Zojirushi Blog

Pari Pari! Perfectly Crispy Senbei, Japan’s Gluten-Free Rice Crackers

Two dishes filled with an assortment of rice crackers served with a cup of green teaWhen it comes to Japanese snacks, there’s one crunchy treat that will always be a fan favorite: senbei crackers. These gluten-free crackers are made from rice, come in various flavors and textures, and have been a part of Japanese cuisine for centuries. So, what’s the history behind these addictive treats, and where can you find them?

History of Senbei
Rice crackers being grilled

Senbei crackers are said to have been introduced to Japan by the Chinese during the Tang Dynasty, around 737 AD. Originally made from ingredients like potato and wheat, gluten-free rice senbei became popularized during the Edo period, where rice was steamed, pounded into a dough, and then baked or grilled. This is around the same time that senbei started being flavored with soy sauce, as a light and salty cracker you could enjoy any time of day. 

Today, you can find them everywhere in Japan, from supermarkets to local street food stands. If you look hard enough, you can even find specialty senbei masters who will make you the delicious Japanee snack fresh from the grill!


Types of Senbei

Square plate surface with an assortment of rice crackers

One of the great things about senbei crackers is that there are so many different variations to try. Some, like zarame senbei, are sweet. Others, like kare senbei, are savory. Some are crispy and light, while others can be dense and chewy. There are even types of seafood senbei that are popular in Japan, incorporating ingredients like squid and fish as a popular bar snack. Whatever your taste preferences are, there’s a senbei out there for you.

Some of the most popular types of senbei include:

  • Shoyu senbei (soy sauce flavor)
  • Age senbei (fried senbei)
  • Atsuyaki senbei (thick senbei)
  • Kometsubu senbei (grains of rice senbei)
  • Nori senbei (seaweed senbei)
  • Nure senbei (wet senbei)
  • Usuyaki senbei (thin senbei)
  • Kuro Goma senbei (black sesame)
  • Togarashi senbei (spicy)
  • Zarame senbei (granulated sugar)

Smaller rice crackers in various shapes and colors

One of the most popular senbei you might recognize is the “arare” variety, made from glutinous rice. These small, bite-sized crackers come in various flavors, colors, and textures. They’re perfect for snacking on the go or adding to a lunchbox and are easy to find at any grocery store or Asian market.


Make Your Own Senbei

At Zojirushi, we make delicious Cheese Senbei with brown rice and parmesan cheese. It’s simple and easy to make; just pop it in the microwave!

Red bowl filled with rice crackers next to a small glass

In terms of taste, senbei crackers are hard to beat. These Japanese snacks are crunchy, satisfying, and packed with flavor. Have you tried senbei before? What’s your favorite type of senbei? Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on. Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

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