Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

You all have been commenting on my comic-book inspired dinner asking for an onigiri recipe, so here you go! It’s super easy, it’s barely even a recipe. These consist of just rice and condiments, so have it for a maintenance grain, or for an on-the-go breakfast!


I count these as a grain serving only. There are tiny bits of flavorings but you use such a small amount that I count them as condiments. This is a great way to get a side of grain when grain doesn’t really fit conceptually with your meal, which happens to me sometimes. They last about a day wrapped tightly and refrigerated but after that the rice gets hard and dried out.

People have all kinds of cute shapes and ways of cutting out nori (seaweed) sheets and putting them on rice balls. If you are unfamiliar with onigiri, here’s what a quick google search turned up:

The essential elements are really just seasoned rice smashed into a ball of some kind wrapped or decorated with a small piece of nori, which are the same seaweed sheets you use to make sushi. Nori sheets are easy to find, we get them at Fred Meyers or Whole Foods.


What I love about so many Japanese recipes is that they are so simple, yet so flavorful. My spouse and I are often surprised by how delicious 3-ingredient recipes are. Someday I’ll write up a “recipe” we love from our vegan Japanese cookbook called “Tofu in Hot Water”. Seriously it’s weirdly amazing.

Anyway, enjoy making balls of rice and wrapping seaweed around them!


Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

  • Servings: Makes 2-3 Servings
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Each Serving Contains:

  • 1 Grain


  • 1/2 cup sushi rice (or try other kinds of rice, why not?)
  • 1 nori (seaweed) sheet
  • Furikake seasoning
    • 1 sheet toasted nori seaweed
    • 1 tsp toasted white and/or black sesame seeds
    • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • Optional fillings:
    • Pinch of wakame seaweed, hydrated
    • Shiitake mushrooms, browned in a little sesame oil
    • Pickled ginger


  • Cook the rice according to your normal method, rice cooker instructions, or package directions.
  • Meanwhile, make the Furikake seasoning. Furikake is just a fancy word for a simple seasoning mix that can be made ahead and stored in a pantry, and then mixed into rice as needed. You could buy storebought furikake, but we like to make it. Also, it’s hard to find it commercially without bonito (fish) flakes, and it often has sugar. As written, the amounts below make enough for a few onigiri, but make it in larger batches if you want to make more to store and have on hand. To make the furikake seasoning:
    • Toast the nori in a large, flat, dry pan over medium-low heat until it crisps and the color changes, close to a minute.
    • In the same dry pan, toss the sesame seeds for a similar amount of time, tossing or stirring constantly, until browned and fragrant.
    • With a mortar and pestle, dry blender cup, or coffee grinder, combine toasted nori, sesame seeds, and salt, and pulse until finely ground.
    • Store in an airtight container
  • To make the onigiri:
    • Measure out your 4 oz of cooked rice (or allotted grain serving). Let it cool enough to handle, and mix it around a little to aerate it.
    • Mix in a large pinch of the furikake seasoning.
    • Get your hands a little bit wet, or salt your hands. Shape the seasoned rice into a ball or triangle shape. Here’s a video, although I didn’t do the bowl thing.
    • Poke a small indent in the center, if including filling. Put a pinch of filling in and close it up.
    • Cut a strip of nori to desired shape, and wrap around the rice ball.
    • That’s it.
    • You could also skip mixing the seasoning into the rice and roll it in the seasoning after shaping it. You can really do anything you want.

Recipe Source: Katie’s Bright Kitchen

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  1. Delicious, thanks for the recipe, lovely post!

  2. Thank you for making these recipes available online. Traditional sushi rice has 2T sugar for every 2c rice. How do you make your rice sweetener -free, as in BLE?

  3. I just leave out the sugar and add a little rice vinegar.