California Rolls Recipe

5 from 3 votes

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I could eat California Rolls all day long but they are so expensive to buy here! This California Rolls recipe is much cheaper to make and not as difficult as you may think!

A California roll on a plate with soy sauce, ginger, and wasabi

California Rolls

California Rolls are one of my favorite snacks ever, but they are so expensive to buy! It is much cheaper to make your own PLUS you can make a LOT more than what they give you at the store. I know that sushi can seem daunting to make, but I promise it is easier than it seems! Follow along with our step-by-step pictures and video to become a sushi rolling pro!  

A California roll on a plate with soy sauce, ginger, and wasabi

What Supplies Do I Need to Make California Rolls?

  • Bamboo Sushi Mats – You can find these for about $1 at the Asian Market. You won’t be able to get a super tight roll with this California Roll recipe if you don’t use a bamboo mat.
  • Plastic Wrap – Plastic wrap helps the sushi not to stick to the bamboo mat while you are rolling.
  • A Sharp Knife – When you are cutting the sushi rice, you need a really sharp knife to make the clean cuts.
  • Chopsticks and Small Bowls for Serving

Ingredients in California Rolls

You may have to break off from your typical grocery store and head to your local Asian Market to grab some of these supplies. I promise it will be worth it! There are so many fun things to see and try at the Asian Market.

  • Sushi Rice – The key to successfully making this recipe is using a good sticky sushi rice. Lucky for you, we have a fantastic recipe that will guide you through every step of how to make sushi rice. Find it HERE. See below for more information about Sushi Rice.
  • Nori – Nori is dry, roasted seaweed made into sheet specifically for sushi.
  • Crab Meat or Imitation Crab Meat – I use imitation crab simply because it is more cost efficient. However, if you want to use real crab, more power to you!
  • Avocado – You want your avocado to be ripe, but still firm enough to slice and stay together in the roll.
  • Cucumber – Make sure you peel the cucumbers and remove the seeds.
  • Sesame Seeds – Sesame seeds get sprinkled on top of the rice in this California Rolls recipe.
  • Soy Sauce, Wasabi, and Pickled Ginger Pieces for Serving
Crab, avocado, and cucumber on top of a sheet of nori and rice

What kind of rice is used for Sushi Rice?

The best rice to make sushi rice is a rice called “sushi rice.” It is a short-grain white Japanese rice or medium-grain California rice. It should say “sushi rice” right on the bag. If you can’t find either of those, Calrose rice works well in a pinch. Be aware that not all rice is created equal. Do not use basmati rice or jasmine rice. Neither of these rices are sticky enough for sushi. I can usually find it at the grocery store, but if you can’t find it there, check your local Asian market.

Sushi rice in a bowl next to a plate of California Rolls

Ingredients for Sushi Rice

  • Uncooked Rice – as explained above.
  • Japanese Rice Vinegar –  Rice vinegar adds a rich, savory flavor that complements the fish. If you’re in a pinch, substituting apple cider vinegar for rice vinegar is a tasty alternative.
  • Sugar – Just basic granulated sugar.
  • Salt – Again, just basic iodized salt.

Steps for Making Sushi Rice

  1. Rinse your rice in a colander until the water runs clear. Then, let the rice drain in the colander for 1 hour. This step is crucial to the texture of the rice, so don’t skip it!
  2. Add rice and water to a rice cooker or a large pot. Cover with a lid and cook. See recipe card below for rice cooker and stovetop cooking times.
  3. While the rice is cooking, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, but DO NOT let it boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  4. When the rice is finished, spread the cooked rice out onto a baking sheet using a wooden spoon or rice paddle. Pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and mix until all the rice is coated.
  5. Let the rice cool on the baking sheet, flipping every once in a while.
  6. When the rice is completely cooled, it is ready to be made into all kinds of sushi!

No Raw Fish in this Sushi

This California Rolls recipe doesn’t contain any raw seafood so I am not afraid to make them at home. I will only eat raw fish if I am at a trusted restaurant, and I am pretty picky about my raw seafood. I don’t dare to prepare it myself unless I know that I am getting it from ocean to my kitchen in less than 12 hours, so as you can probably guess with me living in BOISE, that doesn’t happen too often.

