How to Make Sushi Rolls

5 from 2 votes

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Learn how to make sushi rolls step by step with any ingredients you love! Raw seafood is not required! Step by step photos and video included.

Various homemade sushi rolls on multiple platters.


 

Whether you’re an avid sushi lover, or one who prefers cooked seafood over raw fish, or even a vegetarian, you can enjoy homemade sushi rolls that suit your taste. Plus, you’ll save ton of money!!

Since you’re making the rolls, you get to decide what to fill them with! That’s the advantage of making your own sushi rolls. And it’s not even that hard to make them at home!

Let me show you exactly how to make sushi rolls at home! It’s super fun, I promise!

Cucumber rolls with one piece picked up with chopsticks.

What you’ll need:

  1. Short grain sushi rice – It’s essential to have the correct rice! Sticky rice makes the whole process fun and easy.
  2. Sushi mat– You absolutely have to have a sushi bamboo mat to roll your sushi rolls. It really helps to form tight and neat rolls!
  3. Seaweed (nori) sheets– I bought nori sheets at an Asian market a while back. They’re not just for making sushi rolls, you can totally snack on it or serve it with plain rice.
  4. Rice vinegar– It’s essential to flavor your sushi rice.

How to make sushi rolls:

Making homemade sushi rolls is fun and easy! Here’s how:

1. Prepare sushi rice

Sushi rice is made with short grain sticky rice, cooked and seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar and salt.

Tip

You cannot just use any rice here. The emphasis is on short grain sticky rice, because regular rice will just fall apart.

Step by step photos of cooking sushi rice.

2. Prepare the fillings

  • Cut the vegetables into long thin slices. My go-to vegetables are avocado and cucumber.
  • I also slice cooked shrimp length-wise.
Sushi roll ingredients.

3. Roll the sushi rolls

  1. Place a sheet of nori on the prepared sushi mat, smooth side down.
  2. Bring a large bowl with water to dip your hands in. Wetting your hands prevents the rice from sticking your hands.
  3. Now, take about 1/2 cup of sushi rice and spread it evenly over the nori sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch space from the top. Again, don’t mash the rice too much. You want the rice stay fluffy and light.
  4. Arrange the fillings in whatever combination you like.
  5. Then place your thumbs under the mat and bring the roll over the fillings. Use your other fingers to hold the fillings in place and continue rolling until it reaches the end of the nori. Make sure the seam is on the bottom. Gently squeeze along the bottom of the roll and don’t press too hard. Just gentle but firm squeeze to give it a good shape.

Tip

Don’t overfill the rolls! It’s not a burrito.

Nori sheet with rice and avocado slices on a bamboo mat.

To make inside out rolls:

  1. To make inside out rolls, spread the rice evenly on seaweed sheet, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and flip it over. 
  2. Then arrange the fillings straight on the nori sheet.
  3. And roll just like the previous roll. Again try not to press too hard, just gently run your fingers along the bottom and top to shape the roll.
Variety of homemade sushi rolls on black round platter.

How to cut sushi rolls:

  • Use a sharp knife and wet it lightly for a clean cut. 
  • Run the knife in gentle sawing motion without pressing too hard and smushing the rolls. 

Tip

Wipe the knife on a clean wet towel in between cuts to prevent the rice from sticking to the knife.

Smoked salmon covered cucumber rolls on a white plate.

Tips for Success:

  • You can be as creative as you want with the fillings. Or keep it basic! Veggies like cucumbers, avocado, thinly sliced carrots are great options.
  • As for seafood, you don’t *have* to have sushi-grade raw fish. If you’re like me with no access to fresh seafood, stick with cooked seafood like shrimp, crab, or even smoked salmon. For smoked salmon, I highly recommend cold smoked salmon.
  • Super sharp knife is essential for cutting raw fish. Hold your knife at an angle to slice the fish.
  • Place sushi mat in a large plastic bag to keep it clean and prevent the rice from sticking.
  • Keep a bowl of water to dip your hands when rolling your sushi rolls. Rice doesn’t stick to wet hands.
Watch How to Make This Below!
Cucumber rolls with one piece picked up with chopsticks.
5 from 2 votes

Homemade Sushi Rolls

Learn how to make sushi rolls at home with whatever ingredients you love! Raw seafood is not required!
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 10 rolls

Ingredients

For sushi rice:

  • 2 cups short grain sushi rice Note 1
  • 2.5 cups water
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For sushi rolls:

  • 1 medium cucumber Note 2
  • 1 avocado
  • 4 cooked jumbo shrimp Note 3
  • 4 oz cold smoked salmon
  • 5 full nori (seaweed) sheets Note 4
  • Black and white sesame seeds optional
  • Wasabi and soy sauce for dipping if desired

Instructions 

Make sushi rice:

