How To Make Sushi Rolls

How to make sushi rolls

How To Make Sushi Rolls

I used to have a pretty bad sushi habit I just couldn’t shake. I would crave it and dream about it, and then something happened. I realized the crazy amount of money I was spending on sushi. Let’s just say it was a lot. Then I thought, “Why can’t I learn to make my own sushi at a home?” I figured I could save some dough and still get all the yummy sushi flavors I crave. And so I did just that. With a little practice, I’m now a sushi-making machine. And you can be one too! I’m going to give you a few tips, tricks and recipes for making some simple sushi rolls at home. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be whipping up sushi rolls left and right. Don’t get intimidated because it’s not as hard as it looks. I promise!

What equipment do I need?

As complex as homemade sushi may appear, only minimal equipment is required for making an impressive platter:

 bamboo mat
bamboo rolling mat
  • Bamboo Rolling Mat- helps create a tighter roll with better shape. Click on the link and see which one I have. I love mine.
  • 1 cutting board for slicing veg and 1 cutting board for slicing raw fish
  • A sharp, non serrated knife
  • Pan to cook the rice
  • Mixing bowl and spoon for mixing the rice and sushi vinegar
  • Bowl of water (very important for handling rice and for slicing the sushi)
  • A cloth to clean and tidy and wipe as you go
  • A platter for serving
  • Chop sticks for eating (optional) – sushi is traditionally eaten with the fingers.

Gather All Your Ingredients

  • Sushi Rice– If you want your rolls to stick and hold you can’t just use any old rice. You’ll need a short or medium-grain rice with rounder, starchier grains than long-grain types, which just won’t give you the “glue” you need to make your sushi stick. When making your sushi, the rice should be slightly warmed.
  • Mirin– Its a sweet Japanese style cooking wine made from rice and a common ingredient in Japanese sauce recipes. What does it have to do with sushi? After the sushi rice is cooked it gets seasoned with a sauce called ‘su’ made of mirin, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt. It gives the sushi rice a nice tangy zip. It’s a great ingredient to have in your pantry if you love preparing Asian recipes since it’s called for often.
  • Rice Vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)- Made from fermenting rice, rice wine vinegar is less acidic than white vinegar and with a slightly sweeter and more delicate flavor. I love this and use it often plus its an Asian inspired salad dressings and marinades.
  • Nori (seaweed sheets)– Nori is the dark green paper-like sheets of seaweed pressed into thin sheets that you use to roll your ingredients into sushi with. The good news is that Nori is super low in calories and is extremely nutritious. It’s high in protein, fiber, vitamins A, vitamin C and B’s as well as and minerals like manganese, phosphorus, iodine, and iron. It’s also a good source of EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid. Be careful because Nori loves to absorb water. After the package is opened, store in an airtight container to protect against moisture. When you’re not making sushi you can enjoy it as a snack.
  • Soy Sauce– To dip or not to dip, that is the question. While dipping sushi in soy sauce is controversial (some say it’s too overpowering) – I like it and I think most people do too. So which one do you get? Go for a good quality soy sauce that will perfectly complement the subtle flavors of the sushi.
  • Wasabi (Japanese horseradish)– This is a paste made from the ground rhizomes from the wasabi plant that is served alongside your favorite sushi rolls and dishes. Similar in taste to horseradish, wasabi is not for the timid. Wasabi is great for the digestive and cardiovascular system, can help fight the effect of arthritis and has anti-cancer properties.
  • Pickled Ginger– Pickled ginger is served in sushi restaurants a nice palate cleanser between sushi dishes. Ginger is often dyed pink for color but you may find white ginger (undyed) on your travels as well which has the same flavor. Ginger has powerful healing qualities as a remedy for upset stomach and protects the stomach. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, contains potent antioxidants and even protects the liver. It’s my favorite and loved it with other dishes.
  • Spicy mayo (optional): I always love adding a bit of spicy mayo to my sushi (either drizzled on top or mixed into the fillings), which can be made simply with mayo and Sriracha.
  • Sushi-Grade Fish: Cooked or fried shrimp, crab (real or imitation), smoked salmon (it’s safe because it’s cured) and tuna steaks (cut up real thin)
  • Veggies and Fruits– all the veggies in the garden, fruits like mango and and pineapple and anything else that catches your fancy.

Instructions For Making The Sushi Rolls

Homemade sushi
Homemade Sushi

Step1 – Make Your Sushi Rice

The first step in making your sushi rolls is preparing the sushi rice. Sushi rice should be slightly warm when making the sushi rolls.

Measure out the sushi rice you’ll be making (we used 2 cups) and rinse under cool water until the water runs mostly clear. This removes most of the starch from the outside of the rice so it doesn’t turn into a sticky mess. The inside of the rice has just enough starch for what we need. Place in a pot with 2 cups of water and the 2-inch piece of kombu if you have it. If not, it’s okay.

