29 May 2023

Cool and Creative: The Best Guide for Delectable Homemade Kakigori

"Kakigori," Japanese-style shaved ice, has been a standard summer treat that people will wait for hours in intense heat to enjoy. In Japan, kakigori offers an abundance of options when it comes to flavors and toppings. From the classics like the matcha-flavored kakigori to inventive creations such as salted caramel granola, you can satisfy any craving with this delightful treat. 

Although enjoying the cool flavors of kakigori can be more challenging than enjoying a scoop of ice cream outside of Japan, that doesn't mean you have to walk away from the experience. By just preparing some basic items and following a few simple steps, the joy of kakigori can be recreated in the comfort of your own home. Have a look at our easy-to-follow guide and experience the fun of crafting your very own customized kakigori and discover its delicious flavors.


  • Assembling the Essentials
  • In the Kitchen
  • Let the Shaving Begin! 
  • Getting Creative
  • Moments of Cool Pleasure
  • Summer Fun with Homemade Kakigori

Assembling the Essentials 

Of course, we first purchased a shaved ice machine. Surprisingly, there were quite a few models to choose from. We selected an electric shaved ice machine made in a traditional design often seen at summer festivals and old kakigori shops in Japan. You need to freeze the ice blocks that are placed in the machine at least the night before you want to make your kakigori.

For today's kakigori, we decided to try two flavors, strawberry with condensed milk, and matcha with anko (red bean paste).
Here's what we bought at the store.

One of our staff made some homemade strawberry syrup just in time before the end of the strawberry season. Natural colors always stand out beautifully on a dining table.

And don't forget to set all your bowls, spoons and other items on the table in advance, as once the kakigori is ready you'll want to eat it right away! 

In the Kitchen 

Before the shaving began, there were some things to prepare in the kitchen.

As an all-time favorite topping for kakigori, we made "shiratama," a soft chewy mochi ball made using glutinous rice flour called "shiratama-ko."

First, mix the shiratama-ko with water and make a dough similar to the softness of your earlobe.

Make small balls about the size of cherry tomatoes. To ensure the heat is evenly distributed, create a little dip in the center.

Cook in boiling water until they come afloat like gnocchi. Immediately cool in ice water and dry.

You also need to make some thick matcha tea for the matcha-flavored kakigori.
Add twice the amount of matcha powder than usual. Our matcha tea was made using about 4 scoops of matcha powder with a Japanese tea scoop with about 100ml (3.3oz) of hot water. Whisk well and add an ice cube to cool the matcha tea.

Let the Shaving Begin! 

No one at the office had ever used a shaved ice machine prior to our kakigori challenge. Although tech support was not required at any time, it did take several tries to get it right.

Instructions will vary according to the machine you use, but reading all instructions on the manual and on the actual machine beforehand is strongly recommended as we discovered that the blade was adjustable to change the texture of the shaved ice only AFTER we had finished eating our kakigori!

We placed the ice block in the shaver, adjusted its position and pressed the "ON" switch to let the machine do its job. And just like at a kakigori shop, tiny specks of ice came falling down from the blade of the shaver.

Keep turning the bowl while the ice is being shaved so the ice is evenly distributed in the bowl. Shave a more than generous amount of ice in the bowl as it will start to melt as soon as you drizzle the syrup on top of the ice.

Getting Creative

Now getting to the most fun part of making homemade kakigori!

We first made the strawberry and condensed milk kakigori.
We covered the shaved ice with probably about 20-30 ml (0.7-1oz) of syrup and added some strawberries on the side. For an extra bit of sweetness, condensed milk was liberally poured onto the top.

And here is our very first kakigori treat! 
The pretty red color of the strawberry syrup looked so appetizing in the Edo glass kobachi bowl. The go-to bowl for our strawberry kakigori was definitely the Arare Pattern Edo Glass Kobachi Bowl.

Next, we tried the traditional Japanese kakigori "Ujikintoki" which combines aromatic matcha tea with anko, red bean paste. Shaving the second bowl of ice was much easier then the first. To match the feel of matcha, we chose a Kutani ware matcha bowl for this kakigori.

First, pour a generous amount of matcha tea over the shaved ice, and then set a spoonful of ice cream and anko on the side.

For our customized version, we went all out and added our homemade shiratama and a long drizzle of "kuromitsu," a traditional Japanese syrup made from brown sugar.

Our masterpiece, ujikintoki kakigori!
The soba tray makes for a great complement giving our summer treat a charmingly rustic finish.

Moments of Cool Pleasure

The taste of our homemade kakigori definitely exceeded our expectations and was a wonderful surprise. We were all in agreement that this was a cooking challenge that had long been overdue.

The adorably pink kakigori was so refreshing with its invigorating chilly strawberry flavor, and the sweet condensed milk perfectly balanced the tart taste of the strawberries. Shiratama was a last-minute addition to our strawberry kakigori.

Of course, you could also add vanilla or strawberry ice cream or other kinds of fruit to add to its flavor.The joy of crafting kakigori at home is found in the limitless topping possibilities. 

Our ujikintoki kakigori was packed with traditional flavors of Japan. The fresh green flavors of matcha tea and ice cream, and the sweet richness of anko all came together with the kuromitsu. Your palate can take a quick break from the sweetness of the toppings with a bite from the shiratama.
The natural textures of the soba tray, and even the overflow of matcha from the bowl enhances the visual appeal of this ujikintoki kakigori.

Summer Fun with Homemade Kakigori 

It can be challenging to find authentic kakigori abroad, but by following our simple instructions, you can have fun making kakigori at home and experience the delightful flavors of Japan. Prepare your very own kakigori with an assortment of flavors and toppings. Let your creativity run free and craft your own one-of-a-kind kakigori as a fun activity during the hot summer season!