  • Wash the rice under running cold water until the water runs clear. (TIP: This helps to get rid of the excess starch and makes nice and fluffy rice. So don’t skip this step.)
  • Drain and shake the excess water off. It’s crucial because rice to water ratio is very important for the right texture.
  • Then place the washed rice in a saucepan and add 2.5 cups of water. Level the rice under the water so it’s nice and even. Cover with tight fitting lid and turn the heat to medium high. Bring it to a boil.
  • Once boiled, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, still covered. Then turn the heat off and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Don’t open the lid the entire time!
  • Meanwhile, prepare the rice seasoning by mixing together rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small dish until sugar is fully dissolved. Set aside.
  • When the rice is fully cooked, transfer the rice into a large dish. (TIP: Choose a dish with the largest surface area, like a casserole dish, so that the rice cools quickly.)
  • Pour the rice seasoning over the rice. And gently mix everything with a wooden spatula, using a cutting and folding motion. The goal here is to mix the seasoning evenly all throughout the rice and also cool the rice quickly. Rice will also get stickier in the process. Avoid smashing the rice, you don’t want to make mashed rice here. Be gentle!
  • Then cover the rice with damp kitchen towel and prepare the fillings.

Prepare nori sheets and fillings:

  • This's optional, but if desired, toast the nori sheets over an open flame to make them nice and crisp. ( I do this over my gas burner. Make sure to quickly swipe nori sheets over the fire.)
  • If using full nori sheets, cut them in half into 2 rectangular sheets.
  • Prepare the fillings by cutting and slicing them into thin strips. Here I'm using cooked shrimp, cucumber, avocado and smoked salmon. So I slice the shrimp horizontally, cut the cucumber into think sticks (you can also remove seeds, if desired) and peel and slice avocado.

Make the rolls:

  • Prepare a bowl of cold water to dip your hands in to keep them wet when you handle the rice. This will help from rice sticking to your hands.
  • Place sushi mat in a large ziplock bag to prevent the rice sticking to the mat. Arrange everything (rice, fillings, etc) around the work area.
  • Place a seaweed sheet rough side up on the prepared sushi mat.
  • With wet hands, take about 1/2 cup of sushi rice and spread it evenly over the nori sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch space from the top. Again, don’t mash the rice too much. You want the rice stay fluffy and light.
  • Arrange the fillings in whatever combination you like. (For example, just cucumber, or just avocado, or cucumner + shrimp, or cucumber + smoked salmon, etc.)
  • Then place your thumbs under the mat and bring the roll over the fillings. Use your other fingers to hold the fillings in place and continue rolling until it reaches the end of the nori. Make sure the seam is on the bottom. Gently squeeze along the bottom of the roll and don’t press too hard. Just gentle but firm squeeze to give it a good shape.
  • To make inside out rolls, spread the rice evenly on seaweed sheet, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and flip everything over. Now arrange the fillings straight on the nori sheet. And roll just like the previous roll. Again try not to press too hard, just gently run your fingers along the bottom and top to shape the roll.
  • To cut the rolls, use a sharp knife and wet it lightly for a clean cut. Run the knife in gentle sawing motion without pressing too hard and smushing the rolls. Wipe the knife on a clean wet towel in between cuts to prevent the rice from sticking to the knife.
  • Arrange the cut sushi rolls on a serving platter. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi for dipping.

Tips & Notes

Note 1: Make sure to use short grain sushi rice, because long grain rice, like jasmine or basmati rice, is fluffy and they’ll fall apart easily. 
Note 2: It’s best to use seedless variety of cucumber, like English cucumber. 
Note 3: You can buy already peeled, divined and cooked shrimp. 
Note 4: Full nori (seaweed) sheets are 8×8-inch square sheets. You can also purchase half sheets too.

Nutrition

Calories: 197kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 332mg, Potassium: 192mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 127IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 15mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese

This recipe was originally published on December 29th, 2014.

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

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28 Comments

  1. Ooh yum!! My hubby and I love sushi but we don’t always have the money to go out – so great to know we can make it at home! Thanks for the recipe! Pinning!

  2. I love sushi but have come to a point where the only time I dive in is when it has cream cheese! I want to learn the deep fried too for savory junk food days

    1. Oh yeah, tempura sushi rolls rock! Maybe one day I’ll share the recipe. They get soggy so quick, I never able to shoot them fast enough. And cream cheese is another great addition. Philadelphia roll is one of my favorites!

  3. Lovely photography and easy instructions, thank you! I like your tips on making an inside out roll, I’m going to try this soon.

  4. I am going to learn sushi in 2015! Thanks for the motivation; our family loves it but my boys eat so much it’s hard to eat it at restaurants or takeout!

    1. Yeah, it gets expensive pretty quick, doesn’t it? Hope you give this a try. Thanks for stopping by, Valerie.

  5. I love sushi, and could live on it. I actually got a sushi making kit one year and never did it. This has inspired me to attempt my own! Looks soooo good!

  6. Shinee, I approve!! Being of Japanese background, my mum has taught me the “proper” way to make sushi and she would give you full marks for these! Love the flavour combo, LOVE this style with the “nori” (seaweed sheets) inside the rice (PS I think you left that off your ingredients list?). I wish I had these now!

    1. Nagi, that’s awesome! So happy that I made everything right. 🙂 Thanks for pointing out the missing nori. Just added it.

  7. I have always been too chicken to try sushi because I figured they all had raw fish. These look amazing –I think even I could get into these!