Bring the sushi rice up to a low boil, place the pot lid on and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Then remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes more

Step 2 – Prepare Your Sushi Fillings

Cut all the fish and veggies of your sushi fillings into long narrow strips or matchsticks aiming for ¼ inch slices. Most fruits, vegetables, greens, and herbs are best rolled raw. Tougher veggies like carrots and asparagus can be blanched. You can include veggies in your sushi like:

  • Cucumber
  • Avocados
  • Bell peppers
  • Jalapenos
  • Carrots
  • Sprouts

Here are some easy roll ideas to get your feet (or flippers) wet in the sushi making world:

California Rolls:  “Krab” (imitation crab), avocado and cucumber
Veggie Roll:  your call
Cucumber Roll: cucumber and only cucumber
Philadelphia Roll:  smoked salmon, cream cheese
Alaskan Roll:  fresh salmon, avocado, cucumber
Tuna Roll: fresh or seared tuna with avocado or cucumber

Step 3 – Cut Your Nori Sheets

You’ll need to cut your nori sheets in half if you want regular maki sized rolls or California rolls. Figure out which is the long side and then fold a crease in that side. Use a scissor to then cut them in half.

Tip: If you like big rolls then go for a full sheet. But you ‘ll need to add plenty of ingredients to make up for the size.

Step 4 – Let the Sushi Rolling Begin

Place a half or full nori sheet shiny side down on the bamboo mat. 

Spread and press the rice down gently but firmly over the nori sheet. This time leave a gap of rice about ½ inch wide along the long edge of the nori sheet farthest from you. This will help seal the roll.

Season with sesame seeds if you like.

Rolling The Sushi

Using your fingers to hold in the ingredients to your front, start to bring up the bamboo mat, rolling the nori sheet away from you, tucking in the ingredients as you go. Lift the edge from under the roll as you go.

– With a gentle but firm hand, roll up the sushi making sure it’s tightly packed. Unroll the mat and you have your first sushi roll!

To Slice: Dipping your knife in the bowl of water between slices, cut the sushi roll in half. Line those pieces up alongside each other and slice again. Do it twice more and you have evenly sliced sushi pieces.

To Plate and Serve: Move to a plate and serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.


How to make sushi rolls
How to make sushi rolls

The best part about making homemade sushi rolls is that you can customize your sushi exactly the way you like, so do some experimenting and use whatever ingredients and techniques you love best! For example, feel free to…

  • Use different fillings: As I mentioned above, we most often stick to a crab meat/salmon, avocado and veggie mix. But of course, you can fill your sushi with just about anything! A few other suggestions:
    • Proteins: fish, shrimp, crab, scallops, tofu
    • Veggies: carrots, bell pepper, asparagus, sweet potato, cabbage, green beans, greens, sprouts
    • Fruit: mango, pineapple, kiwi
    • Dairy: cream cheese and spicy mayo
    • Herbs and seasonings: fresh cilantro, chives, mint, basil, togarishi powder, hot chili peppers
    • Sauces: sweet chili sauce, eel sauce, ponzu sauce
  • Make inside-out rolls: If you would like to make inside-out rolls (with the rice on the outside), cover your sushi mat with plastic wrap. Cut the sheet of nori in half. Press the rice onto the nori so that it is completely covered. Then flip the nori upside down, place the fillings inside, and roll up until sealed.
  • Mix the spicy mayo into the rolls: Instead of drizzling the spicy mayo on top of the rolls, you can also mix it in with the fillings before rolling up the rolls.
  • Make sushi without a mat: As I mentioned above, we have made sushi without a mat many times by just rolling with our hands. But if you do not have a mat, you can also use a dry kitchen towel or a sheet of parchment paper in its place.
  • Make gluten-free sushi: Just be sure to use gluten-free tamari (in place of soy sauce) and double-check that all of your other ingredients are certified gluten-free. You can also use Liquid Aminos from Bragg
  • Make vegan sushi: Just be sure to use all vegan fillings.
  • Make it No Soy– If you can’t have soy there is sauce that has no soy in it. You can find them on Amazon, local grocery stores, Traders Joe’s and Aldi. Here are some you can check out on Amazon by Ocean’s Halo, Primal Kitchen and Liquid Aminos from Bragg


A few more of my best sushi-making tips before I wrap up:

  • Buying sushi-grade fish: Of course, if you plan to use raw salmon, tuna, or other fish in your sushi, please be sure to double-check that you are purchasing sushi-grade fish. (Which means that it is safe to eat raw.)  You can check labels, but I find that it’s easiest to ask a professional at your grocery store or fish market which options are sushi-grade. Many nowadays are frozen, so if you purchase frozen fish, be sure to also thaw it safely in the refrigerator.
  • Costs: I will note that the cost of ingredients is usually the highest when making your first round, especially if you are also purchasing sushi mats, pickled ginger, soy sauce, and/or wasabi for the first time. The larger the batch (or the more batches) you make, the lower the cost per roll will be. As mentioned above, we buy our sushi rice, nori, pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi in bulk because I make this so often, which significantly helps to cut down on costs. But even still, I have found that making an initial batch of 5 rolls homemade is usually significantly cheaper than ordering out at a restaurant.
  • Practice makes perfect delicious sushi. Bottom line — the more you practice making homemade sushi, the more your sushi skills will improve! It definitely took me a few tries to figure out exactly how thick the rice to be, how many fillings per roll, how tightly to roll, etc. But here’s the good news whatever happened it was still delicious. So just have fun with it, try out different ingredients and techniques, and don’t worry about everything looking perfect.

Here is one recipe I did on the blog using cauliflower instead of rice to make my sushi

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