If you have no idea what to put in Onigiri, you can find the answer in this recipe! You will get the 16 best onigiri fillings ideas you want to try!
Look at these great Onigiri variations! You can do so much more than just tuna or salmon. The possibilities for onigiri fillings are endless!
If you're tired of putting the same filling, let's spice up your Onigiri with some new and exciting flavors!
- This recipe is for you if:
- You love Onigiri (Japanese rice balls).
- You don't know what to put in onigiri.
- You want to know variations of onigiri fillings.
- You are looking for vegetarian onigiri fillings.
Also, I have a complete guide on how to make delicious rice balls, so please check that out if you want more information about Onigiri!
Ok, let me walk you through the filling ideas one by one. Let's get started!
- About this recipe
- What to put in Onigiri
- 🍙6 Popular Onigiri Fillings
- 🍙8 Vegetarian Onigiri Fillings
- Grilled Rice Ball
- More Ideas!!
- How to wrap onigiri in nori
- What to serve with
- Thanks For Stopping By
- 📖 Recipe
- Best Onigiri Fillings (Japanese Rice Balls)
- 💬 Comments
About this recipe
- Japanese rice balls wrapped with a nori sheet
- 16 onigiri filling ideas
- Include vegetarian fillings
- How to make Onigiri step by step
What to put in Onigiri
Here are tons of filling ideas that you can try. I will start with popular fillings and move on to vegetarian fillings. Let's dive in!
🍙6 Popular Onigiri Fillings
Japan's most popular Onigiri fillings are tuna, salmon, umeboshi, tarako, katsuobushi, and kombu. And shio! (means salt in Japanese)
If you go to Konbini (a convenient Japanese store such as Family mart and Lowson), you find these onigiris easily.
The following section will take a closer look at each one of them.
1. Tuna and mayonnaise
The classic combination of tuna and mayonnaise is a perfect match. This one is number one in the onigiri ranking!
How to prepare: Drain a canned tuna and combine it with mayonnaise. If you like the authentic taste, use Japanese mayonnaise. (either water-packed tuna or oil-packed tuna is ok).
Salmon is also a super popular onigiri filling and the second in the onigiri ranking.
How to prepare: Grill salmon fillet and break it into flakes. You can also buy Japanese salmon flakes at a store. See the recipe below.
Umeboshi is pickled plum, which is sour and salty and goes well with plain Japanese rice.
How to prepare: Remove the seed and chop with a knife to make the paste. See the recipe below.
Tarako is cod roe made by marinating with salt, soy sauce, and other seasonings, so it tastes salty.
How to prepare: Remove from the thin membrane.
Katsuobushi (Bonito flakes) contain an umami element and are an essential ingredient for making dashi stock in Japanese cuisine.
How to prepare: Pour some soy sauce and combine. See the recipe below.
Kombu tsukudani is flavorful kombu (seaweed) side dish. You can make it, but people usually buy it at a store.
How to prepare: Simmer kombu with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce until tender, or use a store-bought one. See the recipe below.
7. Shio (Salt)
You can make rice balls without filling!
This shio onigiri or musubi is made with no filling. Just a simple salty taste will be added by shaping the ball. I recommend adding a little salt on top when finished!
🍙8 Vegetarian Onigiri Fillings
The most popular fillings above are fish, but I've got a great selection of vegetarian options for you!
Let's take a look at each onigiri filling.
Nitamago is a flavored egg made by marinating it in a savory sauce. Try this if you're looking for new ways to enjoy your Onigiri!
How to prepare: Simmer soy sauce, mirin, and sugar to make a marinated sauce. Put the sauce and boiled egg in a freezer bag and rest in the fridge for a couple of hours.
The perfect comfort food. Cheese and rice, you can imagine what that taste like! Pick your favorite cheese, then put it in the fluffy rice.
How to prepare: Cut some cheese into small pieces.
10. Kimchi and Mayo
Kimchi and rice are the perfect pair. The milder taste of mayonnaise makes it even better! If you love spicy food, I highly recommend this!
How to prepare: Add mayonnaise to Kimchi and mix.
Takana-zuke is pickled Japanese mustard green. It's crunchy, salty, and flavorful. Not only for onigiri filling, it's also an excellent addition to pasta and fried rice!
How to prepare: Cut takana-zuke into small pieces.
12. Negi miso
This negi miso is so tasty and great for onigiri fillings. It has a rich flavor that you can't go wrong!
How to prepare: Chop scallion and mix with miso paste.
Two of Japan's most basic staples, rice, and takuan (pickled daikon), are usually eaten separately. But why not have them together in Onigiri?
How to prepare: Cut takuan into small pieces.
14. Nori Tsukudani
Nori tsukudani is a traditional condiment made of seaweed simmered in soy sauce. It has a rich and complex flavor which goes well with Japanese rice. This Nori tsukudani brand is the most famous one.
How to prepare: No preparation is required.
15. Tofu Crumbles
The last one is tofu! Tofu combined with soy sauce makes for a delicious onigiri filling.
How to prepare: Stir fry tofu with soy sauce and mirin until lightly crispy.
Grilled Rice Ball
16. Cheese Yaki Onigiri
Yaki onigiri or grilled rice balls are also popular. This one is with cheese. Mix soy sauce with rice, add cheese, form a triangle shape and cook on a pan until browned.
The aroma of freshly baked rice and melting cheese will appeal to your appetite for sure!! Find more details in the recipe below!
You're not done yet! There are still more ideas that you might want to try! Here's a list of easy rice ball recipes for a tasty breakfast or snack!
17 Easy Onigiri Recipes (Without Nori Sheet)
23 Vegan Onigiri Recipes
Now that you know what to put in Onigiri, let's move on to creating your own rice balls! Here are the ingredients (amounts are in the recipe card below).
