Can Takoyaki Be Made Without Octopus?

Have been seeing people enjoying takoyaki standing near the food stalls and craving to try it for ages? Takoyaki is a dish that includes crispy and fluffy octopus balls served right after deep frying or grilling them in a big takoyaki pan. With a variety of fillings, garnishes, and sauces, this Japanese fast food comes in a lot of versions. What about those who want to try these balls but cannot consume octopus? Some might be allergic to the meat while others simply are not into the flavor of octopus meat. It gets nearly impossible to keep yourself from searching for alternative solutions.

Fortunately, there are a lot of substitutes that allow those who are curious about takoyaki to enjoy the fried balls without including octopus in the filling. Some common alternatives that chefs utilize are adding chicken, crab sticks, prawns, and squids.

In this blog post, I have tried to include the best and perfect ways to replace octopus with multiple sources of meat. Even if you have relished octopus balls on several occasions, I suggest trying making takoyaki with one of the substitutes as well.

Alternative Ways To Replace Octopus In Takoyaki


Squid is among those kinds of seafood that are used in numerous cuisines. Since it has a flavor identical to octopus, it is a great option for making takoyaki balls if you are not a fan of octopus. Therefore, you and other family members get to enjoy similar tastes without having a feeling that you are missing something traditional and valuable. Moreover, it is also less expensive than an octopus in many stores. So why not go for it?


Shrimp is another substitute that a lot of people all over the world enjoy in takoyaki balls. If you have eaten shrimp before, you might agree with me that it is extremely delicious and tempting to eat. It also goes well with the dough or flour used in making takoyaki batter.

For an improved and great experience, cut the shrimp into chunks after removing its shell. Next, sprinkle some black pepper on this crustacean before mixing it with other ingredients. Now follow the cooking method and fry the balls in a pan. There you go﹗In case you have not been able to arrange for fresh shrimp, you can also opt for dried shrimp termed ‘sakura shrimp’, which is a good replacement.


Scallops or saltwater clams are similar to mussels and have a prominent seafood savoriness. They are a great substitute for the octopus and add a chewy and crunchy texture just like the original food item used in takoyaki. I highly recommend looking for smoked scallops that are readily available at Asian stores (particularly Japanese convenience stores) if the search process does not cause any discomfort. These clams come in the cans and contribute to the smokey and hot hints in the fried balls.

Asari Clam

Asari clam, also called Manila clam, are densely populated in the rivers of Japan and are characterized by dark brown color with beautiful grey markings. You might be surprised to read that asari clam-yaki is famous among locals of the Chiba prefecture. They use this seafood instead of using octopus bits in takoyaki. Chefs and skilled men derive dashi stock from this clam which turns out to be perfect and its taste and texture blend extremely well with the soft dough made of wheat flour.

Crab Sticks

There is a high possibility that you have heard of crab sticks somewhere or read about crab sticks. These sticks are made from imitation crab which involves some pieces of crabs and other kinds of seafood such as fish. Professionals also have gained success in making a flavorful combination of sizzling takoyaki balls with crab sticks.

For cooking the balls with crab sticks, first, fry the sticks and then add the golden sticks to the takoyaki batter. Also, put corn and cabbage with other ingredients. Now deep fry the balls until they turn golden brown. Drizzle some Japanese mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce which will take the experience to another level.

Chicken Meat

Chicken is probably one of the meat sources that you can find in any store or market. In addition, it is an excellent option for those who are not into earthy savor at all and want to try takoyaki with their friends. One simply has to use chicken cubes in the filling and add eggs with other ingredients, make the batter, and then deep fry or grill the meatballs until their color changes.


Oyster is a part of a lot of Japanese dishes, seasonings, and sauces. Even in the sauces including okonomiyaki and Worcestershire dipping drizzled over takoyaki balls, chefs use oysters as the main ingredient. Not only this but the oyster is also used to make these fluffy balls and is the main ingredient of them. 

Oysters are juicy and thus provide enough tasty dashi stock which matches excellently with the batter or dough you are going to wrap the meatballs with. I recommend trying this nutritious alternative as well.

Frequently Asked Questions About Takoyaki

How do you say octopus balls in Japanese?

The term for octopus balls in Japan is ‘Takoyaki’, where tako means octopus and yaki refers to cooking or frying.

Should takoyaki be gooey inside?

Takoyaki should be crunchy and crispy from the outside and gooey from the inside due to the presence of octopus chunks in the filling.

What is the topping on takoyaki?

The toppings on takoyaki include bonito or fish flakes, seaweed flakes or aonori as well as some spices and herbs.

Final Thoughts

Takoyaki is one of the important dishes that is made in large quantities during Japanese festivals and summer months. Though an original and traditional way of making these balls is adding octopus meat, several forms of this recipe have been introduced which include other meat items and taste as amazing as the default filling with some sauces and garnishes. I hope you have found this piece of writing beneficial and helpful in this regard.

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