Senbei vs. Okaki vs. Arare: Japanese Rice Crackers

Do you know traditional Japanese rice crackers are broadly classified into three types?

The three varieties widely enjoyed in Japan are Senbei (煎餅), Okaki (おかき), and Arare (あられ).

Senbei vs. Okaki vs. Arare

Senbei, Okaki, and Arare are rice snacks with over several hundred years of history.

And among them, I think Senbei is the best-known outside of Japan. But how do Senbei, Okaki, and Arare differ from one another?

Here, I will give an overview of each for those curious.

Senbei (煎餅)


First, Senbei is a rice cracker most commonly eaten in Japan.

It is made of non-glutinous rice called Uruchi-Mai (うるち米) that has been steamed, pounded, typically formed into a big, round shape, and baked.

Traditionally, Senbei is seasoned with soy sauce/salt. But in modern times, it comes in various flavors and many varieties like these.

Although some kinds of Senbei, including Nanbu Senbei and Kawara Senbei, use wheat flour/starch as the main ingredient,

the majority available in Japan consists of Uruchimai rice, the staple food of the Japanese.

Okaki (おかき)


Unlike Senbei, Okaki consists of glutinous (sticky or sweet) rice called Mochi-Gome (餅米).

Specifically, this cracker is traditionally made from relatively small chunks of Mochi (餅) cake that’s been dried and baked.

Arare (あられ)


Arare also uses Mochigome glutinous rice, and its production method is basically the same as Okaki.

Actually, there is no clear definition between Okaki and Arare. But in general, Arare is smaller than Okaki and shaped like a sphere or stick.

In Summary

The primary differences between Senbei, Okaki, and Arare come from the size and the main ingredient.

And here is the comparison table.

Type Size Main Ingredient
Senbei Large Uruchimai
Okaki Relatively Small Mochigome
Arare Smaller than Okaki Mochigome

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 煎餅, おかき )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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