- Cooked rice (short-grain rice)
- Nori seaweed
- Filling of your choice (pick one or more!)
If you are new to cooking Japanese rice, check this recipe: How to cook Japanese rice on a stove.
Filling of your choice
How to prepare the fillings is described in each onigiri section above. Please scroll up and make sure the instructions are.
Let me show you how to make it step by step, or you can watch this onigiri video.
- Cut the Nori sheet into three equal pieces.
- Prepare salt, a bowl of water, cooked rice, a nori sheet, and a filling of your choice.
- In a small bowl, put rice and add filling in the center of the rice.
- Wet your hands, put salt on your palm, and form a triangular shape.
- Form like this by pressing gently with both your palms.
- Wrap it with a nori sheet.
Please watch this How to make onigiri video and check how to shape the Onigiri.
Here you go! Just grab it and enjoy! There are many ways to wrap with nori, but this is the fundamental way.
Shaping rice might require a little practice, so if you have difficulty making a triangular shape, you can use an onigiri mold! It's easy to shape Onigiri!
The triangle is the most common shape, but you can make round or cylinder onigiri.
How to wrap onigiri in nori
In this section, we will look at 2 different ways to wrap your rice in a nori sheet.
1. Standard way
The first one is the most standard way to wrap nori.
- Place the triangular-shaped rice in the center of the nori sheet.
- Fold the nori sheet to the other side.
That's it! A quick and easy method.
2. Advanced way
The second method is a little more advanced compared to the first one.
- Place the triangular-shaped rice in the center of the nori.
- Fold the nori on both sides diagonally.
- Fold the lower part of the nori toward the bottom of 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.
I recommend placing the ingredients on top of an Onigiri, like in the picture above. It's not only easy for you to see what's inside, but it also looks so cute!
What to serve with
Do you like Japanese-style meals? Then it's a good idea to serve it with karaage (a Japanese fried dish), miso soup, and some veggies!
- Onigiri of your choice
- Tempeh karaage (vegan)
- Napa cabbage coleslaw
- Daikon miso soup
- Edamame, cherry tomatoes
If you don't eat them immediately, please wrap each Onigiri with plastic wrap, like in the picture above, before they dry.
You can store them for a couple of days in the fridge and one month in the freezer.
When freezing, do not wrap the nori sheet.
And heat it in a microwave oven right before you eat it (do not thaw it at room temperature as it will get dry).
Common fillings are fish, fish eggs, pickled vegetables, and seaweed. Intensely flavorful fillings are often put in since the rice has a mild flavor.
The most popular Onigiri fillings are tuna, salmon, umeboshi, tarako, katsuobushi, and kombu in Japan.
It's fine either way. It depends on your personal preference. Onigiri is often eaten on the go, so many people eat it at room temperature. But people who live in cold climates like Hokkaido (the northern part of Japan) are more likely to warm onigiri up before eating.
Your rice might not be suitable for making onigiri. Long-grain like Jasmine and Basmati would fall apart as they don't have the right stickiness to hold the rice together. I recommend using Japanese rice such as Koshihikari or sushi rice.
No. It's not necessary. We use vinegar for making sushi but not for onigiri.
Yes, you can make it without the filling. Some people prefer nothing in it, and it's called Shio onigiri (shio means salt). It's the simplest one made with salt, no filling, and no nori sheet!
Thanks For Stopping By
So, you've got many great ideas for what to put in your Onigiri? Good! Now let's make it, and let me know which one is best for you!
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog♡ If you've tried this recipe (or any other recipe on the blog), please give it a star rating below!
Also, feel free to leave comments if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!
Chef JA Cooks is a Japanese food blog that shares simple and healthy Japanese home cooking recipes, including vegan and vegetarian. From traditional Japanese recipes to modern recipes with step-by-step instructions.
More Onigiri Recipes You Might Like
- How to make Onigiri (A step-by-step guide)
- Simple Onigiri without nori
- Yaki Onigiri
- Salmon Onigiri
- Ume Onigiri
- Tuna mayo Onigiri
Best Onigiri Fillings (Japanese Rice Balls)Print Pin Rate
- 14 oz Cooked Japanese short-grain rice, 400g or 4 small bowls of rice
- 2 Nori sheets
- pinch of Salt
- Onigiri Fillings (choose your favorite one), See onigiri filling section
- Nori sheet: Cut it into three equal pieces.
- Prepare a filling of your choice: See ingredients section.
- Prepare ingredients: Prepare salt, a bowl of water, cooked rice, a nori sheet, and filling.
- Add filling: In a small bowl, put rice and make a little dent in the center, then add 1 or 2 teaspoons of your filling.
- 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, hold it with both hands, form a triangle shape (or round shape) by pressing gently with your both palms and fingers while rolling it several times.
- Wrap: Wrap it in a nori sheet.
- Equipment: Small bowl (This oxo tot small bawl is perfect for small onigiri)
- 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.
- Variations: See "6 popular onigiri fillings" and "8 vegetarian onigiri fillings" for onigiri filling ideas.
- Japanese short-grain rice (starchy and sticky) is ideal for making onigiri. If you are new to the rice, see "How to cook Japanese rice on the stove"
- The filling amount is up to you, so feel free to add as much or little for your personal preference.
- The nutrition label is for salmon onigiri.
Thank you for all of the recommendations for fillings! I make onigiri frequently, so running out of ideas was bound to happen at some point. I'm excited to add many of these to my regular rotation, as well as to give me a break from the same old stuff I've been doing for years!
You are very welcome, A.W.! I hope you enjoy these new onigiri ideas! I might add more later!