16 Best Onigiri Fillings (Japanese Rice Balls)

5 from 21 votes
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If you’re unsure what to put in an onigiri, this recipe has the answer! Discover the 16 Best Onigiri Fillings you’ll want to try!

12 different onigiri on each plate.

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!

Here are numerous 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

6 different onigiri on each plate.

Japan’s most popular Onigiri fillings are tuna, salmon, umeboshi, tarako, katsuobushi, and kombu. If you go to a Konbini (a Japanese convenience store such as Family Mart and Lawson), you can easily find them.

1. Tuna and Mayonnaise

tuna mayo onigiri.

This tuna mayo is number one in the Onigiri ranking in Japan. The classic combination of tuna and mayonnaise is a perfect match.

How to prepare the filling: Drain a can of tuna and combine it with mayonnaise. For the authentic taste, use Japanese mayonnaise (water-packed or oil-packed tuna is okay).

2. Salmon

salmon onigiri.

Salmon is also a super popular onigiri and the second in the onigiri ranking.

How to prepare the filling: Grill the salmon fillet and break it into flakes. You can also buy Japanese salmon flakes at a store.

3. Umeboshi

umeboshi onigiri.

Umeboshi is pickled plum onigiri, which is sour and salty and goes well with plain Japanese rice.

How to prepare the filling: Remove the seed and chop with a knife to make the paste.

4. Tarako

tarako onigiri.

Tarako is cod roe made by marinating with salt, soy sauce, and other seasonings, so it tastes salty.

How to prepare the filling: Separate the tarako from its thin membrane or skin.

5. Katsuobushi

katsuobushi onigiri.

Katsuobushi (Bonito flakes) contain an umami element and are essential for making dashi stock in Japanese cuisine.

How to prepare the filling: Pour some soy sauce and combine.

6. Kombu

kombu onigiri.

Kombu tsukudani is a flavorful side dish made from kombu (seaweed). It can be made at home, but people typically buy it at a store.

How to prepare the filling: Simmer kombu with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce until tender, or use a store-bought one. See the recipe below.

🍙10 Vegetarian Onigiri Fillings

8 vegetarian onigiri on each plate.

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.

7. Nitamago

nitamago onigiri.

Nitamago is a flavored egg made by marinating it in a savory sauce. Try this egg onigiri if you’re looking for new ways to enjoy your onigiri!

How to prepare the filling: 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 several hours.

8. Cheese

cheese onigiri.

It’s the perfect comfort food: cheese and rice. Can you imagine what that tastes like? Pick your favorite cheese and put it in the fluffy rice.

How to prepare the filling: Cut some cheese into small pieces.

9. Kimchi and Mayo

kimchi mayo onigiri.

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 the filling: Add mayonnaise to Kimchi and mix.

10. Takana-zuke

takana onigiri.

Takana-zuke is pickled Japanese mustard green. It’s crunchy, salty, and flavorful. Not only is it great for onigiri fillings, but it’s also an excellent addition to pasta and fried rice! You can buy it at a Japanese grocery store.

How to prepare the filling: Cut takana-zuke into small pieces.

11. Negi Miso

negi miso onigiri.

This negi miso is a mixture of scallions and miso paste. The rich flavor of miso complements the simple taste of Japanese rice.

How to prepare the filling: Chop scallion and mix with miso paste.

12. Takuan

takuan onigiri.

Two of Japan’s most basic staples, rice and takuan (pickled daikon), are usually eaten separately. But why not have them together in an onigiri?

How to prepare the filling: Cut takuan into small pieces.

13. Nori Tsukudani

nori tsukudani onigiri

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.

How to prepare the filling: No preparation is required.

14. Tofu Crumbles

tofu crumble onigiri.

Tofu combined with soy sauce makes for a delicious onigiri filling.

How to prepare the filling: Stir fry tofu with soy sauce and mirin until lightly crispy. See the tofu scramble recipe.

15. Cheese Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Rice Ball)

yaki onigiri with cheese on a plate.

Yaki Onigiri (grilled rice balls) is also a popular choice. 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 certainly appeal to your appetite!

