Sushi Rice

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This basic sticky sushi rice recipe is easy to make in a rice cooker, Instant Pot, or on the stovetop.  Perfect for making sushi, poke bowls, onigiri and more!

Sushi Rice Recipe

Get ready, friends, because we’re learning how to make sushi this week!! ♡

I’ve been looking forward to this series of posts for awhile now.  But before we dive into a full tutorial on how to make my favorite easy maki rolls, there’s an essential first step that we all need to master first — how to make sushi rice.

This classic vinegared (“sushi” literally means “sour-tasting” in Japanese), firm, sticky, short-grain white rice is the foundation for all sushi.  And, at least in my opinion, it’s one of the main factors that separates the so-so sushi from the stellar sushi.  The good news for us is that excellent sushi rice is quite easy to make at home in either a rice cooker, pressure cooker or on the stovetop.  And all you need to make it are five basic ingredients!

I admittedly go the non-traditional route and just use a basic mixing bowl and spatula for the rice-folding process, which is a method that has always works just fine for us.  But if you would like to make your sushi rice the traditional Japanese way, I have included options below for how to use a wooden hangiri, rice paddle and a fan to fold and cool your sushi.  Whichever method you choose, the end result will be a delicious batch of seasoned sticky rice that will work perfectly in your favorite recipe for sushi, poke bowls, onigiri and more.

So round up these basic ingredients, and let’s make some sushi rice!

Uncooked Sushi Rice In Jar

Sushi Rice Ingredients:

To make sushi rice, you will need these essential sushi rice ingredients:

  • Japanese-style short-grain white rice: This uniquely sticky, plump and firm-textured variety of rice is essential for making good sushi rice! ♡ When shopping for sushi rice, look for short-grain rices that are either made in Japan or labeled as “sushi rice” (some of the more affordable brands are now grown in California).  That said, quality, price, taste and textures can run the gamut with sushi rice, so if you really want to dial in on your favorite rice, feel free to taste-test a few different brands to see which one you love best. My favorite brands are Lundberg Farms, Nishiki, and Kokuho Rose.
  • Rice vinegarJust a basic bottle of unseasoned rice vinegar.  (You can purchase store-bought “sushi vinegar” if you prefer, which already includes the sugar and salt mixed in.  But it typically includes extra additives too, so I prefer to take the extra few minutes to make my own sushi vinegar by mixing together unseasoned rice vinegar, sugar and salt.)
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar is traditional for sushi rice.  But feel free to sub in your favorite natural sweetener if you prefer.
  • Fine sea saltI used fine sea salt in this recipe.  So if you are using table salt, please note that you will need to use less salt.
  • Kombu (optional): If you would like to add some traditional umami flavor to your sushi rice, feel free to add a small sheet of kombu (dried seaweed) to the pot while your rice cooks.

Sushi Rice with Kombu in Saucepan or Instant Pot

How To Make Sushi Rice:

After having experimented with various traditional and non-traditional methods for making sushi rice, this is the basic method I’ve landed on.  The main goal here is to cook the rice al dente (it should be firm but not crunchy) and to try not to mash the sticky rice as you stir it (hence the gentle slicing/folding method, instead of just stirring in circles).  Good sushi rice should look polished and shiny, and the individual rice grains should stay fairly separated instead of being all smooshed together.  But that said, however your rice turns out, I assure you it will work well in sushi and be delicious!

Also, I highly recommend opting for the rice cooker or Instant Pot methods, as they are the simplest and most foolproof here with sometimes-temperamental short grain rice.  But the stovetop method will work well too — just note that gas and electric stoves can make a difference in cook time, so double-check that your rice is tender before removing it from the heat.

If you have the extra time, I will note that it’s also traditional to soak the rinsed rice in its cooking water for 20-30 minutes before cooking.  But after trying that out a few times, we honestly didn’t notice that the extra soaking made that significant of a difference, so I usually skip it and just cook the rice immediately after rinsing.

Ok!  Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here’s a quick overview of what we will do to make sushi rice:

  1. Rinse the rice. An essential first step!  Place the rice in a fine-mesh strainer and give it a good long rinse with cold water until the water runs clear and is no longer murky, then drain off any extra water.
  2. Cook the rice. Cook the rice in water (along with a sheet of kombu, if you woud like) until it is tender.  I’ve included instructions below for how to cook the rice in either a rice cooker, pressure cooker or on the stovetop.
  3. Make the sushi vinegar. Then while the rice is cooking, heat the vinegar, sugar and salt and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.  You can either do this in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove.
  4. Season the rice. I typically just do this step in a big mixing bowl with a silicone spatula, but you can use a wooden hangiri and a rice paddle if you would like to go the traditional route.  Transfer the rice immediately to a large mixing bowl and drizzle it evenly with the sushi vinegar. Then use the spatula to very gently fold the rice — slicing into it at a 45-degree angle, lifting and folding the rice on top of itself, rather than stirring and smooshing the rice — until the vinegar is evenly mixed in and some of the initial steam has escaped.
  5. Cool. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp towel so that it is touching the surface of the rice, which will help prevent the rice from drying out. Let the rice cool on the counter (or in the refrigerator) until it nearly reaches room temperature.
  6. Serve. Use the rice immediately in a recipe, or transfer to an airtight food storage container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Mixing rice with sushi vinegar in bowl

Possible Variations:

There are all sorts of more- and less-traditional ways to prepare sushi rice, so feel free to experiment and find what works best for you!  For example, you could…

