japanese curry spices in a cast iron skillet

Easy, homemade Japanese curry powder that’s perfect for Japanese curry, fried rice, noodles, soups, stews and more!

curry powder in a white bowl

Happy Monday, friends! This week is going to be all about Japanese curry. We’re kickin’ it off with a Japanese curry powder recipe because a) I know it can be difficult to find it in stores and b) to make our own homemade curry and curry roux.

What is Japanese Curry Powder

Japanese curry powder is a spice blend made up of mild spices and herbs. While primarily used to make curry, it can also be used in soups, stews, noodles and anything you want to add a mild, subtly sweet curry flare to.

Japanese curry powder vs. Indian curry powder

The main difference between Japanese curry powder and Indian curry powder is the level of spiciness. When curry powder was first imported into Japan, they altered it to their taste, making it sweeter and less spicy. In fact, if you ever purchase ‘hot’ curry roux, you’ll find its actually still quite mild.

japanese curry spices in a cast iron skillet

Whats in Japanese curry powder

Depending on the brand, different curry powders contain different ingredients with different ratios. I based my recipe off of the most popular brand: S&B.

The must-haves:

  • turmeric
  • coriander
  • cumin 
  • fenugreek
  • ground black pepper
  • ground cinnamon
  • ginger 
  • garlic powder 
  • nutmeg
  • fennel 
  • cardamom
  • cloves
  • bay leaf 

To make it better:

  • star anise 
  • allspice
  • thyme
  • sage
  • cayenne

What spice do I add to Japanese curry roux to make it spicier?

Japanese curry is meant to be mild. Even the commercially bought ones that are labeled hot are not very spicy. Two spices that can bump up the heat without changing the flavour are cayenne and black pepper. A little cayenne pepper goes a long way so be sure to add just a pinch at a time.

japanese curry powder spices in a cast iron skillet

Why toast spices?

Toasting spices intensifies their flavours by breaking down their essential oils and then releasing their aromatics in a different form. It also adds layers of warming, toasty notes and a complexity of flavours.

To toast spices, add them to a pan over low heat stirring every few seconds to ensure they don’t burn. Continue until they start to release a strong fragrant smell. Remove from the pan immediently once the aromatics intensifies and be careful not to burn it.

Storing tips

The best way to keep curry powder is in an air tight container in a cool dry place away from heat or sunlight. It can last for months, but it will lose its strong aromatic flavours over time. Since it’s easy to make, I suggest using it within 2 months.

toasted curry spices in cast iron skillet

What can I use Japanese curry powder for?

If you recreate this Japanese Curry Powder recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
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japanese curry spices in a cast iron skillet

Japanese Curry Powder Recipe

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4.8 from 15 reviews


Easy, homemade Japanese curry spice that’s perfect for Japanese curry, roux, fried rice, noodles, soups, stews and more!




  1. Add all the spices to a cast iron skillet or pan over low heat. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Once fragrant, remove from the stove and out of the pan immediently. 
  2. Let the spices cool and then store in a spice jar. 


  • Helpful Equipment: spice jars
  • Nutritional Information Disclaimer: Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated on an online tool (Cronometer). 
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Category: spices
  • Method: mixing
  • Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, japanese


  • Serving Size: 1 tbsp
  • Calories: 20
  • Sugar: 0.2
  • Sodium: 3.3
  • Fat: 0.9
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0.8
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 3.5
  • Protein: 0.9
  • Cholesterol: 0


mild curry spices in a skillet

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About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.

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  1. This recipe was so easy to follow and I like the scaling up or down instructions. I had everything except the sage and I couldn’t tell the difference between the boxed curry that I’ve eaten. Will be making more recipes from your blog!

  2. This recipe’s a game changer for katsu curry! I make it in batches and dig into it whenever I’m about to make another katsu curry 😍
    Highly recommended, personally I think this way is so much better than using the stock cubes. Beautiful blend of spices, thank you so much for sharing! 💜

  3. This recipe was great! I used it to make a batch of Japanese curry roux to season and thicken up my curry. Half is currently frozen in my freezer and I can’t wait to use it again. I know Japanese curry is supposed to be a “quick and easy” dish but please do yourself a favor and don’t make your curry powder where you cut corners. Make a batch of this and have it on hand, so much better than store bought!

  4. The spices are not balanced. The star anise was way overpowered. So much work and it turned out not to be good l.

    1. I had a feeling the anise would be way too much (All I had was the whole star anise pods– not sure if recipe meant just the anise seeds from the pods or the whole pod grinded). I used 1tsp instead of 3 and still thought it overpowered a bit. Otherwise, it turned out wonderfully! I think if I would’ve used just the seeds from the pods, it would’ve turned out quite beautifully.

  5. Hello,

    For your recipe, you just say ‘cinnamon’ but there are 2 main types of this spice. Do you use the Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) or Cassia cinnamon? These have different taste so I want to make sure I use the correct cinnamon.

    Thank you!

  6. I gladly had every component on hand… Im an absolute fan of these kinds of japanese curries. Always had some cubes at home until i stumbled upon THIS recipe. Its unbelievable how accurate … even better this spice blend tastes! i used it fot the typical curries and sometimes in soups for a little bit more oompf. Love this blend and reprepped it alreasy 3 times. Love it!