16. Shio (Salt)

two onigiri on a plate.

You can also make rice balls without any filling inside, just adding a hint of saltiness. I recommend sprinkling a little salt on top of the onigiri.

Recipe Ingredients

You’ll need the following ingredients to make these Onigiri:

Ingredients for onigiri, rice, nori seaweed, salt and filling
  • Cooked Rice (short-grain rice): If you are new to cooking Japanese rice, check this recipe: How to Cook Japanese Rice on a Stove.
  • Nori is a type of seaweed that’s dried, crispy, and sold in sheets. 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, so we are going to divide it into 3.
  • Salt: When shaping the rice, spread some salt in your hands. Opt for sea salt or natural-tasting salt.

Filling of Your Choice

9 different onigiri fillings.

Pick one or more! How to prepare the fillings is described in each onigiri section above. Please scroll up and make sure the instructions are.

How To Make 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.

Umeboshi for onigiri.

Step 1

Prepare onigiri filling of your choice.

How to make umeboshi onigiri.

Step 2

Put the rice in a small bowl and add the filling 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.

two onigiri with nori seaweed on a plate

Here you go! Just grab it and enjoy! Shaping rice might require a little practice, so if you have difficulty making a triangular shape, you can use an onigiri mold! It makes it super 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

This section will look at two different ways to wrap your rice in a nori sheet.

1. Standard Way

How to wrap onigiri in nori seaweed step by step.

The first one is the most standard way to wrap nori.

Instructions:

  1. Place the triangular-shaped rice in the center of the nori sheet.
  2. Fold the nori sheet to the other side.

That’s it! A quick and easy method.

2. Advanced Way

How to wrap onigiri in nori seaweed step by step.

The second method is a little more advanced compared to the first one.

Instructions:

  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.

With this technique, the rice is wrapped from both sides, so you don’t have to worry about the rice falling apart when eating.

Popular onigiri filling list.

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 very cute! Enjoy!

What To Serve With

To complete a meal, serve it with various dishes, such as Tamagoyaki, Napa Cabbage Coleslaw, and Daikon Miso Soup.

Storage

how to store onigiri.

When it comes to storing onigiri for later enjoyment, follow this guideline:

  • 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.

Your Questions Answered

What do people usually put in onigiri?

Common fillings are fish, fish eggs, pickled vegetables, and seaweed. Intensely flavorful fillings are often put in since the rice has a mild flavor.

What is the most popular onigiri?

Japan’s most popular onigiri fillings are tuna, salmon, umeboshi, tarako, katsuobushi, and kombun.

Should Onigiri be warm or cold?

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.

Why won’t my onigiri stay together?

Your rice might not be suitable for making onigiri. Long grains 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.

Is rice vinegar necessary for onigiri?

No. It’s not necessary. We use vinegar for making sushi but not for onigiri.

Can onigiri have no filling?

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!

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

2 onigiri rice balls.

More Onigiri Recipes You Will Love

Leave a Rating!

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

6 different onigiri on each plate.

Best Onigiri Fillings (Japanese Rice Balls)

5 from 21 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 onigiri
Author: Juri Austin
If you have no idea what to put into an onigiri, you can find the answer in this recipe! You will get the 16 Best Onigiri Fillings ideas you want to try!

Equipment

  • Small Bowl (This oxo tot small bawl is perfect for small onigiri)

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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. Cover the filling with some 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, hold it with both hands, and 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.

Video

Notes

  • 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 add as much or little for your personal preference.
  • The nutrition label is for salmon onigiri.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 183kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 8.8g | Sodium: -5mg
Course: Rice
Cuisine: Japanese
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6 Comments

  1. Very hard to view your recipes because of all the ads. So it would be helpful to have a sheet with the fillings that we could print out. The ideas look great but I shall search for them elsewhere.

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Heidi! I understand that the ads can be distracting, however, they do help to keep my blog going. I’ll soon offer a printable version of the Onigiri Fillings recipe. Stay tuned!

  2. Hi so when I make the rice is it just plain cooked rice or do I make it with sushi rice seasoning. Thank you

  3. 5 stars
    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!