Preparing sushi is definitely an art form. This Japanese dish seems intimidating. So most people think it’s best left to the professionals. But you can make sushi at home, even if you’re a beginner. After all, practice makes perfect. Once you take the plunge, we can almost guarantee you’ll want to add sushi recipes to your regular meal lineup. (Sushi even makes an easy, packable lunch.) You’ll just need a few tools to get started on the path to seasoned sushi chef.
A rice cooker will help you make consistent, delicious rice for your sushi. Or you can follow No Recipes’ step-by-step guide for preparing your own sushi rice without a rice cooker. You’ll also need some high-quality knives. Because sliced fish and vegetables form such an integral part of good sushi, you’ll want to get your chopping right. Plus, the Denver Post recommends a rice rolling mat. And you’ll need some plastic wrap to prevent your rice from sticking to it.
Have you gathered your tools? And do you feel up to the challenge of making sushi in your own kitchen? Check out five of our favorite sushi recipes you can easily make at home.
1. Salmon Nigiri
There’s no better place to start with sushi recipes than nigiri, which consists of a small mound of rice with fish on top of it. Nigiri is a traditional kind of sushi that might put your knife skills to the test. But nigiri sushi recipes make up for that by letting you forego the sheets of nori. This recipe from Manu’s Menu takes about 20 minutes to prepare.
Serves: 10 nigiri
- 2 cups cooked sushi rice, seasoned
- Fresh salmon, sliced into 10 thin slices
- Soy sauce, to serve
- Pickled ginger, to serve
Directions: Wet your hands and shape the seasoned rice into 10 mounds. Next, put a little wasabi on each slice of salmon. Then, place them on top of the shaped rice, so the wasabi sticks the fish to the rice. Finally, press well with your hands to shape the nigiri. Serve immediately with soy sauce and pickled ginger on the side.
2. California Roll
You’ve probably realized by now you have many kinds of sushi to choose among. The California roll, which originated in Los Angeles in the 1960s, is a kind of maki sushi. That means you make California rolls (and other sushi recipes that fall into the same category) by rolling it in a bamboo mat with nori, or seaweed. This recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen takes about 80 minutes, including the time it takes to cook the rice.
Serves: 9 rolls
- ½ pound imitation crab meat
- 1 avocado, ripe but still firm
- ½ medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into long Julienne strips
- Toasted nori seaweed
- Toasted sesame seeds
Directions: Wrap sushi mat in plastic wrap. Fold pieces of nori in half to split them.
Toast sesame seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden. Then, slice the vegetables. Spread a generous handful of sushi rice onto the half sheet of nori. Then, use wet fingertips to spread the rice evenly over the entire surface of the nori.
Flip the rice-covered piece of nori over, so the rice is facing down. Next, place your fillings across the center of your rice in the middle of the sheet. Try to avoid overfilling.
Next, start rolling firmly away from you using the sushi mat. Once the roll is complete, sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds while it is still on the mat. That way, you can turn it easily.
Run your sharp knife through a damp paper towel before slicing. (Then, the rice won’t stick as much.) Cut the roll in half. Finally, line the 2 halves up and slice into even 1-inch rings.
3. Spicy Tuna Roll
Spicy tuna rolls are another of the delicious sushi recipes that fall into the sushi maki category. In fact, these rolls number among the most popular forms of sushi maki. Just One Cookbook’s recipe for spicy tuna offers a delicious version of the dish. Give your meal a little bit of a spicy kick with this simple recipe, which takes just 30 minutes to complete and yields 2 rolls.
Serves: 2 rolls
- 1½ cups prepared sushi rice
- 4 ounces sashimi-grade tuna
- 3 teaspoons sriracha sauce
- 2 teaspoons chopped green onion/scallion
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 sheet nori, cut in half crosswise
- 2 tablespoons white roasted sesame seeds
- Spicy mayo for garnish (optional)
- Bamboo mat, covered with plastic wrap
- Tezu (vinegared hand-dipping water): ¼ cup water and 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
Directions: Cut the tuna into ¼-inch cubes.
In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, sriracha sauce, 1 teaspoon green onion, and sesame oil.
Lay a sheet of nori, shiny side down, on the bamboo mat. Wet your fingers in tezu, and spread ¾ cup of the rice evenly onto nori sheet. Then, sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds.
Next, turn the sheet of nori over so that the rice side is facing down. Line the edge of nori sheet at the bottom end of the bamboo mat. Then, place half of the tuna mixture at the bottom end of the nori sheet.
Hold the bottom edge of the bamboo mat while keeping the fillings in place with your fingers and roll the sushi into a tight cylinder. Then, lift the edge of the bamboo mat, and continue to roll it forward while you keep gentle pressure on the mat.
With a sharp knife, cut the roll in half and then cut each half into 3 pieces. Finally, put a dollop of spicy mayo on top of each sushi, and garnish with the remaining green onion.
