How to Make Sushi Rice

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The right Sushi Rice is the foundation for any good sushi roll. Using our recipe you will get savory, sticky, perfect sushi rice every time.

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

Sushi Rice

Before I made sushi for the first time, I didn’t know that you had to make a special kind of rice. I used regular, long-grain rice and lets just say I was very disappointed. After doing some research and testing a few methods, I figured out how to make delicious restaurant-level sushi at home! Now I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned so you can have savory, sticky, perfect sushi rice every time.

How is Sushi Rice Different?

The word sushi literally translates to ‘sour flavor.’ In Japan, people used to preserve fish by wrapping it in fermented rice. The fermented rice would be thrown away when the fish was ready to eat. Eventually, they started adding vinegar to the rice instead of fermenting it to make it last longer. The vinegar-flavored rice tasted good with the fish so people started eating them together. That was the beginning of sushi! Today’s sushi rice has a sticky texture and it is flavored with sugar and vinegar. This helps to hold the shape of the roll, and the flavors complement the fillings or toppings.

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

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.

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 (As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.). 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!

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!

My Favorite Sushi Tool

I’ve made sushi at home so many times over the years. I used to roll it the traditional way, with a bamboo mat. However, a few Christmases ago, my mom gave me a Sushezi Sushi Bazooka. I know it has a crazy name, but it is my favorite way to make sushi now! It is so fast and easy – even my kids can do it! You just load the trays with your ingredients, close the tube, and push out a perfect, tightly-rolled sushi roll! Find it on Amazon HERE. (As an Amazon affiliate, we may earn a commission from purchases).

Sushi Rice Reviews

5 stars This came out great! Easiest instructions to follow! It was so fun making our own sushi at home!

5 stars 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.

How to Make Sushi Rice

A bowl of sushi rice next to a plate of california rolls

Sushi Rice

4.95 from 19 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 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Resting/Cooling Time 1 hr 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sushi rice It should say “sushi rice” right on the bag. Calrose rice works ok if you can’t find sushi rice.
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cups 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 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

Video

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: 1gSodium: 401mgPotassium: 71mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gCalcium: 14mgIron: 1.5mg

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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.

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Comments

  1. I ran out of rice vinegar..can I use distilled vinegar instead .. how about the measurement will it change

    1. Yes you can use white vinegar, just add a little bit of sugar and salt to make up for the seasoning of rice vinegar.

  2. 5 stars
    Yesterday was the fist time I made sushi at home. I followed this recipe and it was awesome! The best sushi rice I have ever eaten and it was so easy to make and work with.

  3. 5 stars
    This was my first time making sushi rice and it turned out absolutely perfectly using your recipe! Thank you so much!

  4. I have Marukan seasoned rice vinegar. According to the label, 1/4 cup would have 20g sugar and 1920 mg salt. This is the equivalent of 1.59 T of sugar and .84 t of salt– so you might not need to add much!

  5. Hello,

    I have a questions. I purchased Kikkoman Seasoned rice vinegar for the sushi rice. Do I still need to add the sugar and salt? I’m following your recipe but noticed the vinegar you used isn’t seasoned. Not sure what to do since I’m attempting to make sushi tonight for a birthday dinner.

    Thank you,
    Delilah

    1. Yes, I would still add the sugar and salt. The seasoning will just add more flavor, but the sugar and salt are important to the texture of the rice. Hope this helps!

  6. 5 stars
    worked out perfectly, i added a bit less of the rice vinegar/salt/sugar liquid because I didnt want it too sticky and it was great.

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