […] This wonderful ice cream can be made more special topped with some anko (sweet azuki bean paste) and bits of yōkan (agar-agar). I had this delightful combination when vacationing in Nara, Japan some years back. For a simple yōkan, please check out my Yōkan Jelly Dessert. […]

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