  • Cool the rice the traditional way: Transfer the rice to a wooden hangiri once it has finished cooking and drizzle the sushi vinegar evenly onto the rice.  In one hand, use a rice paddle to gently fold the vinegar into a rice, while using a fan in the other hand to blow away the steam and cool the rice.  Continue the folding/fanning rhythm for 10 minutes, or until the rice reaches room temperature.
  • Cool the rice the fastest way: This method is by no means traditional.  But if you would like to cool the rice extra-quickly, transfer the rice to a large baking sheet once it has finished cooking and drizzle the sushi vinegar evenly on top.  Then use a large spatula to spread out and gently fold the rice repeatedly for a few minutes until it reaches room temperature.
  • Soak the rice: As mentioned above, you are also welcome to soak the rice its cooking water for 20-30 minutes before cooking.  This is said to give the rice extra time to moisten and cook more evenly.
  • Customize the sushi vinegar: Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar and salt in the sushi vinegar, to taste.  And of course, feel free to use more or less of the sushi vinegar if you prefer.
  • Use a natural sweetener: In place of granulated sugar, feel free to use honey, coconut sugar, or any other natural sweetener you may prefer.
Salmon Avocado Sushi Roll

DIY sushi rolls recipe coming later this week!

Ways To Use Sushi Rice:

Most traditionally, this Japanese short-grain sticky rice is actually just served as a side dish to accompany the rest of your meal.  But of course, it’s also delicious used in various kinds of sushi, poke bowls, onigiri and beyond.  Stay tuned for more recipes to come!

Print

Sushi Rice

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: About 4 cups 1x

Description

Learn how to make authentic sushi rice either in a rice cooker, pressure cooker or on the stovetop!  See notes above for possible variations too.


Scale

Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice. Rinse the rice with cold water in a large fine mesh strainer for 1-2 minutes, or until the water runs very clear.  Drain well.
  2. Cook the rice. See details in the notes below for how to cook the rice either on the stovetop, in a rice cooker, or in the Instant Pot.
  3. Make the sushi vinegar. While the rice is cooking, heat the rice vinegar, sugar and sea salt together in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the mixture nearly reaches a simmer.  Remove from heat and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.  (Alternately, you can just heat the mixture in the microwave if you prefer.)
  4. Season the rice. Once the rice is cooked, transfer the rice immediately to a large mixing bowl and drizzle it evenly with the sushi vinegar. Use a spatula to very gently fold the rice — more of a slicing and lifting motion, rather than stirring and smooshing — until the vinegar is evenly mixed into the rice.
  5. Cool. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp towel so that it is touching the surface of the rice, which will help prevent the rice from drying out. Let it cool on the counter (or in the refrigerator) until it reaches room temperature.
  6. Serve. Use the rice immediately in a recipe, or transfer to an airtight food storage container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


Notes

Rice Cooker Instructions: Briefly stir the rice and water together in the bowl of a rice cooker, then place the kombu on top of the rice.  Cover and cook according to device instructions. Discard the kombu.

Instant Pot Instructions: Briefly stir the rice and water together in the bowl of an Instant Pot, then place the kombu on top of the rice.  Cover and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes, followed by a 10 minute natural release, followed by a quick release. Discard the kombu.

Stovetop Instructions: Briefly stir together the rice and water (I recommend using 2 1/4 cups water for this method) in a large saucepan, place the kombu on top of the rice, then cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.  Turn the heat to medium-high and cook until the water just reaches a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer, and cook for 16-18 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.  Remove saucepan from the heat (with the lid still on) and let the rice steam for an additional 10 minutes.  Discard the kombu.

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7 comments on “Sushi Rice”

  1. I was so happy to learn form your IG stories that you’re doing sushi-series! So excited for this and can not wait for the recipes. :D

  2. I am thrilled you are posting a series on sushi-making! My 16 year old loves sushi and we just started buying the things we need to make sushi at home. Excited to see each post! If you have any tips on where to buy sushi-grade fish, please share! With the pandemic going on, we have not had much luck finding salmon or tuna which is our favorite.

    • Cindy,
      I love using tuna and salmon. When I lived on the east coast of Florida it was easy to get ahold of great fresh fish. However, I’m no longer in FL so it can be challenging with how picky I am about fish used for sushi. I found that using the frozen wild caught salmon and tuna at BJ’s or Sam’s is a really good alternative. The frozen bags have each steak of fish vacuum sealed separately, so it’s easy to pull a few or a bunch out to make sushi last minute. Plus, they only take a few minutes to thaw in cold water.

      Hope that helps!

  3. Awesome!!! My husband is part Japanese, we together learned how to make sushi rolls. Fun fun, yum yum!

    Very interesting few methods how to make sushi rice, nice to know. :) What I do quickly (and lazy?)– I rinse 2 cups rice in water, put in rice cooker with 2 cups water, add seasoned rice vinegar (1 Tablespoon) & blue agave (like honey, 3 Tablespoons or less.. I love so sweet), and little stir in rice cooker. Then cook by white rice setting. When finish, I put in room temperature or in refrigerator when in hurry. 😅

    I only know how to make simple sushi rolls by using avocado, cucumber, and crab meat. I so look forward to see your sushi rolls recipes!!!!! 🤗❤🍱 Thank you, Ali!!!

  4. I’m so excited for this!!!! Making it tonight and cannot wait for more of this series. Thank you for the instant pot directions too, I’ve always been apprehensive to try this this way.

  5. Looking forward to your series on Sushi Rice- Thanks for the great recipes!

  6. Made this rice last night for our first ever homemade sushi night. It could not have turned out better! It tasted just like the restaurant!! We had so much fun making the rolls. We made 9 rolls out of this recipe and have a lot of ideas of new sushi combos to try! Thank you!!