Perfect Sushi Rice Recipe

4.99 from 66 votes
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Learn how to make perfect sushi rice with our easy tips and tricks. From picking out the right ingredients to seasoning techniques, we’ve got everything you need to help you make delicious sushi rice at home!

Bowl of Sushi Rice. Sushi in the background.

I absolutely love this rice, not just for sushi but for all kids of different dishes. It has a very subtle seasoning that enhances but never distracts from the other flavors it is combined with. Whenever I am craving sushi or musubi, I can always find most of the ingredients in my pantry (at least for the rice). As long as you have the right ingredients and equipment, you can easily create delicious sushi rice at home without spending a fortune!

Ingredients for Sushi Rice

Believe it or not, you can make restaurant quality sticky rice with just four simple ingredients at home! Here’s all you need:

  • Uncooked Rice – Look for a bag that says “sushi rice” on the front. I have found at most grocery stores either in the Asian food aisle or with the pasta and rice. Popular brands are Nishiki or Kokuho Rose. If you can’t find sushi rice, Calrose rice is a decent substitute. I have used it many times and although it’s not perfect, it is a solid substitute.
  • 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 –sea salt, kosher salt, or table salt will all work fine.
  • Kombu (dried kelp, optional) – for an even more traditional, umami flavor you can add a 2×2″ square of Kombu to the rice as it is cooking. Kombu is similar to nori (dried seaweed), but thicker and more of an intense flavor. It is a great way to infuse the rice with even more delicious flavor.
Sushi rice in a bowl next to a plate of California Rolls


It All Starts with the Best Rice

The best rice for making sushi rice is actually called “sushi rice.” Most of the time it should say the exact words right on the bag. It is a Japanese-style short-grain rice and is found at any Japanese grocery store. If you can’t find the exact kind of rice, Calrose rice works well in a pinch. Be aware that not all rice is created equal. Do not use basmati rice, Jasmine rice, or any medium grain or long-grain rice. None of these rices are sticky enough for sushi. I can usually find the right rice at the grocery store, but if you can’t find it there, check your local Asian market.

Sushi Rice Seasoning

Sushi rice has a distinct taste and texture. Ideally, it should taste slightly sweet, tangy, and savory with a hint of vinegar. The sweetness typically comes from the addition of sugar, while the tanginess and savory flavors are from rice vinegar and salt which are commonly used in sushi rice seasoning. I have found actual “sushi vinegar” at the store but I like our seasoning better! You can make sushi vinegar right at home by simply combining rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. It is literally the exact same thing. No need to spend extra for store-bought sushi vinegar.

Some rices have a deeper umami flavor from kombu (dried kelp) being cooked with the rice, but sometimes kombu can be hard to find. In this recipe we make it optional so it is totally up to you if you want to add it or not. As far as texture goes, the rice itself should be tender, yet firm enough to hold its shape when molded into sushi or a ball.

Bowl of Sushi Rice with sesame toppings and a paddle.

Steps for Making Sushi Rice

  1. Rinse the rice in a colander or sieve until the water runs clear. Then, let the rice drain in the colander for one 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. If you are using kombu, add it at this point and allow it to cook with the rice. Cover with a lid and cook. See recipe card below for rice cooker and stovetop cooking times. If using an Instant Pot, you can use the “rice” setting or better yet, follow our instructions for Instant Pot rice.
  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. You can also add the ingredients to a small bowl and heat it in the microwave. Just remember to allow it to cool to room temp.
  4. When the rice is finished, spread the cooked rice out onto a baking sheet using a wooden spoon or rice paddle. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and mix until all the rice is coated.
  5. Allow to 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!

Dishes Using Sushi Rice

Sushi rice, also known as shari or sumeshi, is a key component of all kinds of sushi and popular dishes, including Maki (sushi rolls), Nigiri, Hand Rolls, Chirashi, Sushi Bowls, Sushi Bakes, Sushi Burritos, and one of my personal favorites (and my kids’ #1 favorite of all time), Musubi. You can use sushi rice in poke bowls, however it’s not what is traditionally used. Typically poke bowls use plain white or brown rice but you can use sushi rice if you want a more fragrant rice base.

