Homemade Sushi: Tips, Tricks, and Toppings!

An easy-to-follow homemade sushi tutorial with lots of tips, tricks, and photos to help you roll like a pro along with sushi roll and sauce recipes galore!

Homemade Sushi Tutorial: Tips, Tricks, and Toppings!

It’s about time, right?!

Homemade Sushi: Tips, Tricks, and Toppings

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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!

I’ll walk you through each step in the post and then include a printable cheat sheet at the end to make your new sushi adventure even easier!

Homemade Sushi Tutorial: easy-to-follow Tips, Tricks, and Toppings!

Don’t get intimidated – rolling sushi is 100x easier than it looks! Your rolls might not come out 5-star restaurant worthy on the first try but it won’t be long before you’re creations are so pretty you’ll want to instagram them!

sushi-making staples:

sushi rice (Nishiki is my brand of choice!)
a bamboo mat (example)
plastic wrap
nori (seaweed sheets)
low-sodium soy sauce
toasted sesame seeds and/or chia seeds
wasabi + pickled ginger (optional but yummy!)

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 and some even arrange them next to the store-made sushi for easy stock-up! Sweet!

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.

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 Virgina 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 vertically into matchsticks and set aside. Once the rice is done you’ll be ready to roll!

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 – inside-out or outside-in: 

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!

Homemade Sushi Tutorial: easy-to-follow Tips, Tricks, and Toppings!

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 +/or 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

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!
Homemade Sushi!

step 8 – slice and serve: 

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!

tasty toppings:

chia seeds
sesame seeds
thin slices of fish
shrimp or crab salad
sliced almonds
crushed pecans
sliced mango
chopped green onion
seaweed salad
sprouts

and my favorite topping… AVOCADO!

Want to learn how to wrap your sushi rolls with fresh avocado? (click for tutorial) It’s easier than it looks!

Spicy Mayo Recipe

sushi sauces:

spicy mayo:

  1. 1 TBSP homemade or store bought mayo
  2. 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. 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese white wine)
  2. 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  3. 2 tablespoons sugar

Heat in a sauce pot over medium heat, whisking constantly to thicken. (approx. 10 min)

soy sauce:

Opt for low-sodium when possible; gluten-fee versions available.

ponzu sauce:

Ponzu is a citrusy soy sauce with lemon or lime added. May be purchased or easily imitated by adding fresh juice or zest to your favorie soy sauce.

 sriracha chili sauce:

Give your tastebuds a run for their money with straight-up Sriracha. May be added to soy sauce, served on the side, or served straight up on your sushi!

Add a little, or a lot!

Homemade Sushi!

Be creative! there are endless combinations of ingredients, toppings, and sauces to choose from.

Sriracha ALL THE THINGS!

Why are you still reading this?  Go make some sushi!

Here’s your printable cheat sheet:

Homemade Sushi: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for delicious at-home sushi rolls

1 vote

Print

Homemade Sushi: Tips, Tricks, and Toppings!

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 2 -20 sushi rolls!

The post itself has all the details and photos you will need to whip up delicious sushi bar style sushi... at home! This printable guide can be used as a quick reference when you're in full on sushi mode in your kitchen! Hope it helps! xo

Ingredients

  • sushi-making staples:
  • sushi rice [Nishiki is my brand of choice!]
  • a bamboo sushi mat
  • plastic wrap [cling/saran wrap]
  • nori [seaweed sheets]
  • low-sodium soy sauce
  • toasted sesame seeds and/or chia seeds
  • sriracha chili sauce
  • wasabi + pickled ginger
  • stellar sushi ingredients // choose your favorites:
  • cucumber
  • avocado
  • asparagus
  • jalapenos
  • green onion
  • carrots
  • sprouts
  • bell peppers
  • pineapple
  • mango
  • apple
  • pear
  • tempura [cooked] shrimp
  • imitation crabmeat [cooked]
  • raw sashimi grade salmon
  • smoked salmon
  • raw sashimi grade tuna
  • and the list goes on and on!
  • toppings:
  • chia seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • thin slices of fish
  • shrimp or crab salad
  • seaweed salad
  • sliced almonds
  • sprouts
  • thinly sliced avocado [tutorial]
  • volcano topping [recipe]

Instructions

  1. STEP ONE: Make your sushi rice on the stove top or using a rice cooker. Quinoa works excellent too!
  2. STEP TWO: Season the rice with seasoned rice vinegar or a combination of plain rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Pour over your rice, fluff with a fork, taste, and adjust as desired. Remove rice from heat, fluff into a bowl and set aside.
  3. STEP THREE: 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!
  4. STEP FOUR: 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!
  5. STEP FIVE: Use a spoon to spread a thin layer of rice on the seaweed sheet.
  6. STEP SIX: Place your toppings in the center, very close to one another and practically in a little veggie dogpile.
  7. For rice on the inside, line your veggies/seafood on top of the rice.
  8. 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.
  9. STEP SEVEN: 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.
  10. STEP EIGHT: 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!
  11. Next pile on all your favorite toppings and set up a few sauces for dunking.
  12. Enjoy!
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 Chia Sesame SushiHomemade Cucumber Roll SushiHomemade Vegan SushiAvocado Topped Sushi Recipe and Instructions

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Comments

Jane

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!

