Making sushi at home is a lot of fun, but you’ve got to start with a good foundation: Seasoned Rice. Here’s How to Make Sushi Rice.
Originally posted July 29, 2009. Updated 11/17/2022
Making sushi at home is a lot of fun, but you’ve got to start with a good foundation: Seasoned Rice.
Many people think that the word sushi is in reference to raw fish, but “sushi” actually means “sour rice”.
It’s not a variety of rice, so much as a cooking method, though the variety of rice used down matter - more on that in a bit.
Anyway, that sour rice is a matter of a sticky rice variety being mixed with sushi rice seasoning - a combination of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Delicious sushi rice is easy to make at home, and there are many sushi rice recipes out there.
Yes, it can get a lot more involved if you want to - sushi chefs in Japan train for a very long time to make the rice! - but today’s post is a great way for home cooks to make an excellent sushi rice.
Uses for This Sushi Rice Recipe
As the name implies, this vinegar rice is pretty much the man thing you need in order to make a good sushi roll.
Whether you love California rolls or basic tuna hand rolls, this recipe is foundational - and it makes enough for about 10 rolls.
Both of those are beautiful, tasty meals - and each uses a sauce from my 3 Sushi Sauces post. (Handy for anyone looking to make sushi at home!
See my Chirashi Bowl Recipe post for everything you need to know!
Note: You want to make this the same day as you plan to use it, as you can't keep it in the fridge.
Much like with cakes: cold rice is hard and dry rice!
Sushi rice only uses a few simple ingredients (4, not counting water!), and you should be able to find everything at your local grocery store.
A couple of those ingredients are pretty important though, so I have some notes for you!
The Right Type of Rice
What you want is a rice that will cook up a little on the firm side, retain a lot of moisture, and have a bit more starch than normal, which breaks down during the cooking process and creates the sticky texture you’re looking for.
There are a few types of rice that you can use to make a good sushi rice, and other types of rice that produce a different texture from what you’re looking for when making Japanese sushi rice.
Here’s what you need to know:
Ideally, look for a short-grain Japanese rice, specifically - it’s the best rice for making sushi rice.
You can usually find at least one variety of Japanese short grain rice in most grocery stores, often labeled as sushi rice somewhere on the package.
If you can’t find a specifically Japanese variety of short-grain rice, Arborio Rice.
It’s a short-grain white rice that’s renowned for the extra starch in the rice grains - it’s why it’s one of the most popular rice varieties for making risotto!
(On that note, have you tried my Seafood Risotto Recipe? SO good!)
Note: While glutinous rice is both short grain AND Japanese, it’s generally used for desserts - like mochi - rather than for making sushi.
That said, there are some varieties of medium grain rice that are also good rice to work with for cooking sushi rice.
When making the batch of rice for the process shots on this post update, we ended up using Kokuho Rose Rice, which is a great rice for this.
It’s got a better texture than most other varieties of medium grained rice, cooking up with a stickier texture than regular rice does.
Also, it has a great flavour, even before you add the sushi vinegar to it - it really does make perfect sushi rice.
Calrose Rice is another good option, and it’s the one most easily found when we were still living in the USA.
While it’s not technically a Japanese rice, it tends to be grown by Japanese Americans, and has been for a long time.
Long Grain Rice
In general long-grain rice is NOT a good option for making great sushi rice - and this includes Jasmine rice.
It just lacks the higher starch content required to make the sticky grains that are signature to this recipe.
Brown rice is sometimes used to make sushi rice.
While it is starchy enough to work, it does end up with a completely different flavor profile, even after the mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt is added.
In general, brown rice takes a different ratio of water than white varieties of rice. I have not tried this particular recipe with brown rice, so I have no idea if it would work well or not.
Seasoned rice vinegar is what’s used to bring a bit of sour flavor to sushi rice, balancing out the sweetness of the rice and the sugar.
You can usually find it in the Asian / Japanese sections of most larger grocery stores, though sometimes I’ll find it with the other vinegars.
In a pinch, you can use plain rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar or plain white vinegar - it’ll just taste a little different than it would if using the right stuff!
Aside from the rice and vinegar, you will also need some granulated sugar and salt.
... and I really have nothing to add, for those two ingredients!
There are a few basic pieces of equipment you’ll need to make this recipe:
Personally, I find that using an electric rice cooker is the best way to make sushi rice, but your mileage may vary on that one!
