The Difference between Senbei, Okaki, and Arare rice crackers

Have you ever heard that there are broadly 3 types of traditional rice crackers in Japan? The 3 major types of Japanese rice crackers are Senbei (煎餅), Okaki (おかき), and Arare (あられ).

The difference between Senbei, Okaki, and Arare

Among the 3 types, I think Senbei is the most famous in the world. Talking about the history briefly, Senbei, Okaki, and Arare, all of them are traditional foods with more than several hundred years of history.

At this point, you might wonder what the difference between these rice crackers is. For those who don’t know much about them, this time I want to talk about the features of each of the 3 traditional Japanese rice crackers, Senbei, Okaki, and Arare.

Senbei (煎餅)

Senbei is the rice cracker most commonly eaten in Japan, which is made by pounding non-glutinous rice, forming the rice into a big, round shape, and then baking it.

Senbei is traditionally flavored with soy sauce or salt, but in modern times, it is available in many varieties and flavors like this.

Although some traditional Senbei are made with wheat flour or starch, most of the Senbei rice crackers available in Japan are made from non-glutinous rice, the staple food of the Japanese.

Okaki (おかき)

Unlike Senbei, Okaki is made from glutinous rice. More precisely, this Japanese rice cracker is traditionally made by drying relatively small pieces of “Mochi (餅)” sticky glutinous white rice cake, then baking them.

Arare (あられ)

Arare is made from dried small pieces of Mochi, in other words, from glutinous rice, in the same way as Okaki. Therefore, it is said that Arare is a kind of Okaki. However, as you can see from the above 2 photos, Arare is generally small in size as compared to Okaki.

In Summary

In summary, Senbei, Okaki, and Arare are different mainly in size and main ingredient from one another. Finally, here is the comparison table of the primary difference between them.

The Primary Difference between Senbei, Okaki, and Arare
Type Size Main ingredient
Senbei Big Non-glutinous Rice
Okaki Relatively Small Glutinous Rice
Arare Small Glutinous Rice


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I want to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures and trivia.

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