Kombu Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

Try this Kombu Onigiri, a popular rice ball that’s both flavorful and satisfying. It’s the perfect option for a quick and tasty lunch or a handy, portable snack when you’re on the go!

Looking for more onigiri recipes? Try my Umeboshi Onigiri, Egg Onigiri, or Furikake Onigiri!

two kombu onigiri rice balls on a plate.

I’ll walk you through the ingredients and step-by-step instructions. I hope you enjoy it!

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • It’s plant-based onigiri for vegans and vegetarians.
  • With its savory umami taste, you can enjoy every bite of this classic rice ball!
  • This kombu onigiri is the perfect quick snack or when you’re on the go!

Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

Onigiri is a Japanese food made of steamed rice filled with ingredients, formed into a triangle shape, and wrapped in seaweed. It’s perfect for a quick meal or snack, and the best part is you can easily customize it by choosing your favorite onigiri fillings.

Recipe Ingredients

You’ll need the following ingredients to make this Kombu Onigiri:

Ingredients for kombu onigiri.
  • We use Japanese short-grain rice for making onigiri as it’s sticky and can hold the shape of triangular shape.
  • Nori seaweed is a type of seaweed that’s dried, crispy, and sold in sheets like the picture above. Get this full-size nori sheet (8.3”x 7.5” or 21 x 19 cm in general) at a grocery store. This size is too large for onigiri (perfect for a sushi roll, though), so we are going to divide it into 3.
  • Kombu, or kelp, is a type of seaweed that is mainly used for making dashi for traditional Japanese dishes. Kombu tsukudani is sweet and savory, seasoned kombu with soy sauce and sugar. It’s perfect for stuffing into onigiri. You can either make it at home or find it easily at a Japanese grocery store.

How To Make Kombu Onigiri: STEP BY STEP 

Here are some quick visual instructions! For the video and all the detailed ingredients and instructions, go to the printable recipe card below.

Kombu tsukudani in a bowl.

Step 1

Prepare your kombu tsukudani

How to make onigiri.

Step 2

Put the rice in a small bowl and add the kombu tsukudani in the center.

How to make umeboshi onigiri.

Step 3

Form a triangle shape by pressing gently with both your hands.

How to make umeboshi onigiri.

Step 4

Wrap the triangular rice with nori.

kombu onigiri on a plate.

Here you go! Eat right away if you like crispy nori seaweed. Or wait a few minutes for the softer texture, like the picture! Let’s take a peek inside!

A Different Way to Wrap Nori

How to wrap onigiri in nori seaweed step by step.

Here’s another method for wrapping the nori around the rice. With this technique, the rice is wrapped from both sides, so you don’t have to worry about the rice falling apart when eating.

  1. Place the triangular-shaped rice in the center of the nori.
  2. Fold the nori on both sides diagonally.
  3. Fold the lower part of the nori toward the bottom of the rice.
two kombu onigiri on a plate.

I recommend placing the kombu filling on top of an Onigiri, like in the picture above. It’s easy to see what’s inside, but it also looks cute!

Recipe Tips

  • Long-grain rice like Jasmine and Basmati would fall apart as they don’t have the right stickiness to hold the rice together, so I recommend picking Koshihikari or sushi rice.
  • If you are not sure about cooking Japanese rice in a pot, learn the straightforward method in this recipe: How to Cook Japanese Rice on The Stove.
  • If it’s difficult to shape the rice with your hands, use an onigiri mold to easily shape it into a triangle. You can also wrap it in plastic wrap for easier grip instead of using your bare hands.

Variations

kombu onigiri variations.

Here is another way to enjoy Kombu Onigiri. You can mix kombu in the rice instead of filling it.

  1. Kombu
  2. Kombu, salmon, and nori
  3. Kombu, canned tuna, and mayonnaise

Storage

When it comes to storing onigiri for later enjoyment, follow these tips:

  • Wrap each onigiri tightly in plastic wrap to preserve their moisture.
  • You can keep them at room temperature for up to half a day.
  • In the fridge, they’ll stay fresh for a couple of days.
  • For longer-term storage, freeze them for up to one month. When freezing, refrain from wrapping the nori sheet. Reheat them in a microwave before consuming them to maintain their delicious texture. Avoid thawing at room temperature to prevent dryness.

What To Serve With

Onigiri pairs well with many different dishes! I suggest serving it with tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelet), soy meat chunk karaage, kabocha salad with egg, and daikon miso soup.

Grab Your Onigiri Filling eBook!

Looking for more onigiri filling ideas? Check out our Onigiri eBook! From classics to creative options, all compiled conveniently in one place!

Onigiri filling ebook cover.

36 Fun and Flavorful Onigiri

two kombu onigiri on a plate.

More Onigiri Recipes You Might Like

Leave a Rating!

I hope you enjoy this Kombu Onigiri! If you try it, don’t forget to leave a rating to share your thoughts—I love hearing from you!

two kombu onigiri rice balls.

Kombu Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

5 from 4 votes
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Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 onigiri
Author: Juri Austin
This popular rice ball, Kombu Onigiri, is flavorful and tasty! It's perfect for a quick lunch or as a portable snack when you're on the go.

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Nori sheet: Divide a Nori sheet into three equal pieces.
  • Collect ingredients: Gather cooked Japanese rice, the nori sheets, the kombu tsukudani, a bowl of water, and salt.
  • Rice and kombu: Fill a small bowl halfway with rice, create a small dent in the center, and add the kombu tsukudani. Fill the rest of the bowl with more rice.
  • Water and salt on your hands: Wet both hands with water, put some salt (2 fingertips of salt) on your palm, and rub between your hands.
  • Shape rice: Place the rice on your hand and hold it with both hands. Form a triangle shape by pressing gently with both your palms and fingers while rolling it several times. 
  • Wrap: Wrap the triangular rice with nori.

Video

Notes

  • Equipment: Small bowl.
  • Storage: Wrap each one with plastic wrap, put it in a container, and keep them in the fridge for a couple of days and one month in the freezer.
  • Japanese short-grain rice (starchy and sticky) is ideal for making onigiri. If you are new to rice, see “How to cook Japanese rice on the stove.”
  • The filling amount is up to you, so feel free to tweak it for your preference.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 0.2g
Course: Rice
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: kombu, onigiri
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