Kinako Ice Cream with Magic Shell

Before we talk about kinako ice cream (and we should all be talking about this more), we should probably talk about kinako.

Kinako is roasted soybean flour. This is not the same thing as run of the mill soy flour which is a) not roasted and b) defatted – stripping away the best bits of the soybean. It is primarily a Japanese ingredient (and I have no idea why it has never made a bigger splash in America). It is delicious.

I have tried to describe the taste of kinako to friends, but it is difficult to place on the American palate spectrum. If I am being lazy, I might describe it as funky peanut butter. If I feel like overreaching (i.e. attempting an intellectual discourse about kinako) I might say it taste like roasted sesame seeds crossed with a hint of peanuts and almonds with just a touch of sweetness but not too much. Regardless, if you like to bake, and you want to experiment with a lovely but unusual (for American baked goods) flour, I highly suggest you give kinako a whirl.My first encounter with kinako ice cream (or, really, my first encounter with kinako) was at the famed Gion Kinana (I believe it is famed, but I can’t be entirely sure though it has all the makings for being “famed” in my humble opinion) in Kyoto. I love this place. I love the street it is on. I love the hyper focus on Japanese flavors. I love all the various parfaits and bits and pieces they use to create the parfaits. The horrible, capitalistic American me wanted to zip the whole thing up and bring it to New York where it would surely become an instagram sensation. Oh, and the ice cream: It was perfect. The flavors were precise, yet subtle (er, well balanced) and I could not get enough of the kinako flavor (apparently this is one of the shop’s specialties).On my last trip back to Japan, I purchased a few different versions of kinako powder with the express purpose of attempting to make this ice cream in heavy rotation for summer. I tested the powders out using a recipe from the big daddy of all ice cream books, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz and it is every bit as addictive as I remember it. However, a few notes before you deep dive into kinako:

-David has updated his book. The new version does not include Kinako Ice Cream (no worries, I printed it below), so I highly suggest you find an old copy of The Perfect Scoop (used book stores are one of my favorite things) and purchase the new one as well.

-Kinako is an aggressive flavor. This recipe produces a very pronounced kinako flavor (of course different powders might produce different results). You can easily dial back the kinako a bit if you want to dip your toe in slowly.

-Apparently, my first taste of kinako ice cream (at Gion Kinana) was eggless and this recipe uses eggs. I will eat ice cream either way. I am easy.

-If you are looking for kinako powder, investigate local asian grocery stores OR order online (I can’t vouch for any of these brand in particular so feel free to choose the one with the prettiest packaging).

-I top this ice cream with a homemade Magic Shell because this ice cream reminds me of peanut butter ice cream and OF COURSE my life revolves around peanut butter ice cream and chocolate.

Kinako Ice Cream with Homemade Magic Shell adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz


1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
6 tablespoons (55 g) kinako powder
pinch of salt
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
6 large egg yolks


1. Whisk together the milk, sugar, kinako, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

2. Warm the kinako-flavored mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Pour the mixture into a blender and purée for 30 seconds.

4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Drizzle with home made Magic Shell chocolate topping.