Homemade Sushi: Tips, Tricks, and Toppings!

It’s about time, right?

Homemade Sushi Tutorial!
I got a bit overzealous while editing.

Homemade Sushi: Tips, Tricks, and Toppings!

Let’s dive right in!  It may seem like a lot to buy at first, but most of the ingredients turn into staples [like sriracha + sesame seeds] and non perishables like nori, sushi rice, and vinegar will last a ridiculously long time in your pantry.  You’ll end up with 4-6 sushi dinners for the price of one at a restaurant.  But above all else, it’s really fun!  Invite a few friends over and go nuts.

As a bonus, this is one of the few times it’s socially acceptable to say “Here’s everything you need, now make your own dinner!”  Set out all your ingredients and let your friends & family create their own rolls!

sushi-making staples:
sushi rice [Nishiki is my brand of choice!]
a bamboo mat
plastic wrap
nori [seaweed sheets]
low-sodium soy sauce
toasted sesame seeds and/or chia seeds
sriracha chili sauce
wasabi + pickled ginger

You can pick up your staples at your local asian food market or in your grocery store’s international food aisle.  Nearly every store I’ve been to carries all the above ingredients!

Once you have your pantry staples, all you’ll need is some fresh produce!  

Some of my favorite options are cucumber, avocado, asparagus, jalapenos and green onion. Carrots, yuca, sprouts, lettuce, bell peppers, red onion, and radish also make positively fabulous sushi rolls. Fruit-wise, pineapple, mango, apple and pear are all insanely good. And as for protein options? Anything you’d like!  I typically use shrimp tempura and/or sashimi grade tuna, since that’s what’s available near me. When I lived in VA I was able to get fresh salmon from local Asian markets, but here in coastal NC my options are limited.  You can also add tofu or cream cheese to the rolls if you’d like!  Be creative and add anything that floats your sushi boat.

Homemade Sushi Tutorial!

step 1 – make the rice: Combine 1+1/2 cups of rice with 2 cups of water in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil.  Once the water begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cover.  Let the rice simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.  Remove from heat after 20 minutes but let the rice stand, covered, for 10 minutes or so to ensure that the rice is fully cooked.  The best way to ruin the sushi is to roll it in crunchy rice. I have TOTALLY done this before — whoops!  A taste test will ensure that your rice is perfectly fluffy. 

Feel free to  use a rice cooker or [click here] for shortcut sushi in under 2 minutes; quinoa also makes an excellent substitute for rice!

Cooking the rice is the only time-consuming part of the entire process.  While it cooks, save time by prepping your fish, veggies, and sauces!

step 2 season the rice: If you don’t already own rice vinegar, feel free to opt for the pre-seasoned variety to save yourself a step.  If you already have a bottle of rice vinegar or have white vinegar on hand, simply season with salt and vinegar to taste.  For the rice measurements above you’ll need 1/3 cup of seasoned rice vinegar or 1/3 cup of vinegar seasoned with one teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Pour over your rice, fluff with a fork, and taste.  Adjust salt/sugar as desired.  Remove rice from heat, add to a bowl and cover with a paper towel.

step 3 julienne your veggies: While the rice cooks/cools – prep your veggies!  Slice into matchsticks and set aside.  Once the rice is done you’ll be ready to roll!

Now that all your ingredients are prepped, let’s get our roll on!

Homemade Sushi Tutorial!

step 4 wrap it up: To avoid messy clean-up and scrubbing, wrap your bamboo mat in plastic wrap.  Lay a sheet of nori on top and grab your rice!

step 5: The most complicated part of the whole process was making the darn rice in the first place.  Really!  The two most popular techniques are inside-out rolls with rice on the outside or rolls wrapped with nori on the outside and rice on the inside.  Since it’s easiest to make rolls with seaweed on the outside, that’s what we’ll start with!  Grab a spoon and spread a thin layer of rice on the seaweed sheet.  For large rolls, add an extra layer.  I like my pieces bite-sized, so I add a thin layer and leave a little extra space at the end.  Totally up to you!

step 6 line it up: Place your toppings in the center, very close to one another.  If you have large slices or an abundance of ingredients you may want to pile some on top of each other.

For rice on the inside, line your veggies/seafood on top of the rice

For rice on the outside, flip the sheet of nori so the rice touches the plastic wrap and then add your vegetables to the seaweed-only side.