Close up of Spam Musubi on a cutting board.

Reader Reviews

“This came out great! Easiest instructions to follow! It was so fun making our own sushi at home!” – Suzy

“I was very skeptical of the rice cooking technique, but had never had success with any other method and have nothing but time here in quarantine. It is the best rice I have ever made ever! The texture and moisture levels are perfect. I used bottled sweetened sushi vinegar for the win.” – Pat

Frequently Asked Questions

How is Sushi Rice different than other kinds of rice?

The word sushi literally translates to ‘sour flavor.’ The rice has a subtle sweet and sour flavor from the sugar and vinegar used to season it.

Can you make sushi rice from regular rice?

Sushi rice is specifically prepared with short-grain Japanese rice, which has a higher starch content than regular white rice varieties. The starchiness gives sushi rice its characteristic stickiness, allowing it to hold together well when shaped into sushi rolls or nigiri.

Can you use Calrose rice for sushi?

Yes, but it won’t be perfect. Calrose rice can be used for making sushi, however it’s not traditionally the first choice. Calrose rice is a medium-grain rice variety that doesn’t have the exact starch characteristics of a traditional Japanese short-grain rice (such as sushi rice) but it’s close enough to get the job done.

Read Next: How to Make Jollof Rice

Recipe Ideas and Inspiration

Now that you have a solid foundation, what will you make? The possibilities are endless! Check out some of our favorite sushi rice recipes for ideas and inspiration!

How to Make Sushi Rice

Bowl of Sushi Rice. Sushi in the background.

Sushi Rice

4.99 from 66 votes
Sushi Rice is super easy to make at home! With just FOUR simple ingredients, the possibilities with this scrumptious Sushi Rice recipe are endless!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting/Cooling Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 6

Video

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sushi rice It should say "sushi rice" right on the bag. Calrose rice works okay if you can't find sushi rice.
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 piece Kombu (dried kelp) (2×2" square, optional)
  • 1/4 cup Japanese rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water with your hand, pour off and repeat 2-3 times or until the water is clear. Rinse a few more times. After the rice is rinsed, let the rice drain in a colander or strainer for 1 hour.
    Rice being rinsed and poured into a colander to make sushi rice
  • After the rice has drained, put the rice in the rice cooker with the 3 cups of water, cover, and start. If you are using kombu (optional), add it to the rice and water before cooking and allow it to cook along with the rice.
    If you don't have a rice cooker place rice and water in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; bring just to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice rest, covered, for 15 additional minutes.
    Rice simmering in a pot to make sushi rice
  • While rice is cooking, prepare the vinegar mixture. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Heat mixture just until the sugar dissolves (do not let it boil). Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
    Rice vinegar in a pot to make sushi rice for sushi rolls
  • When the rice is done cooking, gently spread out the rice over a cookie sheet. Evenly distribute the cooled vinegar mixture over the rice. Gently turn rice over from time to time with rice paddle or wooden spatula so that rice cools evenly.
    To speed things up, fan the rice each time you turn it over. When rice has cooled to room temperature, it is ready to use for sushi rolls!
    Rice spread out on a baking sheet

Notes

If you want to wait a little bit before making your sushi or while you are making the rolls, you can keep the rice at the right temperature by placing it in a large bowl and covering with a damp kitchen towel.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 360kcalCarbohydrates: 80gProtein: 6gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 400mgPotassium: 72mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gCalcium: 15mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful 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.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Readers need to be aware that sushi rice refers to two versions of the same kind of rice…one is the variety of rice best for making sushi and the other is a processed rice comprised of the rice mentioned above mixed with vinegar and sugar. Both are the same basic rice.

    both The processed rice is what sushi is made of.

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