Rice cooker or not, you’ll want something to cook the rice in - a medium or large pot will work.
A Rice Paddle
Ok, maybe not literally - but you’ll want something to gently break up and stir your rice mass with.
Generally speaking, I’ll use either my silicone spatula or a wide, flat wooden spoon.
In general, I recommend using a fine mesh strainer for rinsing my rice with ... but I recently got rid of mine, in favor of the stainless steel colander shown in the photos.
I do tend to lose a few grains of rice when using it, though, so I recommend using a fine strainer if available!
How to Make Sushi Rice
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, here is the pictorial walk through of the basic method, along with some additional tips and information.
First step: place rice in a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse the uncooked rice well under cold water.
This step removes excess starch - for best results, don’t skip it! Some people let the rice soak before rinsing, I don’t.
Let the excess moisture drain from the rice.
Cook the rice per the rice maker directions, using the white rice setting if applicable.
Cook over low heat until sugar and salt dissolve.
Note: Alternatively, you can mix the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for a minute or so, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.
Note: Ideally, your large bowl should be non-reactive / non-metallic, due to the acid in the vinegar mixture.
I used a metallic dish when making this, this time, as my non-reactive bowl was in use, and we were using the rice hot, right away!).
Gently fold the cooled vinegar mixture into the cooked rice carefully, being careful not to mush it.
If making sushi or chirashi, let the rice rest - gently stirring it once in a while - until it has cooled to room temperature.
Note: Warm rice = soggy nori, and weird temperatures with the fish!
You can cover the bowl with a damp towel over top of the rice if you’re not using it right away, or lay a damp paper towel over the whole surface of the rice, to prevent it from drying out.
You’ll definitely want to use and eat it within a few hours, though.
Additional Tips and Info
Making Sushi Rice without a Rice Cooker
No rice cooker? No problem - you can cook your sushi rice on the stovetop.
Rinse the rice as described above, the transfer the rice to a large pot, along with the measured water.
Bring the water to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat.
As soon as the water is boiling, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot with a well-fitting lid.
Allow the rice to simmer for 15 minutes, WITHOUT REMOVING THE LID.
If the rice is hard inside, cover the pot and allow another 5 minutes or so of cook time.
Once rice is cooked, follow the rest of the directions as stated above, for mixing the seasoned vinegar in.
Rinse the rice as described, then transfer it to the Instant Pot, along with the measured water.
If you have a rice option, use it. If you don’t, just cook it for 3 minutes before doing a 10 minute natural release.
The ratio of rice to water is especially important when making sushi rice.
Too much water, you can end up with soggy or mushy rice. Also, draining excess water will carry away the starch needed for the rice to be properly sticky.
On the other hand, not using enough water will give you dry - and also not sticky - rice.
That said, there’s always the chance that it won’t be universal for all varieties of sushi rice, so be sure to check your package.
When it doubt, I’d recommend erring on the side of too much rice / less water.
You can always add water, but if you use too much water to start, you won’t get back the starch you’ll lose to it.
More Sushi and "Sushi-Adjacent" Recipes
Here are a few more recipes that you may enjoy!
3 Sushi Sauce Recipes
Cauliflower Sushi Rice (Keto!)
Chirashi Bowl (With Keto Option)
DIY Sushi Birthday Cake
Easy Sushi Bake
Gluten Free Tempura
Homemade Furikake Seasoning (Sugar Free)
Homemade Gyoza / Potstickers
Matcha Green Tea Pavlova
Pepper Crusted Tuna with Wasabi Cream Sauce
Spicy Tuna Maki Rolls
Tuna Avocado Mango Rolls
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How to Make Sushi Rice [Recipe & Video]
- Rice Cooker
- 3 cups Short Grain Rice "Sushi Rice" or "Calrose Rice", usually
- 3 ¼ cups Water
- ⅓ cup Seasoned Rice Vinegar
- 3 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- Rinse rice well. Add rice and water to rice cooker, and cook as usual.
- In a small sauce pan, mix rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Heat on low setting until sugar and rice dissolve. Cool.
- Once rice is cooked, spread the hot rice into a large, non-metallic mixing bowl. Fold the cooled vinegar mixture into the rice carefully, being careful not to mush it.
- Allow rice to cool, and use right away.