Homemade Sushi
Homemade Sushi

step 7 roll, squeeze, repeat: This one’s hard to explain… but it’s easy to do! The first roll will bind the ingredients into the center.  Roll approx 1/4 of the mat and gently squeeze (so it sticks) and unfold the bamboo mat.  Repeat the process until you’ve rolled the sheet of rice, seaweed, and veggies into a spiral.  Give it one last squeeze to seal the deal.

Homemade Sushi!
Homemade Sushi!

step 8: Slice into bite-sized discs with a freshly sharpened chef’s knife.  If you’re topping your sushi with sashimi or avocado, first tightly wrap the roll in plastic wrap prior to slicing.  This will keep everything neat and pretty an avoid the horrific act of flinging avocado slices all over the kitchen.  Though if that sounds like fun to you, fling away!  I’ll stick with the saran wrap =) Next pile on your toppings [see below!] and set up a few sauces for dunking.  Well, do that after you steal the end pieces off the roll [they're always the messiest!] and shove them in your face!

chia seeds
sesame seeds
thin slices of fish
shrimp or crab salad
sliced almonds

and my favorite topping… AVOCADO!

[click for tutorial]

Avocado Topped Sushi Roll Tutorial
Pin It
Spicy Mayo Recipe
spicy mayo:
1 TBSP homemade or store bought mayo
1/2 TBSP sriracha chili sauce
adjust to your ideal heat level from mild to unreasonably spicy!
substitute with vegan mayo or plain greek yogurt if needed
eel sauce:
1/4 cup mirin [Japanese white wine]
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
heat in a sauce pot over medium heat, whisking constantly to thicken, approx. 10 min
soy sauce:
opt for low-sodium; gluten-fee versions available
ponzu sauce:
a citrusy soy sauce with lemon or lime added
easily imitated by adding fresh juice or zest to your soy sauce
sriracha chili sauce
give your tastebuds a run for their money with straight-up Sriracha
Homemade Sushi!
my obsession runneth over…
Why are you still reading this?  Go make some sushi!
Well, since I still have you here…
What’s your all-time favorite sushi roll?
Here are a few of mine:
Homemade Sushi JB RollHomemade Sushi Volcano RollHomemade Shrimp Tempura RollHomemade Chia Sesame SushiHomemade Cucumber Roll SushiHomemade Vegan SushiYellow Rice SushiAvocado Topped Sushi Recipe and Instructions


  1. says

    This is awesome! I’ve been wanting to try this for ages! Even bought a book on it. But it doesn’t have pictures and your step by step pictures make it seem way less intimidating!

    • says

      The only time-consuming part is cooking the rice. I chop all my veggies and fish while I wait and then let everyone roll their own sushi when the rice is done! <3 It’s fun so it doesn’t feel like work at all. The mats are available everywhere! From target/wal-mart to grocery stores to international food stores. All should have em! <3

      Thanks Kim!

  2. says

    Hands down fave sushi roll ever is Sex on the Moon from Lemongrass. Every time I try to be unpredictable and order something different, I just end up regretting my decision and dreaming about the Sex on the Moon roll and apologize for cheating on it with another less sexy roll.

  3. MissKrys says

    My all time favourite – Shrimp Tempura, Cucumber, Avocado topped with Raw Spicy Tuna & Green Onions and drizzled with spicy mayo.

    Spicy mayo (made with greek yogurt) makes a great bbq sauce – especially on chicken!

  4. says

    I tried to comment on this post from my phone the moment you posted it- but it didn’t work. So, I’m back.
    This post is BEAUTIFUL!! I’ve made sushi at home a few times, but it’s been a while- I need to bring it back! We had a sushi making party one night, and it was a blast!
    And you’re right about using plastic wrap- total life saver!!

  5. Anonymous says

    I would suggest using a half sheet of nori instead of a full one. I always end up with the rolls being way too thick if I use the whole sheet. The sushi chefs at the restaurant I used to work at used half sheets. Just watching them at work, I picked up all kinds of ideas and tips.

  6. says

    I just started making my own this past week and tonight for dinner :) It is crazy easy to do! The rice is the only hard part! Haha. I forgot to pick up bamboo mats and plastic wrap and didn’t realize it until I had everything ready to go! Sooo… I cut open a Ziploc bag and it worked perfect! I would rather have used plastic wrap to top my rolls but maybe next time. Also as far as veggies, I love carrots but if you pile them too thick they are really hard to cut through! And for newbies, the inside out rolls are delicious but harder to eat with chopsticks, so stick to normal rolls or just eat with your fingers, it is totally acceptable! And one last thing… Sriracha is great on pizza ;-)

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