4. Vegetable Roll
Don’t assume you can’t try a variety of sushi recipes just because you (or somebody in your family) doesn’t eat fish or meat. Vegetable rolls can be filled with all sorts of vegetables and take on all kinds of flavors. That means they offer flexibility for vegetarian diners. This recipe from the Food Network is one of the best sushi recipes for veggie eaters of all tastes. The recipe takes about 45 minutes to complete.
Serves: 4 rolls
- ⅓ cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups short-grained sushi rice
- 1½ cups water
- 4 sheets toasted nori
Fillings (pick 3 to 4)
- 1 kirby cucumber or ½ regular cucumber, seeded and cut into matchsticks
- 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1 small yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into matchsticks
- 4 scallions, trimmed and cut into matchsticks
- 1 (4-inch) piece daikon, peeled, and cut into matchsticks (or pickled daikon or 6 red radishes)
- ½ firm-ripe Hass avocado, peeled, thinly sliced lengthwise, sprinkled with lemon juice
Directions: Place the sushi mat (with the slats running crosswise) directly in front of you on a clean work space. Lay a sheet of nori shiny side down, and line it up with the closest edge of the mat. Lightly moisten fingers with water and then evenly press about ¼ of the rice onto the nori, with 1½ inches uncovered at the far edge. Line up the fillings about 1 inch from the closest near edge, evenly across the rice. Leave 1 inch of rice uncovered at the far edge.
Beginning with the near edge of the mat, tightly roll up the nori, rice, and fillings into a cylinder. Next, firmly tug on the rounded mat over the roll as you pull on the far edge of the mat to tighten the roll. Open the mat, then dab the unsealed edge of nori with a bit of water, and roll the sushi forward to seal. Transfer the sushi to a plate and cover with damp paper towels. Repeat with remaining rice and fillings.
Finally, cut each sushi roll, crosswise, into 8 pieces with a sharp, wet knife. Serve with a bowl of soy sauce for dipping.
5. Rainbow Roll
When you sit down to eat sushi, you’re usually just as impressed by the presentation as the masterful balance of flavors. Nowhere is that more obvious than with the rainbow roll, which is essentially a California roll with sashimi and avocado wrapped around it. TLC’s recipe for a rainbow roll will add some color to your meal. It also offers a delicate flavor that will impress any sushi lover’s palette. This recipe takes about 45 minutes to complete.
Serves: Makes 2 rolls
- 2 8-by-7-inch dried nori sheets
- 2 cups sushi rice
- 6 cooked, peeled, de-veined sweet shrimp (ebi), butterflied
- 1 tablespoon spicy mayonnaise for sushi, plus more for garnish
- 3 teaspoons flying fish roe (tobiko)
- ¼ Japanese cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut lengthwise into thin strips
- 4 very thin asparagus spears, steamed and cooled
- Pinch of wasabi paste
- 4 slices sashimi-grade ahi tuna (about 5 ounces total)
- 4 slices sashimi-grade yellowtail/hamachi (about 5 ounces total)
- 4 slices sashimi-grade salmon (about 5 ounces total)
- ¼ large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, cut into 8 very thin slices
- Hot chili sauce (such as sriracha), for serving
Directions: Place 1 nori sheet shiny side down on a work surface, with one long side positioned closest to you. Using moistened hands, spread 1 cup of rice in an even layer over the nori sheet, leaving a ½-inch border on the top long side.
Turn the rice-covered nori sheet over onto a sheet of plastic wrap with the same long side positioned closest to you. Next, toss the shrimp, 1 tablespoon spicy mayonnaise, and 1 teaspoon of fish roe in a small bowl to coat. Arrange 3 shrimp horizontally over the middle of the nori.
Place half of the cucumber and asparagus over the shrimp. Then lift the edge of the plastic wrap closest to you and roll up the rice-covered nori away from you to enclose the filling, pressing gently on the plastic to form a tight roll.
Place a bamboo sushi mat over the roll and plastic wrap, hold the mat in position, and press to make the roll firm. Lift the top of the mat and roll so that the bare strip of nori seals the roll. Make sure that the roll is completely closed.
Next, open the mat and move the roll so one end of it is flush with one long edge of the mat. Roll the mat, then pat your fingers against the end of the mat to make the end straight. Repeat with the other end. Then press the entire roll once more with the mat to shape it into a circle.
Next, remove the mat and plastic wrap, and place the sushi roll on the work surface. With a finger, spread a thin line of wasabi evenly across the top of sushi roll.
Starting at the left end of the roll, lay the fish and avocado slices over the roll, slightly overlapping, in the following sequence: ahi tuna, avocado, yellowtail, avocado, salmon, avocado, ahi tuna, avocado, yellowtail, avocado, and salmon.
Then, cover the sushi roll with plastic wrap and roll with the sushi mat to wrap the fish and avocado securely around the sushi roll. Next, remove the mat and plastic wrap. Repeat to make 2 rolls total. Using a large, very sharp knife, cut each roll crosswise into 6 to 8 slices, cutting gently so they retain their shape. Finally, place a little of the remaining fish roe over each slice of sushi and serve with a drizzle of hot chili sauce and the remaining spicy mayo.
Additional reporting by Jess Bolluyt.