How to Make California Rolls

  1. Lay down the bamboo mat and place a piece of plastic wrap over the mat.
  2. Place a sheet of nori, shiny side down on top of the plastic wrap. Spread a thin layer of rice onto the nori. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the rice.
  3. Flip the sushi over so the nori is on top. Place the fillings onto the nori.
  4. Roll the bamboo mat forward, pressing the ingredients inside the cylinder-shaped sushi. Press the bamboo mat firmly with hands, then remove the rolled sushi.
  5. Cut the sushi roll with a very sharp knife. You can get even rolls by cutting the roll in half and then cutting each piece in half again until your rolls are the right thickness.
  6. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Enjoy Even More

You can enjoy several other Asian dishes along with your sushi. For example, this Yakisoba (Japanese Stir Fry Noodles). It features bacon and veggies and is so yummy! The balance between bacon and noodles and loads of fresh veggies make this a well-rounded dish. Or you can try these tasty Asian Glazed Pork Kabobs that can be easily thrown on the grill any time of year.

Our California Rolls Recipe

A plate of California Rolls

California Rolls

5 from 3 votes
I could eat California Rolls all day long but they are so expensive to buy here! This Sushi is much cheaper to make and not as difficult as you may think!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Servings 12



  • Lay the bamboo sushi rolling mat on a cutting board with bamboo strips going horizontally from you. Cover the bamboo with plastic wrap. Put a sheet of dried seaweed on top of the mat, shiny side down. Spread sushi rice on top of the seaweed and press firmly. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the sushi rice.
    Rice spread out over a sheet of nori and sprinkled with sesame seeds
  • Turn the sushi layer over so that the seaweed is on top. Place cucumber, avocado and crab lengthwise on the seaweed.
    Crab, avocado, and cucumber on top of a sheet of nori and rice
  • Roll the bamboo mat forward, pressing the ingredients inside the cylinder-shaped sushi. Press the bamboo mat firmly with hands, then remove the rolled sushi.
    A sushi roll before it is sliced
  • With a VERY sharp knife, cut the sushi roll into pieces. Serve with a shallow dish of soy sauce for dipping.
    A California roll on a plate with soy sauce, ginger, and wasabi


Nutrition Information

Calories: 432kcalCarbohydrates: 82gProtein: 9gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 95mgPotassium: 287mgFiber: 6gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 135IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 2mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

More about Erica Walker

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  1. Your recipes sound scrumptious! I love sushi rolls! I can’t wait to make it! Thanks for posting!!!! Keep up the good work of your home-tested Suchi and rice!

  2. I love making sushi at home! Its soo much cheaper to make yourself.
    Here’s how you make the spicy sauce:

    1/2 cup of mayo
    1/8 tsp Sesame oil
    1 tbs chili sauce (its near the soysauce in a big plastic bottle with a roster on it and a green lid)

    Mix together and refrigerate for atleast 30 mins for the flavors to blend

    1. 5 stars
      Amanda… is the sauce drizzled over the roll, is the roll dipped in it, or do you spread it on the inside of the roll? (Sorry, newbie question….)

  3. 5 stars
    Dave and I love trying your recipes. We made the california rolls on Friday and we will make them again for sure and tonight we are having the cranberry chicken!!

  4. Oh sweet. Thanks Jackie! I will experiment around with the sauce and see what I can come up with.

    Alisha– I am so glad you are liking the blog! You are going to love the cranberry chicken. I’m tellin’ ya. It’s good. I honestly think of you guys when I post healthy recipes! I think to myself “I wonder if this is healthy enough for Dave and Alisha to try”. I know there aren’t a TON of healthy ones.. so hopefully there will be a lot more soon! We are trying to be better!

  5. Thanks for your help. I gave it a shot and I think they turned out ok for my first try:) I tried a bit of each of the ingredients you mentioned (except for the cilantro) and it turned out pretty good. Thanks!

  6. 5 stars
    First of all- thank you for all your posts. I love your recipes and they are very detailed- just what I need!

    Thanks for this post- I was just about to try making sushi rolls- even had already purchased the ingredients.

    Could you post your recipe for the spicy sauce? I was going to try Las Vegas rolls and wanted to find a recipe for sauce similar to that.

    Keep your recipes coming!:)

  7. Thanks Jackie!

    I don’t know exactly how I want to do the spicy sauce yet. I was going to try the godzilla roll again before making it and then try to duplicate the sauce.

    From what I remember, it tasted like sour cream, cayenne, maybe some cilantro, lime, a little mayo, maybe some Tabasco sauce. haha I don’t know I will have to experiment some more before I dare post anything! Let me know if you come up with something good!

    Sorry I’m not a lot of help! I will let you know as soon as I make it and tell you the best recipe I come up with!

    Thanks for looking at the blog! 🙂