    Jenn @ Peas and Crayons

    Thanks Jane! Once you dive in it’s fun! I hope this helps you get started! =)

    Jen

    It’s actually fairly easy and not time-consuming at all, as long as you have a rice cooker. I like to set it and forget it.. It’s not like you have to actively stand there while the rice cooks 🙂

    Also, my biggest tip would be – I kept squishing my rolls with even my sharpest knife, and one of my Japanese friends told me to stop being such a pain about it, and use a sharp, serrated bread knife, like every Asian family actually does at home. Haha. You can’t tell the difference at all, as long as it’s sharp and with wet vinegar helps.

    Im having fun right now getting better at half-sheet rolls. They’re so tiny and cute, and actually more filling than they look. You have to be really cheap about the filling… Use less rice and keep more goodies. You can make about 10 whole rolls from 2 cups of rice, and bonus – they’re really cute! (Also there is less nori sheet in each roll, which personally I prefer to taste less of)

      Jenn

      I need to try the half sheet trick! And HECK YES on the serrated bread knife! My husband rolls his eyes but I’ve been using it lately and it’s AMAZING! Love these tips like woah! Thanks Jen! 🙂 Hope you’re having a rockin’ week! Come make sushi with me!

        Jen

        If you ever get good at the half-sheets, let me know. Sometimes I have trouble getting the nori to stick for some reason, even though I have gone nice and light on the filling, and it SEEMS like they should stick. There is a lot less margin for error, but they’re so darn cute when they’re done! (The ten rolls estimate from two cups, was two cups uncooked rice, and a guesstimate, sine I’ve never used it all at once, but should be at least 9)

        And thanks for reminding me about the sugar part of the rice wine equation. I had completely forgotten to do that. Doh.

        Also, you can always try something totally “wrong” if people or you don’t want to tempt fate with anything raw, because I like to make little pork strips in Yuzu citrus with green onions, or I chop up shrimp into small pieces and fry them with hot chili oil, and I often sub celery for cucumber. You can even make a steak roll with beef stops, green pepper and onions. 🙂

        I like making sushi because it takes a little thought, and isn’t many calories for how filling it feels when you finally eat it! yay!

Kim@Snug Harbor

Oh, this looks so yummy. It looks so time consuming tho…. Where do you buy the sushi mats? And are you slicing the sushi thru the plastic paper?

    Jenn @ Peas and Crayons

    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!

char eats GREENS

Yummmmmmm. I wanna make my own sushi for sure now!! My fave has to be a good veggie sushi roll. So serious about making my own now though haha

Nikki

Love this. Sushi is so good. I need to try and make some of my own.

Amanda @ Run Principessa

You are so ambitious. I want to have a sushi making date but I’m pretty sure if anybody could screw it up, it would be me. 🙂

Danielle @ Itsaharleyyylife

i always wondered how they made sushi! it looks pretty easy! thanks for sharing! (:

Miz

must procure me a mat for making….

Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile

Omg, obsessed! I have been dying to make homemade sushi!

Shoshana

This is an awesome tutorial, way to go! I love making Sushi at home, but somehow I end up making a huge mess.

nicolekathryn03

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.

Cat @ Breakfast to Bed

Ok, I’m going to do this. As you know, me and mine spend entirely too much $$$$$$ on sushi.

Fantastic post BTW.

Do you know how to make the spicy salmon? Can you text it to me/post it?

Jennifer Marcum

Although I’ve never been a huge fan of sushi, you make it look very appetizing. I think we have the same addiction to sriracha…it pretty much accompanies most things on my plate

http://www.thewannabehousewife.com

Liz Ford

I love how you always seem to make my life so much simpler. I mean … I can do this at home?! DONE! Oh and next time there is a man in my life, I’m totally impressing him with these skills. Who wouldn’t want a girl who knows how to make sushi?!

http://www.southerncharmnola.com

MissKrys

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!

Kristy Sayer

Oh your sushi looks perfect! Next you’ll be opening your own store ;P

I actually don’t like sushi (which I suppose is good as I can’t eat soy or seaweed haha)

Tayla Anne

Ahh this is great! I have been wanting to make sushi for a couple of weeks but couldn’t find a good recipe, so this is perfect and just in time haha!

Lauren

This is a great tutorial Jenn! My favorite sushi is salmon rolls! I have to have soy sauce to dip it in to as well!

Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning

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!!

Anonymous

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.

    Jenn @ Peas and Crayons

    Fabulous idea! I cover the nori with less rice to keep them small but I never thought to halve the nori! Thanks for the tip! =)

Kris Savage

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 😉

Jen

this is the most comprehensive recipe/directions/photos ever! I now have the confidence to try it for myself. Thank you!

    Jenn

    Thanks Jen!!! I hope it comes in handy! I adore making sushi at home with friends and family! <3

Joe Wells

Everything looks awesome …. except the Sriracha directly on rolls. Yikes.

    Jenn

    Haha! Terrifyingly spicy eh? I like my rolls hot! 🙂

Michelle Bryant

Can’t wait to try, made some before but didn’t think of chia vs sesame. A friend told me about mango, can’t wait

    Jenn

    Ohmygosh Michelle for sure add mango to your sushi! It’s phenomenal! Hope the tutorial is a blast – we love making our own sushi! 🙂

Becca

Hi, curious how rice this actually makes? Enough for two people, four people, etc?

    Jenn

    Hey Becca! My husband and I usually split this when we’re super ravenous but I think in normal sushi world it would serve more. It’s enough rice for 4-5 sushi rolls total so you could serve up one roll per person if desired.

Jess

You forgot about yam and even zucchini which are both super tasty in sushi!!

    Jenn

    Ohmygosh YES! I’ve used zucchini and even yellow rice in sushi before and it rocks my world! Good call Jess! 🙂

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